Good morning, hazy skies, no point in waiting for the sunrise. I was so looking forward to having breakfast as the day breaks, but even the wind is not allowing me this pleasure.
I decided to drive to the town of Wall for a quick breakfast before getting back on the road to my next destination, Sakatah Lake State Park in Minnesota. I have a long driving day ahead of me. I am meeting with Lori, and then we plan to drive together to visit Susan in Chicago. I am very much looking forward to reconnecting with my Joshua Tree girls. What a magical ten days we all had!
I see a text from Lori asking for another day to travel. She is driving a 24-foot-long class C RV and pulling a small car behind her. Of course, her safety comes first, so now I don't have to rush. Which turned into a blessing as now I have time to let another person touch my life.
I am getting to the restaurant that Google Maps shows me is open so early in the morning. I stand behind a woman as I open the door and put two steps in. The waiter approached us with two menus and asked, "A table for two"? She looked at me and asked, "Shall we"? I don't see a reason why not. Here we are, two total strangers, sharing our life stories and getting to know each other over breakfast. The service here is slow, so I take the opportunity to go and wash up before taking our picture together. When I get back, Sherry had kindly taken care of the bill. (Do I have a sticky note on my forehead?) Hey Sherry, next time breakfast is on me, as I do hope our paths will cross again!
Knowing I need to change my plans, I check a photo I took a few weeks ago on my phone. One of the Facebook groups has a map with places where other women offer a place to stay or meet. When I check my route and the group map, I see one invitation from Sioux Falls.
What the heck, I will text Cinda and see if I can stop for the night, have Wi-Fi, and catch up on my writing. Right away, Cinda responds with "Absolutely yes." I want to ensure a friendly voice is behind this generous invite and call Cinda to work out the small details of my arrival. I learned to trust my intuition and my gut. Immediately, I feel a beautiful energy coming from Cinda, and I look forward to meeting her in person.
I have four hours of driving, and after two, I decided to take a break and sit in a local library and start my writing. My locale is the town of Chamberlain, where a small, old, charming building helps me be creative.
I want to capture in simple words what my drive looks like as I drive across South Dakota. Well, this area of South Dakota feels like one beautiful gigantic farm! Even though I am driving on a state highway, it still feels like a scenic byway.
By seven, I get to Cinda's house. I honestly can't explain why and how I connect easily with certain people, but the connection is instant, as if we've known each other all our lives. Thank you, Cinda, for your generous hospitality and for our new friendship.
Before I leave Sioux Falls, Cinda takes me to Falls Park to see the stunning Sioux Falls.
I have three hours of driving ahead of me; Google Maps welcomes me to Minnesota and the yellow carpet fields of corn and (I think) sunflowers.
It is fantastic to hug Lori again and be in her company. By midnight, we realize we better go to sleep.
Needing reception to figure out our route to Chicago, we stopped at a Walmart parking lot to choose the best scenic way possible. The Great River Road Scenic Byway (Route 35) is our route along the Mississippi River.
Google Maps welcomes me to Wisconsin as we convoy a New York State plate and a Washington State plate on The Great River Road Scenic Byway. It starts to feel like home; the small mountains, with occasionally opening faces of rocks hugged by trees, remind me of my happy place, Harriman State Park, back home. The sun is finally peaking through the gray clouds shimmering on the blue Mississippi River.
As we get to Prairie du Chien, Lori realizes she is missing a lug nut. Our safety is always our number one concern. Luckily, an auto parts store is open four miles away, and the problem is solved.
It is time to find a place for the night, and with a quick search, we find a campground twenty minutes away in the small town of Monona. As we cross the bridge of the Mississippi River, Google Maps welcomes me to Iowa. Both Lori and I are excited to add another state to our list.
I am back to the flat land of corn fields. I admit I was glad to be around the view of mountains, but now, returning to the farmland again, I have a new, rekindled appreciation for this flat beauty.
It has been two years since Lori sold her house and is full-time RVing. She travels with her dog, Sumo, and her cat, Hemi. She is still working part-time and soon to be retired. So this morning, while Lori works, I take the time to catch up on my writing next to her as we turn her RV into an office space.
We are five hours away from Chicago, but we are not rushing it and take our time driving through endless farmlands while avoiding highways. We are back in Wisconsin, and since we left late in the afternoon, we are driving only two hours today to Blue Mound State Park.
Wow, so many cornfields! I loved it when, at one point, I passed an old red barn standing proudly next to wind turbines. How symbolic, the past and the future stand together while the cows graze.
Stopping for the night at Blue Blue Mound State Park is a beautiful choice. We only have a little time to explore the park since the night falls early nowadays. We take a short hike to the east observation tower; what a fantastic view. Wow, so much flat land, no mountains to break the endless skies.
I am so excited for tomorrow! We are heading to Chicago.
Susan: We are almost there!