We left Robertsville State Park Tuesday morning a little after 9:00 and made our way through Saint Louis, MO toward Illinois, then Indiana. We took a different route than we did on our trip to Illinois a couple of years ago, choosing to head north on I-270 which was really not too bad except for the major road construction we ran into that held us up for a good 30-45 minutes. Even so, while the traffic was five lanes it wasn't overly heavy and we seemed to make pretty good time. We made it through Indianapolis, IN before the heavy 5:00 traffic and again while it was busier than we are used to, it could have been much worse. We pulled into the Walmart Supercenter in Kokomo shortly before 6:00 pm. We went to the Service Center to be sure we could overnight and after waiting for nearly 20 minutes (with a very loud siren going off within the service enter itself) we finally found someone to give us the okay. We needed a few groceries so we quickly made it through the store to take care of that as well.
By now we were getting hungry. When we were looking at this area on Google Maps before we left home, it looked like there were a variety of restaurants nearby - unfortunately they were not as close as they appeared. We thought we were going to need to walk quite a distance to find a place, but as we walked to the main street in front of W-mart, we noticed a Mexican restaurant, Don Poncho's, and it was just a short distance back to where we parked Bentley. The food was delicious!
When we returned to Bentley, I finished my walking for the day in the parking lot - we were near the back of the building where was very few vehicles and 2 or 3 semi's parked. It was pretty open and I managed to hit over 10,000 steps for the day.
We really had a great spot to park Bentley along a fenced and nicely treed area that provided us some shade and allowed us to put out our kitchen slide without it intruding on or near anyone. We did run our generator from about 8-10, along with a few semi's that were parked down from us a bit so we didn't feel bad about the sound - especially since it was not near any customer parking, and ours was quiet in comparison to the semi's. The parking lot was well lit and had all kinds of security cameras around it. The night air was very cool and comfortable. We finally headed to bed about 10:30 and I slept better than I have for the past two months. While it wasn't much longer than I normally sleep, I did not wake up until my alarm went off this morning. I am typically awake and shut the alarm off, sometimes long before it ever goes off.
Now that I was up I made coffee - by heating water on the gas stove and then pouring it over the coffee to brew the coffee. The worse part is standing over it waiting for the water to drip through versus turning it on and going back to get the coffee when the entire pot is done. Since the pot is not on, there is no heating element - so one cup at a time as you need it is all you can do. Maybe someday we'll add an inverter and a few solar panels so we can just turn the coffeepot on instead. However, this worked and it was only one night.
All in all our first time overnighting in a Walmart parking lot went well. Would we do it again? If circumstances were right, yes, I think we would. It's just we very seldom travel 8+ hours in one day and that was the only reason we chose to do it this time. We only have 100 miles left to go today. We left Kokomo around 9:00 a.m. Next stop - Elkhart County Fairgrounds to attend our first Heartland National Rally in Goshen, Indiana.
A few pictures I took today between Missouri, Illinois and Indiana:
|Crossing the Mighty Mississippi.|
|Traffic was backed up in front of us and we crept along for about 30-45 minutes due to road construction.|
|American Farm Heritage Museum|
|Largest Cross at 198' in Effingham, IL|
There are monuments for each of the 10 commandments around the base of the cross.
It wasn't too much longer that we began to notice the nice clean and perfectly manicured countryside homes as we neared Nappanee and the Goshen area. We made it to the Elkhart County Fairgrounds where we were met by one of the Rally Core Team Members, Kevin----who they have nicknamed Mayor. After giving us our packet of all things we needed to know about the rally, he led us to the weighing station. This is something we've wanted to have done for awhile. When we were finished there he led us to our site - #428. Once we unhooked Bentley, we drove back to the weighing station where they will next weigh the truck by itself. They told us we can pick up the results of the weighing one morning later this week. Our hope is that our weight within Bentley is pretty evenly distributed and if not, we can discuss what options we have with the weighing team.
Once we returned to our site, we went through the packet of information we received. I signed up to attend a bus tour to South Bend, IN tomorrow (Thursday). After Dean read the details he wished he would have signed up as well. After a quick lunch, we decided to take a walk and we happened to run into one of the rally team members. I asked him if he knew how we could find out if there were any extra tickets to the bus tour to South Bend tomorrow. He directed us to Julie and where her rig was located, and off we went in search of her. In the meantime here came Mr. Mayor, Kevin. We asked to make sure we knew where Julie's rig was and it happened to be parked next to his, however she was not there. I then realized Kevin's wife was the famous Nelly of Nelly's muffins. Last year when we attended the South Central Regional Rally in Branson we met Kevin and Nelly. Nelly had planned to make muffins (you get to choose what you want in your own personal muffin) however it rained so hard we did not get out. I mentioned this to her and before we knew it she was insisting we come in and she sent each of us home with our own bowl with the muffin mix and the fixings of our choice. We insisted she did not need to do this but she won the battle! In the meantime Julie had returned to her rig so we were able to stop in and get Dean a ticket to the tour as well. A successful walk, at best!
After we returned to Bentley, we decided to drive over to Shipshewana. Last fall when we stopped here over Labor Day there were a few places we wanted to visit that we discovered were closed due to the holiday weekend. We were able to visit one of those businesses today - Lambright Chairs. We've heard a lot of great comments about these recliners and we wanted to try them out ourselves. While we did not order any, we might be interested in doing so in the future. We'll sure keep it in mind.
Our next stop was at the Yoder Meat & Cheese Store to get some cheese curds. We really enjoyed the fresh ones that brother-in-law Dennis gave us last year when visiting them in Illinois and while we were not able to purchase the brand his company makes, the ones we had today were fresh and had that squeaky sound when eating them. We found some cheese curds somewhere after we got home and they were not fresh and not very good at all. These today were pretty good - but we'd sure like some more of those Shullsburg Creamery ones! Possibly another trip back that way??
Our Escapee friend Drena sent us a note on Facebook to tell us about the Rise & Shine Bakery in nearby Middlebury so on our way home we made a stop there to check out their special crack cinnamon caramel donuts. They were sold out for the day but we plan to make a trip back on Friday or Saturday morning to try them out. Drena also recommended we buy a box of frozen doughnuts to bring home with us, and we might just do that too!
Well, at 10:45 last night Dean asked me if I was ready to go to bed. I told him it's only 9:45---as that's what my computer was showing!!! Then he told me no, it's 10:45---the time had moved forward on us. Since we have to get up early tomorrow for the bus trip, as much as I had hoped to post this, I knew I better go ahead and call it a night.
Next post will have lots of things to share from our tour!