Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the category “Travelin’ Man”

Heading for Peru Creek

The current view out my “kitchen” window as I prepped my morning coffee. Not difficult to adapt to, in my opinion!

When leaving Wheatland, Wyoming for Dillon, Colorado, the fastest and shortest route was to take the Interstate to and through Denver. Considering that I poke along at a mere 65 MPH instead of the 70-80 MPH limit, that limits the theoretical time advantage of such a route. Having in the past swung into battle in Denver with the Defiant travel trailer, I decided that the more pleasant option was to instead add just a few miles and take a two-lane to Laramie, Wyoming in order to better take in the sights onroute. From there, more two-lane would take me to Dillon, Colorado. That worked out wonderfully.

Southern Wyoming is a treat. On long, lonely stretches that connect ranch entrances to the nearest distant town, I passed two pickups by the side of the road and two ranchers dressed in Western gear standing at the bed of one truck. By his arm gestures, one seemed to be describing something to the other as they conversed. Time to catch up on stories. A large wildlife area came up as I went on, and with it low mountains that the road twisted to stay between. These mountains were rugged and had an odd sandpaper surface, along with a deep tan color that through my amber sunglasses looked chocolate brown. I should have Read more…

Kadoka, South Dakota

Nestled into the weeds, awaiting a thunderstorm.

Not much to report here! This gas station is at the northern border of Kadoka, and as I write this, the trucks are just starting to trickle in along with the first few raindrops. The high was 90 today, though it was predicted to be 85.

The oil and filter change went well, although you can always tell a dealer that doesn’t regularly handle diesels. I paid a few shekels less than normal, but the “service engine soon” light came on in the dash as I made my way out, so I gingerly looped right back and told the service guy that I hoped it had nothing to do with oil! Actually, there’s a separate light for an oil pressure problem, but it took me a few minutes to recall that. All I could think of was a Midas Muffler dealer my son once worked at, and a Mustang that came in for an oil change. The guy pulled out and made it a few blocks before the engine started screaming and locked up. No oil. (Nope, my kid didn’t do the change.)

At any rate, two guys lifted the hood and checked what would normally be touched during a routine inspection. It seems there’s a sensor in the air filter housing, and the mechanic forgot to reassemble the plug for it. Problem solved. They took it out for a test run before handing it over, just to make sure the light was going to stay out. From there, I stopped for a couple of food items and set the iPhone for a travel center that was two hours away and offered hot showers. Meanwhile, The Garmin GPS was set for Kadoka, my next overnight.

Shower done and heading for Kadoka, I passed what looked like a nice little travel stop, but the GPS wanted me to go 8 miles farther and then head north. So I did. By the time it wanted me to go down a 1-lane “highway” that wandered all over and had badly broken pavement, I knew I’d been had. The destination it highlighted for me was located miles off of I-90, and in the next town over. I then keyed in GPS coordinates instead of a street address, and it took me back to that nice little travel stop. Sheesh. The iPhone had no issues with the same street address, so I think I’ll be a little more suspicious when using the old Garmin unit, hey? Adventure!

By the way, cellular service may be nonexistent at the next few campsites, so don’t be surprised if the posts suddenly seem to stop. Be surprised if they continue!

Mitchell, South Dakota!

The view out of my passenger-side bunk window.

I guess I won’t bother asking for guesses as to where I’m overnighting this evening. Mitchell is a good-sized town and, as there appears to be a Ford dealership a half-mile away, I’m considering a timely oil and filter change. I’ll take a look at the place tomorrow morning before beginning the next leg of my journey, to see if it is worthy of my esteemed presence. An oil change might take awhile, so I will have to remember to take my walking stick with me in order to beat off the showroom sales personnel while I wait. This has worked in the past, usually by merely posing at bat. A few blows about the head and shoulders always convinces the more aggressive remainder. Dressing down also works quite well, as long as it is down so far that a $20 loan approval looks unlikely. Wrinkled shorts, a stained T-shirt, and one missing sandal have always worked so far. Sure it’s embarrassing, but since this isn’t my home town, there is no unwanted fallout. Once the service has been completed, I’m outta there!

I’m going to hijack my own thread here, which if you look at past posts on this blog, is not unusual at all. Most of my trip that began in March has been Read more…

Voss Park Campground

Not much info is available online for Voss Park Campground, and what’s there is out of date, including the park’s own website. Best to go check it out personally, when possible, before financially committing!

Intense research last night and this morning as to my camping options to avoid the brunt of the current heat wave produced the affordable option of Voss Park, a large city park in the tiny town of Butterfield, Minnesota.

An aside: The town of Butterfield exists today only because of a poultry processing plant in town, Butterfield Foods. It suffered controversy earlier this year after Read more…


The roof is up on the Intrepid, not for camping but to let the fabric dry completely. Of necessity, I had packed up wet in Illinois, and it’s best to not let the fabric sit folded and enclosed damp for too long. After sitting out all night to dry, I lowered the roof right after taking this shot.

Much of Michigan is it’s own world, it seems, if one can mentally survive the crawling frustrations of circumnavigating the south end of Lake Michigan via Illinois and Indiana. Once you escape the molasses grip of those and cut northward in Michigan, it’s suddenly a robust automotive invigoration. On six lanes, divided, surrounded by thick forests of towering trees, one is free to barrel along at 70 MPH for miles and miles. A fair number of folks pooped along at my pace, which today was above my usual fuel-conserving 65 top end. But the massive traffic snarls earlier had also badly snarled my schedule, and relatives were expecting me in some timely fashion. The law enforcement community was doing a nice if not lucrative business along the way.

