The summer of 2021 plan was two fold; take Tommy to the four ballparks he missed in previous years, plus make up the rainout game in Detroit from back in 2017. Additionally, a new ballpark was built and opened in 2020 that each of us had yet to see, so that was also part of the plan. The schedule aligned well for travel in June with the five ballparks perfectly spaced out for some easy runs as well as a couple of long hauls to fit them all in. Would we break down and scrap the whole plan or would the bus take us to those majestic stadiums to cheer on the teams, pay homage to a son and brother and create memories to last a lifetime? Here is the journal of our continuing trek to take him out to the ballgame. Enjoy.
We pulled out of the driveway at 8:42am this morning with Springsteen’s “Born To Run” playing on the stereo. Setting the mood, the tone really, when Sweet Pea ventures out in public is just something that I do with regularity. I know this bus inside and out and like the song, it is a “death trap” and therefore “steppin’ out over the line” was not attempted once today, or ever. Tommy yawned and I shifted through the gears over to the Post Office and then the gas station before heading north on the Florida Turnpike. He has heard this song countless times but could not name the artist. Clearly, I have work to do. Johnny knew music well but grasping the greatness of 'The Boss' was sadly not realized. So many wonderous things missed. I thought of this for a good long part of the drive and am grateful men do not wear mascara.
When my nine-year-old son Johnny died in 2015, Tommy and I traveled over the next four summers to scatter a pinch of his ashes at each of the 30 Major League Ballparks all across the country. Tommy missed four of those stadiums and by chance, they all smartly align over a ten-day period this June. Getting there and back is what these daily musings cover; our trials and triumphs, bus issues and weather, camping and cooking and most especially how we just spend our days and nights learning more about each other. He began these trips with me when he was a precocious seven, and now at thirteen, he still does not appreciate the comedic genius of his dad. I am holding out hope that the a-ha! moment will come. Clearly you already know it all too well, and to that I say, you’re welcome.
A bonus for us is the newly opened “Globe Life Field” in Arlington, TX which replaces the old non-air conditioned one. I have a packet set aside for the 7th inning stretch on Friday night. Tommy and I will always find a way to travel together well into the future as more ballparks are replaced.
So, the ride was smooth and started out as steamy as the fresh brewed coffee I made just before departure. White puffy clouds turned grey in the Orlando area when we stopped for a dad classic roast beef sandwich made with a thin coating of Hellman’s and a dash of love. The boy skipped the mayo and opted to scarf down the drier version with the aid of a 12-ounce bottle of chocolate milk. We fueled up and looked at possible destinations for the afternoon run, Live Oak, FL being the stretch goal. It was met. The Turnpike morphed on to Interstate 75 and an easy 98 more miles had us reaching Interstate 10 West. This is a coast-to-coast juggernaut taken in 2016 (solo) but now, the sky was dark, the rain was sideways, and the phone alerts were chirping about very heavy rain, hail, and impending doom. We continued on 15 more miles but skipped the Suwannee Music Park campground used numerous times over the years in favor of a cheapo hotel nearby. Tommy is watching the Three Stooges on TV so I really have my work cut out for me. The bus performed well at mostly 55 MPH speeds, yielding 22 MPG and 220-degree oil temps for eight driving hours. We are slightly ahead of schedule and for that, day one is a success.
5:55 A.M. on a Sunday is too early for an alarm buzzer and 8:05 might be a bit late, but the MacDougall boys enjoyed those two hours of deep REM sleep all the same. My feet hit the sandy simulated wood laminate flooring of the EconoLodge, room 114 and then the shower to kickstart round two of this trip. By 8:30, we had coffee and Boston Creme donuts in hand at the Busy Bee truck stop in Live Oak, FL, heading west on the 10 with the sun on our six.
Tommy chose the back seat for the morning stretch and as the wet pavement began sweating a mist with the rising sun, I took a sip of coffee, lips prepared for the initial burn. My Keurig machine at home permits gulps at first try, even at max setting, so whenever I grab a roadside brew, I wait a bunch and still wince, then swear.
