Thursday, June 22, 2017

On to Sweet Camp...


With full fresh water and empty gray and black, we left Hickory Hollow (the campground) this morning.  Heading east on I-80...



Trucks.  Lots of trucks.  It wasn't an issue... the road was good and the truckers were driving sanely.  A strong crosswind from the south...


Check out that large flag standing out.  We got off the Interstate as we neared Chicago, getting back onto US Hwy 30.


That turned out to be a less than ideal situation: with all the stop and go through one town after another, it took us nearly an hour to go 20 miles.  But, the road made up for that by being terribly lumpy.  I was getting weary, when we saw a Five Guys near a Walmart...


The Walmart for a place to park, Five Guys for a good burger for lunch.  Back out on the road, we got stopped for a "duck crossing"...


Yes, those two ladies stopped traffic to escort a momma duck and her ducklings across a very busy urban street.

Our destination today is Sweetwater Music, for their Gear Fest event.  When we got within 70 miles of them, we pulled into the best priced gas station to top off our fuel tank - we'll be dry camping the next few days and will need to use the generator... it is in the upper 80s today, so we'll be running the coach a/c once we're down.

Even out of the urban areas, the road was packed...



We spent some time behind this truck...




Just before Ft. Wayne, we pulled into Sweetwater - this place is HUGE.  Heading into the Gear Fest RV camping, the first thing we saw was the pavilion/stage area...



The band was doing a sound check, and sounded great.  We pulled up to the camp registration...



Gear Fest doesn't start until tomorrow morning, but our Sweetwater sales rep came out to our coach, and after visiting for a bit, he gave us a private tour of the facilities.  All kinds of vendor tents set up outside their main building...


No, I have no idea why there is an airplane there... but, there is a helicopter just to the side of that.  After walking through the vendor area, we went inside the main building - the hallway is bigger than any music store I've ever been in...


Did I mention: HUGE?  A cafe, a coffee bar, 3 recording studios, performance stages, a spa & salon, a medical clinic... yeah, all that and more in this huge music store...








And, the warehouse (the one attached to the music store) - it looks like an Amazon fulfillment center...




In case you need to get down from the second floor sales offices faster than the stairs, there is this...


I've never been to the Apple Headquarters Campus, but this is what I image it to be.  Or, Google, maybe?

We said good-bye to my sales rep...


And, while heading to the RV, a Ft Wayne policeman who was patrolling the grounds pulled up in a golf cart... "Can I give you a lift?"

"Sure!"  I think this is going to be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Rollin'...


Not like the CCR song: "Rollin'... Rollin'... Rollin' on the river."

If you said, "Proud Mary, 1969," you get 10 bonus points.  Really, this may be the easiest music trivia question ever on this blog.

After our ride this morning, we came back to the coach, cleaned up, got a bite to eat, got ready to roll, and hit the road.  Most commercial campgrounds have a check-out time of noon; these city/county parks are often 4:00pm.

Why roll?  Thanks for asking.  After deciding to go north to visit my brother-in-law, we made arrangements to attend Gear Fest 2017, put on by Sweetwater, a nationally known music shop in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  Never been there, but they are predicting between 14,000 and 15,000 people; there will be seminars, concerts, music equipment manufacturer booths (around 400).  They have dry camping on the grounds.  No, there is absolutely nothing I need, but I have ordered from Sweetwater before, and this sounded like an interesting event.  We'll see.

So, we had to give them an approximate arrival time for tomorrow... and Clinton, Iowa, is about 300 miles... Joan found us an RV park 100 miles down the road... so, that gives us fewer miles to do tomorrow.  It makes sense to us.

I was hoping to get out today before the rain hit.  We got about 6 blocks from the RV park in Clinton, before the first sprinkles hit the windshield.  Yes, we can drive in the rain, but we had the coach looking all pretty... it would be nice to have it stay that way for a few days.



Yep, that same bridge we rode our bikes on this morning.  The bike/pedestrian lane seems narrow - driving the coach across, these lanes feel narrow, too.

Illinois has plenty of farmland that we passed today...


That rain-band in the photo above was following close behind us...


