Saturday, May 31, 2014

Travel Day 1: Elgin, IL to Ft. Dodge, IA

I didn't get out of bed incredibly early in the morning - I had plans to sleep in a little, and then have breakfast with The Boy and The Kid before heading west.  So, I didn't really hit the road until about 9:30am.

This... all the way to Newport, Oregon.

I had it in my mind that I would more or less boogie right through Illinois, Iowa, and eastern Nebraska... to where the landscape became a bit less like what I see around home (you know... minus all the buildings).  That's more or less how it went.  I stopped a couple of times in IL - checking tire pressure, refilling my water bottle, refueling.  The segment of US 20 in IL is one I'd driven many, many times... been there, done that.

I spy... this!  I could have easily driven under it.
We have farm communities west of where I live, but I have yet to see this beast.

I quickly learned that driving US 20 through Iowa is very much like driving an interstate highway.  It doesn't seem to route directly through the small towns like I'd hoped for, but instead it has exits.  It's also a 4-lane divided highway.  I initially had thoughts of getting off and finding some parallel farm roads to travel instead... for the experience.  I still may do that.

Near Dyersville, IA, I saw a billboard for the "Field of Dreams" movie site, where the movie was filmed back in 1988.  I made a detour off the highway to find the field.  It was located a few miles out of town, but still plenty easy to find.  I stopped to stretch my legs, walked the bases... and grab some photos.

"If you build it, they will come."

As the towns approached and passed, I decided that a potential evening destination would be Ft. Dodge... if for no other reason than it sounded like it could be a cool little historic place with things to see and do. I went to the Dolliver Memorial State Park, which is about 6 or 7 miles outside of Ft. Dodge.  I hiked one of their short trails before heading into town. While the assumption about Ft. Dodge having cool things to do and see may have been true, I arrived in town too late to enjoy any of the museums and other historic areas the town had to offer.  It seemed to be one of those large, yet, smaller towns that roll their sidewalks up early.   Regardless, I stopped in for dinner, and walked the all-but-deserted downtown area for a bit before the rain chased me back inside.  At that point, I chalked up to bad timing on my part and called it a night.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Final Countdown

I'm at a couple of days left before starting the trip west... first to Portland, OR... later to Bow, WA.  I leave Saturday morning.  I'm super-excited... and also a little nervous about traveling that far on my own.  But, it's part of the adventure - and I'm all for a good adventure!

Mother Nature did her best to prevent completion of work to the Jeep, but fortunately the Jeep gods were smiling and we prevailed. The donor transfer case and transmission are in and working as they should.  I've completed all tune-up items, reinstalled the armor today, and even did some touch-up paint work.  Tonight, I installed the power inverter, added the memory foam mattress bedding and sleeping bag.

At this point, it's all about packing my clothes and other necessary things.  I have tonight and all day tomorrow to get of those items squared away.  I have a bit of laundry and shopping to do tomorrow, but I'm feeling relatively comfortable with the amount of things still left to do.  Outside of my chariot, I didn't do much advance preparation... and I still feel like I'm in a good place.

I'll still be unable to process and post "finished" photos from this trip.  That being said, I do still plan to take and upload images - either from my trusty cell phone camera, or some straight-out-of-camera shots.  I don't think I'm capable of not posting *something* for the entire duration of this trip.  That's just crazy-talk.  :)  I'm also going to experiment with the Blogger app on my phone... to post and upload via that.  Not sure, yet, how that will work out... so be warned of technical difficulties.

So, that's it.  It's come down to the wire, and although the last many weeks were crazy with repairs, planning and other obligations, it seems as if things have fallen into place.  In just a day and a half, the games shall begin!