We rolled on. The boy is on vacation and this is really his time. I remember my 7th grade break with Grimes back in 1980 and how each day was cherished. The kid has to be the priority and his needs carry more weight so I ask more now than direct, that balance is key. The fuel tank was quarter full to start so we cruised for an hour before the need to replenish. Snacks and petroleum were paid for and we continued westbound, two astride up front for the time honored games of I-spy, 20 questions and 'who can spot a vintage VW first' to pass the time. None were seen, and I really stink at I-spy even after thousands of miles over the years; but his wins are really my wins. A game other drivers play with the bus is 'last second lane change' - where they zoom up on our ass before passing around us. That game really sucks! Part of riding the right lane at 55mph.
We entered into the central time zone and all at once everything slowed down, including our fast-talking manner of speaking. I called mom and dramatically spoke like a southern gent to her amusement. Dad enjoys the fact his kids are goofballs and blames it on his wife. Tommy just rolled his eyes.
Florida is 300 miles wide which had us resting in Castalooga for an hour during heat of the day with the pop topped, windows open, lunches made, fellow travelers snapping pics and stopping by to chat. Rested and all systems go, we pressed on.
Hello Alabama and then what seemed like a blink, hello Mississippi. The weather changed at the delta with dropping temperatures and dank moist low-hung clouds hovering all around us. Sweet Pea loved it as the oil temp gauge ticked lower and lower, and the tachometer grinned. The miles peeled off the odometer easily, and we gained discretionary time to actually stop somewhere and just relax, but the Joe Btfsplk rain cloud that easily persuaded me to choose a hotel yesterday was upon us again this afternoon. We refueled and I did a a quick search for "campgrounds near me", immediately followed by "hotels near me" and without any adult input, Sweet Pea steered herself into the lot of a Best Western Hotel, ejecting me into the lobby. Tommy said "when are we are we actually going to sleep in the Bus" which made me smile ear to ear. Camping and traveling are two different things. Rain drenched set-ups and/or departures are crap if only for a night. Spending several nights in a singular spot is absolutely fine, truly. New Orleans being our real first mini-stay is but 100 miles away now, thanks to these long stretch days, and the Big Easy is so worth it. Come what may. So here we are, in Moss point, MS enjoying the hospitality and kindness of people who are genuine, talk funny, and wishing us well. Day two after 347 miles traveled and very little swearing, check.
The first thing I am going to do when back in Fort Lauderdale is crank up the temperature on the water heater and then replace the shower head with one like Kramer had in season 7, episode 15. I am beyond Zestfully clean.
We packed up our gear after a non-existent, though highly-touted breakfast offering in the frigid and vacant lobby. I guess the good folks at Best Western were referring to the 'Continental Antartica Breakfast' in the fine print of the glossy brochure, so we grabbed grub at a drive-thru and headed West on Interstate 10 towards New Orleans.
The ride was very smooth, dry and cool and the familiar Biloxi water tower greeted us from a good mile away. People slowed down to give us a thumbs up gesture and we cruised on smiling. Hello Lousiana! I missed snapping the roadside welcome to The Pelican State sign, so we hit the rest area just ahead to get a pic and return a few Monday morning emails.
The expectation of seeing the mighty Mississippi River was building for miles and then his jaw dropped as the shear breadth of it filled the entirety of bay window windscreen. Descriptors of wow and Wow and WOW just fell out of our mouths.
Route guidance eventually led us to the New Orleans KOA, a place visited back in 2016 and we set up camp in site # 15, also a match. We puttered around arranging fans, switched everything to shore power, and deployed the newly added "child's cot" to stow the bags away in a previously unusable dead space. Slinging fabric above the dash and over the front seats helps make use of every cubic foot in the 'Crampmobile' and permits much more space! Not really. It's like break dancing in a phone booth. Two guys, a tower AC unit and a boxy refrigerator inside an already tight space is, well just fine by us. I wouldn't trade this for anything.
