Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Road Trip to Iowa!

Have you ever taken a trip that you've questioned your sanity several times on the trip? Yea, that was us for this trip.

We were invited to a wedding in Iowa and we decided to go. Normally, we'd fly out, but we figured we have the Brave, we may as well use it. The only thing that complicated this was that we were heading to Alaska (by plane & cruise ship) a couple of weeks later. All of this just meant it had to be a quick trip - 2 days out, 2 days there, 2 days back. Whew! We decided to leave the pets at home (with their sitter) for this trip - it proved to be a wise decision.

We started out from our seasonal space in Luray around 6am. We had a long day ahead of us. There's not much to say about the drive - other than it was LONG. Jon did amazing through the mountains in MD. He put the cruise control on and let the engine do it's thing on the long, steeper downgrades. I made lunch in the rig as we were moving down the road & it was great to be able to eat and keep going.

We planned on stopping in Richmond, IN at the Richmond KOA. Honestly, we could've stopped a bit earlier, if we hadn't already had reservations. 10 hours moving time = 11 or more hours of real time once you take into account gas and potty breaks. The Richmond KOA was ok. Great place for an over night stop, but not somewhere we'd stay longer. It was a very small campground & we were staring straight into the rig parked in front of us (our windshields were facing each other). It also was a bit tight and nerve wracking when leaving the next morning. We were able to leave the car connected & get the rig stabilized, so that was a plus.

Our premium site
Mini Golf
Registration Building/Store
Dog Park
We got up and on the road by about 7am the next morning. We had a 7 hr (moving) day = 8+ hr in reality ahead of us. We found a Pilot Flying J with RV lanes and made a longer pit stop around 10am. We had them fill up our propane - which was one of the smartest things we did all weekend. We took the time to do it while we had time. I made lunch on the move again, which was great. We also stopped and got the rig washed at a Beacon Truck Wash once in Iowa.

We stayed at Sleepy Hollow Campground near Iowa City, IA in a town called Oxford. Since we were there for the wedding, we didn't really hang around the campground all that much. There seemed to be several seasonals at this campground as well. The campground was doing a "summer carnival" that weekend, so they had a few activities for the kids, which was pretty cool to see. Sleepy Hollow was a great jumping point for us to do everything we wanted to do that weekend.

The night we arrived, we headed to Corallville to join the bridal party & Jon's family (from TX) at the rehearsal dinner.  We had already eaten, so we were there to visit with everyone. It was great to get caught up with Jon's aunt, uncle, and cousins. It was here that we learned we were the only extended family on the groom's side to attend - at all. We were really happy we made the effort after we heard that.

Saturday morning, we decided to head to the Amana Colonies to look around for a bit. It was definitely worth the trip & I wish we had time to visit more of the locations of the colonies than we were able to visit. Most of the buildings have been turned into shops, restaurants, or winery representation.

Look, a bit of home in IA!

We headed back to the rig after lunch to get ready for the wedding, which was in Iowa City in the bride's childhood church. It was a beautiful ceremony & great reception.

Sunday, we had brunch with the bride, groom, and various attendees of the wedding. It was a great way to wish the couple well & to visit one last time with Jon's family.

We then headed to the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and Presidential Library. We spent WAY more time there than we thought we would. The NPS Park Rangers were great to chat with. We've found many times that the smaller the NPS location, the better the chats with the rangers. Probably because they're the less visited & not as busy parks, so the rangers have more time to chat. We were happy to learn so much about Hoover during our few hours at the historical site.

Hoover House
Hoover House Kitchen
Hoover House Bedroom & Sewing Room
Straight back, through the clearing in the trees, is Hoover's grave site.
School House
Inside of the Church
Statue of the Goddess Isis. She is the goddess of fertility and patroness of nature and magic.
Herbert Hoover Library

President & Mrs. Hoover's grave sites
Once we were done here, we headed back to the coach and laid around for a bit. We watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (which was just ok and not what we really expected at all based on the previews), and called it a night pretty early.

Monday morning came and we were woken up by thunderstorms around 5:30am. We were planning on getting up around then anyhow, but morning thunderstorms aren't exactly something we're used to! Jon was able to get out & unhook the rig and hook up the car between storms, so that was good. We got out of the campground around 7am and got on the road.

Now... I was SUPPOSED to drive for the first time on Monday morning. But, we were trying to keep thunderstorms in our rear view mirror and I wasn't thrilled with the idea of potentially being caught in one, so I let Jon drive. I know conditions will never be perfect, but there will be another time that will be better! Other than trying to out run storms & rain (which did eventually catch up a bit), the drive was uneventful.

We stopped at Buckeye Lake/Columbus East KOA, in Buckeye Lake, OH on the way back home. There are definitely seasonal sites here that the campground owners have let build semi-permanent structures, which we found to be interesting. We really liked this campground & wished we had more time in the area. We could definitely see ourselves visiting the area for longer than a night in the future. Our campsite was super level - which was great. Once again, we didn't disconnect & just leveled & put out the slides. Made the next morning super easy.

Nice, level site
The site next to ours. We were trying to figure out if this was the Work Kamper who was at this one.
Dog Park
Tuesday morning, we pulled the slides in, pulled the jacks up, disconnected everything, and headed out. We had about 7.5 hrs to drive back to Luray and then another 1.5 hrs home, so it'd be another long day.

At one of the rest stops in Western MD
Once again, Jon did a wonderful job through the mountains/hills of OH, WV, Western MD, and VA. Coming into Cumberland, on a 13 mile 4-6% downgrade (yea... love that part of Western MD!), someone (MDOT) decided it'd be a good time to do bridge repair in the middle of the day. A bunch of trucks and us all counted our blessings that we were able to stop & there were no accidents (there was no warning of the construction). Other than a gas stop that went horribly (why are non-RV trucks using the RV lanes instead of going to the truck lanes and taking up valuable space for those of us that are?!), the trip home was uneventful.

When we got to Luray, we noticed yet another storm coming over the mountains. We hurried to get the car unhooked. Just as we got it unhooked & parked, the rain started coming. Jon got the Brave backed into our space and it started down pouring. We were parked just in the knick of time. Whew! We waited the storm out, got a couple of things connected & headed home to get our puppy & see the kitty.

What a whirlwind of a trip - but 100% worth it. One thing we learned, we will NOT be doing 2 days of long driving like that again any time soon!

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