|After we had given up RVing for one and a half years, we had an
opportunity to buy a like-new 2000 GTRV Westy, 1999
Ford E150 van, Triton engine, 4.6L, EFI V8. Purchase Date:
September 14, 2002, odometer: 25,485 miles.
Now we were again able to embark on our our annual Autumn trek to Illinois for wild mushrooms (we found very few since the weather did not cooperate).
|October 15, 2002 (Tuesday) - Left Ocala, FL, at 9:15 am, taking I-75 north. Odometer: 25,665. Trip miles: 0. Rain started lightly, but kept increasing until there were pools of water on the highway. We stopped at a rest area for a while after seeing a jack-knifed truck during the heavy rain. Waited there until it cleared up a bit. Arrived at Southern Trails RV Resort (our new Coast to Coast home park), in Unadilla, GA, Dooly County, at 3:00 pm. Parked in puddles of water, and, using a golf umbrella, connected the electric cord. Ran a small electric heater to dry us out. Switched from cool shorts to warm long pants and sweat shirts; we wore winter outfits until our return south. Noticed a TrailManor travel trailer entering the resort, but did not get to see it being opened up in the rain. The rain lessened by the time we went to play Bingo at the clubhouse. This resort is one of the friendliest we have visited. Got a good night's sleep on our first night in the Westy. Before we left Ocala, I set the fridge at almost the coldest setting. Checking it tonight, I found almost everything partially or completely frozen. Looks like no worry about getting frozen mushrooms from Illinois back to Florida. We did turn the setting to less than half way. 249 miles today.|
Oct 16 (Wednes). Had free pancakes for breakfast at the clubhouse - all water puddles were gone and weather was clear. Back to I-75 at 7:30 am. We encountered a two-hour 21-mile long traffic jam north of Atlanta caused by two accidents that occurred at 5 am in the morning. According to the numerous reports on the CB radio, one involved a livestock truck and the other was caused by a driver either falling asleep or passing out and driving into a wall, killing himself. Stayed at Family Leisure Resort (Coast to Coast $6 card); 51.4°F. Met a couple with Class B camper van towing a Casita. They loved their trailer which they picked up at the factory in Texas. The only trouble they had was with the awning. A full-timer was camped next to us. He just purchased a big Class A in Louisiana, drove it here, and then discovered there was no spare tire and wheel, although there was space. He contacted the dealer and was told "they don't come with them anymore." He told the dealer to get him a spare. 183 miles today.
|Oct 17 (Thurs). Left at 8:00 am and had McDonalds breakfast - biscuit, sausage, egg, and coffee for John; cinnamon roll and ice water for me. Stopped at White Oaks on the lake, Monticello, IN, at 6:45 pm, but the office was closed, we had no reservations on hold, couldn't find the manager at his chalet, searched the clubhouse twice, and finally just drove into the campground and plugged in. 26,655 (990) miles. After the long drive today, we popped the top and pulled out the mattress, but did not check with the light on to see if it was properly seated. Earlier, John jokingly said something about the sturdiness of the top bunk. I climbed up - and the bunk started collapsing, but John caught me and the bed until I was able to get back on firm flooring. It was a really hilarious situation, but I did get the side of my foot slightly bruised. After that, we used the top light to make sure the bed was firmly seated. The top bed really is perfectly safe and quite comfortable. We used our zippered sheet envelopes with down sleeping bags every night. 558 miles today.|
Oct 18 (Fri) We left in the dark, heading for Jasper-Pulaski Wildlife Area, but found a charming place to have breakfast in the town of Monticello, IN. It was Molly's Diner, named after the owner's dog and run by a young couple, assisted by their daughters before they left for school. We wanted to find out what time zone we were in and how to find the highway leading to the Wildlife Area. Everybody in the diner wanted to help, each giving their separate instructions, albeit in several directions. Finally, someone wrote down detailed directions to guide us. The time zone was a different story. This area was on Eastern Standard Time, but did not change to Daylight Saving Time in order for their time to be the same as Central Daylight Time. At that point we changed our watches to CDT.