The $22 Uber ride into the city dropped us off beside the French Quarter and into an adults behaving badly R-Rated reality. NOLA is a party town and Bourbon Street is known for drunken debauchery, even on a Monday afternoon. It is a given that we would see and smell the daiquiri splashed streets teeming with fellow tourists, letting loose beside the teetering red-faced locals. It was a spectacle, one that Key West Duvall Street regulars would envy, or perhaps not. I love this town, the street music, food and the carefree spirit of the locals. It is an American treasure, one that Tommy said he will return to someday, sans parental guidance. I smiled and tussled his hair. He playfully punched me saying don't mess up the look. Messy is not a look. We walked on.
The streetcar ride down Canal Street and around the banks of the river was enjoyed after a light supper. This kid loves trains of all types and whenever possible, we ride. This route was not the best but there's more to explore tomorrow, chiefly, The National World War II Museum.
As the sun began to close out the day, we returned to base camp to convert the bus into sleep mode, which is to say unfurl the sleeping bags.
Today was a short run of 119 miles but the memories of time spent with Tommy in NOLA will long last, Three for three.
I make lists for everything. If I need coffee creamer and go into the market for a few items, if it is not on the list, I am crossing fingers the sour milk kicking around in the back corner does not kill me. Such was the case with my AC drain hose left home on a shelf. I know where it is but that did me no good last night. The turbo fans I have worked ok but a run to a hardware store is at the top of my new and improved - list.
I woke up early and Tom hit the showers to greet the day. Beds were stowed, the floor was swept, water bottles added to the fridge for later and we were off by 8am for the half mile walk to "Dot's Diner" just down the road. I have eaten here before back in 2016 and thought a good full breakfast from a family owned and operated place a good choice. Thumbs up! Tommy loved it and the waiter recognized us from the campground; his family owns that too.
Uber arrived and a kind chatty woman named Isela whisked us to the main event 'The National World War II Museum'. She gave us a couple of good tips and I returned the favor, 5-stars and 25%. A few pics were taken and Tommy nearly skipped into the entrance with Disney like excitement.
Our prepaid ticket QR Codes were scanned, badges affixed and we were on our way. First up, the 4-D movie experience complete with special effects, vibrating chairs, snowfall and an account so well told that by the end of the 15-minute presentation on the giant semi-circular movie screen, the deafening silence from the awestruck crowd could easily have been disturbed by the sounds of teardrops, and there were many.
Tommy said he never knew what those boys, many of whom were just five years older than he is, with their dirt covered faces and lost innocence made them look old. I told him to thank a vet every time you meet one.
The exhibits were informative, authentic and interesting. Go if ever in New Orleans. It is so worth your time to see how fragile we were, how strong and united we became, and how if not for just a few ideas, bits of luck and most of all- raw courage, life as we all know it would have been different. Plan the trip.
Tom scored a souvenir P-51 Mustang model, the bus a commemorative sticker and I gained a new baseline of history trivia with which to quiz the kid, forever.
We headed out into the bright sunshine and on to the St. Charles Streetcar for a 90-minute run passing elaborate mansions, stately homes and Loyola University. The cars were filled with tourists, locals and students too.
On the return leg, the ride terminated at Canal Street and we walked two blocks down Bourbon Street in search of a slice of pizza, then retreated quickly for home base via Uber.
Tom showered as I cooked hotdogs and prepared the best grilled cheese sandwiches for his return. He takes very long showers.
A couple stopped by the bus to chat and Tommy disappeared to his top bunk oasis, He was yawning on the ride home which means my real work is done. Laundry is near finished and a woman was impressed with my skills and more so by the bag of quarters, detergent and fabric softener products neatly arranged. I told her they were on the list. Four days down.
We slept through the night and then he continued on as breakfast was prepped. I brewed some damn good coffee with a torch and a French press before slicing a giant 30° Honey Crisp apple into 12 pieces. I eat around the remaining core first devouring every morsel just like a chicken drumstick. Nothing is left. The slices were stowed on a paper plate inside the fridge for the kid.