We are the little blue dot in the middle of that radar image... with the storms to the west and north coming our way.

Going through one of the small towns, we saw this piece of farm equipment...


Plenty of that kind of stuff on the roads the past few days... no, you won't see that on the Interstates.  ;-)


In one small town, we got stopped by a train rolling through... "Good time for a potty break for the driver - be ready to hop in the driver's seat if I'm not back!"  You can see by the photo above, I made it back in time.  Handy to have all the amenities (including the bathroom) right here with us.

It rained on us off and on much of the way, but it was light enough that we weren't going through standing water on the road - that is where the coach gets the dirtiest.

We pulled into the campground just after 3:00.  They have a lot of rules here, and each of the two ladies in the office took a turn at hollering at someone outside ("Get that dog on a leash!"  "No parking on the grass!") while checking me in.  I promised that I would not park anything on the grass, nor would I allow a dog to run loose, if I get a dog between here and our assigned site... which probably won't happen, because my cat doesn't want to travel with a pet.  ;-)

On the bright side, we are parked on a nice level concrete pad.  They asked if I wanted a shady site or something more open for satellite TV reception... yeah, that's how you "camp."  Another rule is "no vehicle or RV washing"... I did quietly wipe down the rear cap on the coach, before it got all water spotted (that is drying, not washing).

Joan cooked in this evening.  We have been eating out a lot.  Nice to just chill.

We will dump holding tanks and make sure the fresh water tank is full before we head out in the morning.  "Dry camping" means no hook-ups.  We'll have plenty of water for the three days... no worry about not having a daily shower, although there are showers for those who will be camping at Gear Fest (prefer my own, thanks).  Our batteries can handle our electrical needs, with the generator to run the a/c - it is supposed to be hot the next few days.

Looking forward to Gear Fest.


Oops...


The plan for the morning: a bike ride along the Mississippi.  It only takes a few minutes to get the bikes out of the CR-V and unfolded into riding ready position...


We stopped for a quick breakfast out, then headed for the bike path...




Pretty river views...




There is a pedestrian/bike "lane" on that bridge... yeah, I think we should give it a shot.  Before heading to the bridge, we took a side path...


This path took us across a small bridge, onto an island.  The marina here in Clinton is in a slough (prownouced "slew").  Below is a slough view...


And a gate across the path.  The water level is high, so the path from this point on is flooded.  When I stopped to take this photo, I was holding the bike between my legs.  For a moment, then it crashed on its side.  Picking it up was an "Oh, shit!" moment: a broken brake lever.  I still wanted to cross that bridge, and figured "one brake is better than no brake"... and then realized that there is a microswitch inside the brake housing that cuts out the electric assist when the brakes are applied.  Yeah, no pedal assist.  Second "Oh, shit!" moment.

While riding with no assist, I fussed with the broken lever and discoved if I hold the lever "just so," the switch would make contact and I would have some pedal assist.  On to the bridge!

Because the approach to the bridge is steep, we have to get off the bike path and hit the streets to get to the bridge...


Yes, she is from "the other side of the tracks."  ;-)  Now, on to the bridge...




And, we are in Illinois... a "two-state" bike day.  :-)  Welcome to Fulton, Illinois.  We pedaled around to find the bike path on this side of the river.  Along the way, I got a photo of the red-winged blackbirds I have mentioned before...


On to the bike path on the Illinois side...


A Dutch-style windmill that is visible from the other side of the river (Dutch settlers here)...


We rode through some of Fulton to get back to the bridge - check out the gas prices at this station...



Apparently, just for looks.  Back to the bridge over the Mississippi River...


That is a skinny pedestrian/bike access!

Back through the neighborhoods on the way back to the coach, checking out one of the many trains passing by...


For the record: yes, they do run during the night.  About 100 yards or so from our RV site.  Joan loved it.  Me?  Not so much.  Childhood memories of "living by the tracks"... our house where I grew up was closer to the tracks than this RV site.  I remember the house vibrating every time a train went by.  But, I digress.

Back at the coach, proof that I was along for the ride...


Being a city park, they have a check out time of 4:00.  Since we got an early ride in today, the new plan is to hook up and head east another 100 miles or so.