We spent several days returning to Chicago. Not directly. And staying in all sorts of places. I think this is a preview of our life on the road.
We drove 2,500 hundred miles over 19 days in total. We averaged about 7 MPG. The bus performed well. Let me rephrase because performance is not the bus’ strong suit: nothing broke. Well, OK. A little antifreeze leaked*. But not more than a cup (the bus’s capacity is TWENTY TWO (22) GALLONS!!!). And, Diesel is A LOT CHEAPER in the south ($2.11/gal l!!!).
(*Remember Karl’s RV Law: Leaks are actually GOOD).
Now some of the color and nuance.
Our route was altered to take us home via Pittsburgh and visits with friends the Hendrys, McDowells and Lanes. Not exactly on the way, but we had a steak dinner awaiting us. Courtesy of the Cubs exceeding the Pirates this year (and Mike McDowell’s misguided bet on the latter). This part of the trip included several firsts:
Who knew that Hardees had such delicious breakfast biscuits? Thanks to the Hendrys for enlightening us as we met them for breakfast on the way through.
In fact, our entire drive to the ‘Burgh through Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania was timed for maximum SPECTACULAR color.
And, our first “Grumpy” Walmart (in Washington, PA), where we were grudgingly allowed to park.
Our First Casino Overnight park. Moved there because of the grumpy Walmart. Makes sense that casinos LOVE RVs parking in their lots. You can stay late and drink and gamble before you “stumble” home to the lot. And, their lawyers and PR people probably consider that you can’t lose your house if you already live in an RV…
GPS directed us to our friends the Lane’s via a road with quite a low railroad trestle resulting in our first LOW CLEARANCE ROOF STRIKE. Well just the antenna. No Damage. GPS also directed us down a road with a 5-ton limit bridge. Good thing the GPS has a DETOUR function!!! Note to self: get a GPS tuned for big RVs.
We parked the bus in the Lane’s driveway after very careful consideration (and urging from Bruce). You see, the drive is long, narrow (trees and brush on both sides), VERY steep, and CHALLENGING. Followed by Dutch Treat BBQ, Campfire, conversation. The next-day our exit required execution of a precise 14-point turn to head back down the driveway. At turn 7 it wasn’t clear we were going to exit; Bruce is looking nervous. By turn 12 it began to look likely. It was touch and go, but we again survived the driveway. Bruce, however, directed us back to the highway via a road with a 5-ton-limit bridge. Note to self: : get a GPS tuned for big RVs.
Stayed at another Walmart (Norwalk, Ohio). Where the Customer Service people THANKED US PROFUSELY for staying with them. From reading online reviews, there are far more friendly Walmarts than grumpy ones. Brilliant marketing, letting RVs stay overnight in an otherwise empty lot. And it is REALLY CONVENIENT to park at supercenters filled with food, hardware, housewares and indeed RV stuff. With all the comforts of home, we are eating dinner, reading, sleeping. Hot shower (This is what prompted Liz’s statement).
Of course, Shades drawn, plenty of privacy…just a little strange.
Once back in Chicago, we spent a couple days winterizing things. The bus is now ready for cold weather. Dan and Liz not so much.