The boy wonder climbed down from his lofty retreat and trudged to the nearby bathroom, flashing the number one sign. It's a guy thing. He returned at the same slow pace and sat at the picnic table. His first words of the day...just a hefty yawn.
The OJ jug was thoroughly shaken because if it's not frothy, it's not good. He shot it down like a sailor on leave looking back at me with a "what?" expression. A second round ordered and poured, followed by a splash of milk over his crisp-as-new Frosted Flakes. The bag was rolled tight, air expunged, and the binder clip applied to preserve all the wonderful Kellogg preservatives and sugary goodness. Stale cereal existed once in my childhood before the Carter administration, never afterwards.
The sun was peering through the trees but it was still slightly cool and comfortable.
A second cup of coffee was poured and the rearranging game began. Empty the bus, stow the beds, sweep the floor, give Tom some chores and lower the roof. Having done laundry and setting aside clothes last night for today made things easy.
Tommy checked the oil, the bus fired up and we did a walk around as Sweet Pea got her juices flowing. Three minutes later we pulled out of the NOLA KOA, site #15 and headed out of town. We will return someday.
The ride West today along Interstate 10 was a deliberately slow 55 MPH with two breaks; Home Depot for some forgotten AC waterline drain hose and clamps, plus a grocery store replenishment stop for water, apples, and jam. It was hot and at times uninteresting but the bus ran perfectly fine, hitting and holding the normal 220 degree oil temperature benchmark. Truckers tooted horns, people flashed peace signs. All were returned in kind.
We needed gas and with the afternoon sun beginning to stare us in the face, it was time to make a plan for tonight's stop. The Texas border is only 20 miles away and the Houston ballpark an additional 125 miles. So far, our timing has been excellent and first pitch is at 7pm, Thursday; we will be there at 530PM. Having insurance time in case of a breakdown has permitted a nice safe pace thus far.
The refueling yielded 22 MPG, which is quite good for this heavy, under-powered old ride. A very large man in an equally large pick-up stepped out of his truck like John Wayne dismounting a horse and asked permission to snap a photo, so I finger combed my hair and said cheese. He said no, of the bus with a head shaking smile. It happens. Making jokes at every turn passes the time. Tommy just groans "daaaad". He like many people, had a story to share about a beetle once owned. I think people are just plain nice. After a short cool down I used the Camping App which provided a dozen places to consider and as we sat in the shade and read reviews, the A+ Campground 5 miles away seemed to hit the mark.
So here we are, all set up in Sulphur, LA with the AC blasting on high. We ate, waved to our 18-hour neighbors and are setting our sights on The Lone Star State in the morning, a first for Tommy. I'm guessing a two finger start to the day.
DAY 1: 48,464 MILES
110 Volts flowed through the bus and the AC unit, set to cryogenic, kept me snuggled in my sleeping bag until 8am. I have sheets and a quality blanket, but nothing beats the bag and the cocoon like comfort of polyester and rayon. Tom agreed, at 8:42.
We had plenty of time to drive 150 miles today, almost entirely on Interstate 10. Reaching Minute Maid Park in Houston would take about three hours; time enough to see some sights and plot out a camping solution too. Breakfast was enjoyed and packing up had us moving a tad slower than normal. We left at 9:30am without seeing a soul, save for the lawnmower man doing his job.
Route guidance thought a scenic route was better than the highway. I just flatly disagreed, and I was so wrong. I wanted Tommy to see the impressive 'Texas Welcome Center' just 20 miles from site #39. The GPS destination was simple enough, the ballpark. What disrupted the day was the fact the I-10 was closed. The route we were taken on resembled a PacMan game board. The most circuitous level ever.
It was very warm, and the single lane country roads were jammed up like a Florida hurricane evacuation. The bus was getting hot, very hot, and we pulled off the road twice for 30 minutes to let it cool down. Sandwiches were made, apples enjoyed, cold water consumed.
