2016-09-09 – The Heartland
The past three days have found us traveling 950 miles to have dinner with our friends Nancy and Tim Okal in Chicago. We have crossed into the heartland of America across vast plains of corn and soybeans. The soaring spires of the grain silos, cathedrals of the plains, lift their bounty toward the skies as though in thanks to the God that blessed the crops.
From West Virginia to Muncie, Indiana to Joliet, Illionois, the topography changed from mountains to flat fields across Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. We traveled primarily on US highways and state roads rather than the interstates through one little town after another until they all seemed to run together. The farms are vast tracts and of course, I can’t help but hear the sound of “Over the Rainbow” in my mind.
When we finally got to Illinois and the Central Time Zone, we parked the rig at the Hollywood Casino RV Park in Joliet and traveled to Naperville (Chicago) to have dinner at Sorella de Francesca, a lovely Italian restaurant with a menu that does not boast the “traditional” spaghetti and meatballs but offers a hearty sausage, mushroom and penne dish that Bob and Tim loved. I had a fresh, cold tomato sauce over hot noodles and Nancy had an orichette dish. But the best part was seeing Tim and Nancy and catching up on our lives. Hopefully, we’ll pass that way on our trip home.
Tonight, we are camped along the Mississippi River in Muscatine, Iowa at the Shady Creek Corps of Engineer campground. The best part of the COE campgrounds is that, not surprisingly, they have sites that are generally level. These are all quite long and wide and concrete to boot . We have electric hookup but no water hookups – there are water faucets around the campground where you can fill your tanks. And...not surprisingly, no sewer hookup – only a dump station which really isn’t surprising given that we are so close to the river. There have been several days of torrential rain here and the railroad tracks are mud covered. Trees are down as well. But what is even more interesting is the water line from the river on the huge trees that line the water. These trees are about 6 feet above the water and the water line is at least five feet above that – do the math! Today, the Mississippi is sluggish but quite muddy and filled with debris from the storms. I would not want to be here during a flood of the mighty Mississippi. We will not be launching the kayaks though because it really is too muddy, filled with green algae and frankly, slimy. But, this weekend is the Farmer’s market, and second Saturday celebration in Muscatine and we may even go to LeClair to visit Antique Archeology – home of American Pickers.
Last but not least, our generator has croaked so, we have to be in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at 7 a.m. on Monday to get it repaired. We need that generator because we plan to go to the Badlands in South Dakota next week and if it is as hot as we remember from the last time we were there, and if we stay in the National Park again with no hookups at all, we will need the generator to stay comfortable. Thankfully, we found a Cummins/Onan repair shop on the way northwest to Minnesota and then South Dakota.