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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Picking up my tiny travel trailer: 2364 miles to happiness :)

My journey has begun! To pick up The Glampette here's the route I took on Interstate 80 across the country for the first time ever. The times below are the estimates from Google Maps. Most days I had to add an hour or more to each estimate due to gas stops, breaks for Kitai to get out and walk around, meals, roadwork, and traffic. Most days I ended up being on the road from 9 to 11 hours.

Day 1: San Jose, CA to Wendover, NV - 649 miles, 9 hours 37 minutes
Day 2: Wendover, NV to Cheyenne, WY - 565 miles, 8 hours 21 minutes
Day 3: Cheyenne, WY to Newton, IA - 659 miles, 9 hours 32 minutes
Day 4: Newton, IA to Greenville, MI - 491 miles, 7 hours and 28 minutes

Day 1
I found myself playing my entire John Denver catalog as I drove through Nevada. His songs just fit the scenery perfectly.

Fred says I could be a long haul trucker because I was keeping trucker hours by driving so far each day. I just figured I may as well drive while there was light to burn because I wanted to get to Michigan as quickly as possible.

I didn't mean to drive at night but the first day I did. I watched the sun set on my way to the Wendover KOA on the Nevada side of the NV UT border. We arrived after midnight but had no problem finding our cabin.

As KOAs go I'd say it was adequate. The room was clean and the location very convenient. It did lack charm and there were quite a few beer caps, broken shards of glass, and weeds in the crushed gravel around the cabins and the courtyard between them.

Each cabin had its own picnic benches and table and a BBQ grill. I would stay here again and would recommend it as a stop while traveling, more so than a vacation destination in itself. The property seemed to be a large gravel parking lot with trailer slots and cabins. Nothing particularly home or welcoming except for the staff who were all very nice.

That night there was a fierce wind storm that woke Kitai and I up the wind was howling so loudly. He's never been afraid of thunder or fireworks but the wind freaked him out so much he crawled under the bed to hide from it. Poor little guy :(

Day 2
The next morning the storm had blown through and were on our way.

Just a few blocks away was this huge sign of Wendover WIll.

And a mini Las Vegas type strip of casinos and restaurants.

Wendover is right beside the salt flats in Utah. You can see them all along Interstate 80.

I was disappointed to not be able to photograph any of the Salt Lakes in Utah. I needed a third hand and at least one extra eye to be able to drive and shoot at the same time.

After passing Salt Lake City I stopped for gas in Park City, Utah. While at the gas pump I looked over and noticed the ski slopes and realized I was in PARK CITY, UTAH where many athletes train for the winter Olympics.

After leaving Park City I was heading to Cheyenne, WY. Along the way I saw a lot of dead deer and a dead antelope. I thought to myself so this is where the deer and antelope play, on the highway, where they get smooshed by cars.

I couldn't resist trying to get a picture of the landscape I was passing. I know some people may freak out but there were no cars within a mile in front of or behind me and I was on a straightaway so I raised the camera and randomly aimed it out the windshield all the while hoping I was getting a decent image since I didn't even glance at the view finder. I didn't take my eyes off the road, not even for a second. Even if the pictures were crooked or off center I knew I could rotate and crop them in Photoshop so I figured I'd end up with something I could salvage.

I saw a bear along the highway just outside of Park City. It was standing on all fours motionless in a meadow. How I would have loved to have taken a picture but there were too many cars around.

Another shot from the road in Wyoming. I loved this bank of clouds. They were gorgeous!

By the time I hit Wyoming I'd moved from John Denver and was playing the Eagles. I think certain songs just sound better when played in context.

I arrived at the Cheyenne KOA just after sunset.

My cabin was the one on the left.

As I pulled into the driveway the show began: No rain, lots of wind, and tons of lightening. I think I saw more lightening that night than I have combined in the rest of my entire life.

The cabin was well maintained, the staff very friendly. Overall I would give this campground very high scores in all areas. I wouldn't hesitate to stay here again in the future. But if you're a light sleeper bring ear plugs because you're right beside the highway and you'll hear train whistles into the wee hours of the morning.

Day 3
In the morning I used my tiny, ultralight, MSR MicroRocket, propane stove to make soup for breakfast.

I made a stop in Des Moines, Iowa to have dinner with two of my Dogster.com friends. It was my first time meeting Steph in person and the second time seeing Stacie. We had a great Mexican food dinner while Kitai stayed home with Steph's husband who graciously offered to dog-sit so we girls could step out and relax.

This bunny was on Steph's front lawn when I arrived at her house. So cute! All of the lawns in Des Moines were the most vibrant green I've ever seen. Definitely prettier than how they brown out in California when they don't get enough water.

Unfortunately I didn't take another photo the entire day while driving through Nebraska because the interstate was so full of cars I didn't want to even try to pull over or use my one-handed-no-looking-at-the-viewfinder method of shooting. Safety is very important to me and was reinforced even more so when I saw a small cargo trailer that had slipped its hitch on the interstate. The tow vehicle was in the median sideways and the trailer had gone over the right embankment beyond the shoulder of the highway and had tipped over on its side. Fortunately it didn't appear that anyone had been hurt but it was a reminder that towing a trailer is not a small thing. Done incorrectly someone could be seriously injured or killed.

I spent the night at the Newton, Iowa KOA. It was dark when I arrived so I took this photo of their entry driveway the next morning. KOAs are so easy to find. They have big signs on the interstate and once you exit smaller signs will lead you right to them.

This is a gorgeous property. It's incredibly maintained, their customer service is impeccable, and there were lots of amenities. Even before I left I was already looking forward to returning someday.

This time my cabin was a Deluxe Cabin. It was fancier on both the outside and inside.

For starters inside there was a real bed!

By real I mean a top mattress and box spring and the bunk beds were made of naturally stained boards and a metal ladder to the top bunk. The bunks also had small windows which let in natural light in the morning.

I was really happy when I realized there was also running water! Most of the cabins I've stayed in are basic cabins so they electricity but no water.

Ah, after three long days of driving I felt like I had fallen into the lap of luxury in Newton.

The air conditioner was pulling double duty both cooling the room and creating white noise to block the sound of trucks on the interstate. There was also a closet bar if you wanted to hang your clothes.

And though I didn't use it it's worth mentioning that there was also a flat screen tv in the room with cable tv for those of you who want more amenities.

Outside was a playground for kids, a pool for everyone, a bench on my front porch, a fire ring, and even a basket of flowers. Combined, all of the attention to details and great service mean this must be one of the best campgrounds in the entire nationwide chain.

That left me with just 491 miles to go to make it to Michigan where The Glampette was waiting for me. I did it the next day with a little stop along the way.

To be continued.

To follow my Michigan or Bust road reports here they are:

Days 1-3: Picking up my tiny travel trailer: 2364 miles to happiness :)
Day 4: Be still my glamping heart: The cutest vintage grill ever!
Days 4-8: Meeting Fred and The Glampette for the first time
Welcome to The Glampette: A peek inside
Day 8 Part 2: Around the lake and on to Wisconsin Wine Country
Day 9: A suspenseful night at the Kennebec KOA
Day 10: It could have been worse
Day 10 continued:  Overnight at a Walmart, a traveler's rite of passage
Day 11: Montana to Washington car don't fail me now!
And my favorite RV Park was: Hi-Way Haven in Sutherlin, OR
4974 miles later our adventure comes to an end


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