Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hot To Be Home

Well, the last blog post was going to be my last post, but circumstances intervened and here I am again.
I am coming north on 494, just south of the 94 interchange. I am so close to where I store my RV, I can taste it. Almost there. Last stop before I actually get home. It is a beautiful sunny day, a little windy but nothing that this road warrior can't handle. I mean I've been here, I've been there, I've been everywhere, man.

Traffic is getting backed up – there is an accident ahead. I switch lanes – I'm cruising along. I feel a thump, sort of a drag on the RV. I don't know what it could be, but everything seems to be good, so I'm moving on.

Then somebody passes me on the right – the driver is gesticulating – telling me to move over. Well, I'm going a little slow because traffic is bad – I'll move over to the right lane when I'm good and ready. Not when some yahoo is upset because I'm going too slow.

Then somebody passes me on the left. There is a lady hanging out the passenger side window wildly motioning me to pull over and pointing at the RV. Ok, something is up. I ease over to the very small shoulder, put my flashers on and get out to see what is happening.

Holy cow – the front of my car is smoking. I run inside the RV and grab Miko – I've seen too many movies where cars blow up and I didn't want her to be in harm's way. I go up the embankment, away from the vehicles and call 911.

“911 – what is your emergency?”

“Umm – I think my car is on fire”

After getting all my particulars, we wait for emergency personnel to show up. I start with a state patrol guy and a fire chief guy. The car is really smoking now – big billowy clouds of noxious brown smoke. They try to unhook the car from the RV but everything is jammed up and they can't get it unhooked.

Then all of a sudden the whole hood of the car goes up in flames. The flames are really high and huge. About this time, the fire truck shows up. They are sort of casual about the whole thing – no running around, just going about doing their business. It takes them about five minutes to douse the flames. At this point, I'm pretty detached from the whole thing – it was sort of like - “oh well – nobody is hurt – it is amazing watching these people in action”

After it was all done – the fire inspector took down my info and a tow truck was called. My car was jam packed with personal possessions – I had unloaded most of the RV into the car in anticipation of bringing it all home. The fire fighters and sheriffs all helped unload the car and put this stuff into the RV. None of my stuff was ruined except for a smoke smell and some of the papers in the glove compartment. How lucky is that?

The tow truck arrived and Miko and I drove the remaining 10 minutes back to the RV storage place. Tony came and picked us up and brought us home. Poor Tony – in the aftermath I am a little on edge – talk about micro-managing his driving. 

I'm home, everybody is ok – the insurance company has been called. I don't know what would cause the fire, I'm sure that it will become apparent once all the adjusters have figured it out. In my laywoman opinion, the car is totaled. I don't see how it could not be.

Tony said – Well, you certainly know how to make an entrance, don't you?

Dousing the flames

Finishing Up

My Poor Car

The Fried Engine

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The End of The Tour

It is Friday – I have to leave Starved Rock because the dreaded weekenders are coming in and weekenders tend to plan ahead, unlike me, and reserve state park sites. The park is full and again, I am siteless. I plan on going up to Maquoketa State Park which is where I spent a night back a couple of years ago. Back then, it was early April and I was the only one in the park – it was a little spooky. I thought I would spend some time hiking some of the trails there. Again, the weekenders have foiled my plans. No room at the inn. I end up spending a night in a little city park in Maquoketa. It was an ok place and I figured on Saturday I could motor over to the State Park and do some hiking.

I have been pretty lucky weather wise – there have only been a couple of days with rain. I was pretty far south and east when the bad weather came through Texas and Mississippi. Then I move north and was farther north than the bad weather that came through Oklahoma and Kansas. I have lead a pretty charmed weather life this trip. Well, Saturday, the skies opened up. I decided that I would move on, since it was raining so hard, hiking would have been sort of miserable. I drove 2 ½ hours north, through the driving rain and wind gusts that blew me around the road a bit. Yes, I've finally made it to Pike's Peak – who woulda thought. Actually, I've landed in Pike's Peak State Park in McGregor, Iowa. Zebulon Pike of Pike's Peak fame was here in this area way before he was putting his name on some peak out west.   I don't know if it was the crummy weather or the fact that this park is way over on the very edge of Iowa, but there are very few weekenders here. There are just a few trailers, a couple of tent campers and some mini trailers. I really felt sorry for the tent campers – it could not have been all that pleasant with the nasty wind and rain.
Every time I looked, there was another one of these RV pup tents showing up

This is really a nice park – it is perched on the bluffs overlooking where the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers collide.

Wisconsin River is directly ahead


Same Place - different day - fog, fog, fog
Off in the distance you can hear a mournful train whistle and the views are wonderful. And even better – my site is nice and level and I have great HD OTA TV!!! I must admit – I did some binge watching – an old James Bond movie, lots of shows from the sixties like Outer Limits. I almost feel guilty for spending so much time watching these old shows. Key word: almost.

I found a website that has the Ultimate Waterfall Tour of Iowa. So, I decided I should do a portion of it. Cause waterfalls are my thing nowadays. First up was Bridal Falls Waterfall which was in the Pike's Peak Park. Can we say underwhelming? Made me rethink this whole Ultimate Waterfall Tour.

See?  Underwhelming

But I persevered and went on to Beulah Springs Waterfall. It was a lovely waterfall. I couldn't really take any good pictures because some young thing was taking her senior pictures and I really felt like I might be intruding.
A much nicer waterfall - actually coming out of a hole in the hillside

She was wearing rubber boots under that pretty dress.  It was freezing out. 
I spent another couple of days at Pike's Peak. Every morning, Miko and I would walk down to the  river and see how the day was going to shape up. I don't know why I found it so fascinating, seeing all the different feels of the river. It was also nice to just hang out and not do too much of anything.

We did go to Effigy Mounds National Monument which I went to a couple of years ago. Bunch of mounds that First Nation people had created. I only went back because I am obsessed with this Junior Ranger thing. We did walk a few of the trails that we hadn't done the first time we were here, so there was some new stuff.

Next stop.......Home – I'm going home.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Wildcat Canyon

Starved Rock is a most excellent park. I love the trails here – they are well marked and very very scenic. Today, we walked up to Lover's Leap and Eagle's Nest up on the bluff and then wandered over to Wildcat Canyon. Wildcat Canyon had the best waterfall yet. I don't know if it was because we really worked to get to the canyon – can you say fifty million steps all at once, going up – or perhaps it was because I actually stopped, sat on a log, contemplated the universe for a bit and really got a chance to feel the surroundings and appreciate what I was seeing. So many times when you are on the road, you go to a site, do the obligatory see-all and then move on. All too seldom do I really get to spend the time to really “see” what I am seeing. I know when I would go to a cathedral in Europe, I found that if I just sat in a pew, took the time to feel and absorb what I was seeing – it made for a much deeper experience. That was Wildcat Canyon for me.

View of the Mighty Illinois

View from Eagle's Nest - It is an optical allusion - the left side of the dam is lower than the right side

Wildcat Canyon Waterfall

Miko really does not like her picture taken - ' Gee Mom - just cut out this foolishness'

Looking at the falls from after climbing the fifty million steps

Funny thing is that we never climbed up to the namesake Starved Rock - where a band of First Nation people starved to death.  We could see it from Lover's Leap which was good enough for me.