It’s day #24 since we launched! We’ve intentionally taken a break from posting on 12mph.com until we have enjoyed some time and experiences along our travels. We post more frequently on Instagram and often with more photos than will appear on 12mph.com. If you are so inclined, please find us on Instagram @speedofsanity.
We have logged many miles in a Midwestern Loop that has taken us to Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin thus far. Our stays have been in four state parks, a county park, and one city park. Originally, we thought that we would “catch our breath” on this first jaunt. The reality is that we’ve experienced very little down time. “Why?” you ask?
We are passionate about the relationships in life. These include staying connected with family, friends, and communities. Thus, we built our trip to see many family members and some friends. In fact, we have seen 96 family and friends as of this post! More visits will be enjoyed in Minnesota and Nebraska!
Several gatherings included a meaningful afternoon at the Belle Plaine Area Museum, family gatherings in Iowa and Minnesota, and reunion gatherings with friends. Incorporating these visits with the anticipation of the upcoming autumn season at higher elevations in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, we knew that we needed to keep the pace moving!
What we’ve discovered about full-timing
Wi-Fi access and cell service are luxuries. Our Verizon Hotspot is wonderful, but once we hit 15 gig per phone, the service is throttled to a slower pace despite being coined “unlimited”. We’ve been to numerous public libraries and coffee shops to gain access to Wi-Fi. We also have a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that we use when on public Wi-Fi networks. It provides added security, which is wise. Although we’ve discovered that only one of us can use the VPN at a time with success. The second user signed into the VPN finds an extremely slow experience. Most of the state parks have little to no cell phone service (much like a national park). This makes for feeling a bit too disconnected from our adult children at the moment, mainly due to these limitations and time zone differences.
Washers and dryers are luxuries. Our laundering costs are running roughly $15 every nine days. Once we return to a more arid climate in Colorado, we won’t sweat as much and can wear tops and shorts an extra day or two! Plus we will dry many of our clothes on a drying rack instead of using a clothes dryer. Grieder’s Wash & Dry in Belle Plaine, Iowa was wonderful with spic-and-span washers, dryers, and overall cleanliness. How we’d love to replicate this visit! Another laundromat in Two Rivers, Wisconsin had us steeped in a heat-and-humidity sauna with many washers or dryers out of order and significant stains on the carpeted floor.
We should train for a rodeo! There have been some interstates, U.S. highways, and county roads that were awfully bumpy. We felt like we were in Bucking Bronco rather than in a truck named Bessie. We are making a list of the worst roads so as to avoid them upon a future venture to the Midwest.
We are trailer technicians in training. While we’d like to say that the trailer is ideal, we’ve had a few issues along the way. That’s how it goes with new homes, right? At the top of the list is the hitch sway bars. Fortunately, Steve kept a wide range of tools, so he’s been able to make adjustments to the sway bars. We are creating a short list of concerns that we’ll address with the R.V. dealer when we visit them in October. In the meantime, we’ll tend to items that need immediate attention.
Our eating habits need to be revised. The hospitality of family and friends has been heart-warming and tummy-filling. Most of our visits have included delicious meals and desserts. We are grateful for grocery stores and Midwest farm stands with fresh produce. The tomatoes and sweet corn have been amazing! Occasionally we are satisfied with canned fruit that we keep as a pantry staple.
Our pace has tampered with our activity level. While we’ve managed a short bike ride once, we’ve enjoyed several walks or hikes. Nevertheless, we are in deficit mode and anticipate returning to more rigorous hiking and biking with more regularity. Although, our hike with friends in High Cliff State Park in Wisconsin had a nice ascent with beautiful view of Lake Winnebago.
Heat and humidity made 30-amp service an essential. It didn’t take long to enter sweat mode with very little effort. Some days we’ve showered twice or changed clothes twice. We knew this would be the case, so we reserved campsites two months ago based on needing 30-amp service to run the air conditioner.
The local townspeople are good conversationalists. In Mankato, Cawker City, and Belle Plaine, we’ve passed many a minute or hour with local folks who have been very helpful, kind, and interesting. There’s a pace to rural living that we should all experience. At times we pine for this type of community, in which we were raised or where we visited grandparents.
