I knew when I set out on this journey that I would make mistakes (already adjusting). I knew that there would be a lot to learn regarding the logistics of pulling off 23 days living in a van with a lifetime of very little camping experience, let alone doing it on a defined timeline to meet my son on the other side of the country. What I really hope is, like with my previous solo travels, I’ll meet some cool people and learn something about myself and the world around me along the way.
I said I was leaving at 0800…
The first thing I learned, well maybe more like was forced to admit, is that despite all appearances of me having plans and being organized, I’m really just a partially-organized, mostly fly by the seat of my pants, mess. Despite having somewhat organized, planned, and packed for several weeks, I still found myself throwing last minute laundry from the dryer into a crate and shoving it on the van as I was saying goodbye to the Kraken Brothers and making my last trip out of the house. In spite of all of my lists, and reminders here and there, I managed to leave without my toll transponder, and a sweatshirt. Don’t let me forget to go to the website for Illinois tolls to set up an account so I don’t get a crazy bill from the rental company! And as for the sweatshirt, it is really hard to consider a such an item in the middle of the summer. I realize I’m heading into an area that just finished with temperatures in the upper 110’s, but it is cooling down, and actually could be chilly at night.
My first day was full of lessons such as a cargo van does not handle like a Mustang. I don’t mean just a little bit unlike, I mean like this sucker can sway with the least amount of provocation! I know that should not have come as any surprise to me, but since I bought my last car, I’ve come to enjoy it’s peppy engine, and incredible handling capabilities. Dialing down my driving has proven to be challenging, but near the end of the day I actually found myself enjoying the journey in lieu of attaining the destination.
I have also learned that I was totally justified in tossing in a set of hemostats. I keep a set with my makeup so I can keep the ole unibrow under control, but they came in handy when I had to use the skills I learned playing Operation. You see, I had planned to use the DC outlet on the van A LOT for this trip. When I went to use it, the plug wouldn’t fit (cue mild panic and disappointment that my plans were derailed so quickly). Realizing that my tool kit did not include a set of needle nose pliers (truly I do know better), I decided to try my hand with the hemostats. I only created sparks three times, and I managed to not short out the electrical system on the van (bonus). After extricating part of a broken adapter, I was in business!
Even though my first evening was scheduled in St. Charles, Illinois, just six hours from home, I managed to stretch the day into a delightful 11 hour drive. I stopped in Indy for breakfast, and then again at the Albanese candy outlet to grab some gummies for the boy. What I didn’t expect was to find SO many treats from my childhood, including this Gold Mine bubble gum!
I remember sharing this with my best friends in Indy, Chris and Kimmy. Chris had the distinction of being the first boy I kissed; I was in kindergarten.
My next stop was to spend a little time on the shores of Lake Michigan. There is just something so peaceful about sitting by the shore, listening to the water ebb and flow.
Eleven hours after heading out I finally reached my destination, Riverlands Brewing Company in St. Charles, IL. This is where I would enjoy a bite to eat, a tasty brew, and spend the night.
I asked for the darkest brew on tap, and was given the choice of two, both of which sounded amazing. I finally settled on Cooler Gargoyle, a milk stout with coffee and cocoa nibs. I am not much of a drinker, but this was so good, I grabbed a four pack to share. Anyone care to call dibs?