|That's all that's left of the proud banner.|
Who is this "Sean"?
Well, the return leg, I was joined by my buddy and bandmate Sean. He flew out to Denver so he could ride back with me. So I left Moab Friday night at about 9:45 PM to start heading to Denver, which is about 6 hours away. Originally, I had thought to just leave at 4am. However, if for some reason I was tired or got held up, I didn't want to chance being late to the airport by 10:10am. It worked out better that I had packed up my campsite prior to the raffle. I won nothing and was extremely jealous watching others win prizes that I 'needed'. I should have purchased more raffle tickets. I only bought one. I instead watched people win multiple times. So if I return, I know the strategy. Go for broke...and hopefully don't end that way :)
So here are some pics of the final 2 or so days on the road racing back across country to beat Memorial Day traffic.
The South Dakota sign was right there near the Buffalo Gap sign. From a distance I thought the Buffalo Gap sign was the SD sign so that's why I stopped short. And it looked better than the SD sign so I thought to take it as well. We were starting to pretty much have the same poses for all the signs; so, I suggested a Hi Five. Because that's original. My truck is a really great photographer. Thanks, Veronica.
So we pressed on.
Far left is the Nebraska sign. No stopping here on this bridge. No shoulder available.
Although I could have spent forever in that store, we had about a 4 hour drive if I recall correctly to get over to Iowa City. I had hoped to link up with the cheer team there, but I guess I was too late confirming my itinerary with the coach. It probably worked out in a way. We got there 2 hours later than I had anticipated. I thought we'd get there at 2pm and it was closer to 4pm. Really liked what I saw of their campus. Very traditional with beautiful landscaping and this body of water right behind us as you enter campus.
I liked all the wildflowers growing near the Illinois sign. Probably should have stopped to photograph them more closely. Then again, its not the safest stopping along the side of 2 lane highways with trucks bearing down. Also, more than a few times, tractor trailers would start pulling in behind us. I think on some of the more desolate stretches, it must have looked like we were stranded. We generally just got back in the truck and kept driving. The drivers never got out, nor did they try to reach me on the radio or say anything derisive to another trucker about us 'idiot city guys' sending false alarms by stopping on the roadside. So I'm not sure what it was. Unless it was just coincidence that the shoulders were especially wide in these areas and made for good stopping points for them as well.
I already had pictures of the signs for Indiana and a few of the other states on the return; so, I didn't take them again. We stopped in Indianapolis for the night. We went to a KOA campground and bought showers for $5 a piece. I had thought about staying at a budget motel and splitting the costs, but after I relayed to Sean my experience at one national chain on the way out, he wanted no part of it. The room itself seemed decent. My main issue was that at some point someone had urinated and not flushed the toilet. So it just seemed like although the room looked clean, it really wasn't. Like "Did they change the sheets or just make up the same dirty ones?" It just kind of compromised the whole feel of a clean rest place away from home. So I slept on top of the covers. And even at the budget rate, it just doesn't make sense to spend 40+ just for a shower and to sleep marginally more comfortably than I would in the clean cab of my truck. So we did that again in Indianapolis after the campground shower. The pic above is what my truck looked like as soon as I pulled in home. The "Get Some" got partially washed away during the hail storm when I had the wipers going furiously. The flag literally ripped itself apart at highway speeds near 90 mph. The stated rate/limit got as high as 80 if I recall...and I generally tack on +10. The first time I encountered 55 again, I didn't even know how to do it. It felt like I was in idle at that point. Up close you can see some of the bug carnage that is on the front of the truck. Mind you, this is after one car wash on the outbound leg, and a torrential downpour. These things were exploding all over the front of the truck. Just disgusting.
So, I'm back, and I've done a full day at work. It wasn't too bad adjusting back. I saw a lot and learned even more.
Sean was a bit upset because I didn't let him drive. When I originally set this up, I was intrigued by the challenge of being able to make the driving in the time frame as a solo traveler. It was nice having accompaniment on the return trip, but I still wanted to test the challenge of living on the road. Also, I'm very protective of the truck. If I mess it up, then fine. That's my fault. But I couldn't conceive of how I'd respond if we got into an accident, say, and someone else was driving. Whether it was their fault or not. I would always be thinking, "how would I have responded if I was behind the wheel?" So I just wanted to do the driving.
This definitely isn't the end of this blog; just the end of this trip. I'm already thinking of what the next Trek might be. The first challenge though will be reconciling the expenses from this one and paying down some of the debt I incurred. I had hoped to defray some of it through additional sponsorships.
I'd like to once again thank AutoAnything.com. That dual battery system I set up using the donated Yellow Top Optima was clutch in that camp ground. It was a last-minute booking and didn't have power hookup. The only way I was able to consistently log on to post updates and charge my phone to stay in contact with loved ones was because I had that strong battery in the rear of the truck. The inverter I hooked up to it has a low battery alarm if the voltage drops below a certain threshold. Well, I couldn't tell you what that alarm sounds like because I never heard it. I'd be up half the night running a laptop and charging my ipad and iPhone, sometimes while intermittently running my 'camp lights' that I have mounted on the self-fabricated rack. It never was an issue. I even bought a portable compressor for airing my tires back up at the trail head. I connected it directly to the battery for inflating all four tires; the battery always bounced back. The only thing I didn't get a chance to do was to run tools like my impact driver or drill. I'll probably run some tests on that now that I'm back. But other than that, I've got a pretty good setup overall. Just a few tweaks and enhancements I'm eyeing once I get my money right.
So stay tuned. More adventures to come hopefully in the near future.