On Saturday, June 25th, we began our long haul to Texas. We drove 146 miles to Zanesville, OH, where we spent two nights at Wolfie’s Campground. As Phil was pulling into our site, one of the trailer’s tires clipped a cinderblock the owner had placed on the edge of the site. Upon examining the tire, he discovered that the outside tread had ripped apart from the tire. Phil immediately started calling around to see if he could find a replacement tire. Unfortunately, being Saturday afternoon, he was unable to find a tire dealer that was open and sold trailer tires. Phil ended up installing the spare tire on our fifth wheel. Accessing the spare tire from beneath our rig required removing the bikes and the rear license plate.
Over the weekend, Phil was able to locate a replacement tire at Discount Tire in Hamilton, OH, 47 miles from our next stop. On Monday morning, Phil called the store and ordered the tire. We then drove 166 miles, without a spare tire, to Richmond, IN, where we spent two nights at Deer Ridge Camping Resort. The drive was uneventful until 13 miles from our destination, when traffic came to a complete standstill. It took us over 30 minutes to move the next mile.
On Tuesday, Phil drove our Mazda to Hamilton, OH and got the replacement tire. After installing the new tire on the fifth wheel, we visited Fountain Acres Foods, an Amish store in nearby Fountain City, IN. We loaded up on spices and fresh veggies. Phil treated himself to a small tin of sticky buns.
On Wednesday, we drove 216 miles to Effingham, IL, where we spent two nights at Camp Lakewood RV Park.
On Friday, July 1st, we drove 123 miles to St. Peters, MO, a suburb of St. Louis, where we spent the four-day Fourth of July weekend at 370 Lakeside Park. This was our third stay at this campground. Our pull-through site for this stay was directly across the road from the site of one of our most embarrassing RV experiences in all our years on the road. In October 2015, only weeks after buying our fifth wheel, we attempted to get into our first back-in site. We attracted quite an audience that afternoon, one of whom just sat in his lawn chair to enjoy the show. At first, Phil had thought he was going to have success but started to panic when he saw how close he was coming to hitting the tree and rig in the site where we are currently parked. Eventually, we were joined by two of the neighbor men who moved some obstacles and provided advice that helped get us backed into the site. In the years since that afternoon, we have mostly booked pull-through sites.
On Saturday morning, Phil’s brother and his wife, Kip and Marcia Gordon, came by to see our rig for the first time. We then headed out for breakfast at Gingham’s Homestyle Restaurant with Kip and Marcia. After breakfast, we escaped the heat by heading to the movie theater at Mid River Mall to see Elvis. That evening, we met at Kip and Marcia’s house and headed out for dinner at Rich and Charlie’s Italian Restaurant.
On Sunday afternoon, we headed back to Kip and Marcia’s house for dinner. We were joined by a large group of the extended family, including their two daughters (Shannon Roland and Mackenzie Gordon), their son-in-law (Derek Roland), two grandchildren (Ellie and Rhys Roland), two cousins (Austin and Millie), and Marcia’s sister (Cindy Rebbe). We dined on pork steak (a St. Louis delicacy), corn on the cob and salads.
Monday was the Fourth of July and was even hotter than the previous days. When we returned from the grocery store at 3 pm, the temperature was 97 with a heat index of 108. Knowing that it would be even hotter when we arrive in Texas was of little comfort. We then headed for dinner at the Roland’s home. Most of the clan from Sunday’s dinner was there but, unfortunately, Marcia had not felt well and was unable to attend. After briefly sitting outside, the heat drove us indoors to the air conditioning. However, the heat did not keep the kids from heading outside to shoot off fireworks. Since we were traveling on Tuesday, we had to leave before it got dark enough to view the big fireworks displays in the neighborhood. It had been a great three days and we were really grateful for this opportunity to reconnect with part of our family who we rarely get to see.
On Tuesday, July 5th, we hit the road again and drove 226 miles to Springfield, MO, where we spent two nights at the Springfield / Route 66 KOA Holiday. Other than trains that roll nearby day and night, blowing their horns, the campground was very nice.
On Wednesday, we drove into Springfield and visited the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World national headquarters. The store claims to be the grandaddy of all outdoor stores. It is certainly the biggest Bass Pro Shop we’ve ever visited. In addition to numerous displays with stuffed animals, there are aquariums throughout the store with fish, turtles and alligators. The store also houses the Archery Hall of Fame and Museum and the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum. In the basement, they even have a shooting range. After leaving the store, we had an early dinner at Bosky’s Vegan Grill.
On Thursday, we drove 226 miles to Rock Creek Road RV Park, 12 miles north of McAlester in SE Oklahoma. The campground was nothing special, with mostly long-term residents, but our site was roomy and, at $27.50 for the night, it was our least expensive private campground in years. By mid-afternoon, the temperature had reached 105 degrees, with a heat index of 114. It took many hours for our two air conditioners to cool down the inside of our rig, which was 88 degrees when we arrived.
On Friday, we drove 300 miles to Lorena, TX (a few miles outside of Waco), where we spent two nights at Camp Caravan RV Park. The truck’s GPS gave us a couple of mis-directions, including having us in the left lane, when we should have been in the right, as we tried to get to I-35E in the middle of downtown Dallas. Fortunately, we were able to pick up the highway a short distance down the road. The campground’s website had warned that the entrance was easy to miss and, sure enough, Phil missed it despite driving down the road very slowly. There was a roundabout a mile farther down the road so we were able to get turned around fairly easily and found the entrance on the second attempt.