Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Colorado Bound, Lickety Split

We decided we wanted to be in Colorado and the forecast was more cold rain for a week anyways so we left New Hampshire a week earlier than planned and quickly scampered through Vermont, New York (paused for 3 days here near Niagara Falls), Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska.

Here's what I can tell you about Vermont: it's breathtaking, even in the pouring rain. Everything you've heard is true; more than once I found myself staring open-mouthed across the view and had to force myself back to reality (oh yeah - don't forget you're driving an 11 ton rig - doh!) I can only imagine how mind-blowing it will be with Fall colors. We stopped at the Ben & Jerry's factory, which was crazy crowded so we spent some time visiting the flavor graveyard and otherwise fled the mob scene. Their website advertises RV parking, and they do have it, but getting into/out of it wasn't for the faint of heart; it was possible, but I'll not be doing it again.

The ice cream puns at the flavor graveyard are delicious, too

Upstate New York was relaxed and beautiful. We settled in to celebrate a few days of unexpected sunshine at the Elks Lodge in Lockport NY, an adorable little town right on the Erie Canal. The river walk goes along the canal edge for miles, probably along the same path where the mules of long ago trod pulling barges.

Buildings along the Erie Canal in Lockport NY

Lockport was also a short drive along the river's edge to Niagara Falls, so we took a Maids of the Mist boat ride right up to the falls. The amount of power the little boat used to keep us in place against the stream was unbelievable. They hand out ponchos as part of the tour price, and we dutifully put them on but there wasn't much point to it as we got soaked anyways.
Getting soaked by the spray

Up close and personal to the Niagara Falls, the boat straining to keep us in place against the current

For the ride West we debated the cost of the toll road Turnpike Highway 90 against the time it would save us, and ultimately decided to pay the bill (final grand total bill was $120). The E-Z Pass New York transponder covered all of the tolls from New York through Illinois, although after some drama at one of the early toll plazas we moved the transponder in the RV down from the as-instructed top/center of the window to the bottom/driver side of the window so it could be read by the automated reader. In New York, Ohio and Illinois the turnpike is very well maintained; not so much in Indiana, but you still have to pay for it anyway, rrrrrgh. The Turnpike 90 road quality across Indiana is now tied with Pennsylvania for the dubious winning title of Worst Road In America.
Congratulations Indiana!

In Ohio they have off-ramp plazas fully equipped with 50amp RV service, a trucker rest area separate from the RVer rest area, showers, an RV dump, you can stay overnight and enjoy the 50amp service for the cost of a $20 ticket issued by a vending machine. There are also restaurants, a roomy fuel dock, and a pet run area onsite. When it comes to handling road-weary travelers - Ohio really gets it!

50 amp service in the overnight RV section of the Blue Heron stop on the OH Turnpike.
It's clearly marked max 40' but larger rigs stayed here too and everyone worked around it.

Iowa is beautiful and has some slightly rolling hills, which became flatter as we moved West. The folks there decorate their barns with cubist paintings on wood panels they call barn quilts. Somewhere around Des Moines we started playing a game and the winner would be whomever could spot a crop that wasn't either corn or soy. Endless agriculture as far as we could see for hours in every direction, and it wasn't until Lincoln Nebraska that we saw a hay field, followed immediately by a Christmas tree farm. That's a lot of corn and soy!

Somewhere around Chicago we exchanged the 90 Turnpike for Interstate 80 West and rolled on, stopping along the way here or there whenever we got tired. One of our night stops was at the Prairie Oasis in Nebraska. We'd been running from yet another storm (it's been raining for what seems like forever) when it became obvious we weren't going to outrun it and we opted to just hunker down and let it pass over us. The staff simply shrugged and said, "Meh, it's probably not hot enough for a tornado". They were right - no tornado but we did get some serious rain.

The pond at the Prairie Oasis park in Nebraska, after the rainstorm

We experienced squalls twice on this leg of the adventure, so here's what I learned about squalls. If you see a horizontal stripe in the clouds that looks like someone drew it with a fat black marker, button down everything, 'cuz you're about to get soaked. The rain comes down with such force that it's hard to tell where the sky ends and the road begins, from the low vantage point of the Subaru I lost nearly all visual cues and was able to keep up only by focusing on the blue kayak on the top of the trailer. From the RV Lance was high enough to see above it. The tactic if you're in New York is just to turn on your emergency flashers and continue driving at 70mph. If you're in Vermont you can expect to slow down to 20mph or so less than the posted speed limit, and use no flashers; in both places you continue on your merry way and just hope no moose wanders out in front of you in the meantime.

We're looking forward to drying out in Colorado for a while.

Good internet access overlooking a lake at the state park in Sterling, CO

1 comment:

  1. Internet Speed Comparison @ Elks Lodge, Lockport NY
    Sampled time not noted, likely sometime 8/1/18
    AT&T – 7.76 down, 0.03 up
    Calyx (Sprint) – 1.80 down, 0.50 up
    Jetpack (Verizon) – 0.06 down, 0.44 up