We hit the Texas border at 3pm, 5-1/2 hours after first gear this morning. The boy never complained once. Not a word. I was trying to figure out whether we would make the game on time, still 105 miles away and feeling dejected. Then the traffic just began to flow. The oil temp gauge retreated to a proper range and hope returned. Camp Hampton Inn, one block from the ballpark was secured, and after a quick shower, our tickets were scanned during the ceremonial start of the Star Spangled Banner. First pitch goal intact.
We grabbed some grub and walked the perimeter on level one. I showed Tommy exactly where a pinch of his brothers ashes were spinkled over the railing in left centerfield . Johnny is forever part of Minute Maid Park and you can always smile knowing he rests not just in your heart, but on the field.
We found our cheap seats in Section 415, Row 7, Seats 20 and 21 to watch the Astros dominate the Chicago White Sox. Sweeping views, cheering fans, the crack of the bat and a positive energy wiped away all of the drama getting here. We shared a bag of peanuts and as the fast paced game slipped into the 7th inning stretch, we stood and sang 'Take Me Out To The Ballgame', followed by 'The Heart of Texas' which he never heard.
The game was lopsided and the exit was met in the middle of the 8th inning. Five minutes and one block later, we returned to room 610.
This one has plenty of power too, but I'm getting up extra early, just in case.
We spent Thursday night in the Downtown Houston Hampton Inn. It was cushy, comfortable and the included breakfast was very robust. Sweet Pea spent the night across the street in a $20 public lot huddled next to a shiny black SUV and a Corolla underneath a bright flickering light. I felt like I dropped my dog off at a disreputable kennel. Peering out of the window was routine.
Unscathed, we left The Bayou City at 9:15 and headed North on Interstate 45. The road was smooth and the sky clear. The bus ran fine at 55 to 62 MPH for much of the day as the air temperatures climbed in midafternoon.
A Chevron customer approached during our pitstop to snap a few photos and say how much he admired the bus. We chatted for a moment and when the baseball stickers were noticed he lit up with a dozen questions. He wished us well and I drove off smiling and without my coffee, left atop the pump. Later, a 1988 VW Vanagon passed us, the first such fellow camper encountered since home, and we waved at each other like Forest Gump greeting Lt. Dan. Nobody crashed.
The hours just slipped on by as we steadily made our way towards the DFW area. The bus ran like a Cadillac, just without the AC, cruise control, power steering, leather upholstery, creature comforts etc, but wow, I was happy with the ride. Tommy rode in the back and was content. We chatted about the itinerary of today, the marathon run we have to make tomorrow and of my shirt size for a Father's Day gift idea on Sunday. He chuckled when I said cash is always good. A bathroom break at earth's largest gas station, "Buc-ees" gave us a chance to reattach a loose oil temp wire and while there, a random person took a picture and sent it to one of three people I know, David Brodrick , living in the area. What a small world!
A little after 4pm, we arrived at our new friends place Maureen and John Wright 's just down the road from the ballpark. Being part of the vast online VW community enables a sharing of ideas, trips, tips, repairs, stories and the pride of ownership. It is global and it is local too. A post to this wonderful group elicited an invitation to stay the night which we graciously accepted. Maureen and John even drove us and then picked us up from the ballpark so that we could set up the bus for an easy return. That is the VW love we know, share and truly appreciate. Tommy and I arrived as strangers but are leaving as friends. Their bus 'Ducky' is gorgeous and has been lovingly restored and customized. I picked up some ideas about LED interior lighting too.
We arrived at the ballpark just a bit after 5pm and snapped some pics, walked the perimeter to get a sense of the food venues, sightlines, flow and take in the ambiance. It was very impressive and very cool with the AC blasting. We enjoyed peanuts, shared a mini pizza and watched a decent game of baseball before a crowd of 30,000 enthusiastic fans. A pinch of Johnny's ashes was sprinkled during the 7th Inning Stretch and he will forever be a fan of this club with a great view from Section 223, Row 5, Seats 7 and 8. Tommy patted me on the back. I just hugged him. Later he asked if Johnny were alive would all three of us be doing such a trip and I said yes, it would be, and is, a MacDougall boys trip - 100%.
