Heading West!


The whole weekend was filled with endless tedious chores and errands to get ourselves and the trailer ready for the trip. I compiled a huge, four-page check list that I had been following religiously throughout the packing process. It seemed like the chores and packing would never end. We had planned to leave for our first stop, Battle Creek, Monday morning. However, before we did that, we were going to install the draperies and a few other odd jobs on the list. However, Sunday afternoon, as we labored in the trailer as it sat, unpowered and unair conditioned in the storage lot, we decided to pack up, haul it to Brent’s mother’s house, and finish the work where we could have electricity.

Packing took all day, and when we finally pulled out of the driveway, we were drenched with sweat and exhausted. We arrived in Battle Creek around 10 PM. The next day I worked the day job while Brent finished up the maintenance. After work, I joined in.

One thing I had been concerned about was introducing the dogs to the trailer. I should not have worried. They both hopped right in and made themselves at home. Chewie is loyal to a fault, so he insisted on being in the trailer the whole time we were working on it.

Courage is a dog’s dog, and the only place he likes better than a back porch is underneath a back porch. He found a shady spot where he could keep an eye on the action.

We were finally ready to leave Tuesday morning. The trailer had plenty of storage space, so we had no problem fitting all of our clothes and camping items and dog supplies. The dogs, by then, definitely knew something was afoot. When the time came, they both leapt into the back of the Suburban. For Chewie, that was quite impressive, as he is normally not a jumper.

We made it to the Mississippi river the first day. I made myself at home in the back seat of the Suburban to work on the road. The back seat has tinted windows, which makes it easier to look at the screen. I sometimes get carsick when I read or do close work in a car, so I took two dramamine. That turned out to be a mistake, as it is difficult for me to do my work while sleeping. We stopped at a rest stop, and I went inside to get something caffeinated to drink. There I found perhaps the only vending machine in the world that was completely filled with non-caffeinated soda. No kidding. It had 7-Up, Dr. Pepper, Root Beer, etc. No Coke, Pepsi, or Mountain Dew.

I soldiered onward. Walking the dogs helped to refresh me, and I finished my day’s work in good time.

Setting up camp for the first time was exciting. The dogs were quite manageable because they had already had several walks that day. We set up our X-pen on the grass. Its like a collapsable cage with no floor or ceiling. We bought two and we link them together to make a good-sized pen for the dogs.

True to form, Courage enjoyed hanging out in the X pen, and Chewie insisted on being inside the trailer with his humans.

The trailer is fully functional except for the water system. It works when hooked up to outside water, but the pump won’t bring water up from the tank. This campground, an Army Corps of Engineers facility right on the Mississippi River, had electric hookup, but not water. So that first night we had to shlep to the pump like common tent campers.

Everyone slept well, including the dogs. Except for the train. See, there were railroad tracks about a hundred yards from our site. Shortly after I fell asleep, a train came through, startling most of us awake. It was as loud as you would expect a train to be, if you were trying to sleep right next to it. It happened three or four times in the night. Although the campground was lovely and clean, I would not stay there again, obviously.

In spite of the train, we all slept well, and set off again in the morning. As I┬átype this, we are an hour or so west of Des Moines. I do believe I’m having fun.