In case you were wondering, we did make it home to Idaho eventually, but it was not easy. After a week of extreme heat and humidity, we were anxious to get back to our farm and see what damage the snow had done to our garden. Not knowing what the weather would be like, we had not reserved campgrounds for the trip home. We wanted to be able to make changes as needed. The night before we left Kentucky, we booked our next three stops near St. Louis, Kansas City, and Goodland.
We were covering ground we’d seen before, so there weren’t many surprises. We drove through Indiana and stopped for lunch at the Red Wagon. This place is a senior’s paradise for lunch and it was filling up fast at 11:15. The daily special was a fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans buffet. I happened to take a picture of the John Deere dealership and corn field before we walked into the restaurant. When we walked out of the restaurant less than an hour later, the corn field was gone.
We spent the first night at a KOA outside Kansas City. It was still pretty hot and miserable, and we weren’t up to an evening in town after spending about 8 hours in the truck (360+ miles). Somewhere between the Red Wagon and the KOA, Shawn realized he didn’t have the credit card he used to pay for lunch, so I got busy canceling the card and ordering a new one.
We hit the road early Wednesday morning and stayed in Lawrence, Kansas for the night. We decided to go into town for dinner at Free State Brewing (“because without beer, things do not seem to go as well”). We had a nice dinner and some good Imperial IPA. Lawrence is a cute college town, so we walked around a bit before it started to rain.
And then things took a turn for the worse. I lost my voice and started feeling like the pressure in my head wasn’t due to allergies. We spent the day driving across Kansas to our next stop in Goodland. At one of our pit stops, Shawn started talking to another traveler about his RV because it was the upgraded version of our RV. We spent the day passing each other on the road.
We rolled into the Goodland KOA late in the afternoon and started setting up. The pop-out on our RV had been acting up a bit and not sliding out straight. I didn’t think too much of it but mentally added it to the growing list of maintenance work to be done when we got home. This time however, Shawn had to actually push and pull on the pop-out to get it fully extended. We were sitting inside when our fellow travelers arrived in their Reflection and parked next to us. Shawn told him of the issues we were having. I called the manufacturer to see if there was anything that could be done. Our concern was that we wouldn’t be able to get the pop-out back in and then the RV would be unmovable. Another issue is that when the pop-out is in, it blocks the path to the bathroom and the bedroom.
Our neighbor came over a few minutes later and said he’d found a video on YouTube that showed how to reset the timing on the slides and solve all of our problems. We said sure let’s give it a try. We pulled the pop-out in and that was the last time it was out. We started calling RV dealers trying to find someone on our route that would help us out. The first one asked if we bought the RV from them, and then told us to take a hike. Our neighbor was from Denver so he told us to call his dealer. They said if we could get there by 9:00 AM the next morning they would take a look at it, but no promises that it could be fixed.
We used the shower and bathroom at the campground and then spent the night trying to sleep on the recliner (me) and the converted dining table (Shawn). Sometime near midnight, I noticed the cat pawing at the narrow cupboard next to the stove. At home, Chuck prowls around the house opening cupboards at night. I didn’t think too much of it as he jumped into the cabinet. Then I heard crinkling, crunchy sounds coming from a different cabinet in the kitchen. The cupboard he climbed into was open to the guts of the RV. I had to wake Shawn who had finally fallen asleep to find the damn cat. (Note, this is the same damn cat that we almost left in California when we moved to Idaho because he was hiding in a kitchen cabinet when it was time to leave.) It was a long, uncomfortable night and at 4:15 we finally gave up and hit the road for Denver.
Traffic in Denver at 8:30 on a Friday morning is horrendous and there was construction at every turn, but amazingly we arrived at the RV dealer at 8:55. The service manager spent almost an hour helping us. He wasn’t able to fix the slide, but he showed Shawn how to override the automatic motor controls and force the pop-out in and out. We could continue to use our bathroom and sleep in our bed for the rest of the trip!
After an extremely long and tiresome morning, we were in need of breakfast and coffee so we found an IHOP. Unfortunately, there was no parking near it that could accommodate our truck and RV so we parked across the street in the large Home Depot parking lot. When we got back to the RV, one of the Home Depot employees had left a lovely note on the RV.
As we headed toward our next stop in Laramie, Wyoming, we saw signs indicating high winds on the pass. Our first concern for the drive home was snow, but now we needed to worry about wind. It was raging when we rolled into Laramie. We considered blowing by Laramie and continuing on to Brigham, Utah to try and outrun the wind but after talking to the desk staff at the Laramie KOA we decided take our chances and leave early in the morning when they said winds were usually lighter.
We were up before sunrise again and on the road. We decided to skip Brigham and drive to Idaho Falls instead, cutting our drive from 3 days to 2. The wind was pretty bad and warnings were still posted, but semis were driving in both directions and we hadn’t seen any lying on their sides before we reached the Continental Divide. We did see one tipped over on the other side however. I took the occasional picture from the moving vehicle, but at this point I really felt like crap and wanted to be home in my own bed. At least the weather was improving. We had the best Mexican food at El Jaliciense of Wyoming in Kemmerer. Nothing like a good bowl of tortilla soup when you’re not feeling well.
I don’t even remember taking these last pictures, but I must have thought they were worthy of recognition. I think they are all in Wyoming.
We spent our last night in Idaho Falls. Although we were in Idaho, we went up into Montana before getting back into northern Idaho and home. The only memorable event from the last day of driving was seeing signs for the World’s Best Milkshake. I don’t remember what state it was in, but it was a damn fine huckleberry milkshake and soothed my sore throat.
All in all, it was a great trip. We drove through 12 states, many that I had never visited. I loved the Black Hills of South Dakota and Kentucky was beautiful too. Our homecoming was bittersweet. The flourishing garden we left 3 weeks earlier was a pile of mush. Luckily, our neighbors were able to pick and enjoy loads of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and cucumbers before the snow hit.
- Days of travel: 19
- Stops: 12
- States driven through: 12
- Miles Idaho to Kentucky: 2,403
- Miles Kentucky to Idaho: 2,370
- Books listened to: 5