The Twins edged the Rangers in extra innings but we had our fill and headed out after nine frames. Tommy and I are set up in the bus, driveway camping courtesy of the Wrights and loving this experience. Today was a great day filled with kind people everywhere we went. The kindest of all just wished us a good night.
Fancy hotels leave Godiva Chocolates on your luxury room pillows. VW hosts Maureen and John Wright hand you 2 quarts of Valvoline VR-1 Racing Oil with High Zinc, the real good stuff too! 20-50 weight of course. Also, with OJ, Crumb cakes and coffee in hand, we said a nice long goodbye to our new friends after packing up for points north. This stop was a highlight for sure.
The coolish morning temperature was as refreshing as the light traffic at 7:21A.M. We fueled up near the 'Six Flags Over Texas' amusement park and headed west, then north on Interstate 35 for our long-distance day. A notable sight for me, the famous Texas Motor Speedway loomed off to the west. Enormous in scale, the grandstands can handle 181,000 fans which equals the amount of cars that have passed us this week.
Oh what a beautiful morning! Hello Oklahoma! This was a first-time visit for me and for Sweet Pea too. The only remaining state to visit in the contiguous states with this bus is Oregon. Maybe next year? We pulled into the state welcome center a mile after missing a decent photo of the actual border sign. Northbound again, the wind was at our back pushing us along.
Hello Kansas! It was getting hot, my phone was busy with client inquiries, we took a 45 minute lunch break, refueled, stopped again for a bathroom break, a scenic overlook and a cool down stop. We cruised through 'Flint Hills' some of the most beautiful countryside anywhere. Rolling hills, open ranges, and cattle dotting the prairies, were memorable highlights.
The goal of getting within 100 miles of Kauffman Stadium, home of the KC Royals, fell short by a dozen clicks. We will make this up for sure.
Today was a 12 hour door-to-door marathon covering 443 miles. The cadence was fine and from here on out, we will not have to ride as hard. The bus ran well considering the heat and Tommy has become an amazing travel companion. We are settled into an Emporia, Kansas Holiday Inn as a reward for the effort today. Showered, fed and now laying down, there is no treat on our pillow, but the look on Tommy's face is sweet enough for me.
Sweet Pea started up easily for the cruise to Kansas City. Tommy lugged his green Rubbermaid tote and heaved it into the bus as a quick sweep and straightening took place during the three minute warm up. A drive-thru cup of McCafe and a Phillip's 66 refueling later had us on I-35 north at 9:57am. This morning's ride was only 112 miles of green pastures and rolled hay bales to which we say and point "HEYYYY". Upon exiting the freeway, both Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadium suddenly appeared, dominating the passenger side view. We turned directly into the massive parking lot with 90 minutes to spare before 1st pitch. Now parked, we walked past tailgating fans before clearing security, and stepping back 50 years into the most modern old-time ballpark in the bigs.
The signature waterfalls have spilled over the outfield wall since 1973 with an occasional choreographed row of fountains bursting for effect. The Midwest landscape fills in the backdrop perfectly. We walked around the lower level counterclockwise with views of the manicured grass from the main concourse, a first in all ballparks. Families, couples, dads with their little ones, posed for photos. The stadium was teeming with a very large presence of Red Sox fans in for the weekend series, and the pre-game atmosphere was energetic and friendly. Vending was typical and after a full survey, we enjoyed the typical fare, found our seats, removed our caps and then witnessed first pitch, a strike.
The Royals played well and made swiss cheese of the Boston infield; scattering hits to the delight of the home crowd. The sweltering sun chased many, us included, from the sunny heat and our choice seats. We found shade just a few rows back and settled in for the entire game. It was a blur, a mirage of everything baseball offers; homeruns, pitching changes, double plays, action and tedium all rolled into one. We stood and sang during the 7th inning stretch and I pointed to the section his brother was sprinkled and still remains, will always remain.