The roads near the shoreline are simply hard-pack sand, one lane wide. Yes, everything really is this green.

US-31 itself is down to 55 MPH and has stoplights in towns, but this is not abused, and breezing through is still pleasant. Once you hit your desired crossroad toward shore, a dirt turnoff is presented and it’s sand from there on in. Sand, sometimes rocky or with a hint of dirt, is all there is. It’s packed to a pavement-like firmness. The shore in “my ” area rises in Read more…

Chain o’ Lakes State Park

“Ahhhh, west and wewaxation at wast!” ~Elmer Fudd

Made it! After a time-consuming tour of the campgrounds to find the right combo of traits and availability for two weeks, I opted for a site with electrical power and cool shade. There was exactly one site without that hookup (at a cheaper rate), but it looked to me as if I’d be battling very limited daily spans of solar if I took it, particularly in light of the Chicago area’s predilection for “Chicago sunny weather” (grey overcast). True, the cost is a choker ($145/week at the discounted Senior Rate), but oh well…   That cool shade ought to come in handy less than a week from now, as the daily temperatures climb from the current low 70s up over 90 degrees. Chain o’ Lakes is in Spring Grove, Illinois. Given the boggy terrain, the major crop production here in the growing season is mosquitoes.

I actually stayed two nights at the Petro Truck Stop in Rochelle, wallowing in Read more…

Rochelle, Illinois

My GPS led me through a web of country roads to get here, and I have to say, the farther south and west you go in Illinois, the more the dense forests and hilly terrain make the trip appealing. Somewhere along the way were jillions of local cars and pickups jammed beside the road for a late afternoon food fight of some kind in town, and the north end of the same town offered a Civil War reenactment this weekend. And we suburbanites think meeting at a sports bar and grille is hot stuff. Whoop-de-do.

Not sure how long I’ll be here: the showers and laundry at this Petro truck stop have a certain appeal. It might be exciting when the time comes to head for the Chain-O-Lakes State Park, since unlike last year at this time, not very many sites remain unreserved, and the unreserved sites always tend to be a challenge to use – which is why they remain open. I’m winging it this year, but who wants to camp on a pronounced slope where even 4WD won’t get you out if it rains? Adventure!

Jefferson City, Missouri

It’s not all glamour and beautiful city parks when on commute. I stopped by the Binder State Park on the outskirts of Jefferson City to inquire about vacancies, but this being a Friday at about 4 PM, they were booked and waiting for the last camper to show up. So I made my way to a Walmart some 5 miles distant and set up camp, such as I do. I napped and at 7:30, there was a knock on the Intrepid’s door. Opening it revealed the husband of the Binder Camp host I’d talked to. It seems that the last camper, who had pleaded on the phone earlier, failed to actually show up to claim his spot, and this guy had driven the distance specifically to let me know and invite me out for the last campsite! Incredible! I’d apparently mentioned Walmart as my next destination, and he had hunted me down. Now that’s customer service. Alas, being 7:30 PM with only a brief overnight to stay, it wasn’t worth breaking camp to move back out there and lose 20 bucks to boot. It had been a whim to stop by in the first place. Amazing story, though, don’t you think?

From here on, it’s Walmarts and truck stops, so the frequent pace of posts may stutter a bit, barring more mini-adventures of which I hope there are none!

Chanute, Kansas

Yesterday was a mini-adventure day, the first order of the day being a shower. Turns out, the swimming pool in the Meade City Park doesn’t open on Thursdays until 12:30, but given the heat and apparent absence of alternatives in town, I waited. With a high of 89 the previous day, it was time. When I went over, I found A] that their shower is a cold-water rinse-off shower, and B] it is currently inoperative. Non-optimal! Fortunately, the lady behind the counter running a small herd of teenage girls there to “assist” (hang out) suggested the Meade Truck stop at the other end of town, which panned out just fine. At $8 and change, it is not a deluxe shower, but did just fine. Being built for use by semis, the station also had a real air pump, (as opposed to coin-operated air vend pumps which top out at car tire pressures).

By two o’clock, I began the day’s 280-mile, five-hour drive, which is longer than the usual. That varied from utter flatness to rolling hills, a crosswind dropping fuel mileage to 14.8 from the previous day’s 16.5. The Ford’s 6.4L Navistar diesel of that vintage has a penchant for gradually increasing overall fuel mileage the second day into a long, high-speed run, and holding the better figures for a couple of days no matter what the driving conditions are. Once returned to urban or suburban areas for awhile, fuel mileage eventually eases back down to “normal” levels. Odd. It is apparently happiest at full gallop, which might be related to its elaborate emissions system.

The only oddity of the trip was near the end, as I was being followed by a Read more…

Meade, Kansas

The young man of this couple was playing the harmonica outside of a truck stop in Tucumcari, New Mexico. I found this example of busking to be deeply disturbing, principally because I’ve had a small blues harmonica for many years, and can’t play it worth the spit I put into it. He was playing his great. Dang.

The dinosuar museum in Tucumcari that I’d hoped to visit is closed on Mondays, so I pressed onward for Kansas. Route 54 is the best and quickest way to get to Meade, Kansas, and along the way, the terrain change was interesting. It cuts through the corner of upper Texas, and the other thing besides the 75 MPH speed limit on a two-lane road that was notable was the utter flatness of the terrain. Talk about big sky! You can see as far as the atmospherics allow. Ranch entrances were here and there, but no ranch houses were in sight. Texas-sized ranch acreage, I guess. There’s some kind of weird vibe in such rural areas of Texas, something which Read more…

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