Friday morning, April 19, 2013. We rolled out early as I had a dental appointment in Baton Rouge at 8:00 AM before we could head to the Land Of 10,000 Lakes. And hotdish, doncha know… (Google ‘hotdish’..it is considered a delicacy in MN). So by 11:00 we were northbound on our grand adventure. Baton Rouge to Jackson, MS, to Memphis, TN, etc. We stopped in Blytheville, Arkansas for dinner and found a BBQ joint named The Dixie Pig and decided to give it a try, knowing that in these parts of the world, BBQ meant PULLED PORK cooked over HICKORY.
NOTE–I am a Native Texan, my blood type is Mesquite Negative and pork means BACON to me. Back to the narrative.
We were pleasantly surprised by the fare, and the owner, who is an Arkansas graduate and staunch fan and Melinda, who is an LSU graduate and staunch fan, had a lot of good natured verbal sparring about their respective teams and SEC football in general. Great place.. Highly recommended! Despite there being NO BEEF BRISKET on the menu.
Back on the road again, we made miles…passed through Cape Girardeau, MO…home of Rush Limbaugh. Crossed into Iowa, and it was like we drove into a different dimension. Flat terrain, corn fields, farm houses, tractors and more corn fields. Lots and LOTS of corn fields. About midnight we were crosseyed and stopped for the night in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Total miles for the day 973 from Lafayette. Grabbed a few hours sleep in a nondescript motel and back on the road for 6AM. Heavy frost sparkled on our truck and the trees (FROST??? APRIL 20th???) but we were excited.. for we were but hours from OURNEWCAMPER! After a bit we crossed the Iowa/Minnesota state line
and the Garmin said we were just 3 hours from St. Paul. The same Garmin told us to take a state road through Rochester, MN (Mayo Clinic fame) and then on to St. Paul. We did, and ended up behind Papa Olaf in a dilapidated old pickup whose top speed was a blistering 40 MPH. The road was too narrow to pass, there was SNOW on the ground on both sides, so we just plodded along until he decided to turn off.
So we rolled into St. Paul at about noon –FINALLY–and called the seller to tell them to expect us in a few minutes. We crept along the picturesque snow lined streets (there’s that snow stuff again!) until we spotted the camper in the driveway of a house. We were there!
Hardly an auspicious beginning…several inches of cold white stuff on the ground and she was covered by a ratty old camo tarp.
The seller and his wife were tremendously helpful and had the title ready and lots of extras they had purchased but had not used yet, but included anyway. We were so grateful for all their help (remember the tires/packing the bearings?) that we gave them an extra $100 for all their efforts. After a walk through and solving a glitch with the trailer lights…the turn signals and brake lights worked but nothing else did, we hooked up to the Kobiyashi maru and pulled out on our 1600 mile trip back home.
We got two blocks away when the curbside dinette window blew out. No idea as to why but it was just GONE. We double checked the rest of the windows and THEY seemed sound, so we crept onto I-35 South for the trip home.
At first, we kept the speed down to 50 mph to ascertain if the trailer swayed, if there were any issues with the towing, but it pulled almost effortlessly, so we soon found ourselves creeping over 60mph…and then settled in at 65 mph.
We were in disbelief. IT WAS OURS! Our conversation was about what we would do to bring it back to glory…but Melinda decided that the first thing was to give it a name. Since she (the trailer…they ARE female, aren’t they?) would be a Southern Lady, a Southern name would be in order, and accordingly we agreed on “Tallulah Belle”. By now we were back into Iowa again and darkness was approaching, the running lights were still not working so we decided to not drive at night, and to find an RV park and CAMP. IN OUR OWN TRAILER. Melinda got on her smartphone and downloaded an app that will find RV parks in your area, and we selected one a short ways ahead, in Story City Iowa, she called them and made a reservation, so we were set! When we pulled into the park, we unhitched and then drove into town to get some cardboard to block the broken window and some kraft paper to tape over the windows as makeshift curtains. By the time we got back to the park, affixed the cardboard and paper and snaked an extension cord out the hole under the sink to connect to the electrical hookup it was full dark. And cold. 29F and misty. We had brought a small ceramic heater, which actually did a great job of warning the inside of Tallulah Belle. Of course, the interior was a glorious mess with our travel stuff, cooler, pillows, etc.
It had been a long day, we were tired but what a day!