A guy I know only from social media reached out this morning to say he enjoys the posts and how much he wished he did something as fun with his dad. A few short years ago, his father passed away and holidays such as today can be especially hard. Recalling and celebrating all the goodness shared and carrying on the spirit of that special person MUST outweigh what has been lost and can never be. I am so fortunate that we had so many great experiences and that is what I try to focus on.
Last Friday at the Rangers game, the announcer called everyone's attention to the jumbotron. There was an older man alongside his adult son and their visit at that game marked their 30th MLB ballpark trip together. "A great accomplishment" was mentioned and the crowd cheered. In an instant, I froze, choked up.. That old man was me and his adult son - Johnny. It is what very likely would have been our decades long, here and there, pick off some games and reconnect for more games in a distant future. We never had a plan, just a vague idea and a lifetime to do it, so I thought. As I clapped for them, I smiled knowing that time is so precious and Tommy and I are poised to finish what WE set out to do, much sooner. Johnny is at rest. He has been to them all posthumously, and we celebrate this. Tommy and I will soon accomplish what that father and son did too, just a whole lot sooner. For that, I am truly grateful.
We left Kauffman Stadium drenched in sweat but closer to completing a mini goal of the final five games together. Several fans posed for photos with the bus and we lingered rather than seeking a quick exit. Back on Interstate 35 northbound towards Minneapolis, tonight's plan was to just drive as far as comfortable. We covered 85 miles before the darkest midwestern storm clouds formulated. After refueling in Bethany Missouri, lodging was secured and dinner enjoyed. Laying in bed now, I am very grateful for Tommy, and for my own dad, a guy who is still there in my life and I suppose will always be.
I wore pants today, had to. Not because of social norms or some new fad, it was just cold outside. 59° cold.
We enjoyed the cheapo hotel in Bethany, MO and after an hour of emails and transacting some business, we loaded up our gear and made ready for a timely departure. A family with two five year-old boys and little sis thought the van was cool. It's a bus, not a van, and they got a free hall pass. Their dad admitted that he snapped a few pics last night. I checked the oil and as expected, it is getting darker now that we are approaching 2,200 travel miles. An older man parked beside me decided to check his oil and with a little assist discovered he needs it changed, and soon. Today soon.
First gear, second gear, third gear coffee. The hotel's paltry 'included breakfast' had us swinging through a McD's drive-thru for milk and a Danish that was quickly discarded. Finally, back on the 35 northbound after the 22 minute exodus. Seems like the longest part of the day is in act one.
The goal was to get within 80 miles of Target Field in Minneapolis. The fourth of five ballparks has a game scheduled at 12:10 p.m. on Tuesday and being as close within a short drive and at a campground was of particular interest.
The ride was similar to what we have experienced thus far with the added bonus of herculean west winds trying to push Sweet Pea into the rolling countryside. Those giant windmills were whipping around in four second revolutions. It was quite intense for the entire 283 stretch, requiring my full attention which really cut into my day dreaming time. I loved it. The challenge was met as we passed by the area, "Bridges of Madison County" ( a real place) and by the birthplace of actor John Wayne (second time I've referenced the Duke). about 30 miles south of Des Moines.
So the bus is aero-anemic, so we ran a bit slower, swaying about like a tin can on a pond, we spent long moments of quiet and long discussions of what's next. We did pass someone today, and not like back in 2015 when it was a family of Amish people going to church in their horse and buggy. No, today it was motorized, an RV in fact. Tommy didn't even notice.
In the end, we hit the mark, leaving only 60 miles to reach the ballpark in the morning. Groceries were sourced and sorted before settling into the perfect campground just a mile or so off the interstate. The 'River View Campground' in Owatonna, MN is a haven! Five days of laundry were washed as I made the perfect grill cheese sandwiches. Tommy folded the clothes and we are set for the night. All electronic gadgets are getting a full charge, not easily done at a Holiday Inn Express and I will make the boy pancakes tomorrow, likely while wearing a hat. It is going to be 52° tonight and I love it!
INTERSTATE 10 WAS CLOSED!
LONG WAY TO GO - 154 MILES