Air conditioning at any cost
I think, amidst the endless concrete and mediocrity that adorns the American Interstate highways, we have managed to work up a Plan. Brutal heat and humidity continue to dog us through the midwest, as expected, but we will escape to the high desert and Ponderosa forests that begin in New Mexico. It may be just as hot there but at least it won’t be as humid.
So our day unfolded much like the previous two, rolling down I-75, I-70 across the southern portions of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. The day started well. I woke up feeling like I hadn’t gotten quite enough sleep but still very refreshed after a shower and a night of blessed air conditioning. We got up early because we were expecting a visit from Dave Schumann, the veep of Airstream’s service department around 7:30. He and I have been trying to get together for months to talk about some future projects, including his participation in the upcoming Alumafandango, and this was at last a chance to sit down face to face. While he and I talked in his office, E&E got prepped for the day, and sometime after 9 a.m. we were on the road again.
It’s good to start off the day in a good mood and feeling strong, but I knew that I was short on sleep and at the end of our third 400-mile day in a row I was going to need to take some time off. By 5 p.m. it was hitting me, but we had reached our goal of St Louis MO and in the process crossed a time zone, so we all get to sleep an extra hour tonight. Plus, we aren’t expecting any visitors in the morning.
Knowing that we’d need air conditioning again (100 degrees as we arrived) we had already researched campgrounds. St. Louis has always been a tough place to camp, at least for us. The pickings are dismal among commercial campgrounds and there aren’t any state parks with camping in the area (somebody correct me if I’m wrong —I wish I was). This time we tried the Casino Queen RV Park, which is in East St Louis, just across the river from downtown. We can see the Arch from here, and there’s a free shuttle to that, and of course the casino. Those of you who know East St Louis know that it’s not exactly a dream destination, but this RV park has the advantage of being right off the Interstate for those weary travelers who just towed 400 miles from central Ohio and are desperate for a level spot with 30-amp power. We are paying a royal price for this privilege, $46 for a night and we will not be visiting the casino. This is what desperation will drive you to.
We had a partial plan to courtesy park with Stevyn and Troy, folks we have not yet met but who will be at Alumafandango, at their home about an hour west of St. Louis, but that was too far off our route to justify. We’ll have to wait to meet them in August. I found myself explaining to Stevyn that we don’t normally travel this way, roaring across the country without so much as a sniff of the flowers, but this was an unusual year for us. We are crossing a swath of the USA that would normally take us three weeks, in roughly six days.
So here’s the Plan. We will continue our great race two more days to Tulsa (about 400 miles) and then Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Amarillo TX (another 400 miles). Once we reach northern New Mexico where the air is cooler, we’ll begin to slow down and take about five or six days to meander through NM and northern AZ, skimming the edge of the Mogollon Rim and then—at the very last possible moment—make that final drive back into the low desert and home.
It seems like a great plan, but I don’t really know if it will pan out that way. Work will undoubtedly interfere at some point, and the need for decent Internet connectivity may force us out of the forests and back to the Interstate, or at least towns with cell phone service. Since I can only loosely predict what’s going to happen work-wise in the next week, we’ll have to stay flexible. But flexibility shouldn’t be a problem once we are out from under the threat of massive thunderstorms and energy-sapping humidity. We’ll have more choices of where to camp because we won’t be restricted by the need for air conditioning at any cost. Tomorrow, we will hit the highway again…