In early spring of 2007 I decided to quit my job, sell my house along with nearly everything else that I owned, and to live out of my car while traveling the country. These are my stories (and pictures) of life on the road.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Gettin' Zippy with it

It's been a slow and relaxing journey so far and I'm really digging it. Just after cross in the Iowa/Illinois border I swung by Galena to see my Great Aunt and Uncle Richard and Zelma. They're long time Galena residents and have a gorgeous house on a hill above main street. Going to their house is always a relaxing experience, spending time visiting on the porch and eating fantastic food. I spent most of my day there catching up on some work and visiting before hitting the road again that night. It was a nice first stop along the trip and it was good to see them again.

After that it was time a lot more windshield time passing through Illinois and Indiana. Just before I got through Illinois I was getting pretty hungry when I ran across a big street fair. I could smell the food from inside the van but decided to pass. I wasn't really in the mood for a big street fair full of people and instead I crossed the border into Indiana where I found a small town with a small park and a small grill where I could eat the last of my left over Chili I got from my mother when I left town.

The sun was setting when I got there and it was the perfect temperature. I found some sticks and twigs to make my fire with and enjoyed my meal while listening to the last few cicadas buzzing away that afternoon and watching the swifts flit around and eat up the mosquitoes. There was only one other family in the park who must have come down for a picnic but had already finished eating by the time I'd gotten there. They were just watching their kids run around and play. It was a great night and I'm sure I had more fun there then I would of at the street fair. I drove a little farther that night before finding a place to pull over and sleep in back of the van.

The weather had been incredibly nice but it got a little hot the following day with temps in the low 90's. I was plenty comfortable in my van with the AC on but I decided I wanted to get out and stretch my legs a little in the afternoon. I found a nice looking reservoir on the map and swung in to see if I could find a nice beach. I did manage to find a beach but it was in the middle of a state park. I wasn't about to spend $5 just to use the beach (heck, that's more then I usually spend on food in a day!) so I went looking for other options.

What I found was an empty picnic area on a hill over looking the reservoir. I parked my van in the shade to keep in cool, changed into my trunks, and headed down the hill to the water. It wasn't exactly “beachy” but it was good enough and it felt great to get in a little swim. It cooled me right down and made me a little sleepy too. I got back to my van and found the temperature very comfortable inside so I laid down on my cot to read a book for a while. I couldn't keep my eyes open very long though so I decided to take a nap. It felt great just to lay there with the windows and door open in the shade with a little breeze blowing through. Man I love my van!!

I don't know where I slept that night but the next morning after just a short drive I found myself in Ashland, OH where Mark Frazer lives. Mark and I met years ago on iATN where we found ourselves in the minority of sub-30 year old auto technicians. We got to know each other on-line and met a couple times at conventions. We haven't talked a whole lot over the last couple years but have stayed in touch enough to know what the other one is up to. Since we'd first met Mark has gotten married, had a couple kids, and bought himself a nice acreage and opened up his own repair shop.

I got to Mark's around noon on Saturday in what turned out to be the most relaxing weekend I'd had in a long time. I got there just in time for dinner and Mark cooked me a gourmet meal of microwave hot dogs with ketchup. They were by far the tastiest hot dogs anyone has cooked me on my trip so far. I asked if he had any buns to go with them and he handed me a couple slices of bread and mumbled something about all bread just being bread. It got the job done though.

I had grand plans of getting in some hiking and exploring while in the area but instead I just wound up hanging out with Mark and Heather at the acreage most of the weekend. It was tough to leave since it was just perfect with the weather, pond, and zip line. We had a couple nice fires at night and I made myself a new best buddy, Mark's three year old son Simon. Mark says everyone is Simon's new best buddy, I think he's just jealous.

We didn't stay around the house for the entire weekend though. Mark got us lined up to go to his friend Gary's house for a little trap shooting where we were also joined with Daniel. This was my first time shooting trap since I was a kid but it was pretty fun, I did better then I expected to do and broke my first 5 out of 6 birds. Mark was bragging how good he did last time he shot trap (which was his first time ever) but after a good start he apparently got a little cocky and started to fade at the end of the day. Gary and Daniel were the stand outs of the day, hardly missing a bird and picking up some doubles.

I broke the flash and camera out soon after we started and Daniel being your typical in shape 19 year old was more the happy to have his picture taken. He wanted a few more shots of himself at the end and took our joking suggestions of taking off his shirt and doing some push ups first seriously. We found the whole thing pretty entertaining but it didn't seem to affect his shooting at all and the pictures didn't turn out too bad either.

That night Mark and Heather took me out for some good mexican food, which I ate way too much of. To try and burn some of it off we went for a hike around sundown in the woods near Mark's house. Mark had the newborn with him so it was my job to carry Simon when he decide he “couldn't walk anymore”, which took about 1/4 mile. I wasn't ready to lug his dead weight around just yet so I challenged him to a race to the top of the hill, then I'd carry him.

He liked the racing idea so much that he managed to race most of another mile or so before he decided he couldn't walk anymore and I had to carry him. Thankfully by then we were heading back to the house so it wasn't bad at all; after all that running he deserved to be tired out. It wasn't much more then a fast walk for me but he was really hoofing it.

We got back after dark and I decided I wanted to ride the zip line one more time. It was getting pretty chilly and I was contemplating the wisdom of my decision as I climbed the cold metal ladder. The water still felt warm though and it felt great getting a little swim with the pond beginning t cover with mist. Thankfully by the time I got done Mark and Simon had a nice campfire going to warm me up.

We sat around the fire talking a while before finally retiring for bed. When I woke this morning I walked over to Marks shop to watch him slave away for a while. He just couldn't accept the fact that I wasn't going to fix cars anymore and finally talked me into pulling the tire off a rim so he could get some pictures of me working again. I've never worked at a shop that did any tire work so he had to show me how to do it. It was fun for the 5 minutes that I was doing it and that was plenty for me; I didn't like getting dirty again.

I went back to the van to get all my things packed up and said my good byes before heading back out on the road. I really enjoyed my time there and had more fun then I could have thought not doing a darn thing al weekend. A lot of times I find just sitting around and relaxing to be a lot more enjoyable then running around doing all the tourist stuff.

Thanks again Mark and Heather.

As always you can see more pics that aren't posted on my blog by visiting my Flickr account

1 comment:

Edith said...

Al you had a great weekend. Mike and I had two auctions. So we were dead tired after the weekend. I always loved Galena and I have heard of your relatives there and know they are very cool.

You've reached the end of the page but that's not the end of the stories. If you want to read more (and who wouldn't!?) then click on the archive links to the right hand side of the page. They're listed by month; the adventure starts in May.

The February archives aren't actually from this trip but are previous adventures I've had, which are worth reading as well.