Day 1 – Iowa to Oklahoma

I certainly never anticipated that this post would be coming so late.  Today’s journey has been a little daunting!

Scott and I left home at 7:30 a.m., heading for Camping World where our trailer was… and then, we left home AGAIN at 7:50 a.m., heading to Camping World!  The first time through, we made it about 2/3 of the way when I asked Scott “Did you get the milk?”  “No,” Scott responded, “It was in the fridge next to the other chilled food for the trip.”  Oops.  So, we turned around and headed home!

We got hooked up relatively quickly, and then realized the right rear tail light on the trailer was burned out.  Only, it wasn’t.  It seems something was wrong with the wiring harness.  So, I trundled inside to get one of the technicians to take a look.  “Everything worked yesterday,” the man told me.  So he came out, sure enough, it’s not working.  After working a little magic, he was able to demonstrate that the wiring on the trailer is just fine.  It’s the connection to the truck that’s not working.

Disgruntled, Scott and I set off on our journey at 8:45, discussing how we were going to get things fixed.  We decided we’d try to get to Albuquerque, and get the truck serviced there.  By Lincoln, we discovered that we didn’t have trailer brakes… it was just the pickup trucks brakes doing all the stopping work.  But we were determined to get to Elk City, so we powered on through.  All across Nebraska to York, the sky was cloudy.  As we neared York, and then drove south to Kansas, the low clouds became fog.  This slowed us down, a little.  Passing through Wichita, it began to rain, and then, miraculously, the sun came out.

Shortly in to Oklahoma, however, that changed again.  We were hit by a massive squall, rain driving sideways blinding us.  Hail.  We had to pull to the shoulder and let it pass.  After it cleared enough for us to drive on, we encountered the accidents.  And then the piles of hail that made it look like 4 inches of snow had fallen. 

We took OK33 from Guthrie to Kingfisher, then dropped down US81 to El Reno and the interstate, I40.  As we pulled on to the interstate, it was just after 6:30 p.m.  The GPS said there was a nearly 2 hour drive ahead of us.  The sun was setting.  It was getting dark.  And we realized we were driving in the dark with no running lights on the trailer.

We called it quits.  We’re in El Reno West KOA, near Calumet, OK, for the night.  We arrived at 7 p.m.  In the morning, we’ll try to find someone who can repair our towing plug.  But, of course, now, the entire timeline of this trip is in question.  We’ll make it, but when? 

Now, I’ve promised some of you a bit of a story, and here it is:

In my last post last Saturday, I alluded to the road trip traditions established in my childhood when Mom, Dad and I travelled.  I want to address that a little more fully in today’s post, since really, this first leg of our journey is a bit mundane!

Then

Dad always started his days before we did ours… at least when I was very little.  However, as I grew older, I found these were good times to “hang out” with Dad.  So, Dad would awake very early while we were on the road.  His day would begin about 5 a.m. when Dad would quietly slip out of bed.  Normally, I’d hear him stir and crawl out as well.  We’d dress in the dark, quietly so as not to awake Mom, then sneak out of the motel room.  Dad always knew where to find coffee, whether in the motel lobby or in a nearby cafe.  And coffee was the first thing on Dad’s mind.  We’d find a little table or a booth and Dad would order a cup of coffee and a glass of milk for me.  Of course, as the profligate hunter of the family, not only was a cup of coffee on the menu… so was the donut or cinnamon roll.  As I grew older, I’d join in the coffee myself.  Dad would quickly sip his coffee and read the major news stories.  By 5:30, we’d be done, and Dad would order two more cups of coffee to go and more donuts.

Arriving back in our room, we’d find Mom putting on the final touches of her morning preparations.  She’d gratefully accept Dad’s proffered cup of java, then sit and drink her coffee and eat her donut while Dad and I finished getting ourselves put together (not a lot to do for real men like us!) then we’d pack, load the car and hit the road!  “We’re off!” cried father, and an hour later we pulled away from the curb.  Okay, that last part isn’t true, but that was said at the beginning of virtually every day, our morning ritual of a sort.  I think that stemmed from something my grandfather started, though I really can’t say for sure.

As Dad drove, guided by Mom’s able navigation, I set to arranging the back seat.  The back seat of the car was always crammed with everything we might need for the day.  Games, pillows, blankets, maps, drinks, food, pads of paper.  It was the ultimate nesting ritual for me to carefully organize the back seat, and settle in for the ride.

After an hour, we’d find a restaurant or a McDonalds to stop for breakfast.  The rest of the day’s journey really never changed.  Dad drove (sometimes Mom would spell him) and Mom and I would nap, or we’d talk, or we’d play games (generally the alphabet game… we’d start with A, and look for that letter on signs and license plates, progressing through the alphabet).  Or one of Mom’s favorite games… she’d start a story, tell a few paragraphs, then each of us would take turns developing the story.  On one of these trips Mom shocked me by revealing her greatest secret: She was really the queen of a distant empire on a planet far far away, and some day her people would return for her.  She wasn’t sure if we’d be allowed to go with her, though!  They never did, though. 

In the evening, Dad would find a motel, naturally it needed to be close to the highway, not a lot of searching was permitted.  Dad really would have been satisfied with any facility that provided a bed, a bathroom and morning coffee, but in deference to Mom, he looked for one that was relatively nice, and hence clean.

Oddly enough, I don’t recall any particular evening routine.  We were always in bed by 10. 

In tomorrow’s entry, I’ll pass along what travels TODAY look like!

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