By the time we were leaving the diner, it was no longer dark, but there was a heavy fog all the way to Jasper-Pulaski. The campground there had been closed recently because of maintenance costs, but the rest rooms were immaculate. It had been over ten years since we were there last with one of our canoe clubs. The sandhill crane landings and takeoffs were magnificent, and we would also paddle the Kankakee River in the area. At that time we also found an abundance of mushrooms growing adjacent to the campground. This time we found one of our favorite stumps, but someone had harvested a good bushel of choice stump mushrooms several days before. We did find a few mushrooms and a small sheephead. A large sheephead was also there, but it was over-ripe. While we were in the area, we watched and heard the beautiful sandhill cranes flying just over the treetops in the fog, in groups of at least two and sometimes huge flocks. Very impressive; wish I could have taken pictures. This park is over 8,000 acres and nearly 20,000 birds use the facility for their fall migration to the south.
|We reached our destination at my brother Rich and Carol's home in Joliet, IL, at 11:30 am, 26,798 (1133) miles. Carol was going to have some dental work done the following Tuesday and couldn't eat very well, so we got three carry-out fish dinners from the Cantigny VFW Post. Spent the next three nights in a warm house. 143 miles today.|
|Oct 19 (Sat), 31°F, ice on the bird bath. Out in the wooded parks, the ground was very hard and dry from lack of rain in the area, but we found a few small sheepheads. Visited John's sister Helen, who had a sore leg as a result of slipping while climbing down the bleachers at a high school baseball game after a jubilant win. Helen's son Tom and his daughter Becky stopped by her house. Tom gave us a supply of mushrooms frozen from last year since we missed the rains of last year's fall. That was enough to fill the freezer and part of the fridge in the Westy on the way home. We also drove to Silver Lake State Park in Yorkville, IL, but it was crowded with people picnicking, fishing, hiking, canoeing. There were lines of people fishing from the shore and lines of boats fishing toward the shore. We drove down to the Fox River and had an enjoyable quiet lunch on the banks of a calm pond.|
|Today Carol and Rich bought a new large refrigerator which was going to be delivered early Sunday am, so Carol prepared a lasagna dinner for tonight, inviting my sister Peg, their son Ricky and wife Denise, and their son Eric, and Denise's mother. With the salads and Peg's gourmet apple pie, we all enjoyed the comraderie and good food and the entertainment provided by Rich and Carol's two miniature schnauzers and another one who was visiting.|
|Oct 20 (Sun), 28°F. Breakfast at Silver Spoon Restaurant at 10:30 am after the delivery of the new refrigerator. We met my cousin Shirley and husband Andy as we were leaving the diner. Drove to Lemont, IL, to visit former neighbors, but church was in session with traffic jams and no parking available. Went to Euro Deli for Polish sausage, cold cuts, and bakery. Then visited two cemeteries to take photos of markers of deceased family members. Leftover lasagna and defrosted grilled brats were on the menu tonight. We enjoyed our short stay in Joliet, but decided to leave early since we now had a good supply of frozen mushrooms and Polish delicacies.|
Oct 21 (Mon) 8:30 am. Camped at Hickory Shores on Lake Shelby. 27,159 (1494) miles. The office was closed. 74.1°F. Found several sheepheads that were a few days too old. The fall colors were beautiful while we were travelling on the highways, but no opportunity to take pictures while driving. 246 miles today.
Oct 22 (Tues) Stopped at the super-friendly McDonalds in Carlisle, Illinois, and then back to the interstate highways. Kentucky Welcome Area, 72.1°F. 27,312 (1646) miles. Tennessee Welcome Area, 74.7°F, 27,398 (1733) miles. Saw HIS and HERS semi trailers travelling through city. Listened to 3 audio tapes: Bill O'Reilly "The No Spin Zone." After that tape, we listened to only the intro and 2 chapters of Dan Rather "The American Dream" (4 tapes). Alabama Welcome at 3:00 pm, 27,531 (1866) miles. Joe Wheeler State Park on the Tennessee River at Rogersville, AL, 27,569 (1904) miles, 57°F, camp fee $14.96. 410 miles today.
Oct 23 (Wednes) Woke up to rain and mist during day. One traffic problem: repairs on I-65 in Birmingham where road repair crews were blocking three of the four lanes of traffic. Holley-King Lakes Resort (Coast to Coast) $6.00 card, at De Funiak Springs, FL, at 3:15 pm, 78.3°F, rain, 27,892 (2227) miles. 323 miles today
Oct 24 (Thurs) Left at 6:30 am, 65.3°F. Breakfast at McD in Bonifay, FL, at 8:00 am.
Home at 2:30 pm. 28,200 (2535) miles. 308 miles today. Total mileage: 2,535; MPG 16.875 - the Westy was very comfortable, easy to drive, and performed without any problems.
Upon arriving home, I divided the packages of frozen mushrooms into smaller portions in order to extend their enjoyment throughout the year. In less than one week, we had two steak dinners with side orders of sauted mushrooms to celebrate our successful(?) journey. - Ev