We got off to a late start on Friday, with temperatures well below freezing. We had to wait for the furnace on the motor home to warm things up a bit before loading electronics and some liquids. Then, once the sun started to melt the snow on the roof, we discovered a leak around the newly replaced window. That meant that, once we were loaded, we had to make a quick detour back to the glass place for a fix.
We were just about at Hwy 115 when we ran into Tim Horton’s for what may be the last of our favourite coffee for a while. Jim had a conversation with a fellow biker while waiting in line, and he gave him some good advice – spray the bike with PAM to protect it from the snow and salt! That’s a tip he hadn’t heard before, and since there was plenty of salt on the roads when we left, we decided that a trip back to a grocery store for that always useful vegetable spray would be worthwhile. At 3:00 pm, just an hour and a half after we’d left our driveway, we were finally on our way.
The roads were clear and the driving uneventful, but traffic was heavy and slow going through Toronto. We also drove into a bright sun for the later part of the afternoon. A stop in Milton for dinner didn’t make much difference in the traffic, and by 8:30 Jim was tired enough to call it a night. We spent that first night in our “new home” in a Flying J parking lot at St. Thomas, which was what we’d expected to do since there are no camp grounds or RV Parks open in Ontario this time of year.
We were up and eating breakfast at Denny’s by 6:00 am on Saturday. By 8:00 am we were crossing the border into the USA at Sarnia, with no problems. The rest of the day was unexciting, until we pulled into a Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Bloomington Michigan for dinner. Jim still had his foot on the gas pedal when a black car pulled up beside us and the driver motioned Jim to open his window. The fellow began a whole sob story about how he needed money for food and gas so he could get back home for Thanksgiving, or after, I’m not sure which. He offered his driver’s licence and registration as proof of his worthiness. When Jim said he couldn’t help him, he immediately backed up beside another car, then another, tearing around the parking lot like a maniac. He drove a newer looking large car. I wondered if begging was how he managed to pay for it. When we got into the restaurant and reported him, others had already beaten us to it and he was sent on his way. We parked in a TA Truck Stop that night.
This morning we decided it was time for a shower. We can’t fill our water tanks until they’ve been drained of the antifreeze, and we have a source of water, which will require a campsite with hookups. So we took advantage of the showers offered by TA. This was our first experience with this and it took several tries before we figured out how to do it. We had to pay ($13.00 each) at a kiosk to get a pass code to the private shower rooms. While we paid for the first one, a very nice trucker came by and said that he had extra shower credits that he would be glad to give us. He used his membership card to purchase the second shower for us. Somehow, we ended up with a third ticket. The friendly and helpful girl who looked after the showers spoke on our behalf and got us a refund on the one we’d actually paid for. The day was off to a good start, and the lovely warm, soft water, fresh towels and extremely clean shower room made it all the better. We were much later getting started today after all of this, but we were refreshed. Again the sun was shining. The country was flat and the drive a little boring until we crossed the bridge from Illinois to Missouri. Jim thought a side trip into St. Louis would be nice. I agreed, but worried a little about how we’d get around the city with our total of 46 feet of vehicles. My fears weren’t completely unfounded. We were trying to find a place to park near the Gateway Arch, and the waterfront. We started down one hill and could see the water at the bottom, but just as we hit the last block and approached a bridge, we saw the warning: Bridge height only 12ft. 2in.!
Now we aren’t sure just how high our new rig is, but it has to be close to that. So Jim had to back up the hill to the last intersection and turn the rig around! We then turned right, down another street that soon became a narrow road of cobblestones. For three blocks we slowly bumped over that before we found another street to take us to the waterfront. All along Leonor K. Sullivan Blvd, which borders the harbor, there were “No Parking, Tow-Away Zone” signs posted along the street. Several cars were parked there, but did we want to take a chance? Jim got out and talked to Santa Claus, a horse-drawn carriage driver, who told him where there was free RV parking further along the street.
What a beautiful day to get out and walk a bit. The temperature was around 20 degrees Celsius, apparently rare for this time of year. We took pictures of River Boats, and bridges, and the Arch; we took the tram to the top of the Arch and looked down. Two hours later, after getting lost once more, we found our way back to I-44 to continue our journey.
Tonight we’ve taken the evening off, in Sullivan Missouri. If this weather keeps up, tomorrow night we will find a campground where we can get charged up and filled up for the rest of the trip. Branson Missouri is also on tomorrow’s agenda.
A special thanks to Denny’s Restaurants for the great meals and internet access.