Where have we been?
Lovewell State Park northeast of Mankato. The setting was very pleasant. Campsites in the loop where we stayed were spaced so that we didn’t feel packed into the park. We had a mature Cottonwood tree that gave us shade. Hookups included electric and water. Sunsets were gorgeous. We enjoyed conversations with the locals in Mankato and Cawker City. In Cawker City, we visited the largest ball of twine with over eight-million feet of sasal twine and roughly 20,000 pounds. We also saw a gorgeous restored pipe organ in the United Methodist Church. The organ is the oldest organ in Kansas, which was built in 1886 by Pilcher’s Sons of Louisville. We also visited the Geographical Center of the Continental U.S. near Lebanon, Kansas.
Prairie Rose State Park south of Harlan was a quiet setting with a nice view of the lake. What really captivated us were the songs of birds! Their tweets, chortles, and melodies brightened our days. We had full hookups, so we were spoiled. Harlan is a well-maintained community of roughly 5,000 residents. It offers many amenities including parks and a large public library. As Harlan is the county seat for Shelby County, the courthouse sits on a beautiful town square with many restored façades. On the square is the Sandwich Board where we grabbed yummy sandwiches.
Belle Plaine, Iowa (Diane’s hometown). The 2010 Census has Belle Plaine with 2,534 residents. It’s along the Lincoln Highway and Iowa Valley Scenic Byway. At Franklin Park for $10 per night, we had water and electric hookups plus a dump station at this small campground. Views of the park were very pretty. We walked to “downtown” several times due to being just blocks away. The Lincoln Café and the Ice House are popular eateries. The Lincoln has been around for many decades, thus it has a loyal following. Diane once caught the Greyhound bus from the Lincoln for a trip to Colorado as an 18-year old! We spent time at the Community Library accessing Wi-Fi. Across the street is the Belle Plaine Area Museum, which is an absolute gem! On August 5, we had a lovely gathering there where Diane shared a presentation on her great-grandparents along with the assistance of cousins, sister and brother-in-law, and Steve. Several family members brought items for display. We also donated many heirlooms that will be enjoyed by visitors as part of future exhibits. Returning to hometown territory was a walk-down-memory-lane for which we were grateful.
Shabbona Lake State Park in Shabbona, Illinois is tucked back in a deciduous woodland of walnuts, maples, and thick vegetation. It’s only a five-minute drive south of U.S. 30. We had 30-amp electric hookup. Near the entrance of the campground we filled our fresh water tank. They also offered a dump station, which we used upon check-out. The location of Shabbona to attend gatherings in the western suburbs of the Chicago area made for quite a bit of driving. After having lived in the Chicago suburbs for 32 years, we knew the challenges we’d face with the trailer included finding a campground, expensive tolls, and traffic congestion. Thus, it made sense to stay where we did. We had very active squirrels dislodge walnuts from the tree above the trailer. Thud! Several times whole walnuts bounced off the trailer roof or awning.
Sherwood, Wisconsin is not far from the shores of Lake Winnebago. We had the luxury of parking Tranquility (our trailer) on our friends’ driveway and staying in their guest room. It was divine! Their beautifully landscaped yard was dotted with color from carefully placed annuals, perennials, shrubs, and planters. A variety of birds visited the bird feeders or feasted on mature seedheads. Our friends’ hospitality made us feel like we could stay for days!
Point Beach State Forest is north of Two Rivers, Wisconsin along Lake Michigan. Our family has been camping here over four generations, so it holds a special place in our hearts and memories. We had 30-amp electric. They offered a fresh-water fill and dump station within easy access. Our site was surrounded with thick vegetation and mature trees. We were about 200 yards from the waterfront. Lake Michigan’s water level has risen, so the beach was not its usual expansive play area. It was fantastic to walk the narrow strand of beach with small waves breaking and lake gulls scurrying.
Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas….Stay tuned as we finish our Midwestern Loop!
Please subscribe to 12mph.com so that you receive notices when we create the newest post! Simply click on the “Subscribe” button and follow the prompts.
We’re enjoying Life at the Speed of Sanity!
Diane & Steve Felt