Musings from the Road Episode #Last (6 if you're counting)



55 degrees in the Roughrider Campground this morning.  Yesterday we left I-94 at Glendive, Idaho and motored northeast to pick up US-2, which we’ll travel all the way around the top of Lake Michigan.  A couple more town names for your continued edification — in Idaho: Nary and Climax.  The latter seemed out of place outside Pennsylvania.  

US-2 is four-lane divided except when we pass through a town.  


We rose at 0600, had a quick breakfast — yesterday’s leftover lunch reheated — showered, and were in The Hulk ready for the day’s journey by 0830.  By lunchtime we were in Crookston, Minnesota, hungry and in search of a quick lunch.  The search took about an hour!  After one of our very frequent fuel stops, we rode through town on 2, until it we’d reached the end of town, at least that’s what we thought when the road ahead made a sweeping left turn and there was prairie in front of us.  We made a U-turn and headed back toward the U of Minn. Campus and after finding that the Crookston Inn restaurant didn’t open until four, searched around the campus and settled on a Subway.  Based on the time wasted, we opted to take our sandwiches with us.  We reached that looping left expecting open road around the corner, only to find the entire town of Crookston ahead!  We saw many places to lunch on our way through the Main Street of the town!  I think we have to refine our search algorithm. 

Speaking of algorithms, I have a couple of math word problems for those who need a change from this monologue.  These are both taken from observations made along the road.


Problem 1 - Driving east, I observed an approaching westbound BNSF freight train.  I checked my odometer when abreast of the engine, and again when abreast of the last car.  0.6 miles.  My speed was 70 and for this problem we’ll make the train’s speed 50.  How long is the train in miles?


Problem 2 – A wind turbine blade is 120 feet long and makes a complete circuit in 25 seconds.  How fast would you be moving in miles per hour if you were hanging on to the outer edge of the blade?




Tonight, we are at Prairie Lake Campground after 425 miles (ten of which were probably hunting for lunch in Crookston.)  Tomorrow, Michigan!




Rabbit, Rabbit!  We are parked in Site 19 at the campground, under an oak tree which serenaded us regularly with a drumbeat of acorns bouncing off Mocking Jay’s roof.  In spite of that we slept pretty well and rose around 0630.  Didn’t check the temp — apologies to all you record keepers.  We decided today was an ‘up-and-out’ day where we’d catch breakfast on the road.


US-2 was four lanes from the time we picked it up, north of Sydney, MT yesterday.  Sydney’s claim to fame is its sugar beet production, as evidenced by the many acres of beets we saw as we neared the town.  I notice that the fields are irrigated by soaker hose networks, a much more efficient system than the large sprayers that roll around a central well on huge wheels.  Soakers are not subject to evaporation in the air, but have to be more expensive.  Enough about irrigation.  


Our four-lane US route turned into a series of construction sites that made us two-lane for several miles.  To top that off, US-2 between Grand Rapids and Duluth in Minnesota was closed for several miles, and at one point we thought we were back on the road after the detour only to come upon another barrier — with no instructions as to which way to turn!  It all worked out however, and we arrived in Duluth and were treated with a view of the industrial city and the mass of Lake Superior beyond as we broke over a hill.  No pics.  Sorry. 


As we continued through the city, I became aware that I hadn’t seen a US-2 sign for some time.  Since the road tends to dodge arbitrarily to the right or left, I figured I’d missed a turn.  Enlisting the aid of my awestruck navigator, we got through the city on US-53 which mated with US-2 at some point.  Shortly we were in Superior, Wisconsin looking for food.  We found a Perkins that shared a large parking lot with a visitor center.  We were the only people in the place, including staff, wearing masks.  This was unfortunately true at every fuel stop in Minnesota also.  


US-2 split from 53 a dozen miles past our meal stop and continued east entering Michigan, then Wisconsin, then Michigan again.  We are currently at Pioneer Trail Park and Campground, a roomy and pleasant county park on the bank of the Escanaba River.  Speaking of rivers, we crossed the Mississippi at least twice.  It is about fifty feet wide in the north country.   


We had carried at least four flies all the way from Idaho: two each in Mocking Jay and The Hulk.  Not knowing if transporting flies across state lines was illegal, we removed them in the usual way at the first opportunity. 





Up at 0700 this morning.  Temp, 48.  


We’ll continue on US-2 until Mackinaw and then pick up I-75 for a relatively straight shot through Detroit into Ohio around Toledo.  When we passed through Ashland, I thought we’d find the funky café I mentioned earlier.  No success. We still have possibilities with today’s loop over Lake Michigan.


We stopped at a rest area on the shore of Lake Michigan for a breakfast of cereal and fruit. We spent longer than necessary sitting at the picnic table a few feet from the lake.  I wondered what the first humans thought when they saw this vast body of water — or the first sighting of any of the other four.  It’s hard to put myself in the head of someone traveling through the endless woods in the U.P. then having it open up to a vista like this.  


We are in KC Campground, about twenty-five miles north of Toledo, still in Michigan but just barely.  430+ miles today after a late start. Ten hours on the road but an easy/boring drive.  I think we’re both ready to be home.  Sadly, we did not find our funky café.  It’s out there somewhere.


It looks like we’ll be home Saturday.  Around Cleveland we’ll decide whether to take I-80 across Pennsylvania or swing north on I-90 into New York and travel I-86 toward home.  We won’t make that choice until we have to.


We’ve been listening to audio books downloaded to my phone from the New York Public Library this trip.  It plays very nicely through The Hulk’s sound system … until yesterday when my phone seemed not to want to talk to The Hulk anymore.  I figured a simple reboot would take care of the issue, but when I tried to execute said reboot in the usual way by holding the on/off button until the ‘power off/restart’ screen appeared, the Bixby App wouldn’t let me.  It wanted me to go to a screen I couldn’t reach.  It wanted to have me talk into the mic so it could recognize my voice.  I believe I added several expletives to Bixby’s vocabulary before giving up.





0625 this morning, temp, 48 again.  Refreshed from sleep, I tackled Bixby’s persistent attempt to control my phone.  I couldn’t uninstall it (them, there are three separate apps that make up Bixby) but I could sort of disable them with Force Stop.  When I issued that command, I was warned that stopping the app may cause errors.  I did it anyway.  It didn’t work, but it shook up Bixby enough that she (it is a female voice) began to be much more cooperative.  I was finally able to reboot my phone!  We’ll see whether that solves the non-pairing problem when we get back on the road.


When I stepped outside into the pre-dawn morning, I saw that the campground is next to a beautiful small lake.



Sunrise over KC Campground


Eager to be on our way, we secured things and headed to New York.  Since we arrived at this campground after the office had closed and left before it opened, we hadn’t paid for the site.  We will call and settle up when we get home tomorrow.  


340 miles today.  We flew through Ohio, chose the I-90 route, skirted the northwest edge of Pennsylvania and turned onto I-86 for the trip along New York's Southern Tier.



W'ere Hooked up tonight in Elkdale RV Resort, another funky campground, this one surrounded by corn fields.  The only thing that identifies a specific campsite location in the grassy meadow is the occasional post on which the electric hookup box sits.  There doesn’t appear to be any alignment that would indicate a row of sites, kind of like the houses in western towns along the road to Jackson Hole.   

Carol of the Corn


We’re 315 Miles from home!  





Neighbors arrived last night. A huge fifth-wheel with a young couple and a very active five or six-year-old boy.  We were playing Scrabble at the time so we didn’t engage with them.  This morning, as I was attending to the various buttoning up activities on Mocking Jay, the man approached and we quickly started chatting.  Actually, he started chatting and I mostly listened.  Here’s what I found out.


He is from south Texas around San Antonio, He is a driller which means that anyone who needed a hole dug for whatever reason, hired him.  He was in the Eugene area just before we got there, doing some drilling job — said something about the hardest rock he'd ever had to drill into.  He drove from there to North Carolina to pick up his family and the 40+foot fifth wheel along with his family and bring them here.  He has a job starting in Dayton (Ohio, I assume) drilling holes for pilings that would provide a foundation for the giant wind turbines.  My guess is he’ll leave the fifth-wheel here with the family and trek out to Ohio for a few days work.  He also said he trades in the fifth wheel every couple of years for a new one.  This machine is what’s called a Toy Hauler — it has a sort of garage in back.  This one’s garage had two ATV’s.  As I mentioned, I mostly listened.  That’s all I can remember, except thinking that I was looking at a $200,000 machine that he traded in every couple of years and wondering how much money a driller makes.


We left the funky campground at around 1000, temp 54.  When I dumped the holding tanks for the last time this trip, the black water tank didn’t empty.  Bummer. Added some of the stuff that’s supposed to act on the solids to make them not solid, then we headed home.  Our first stop, not including the perennial fuel stops, was for food.  We decided on Corning, one of our favorite southern-tier places, would be a great idea.  Since it was a distance away, we didn’t get there until about 1300.  Even past brunch time.  Carol says I was grumpy during that ride.  I don’t think I was and she can’t prove it. 


We dined at a nice table on the sidewalk in front of the Old World Café.  A delightful cafeteria-style venue on Market Street.  I have to tell you that I did another superb job of parking our more-than-thirty-five-foot rig in a double slot between parked cars. Since Carol, to whom I'm reading this, continues to say I was grumpy, adding that I cheered up after I ate, I guess I might have been. 


Home was so close after all this time that I pushed the machine along hard over the Allegany mountains.  I-86 is the old NY-17 that runs west to east along the southern border of the state.  Unlike most interstates, 86 didn’t try to alter the path of 17 in any way, and since 17 climbed and descended mountains rather than carving a gentler path through them there were some pretty substantial climbs on the road.  Just past Liberty, The Hulk told me its transmission was overheating.  I pulled off the highway, located a parking place and waited about ten minutes.  Then I instructed Jezebel to take us to the nearest gas station and let the transmission rest while I fueled up.  From that point on we stayed off the high-speed interstate.  We arrived home when the sun was getting low over the Gunks.


Yes, we’re home!  341 miles today.  7133 for the entire round-trip.  End of saga. Thanks for reading.