Heading West – Day 1

Current Location: Whispering Oaks Campground, Story City, Iowa (no web site)

This morning, we got up early, packed up the trailer and hitched up in Elkhart. We pulled up near the rally hall and stopped to say our goodbyes to a few folks and grab some breakfast items for the road. We pulled out about 8:00 AM Eastern Time.

We headed up to the Indiana Toll Road (I-80/90) and headed west on that. We paid $13.70 in tolls at the end of the tolled section in Indiana, and another $1.70 in Illinois.

Welcome to Illinois

Welcome to Illinois

Couple of huge wind turbines we saw along the way

Couple of huge wind turbines we saw along the way

We continued west on I-80 into Iowa. Early on, we passed or were passed by various other rally-goers heading down the interstate, but we didn’t see anyone else after western Illinois. Lunch was served at the Iowa welcome center rest area just across the border. Since it was windy, and a storm front was blowing in, we ate lunch in the truck. It started spitting rain just as we were pulling out, but it didn’t last long.

The Mississippi River, heading into Iowa.

The Mississippi River, heading into Iowa.

Lunch in Iowa

Lunch in Iowa

In the western half of Illinois and all of Iowa we encountered a fairly strong headwind. It was evident by the fact that the smallest rise in the road caused the truck to kick down out of overdrive. We drove 482 miles today, and stopped to fill the tank twice (both times the gauge was around 3/8 full, it was just handy to stop and stretch and fill up while we were there). Fuel mileage also reflected the headwind, averaging about 8.2 MPG for the day.

One of two fuel stops

One of two fuel stops

We initially had decided to stop for the night east of Des Moines, but every campground was full. As we drove by one of the Newton, Iowa exits, we saw why. There is a big IndyCar race today at the Iowa Speedway. Every campground we called immediately indicated they were full tonight.

We went on past Des Moines and stopped a few miles north to scope out additional campgrounds. The first one we called – Whispering Oaks – had plenty of spots available, so we headed on in. It’s a fairly nice campground and we got a perfect pull-through spot for the night. It was just level enough front to back that we got the trailer level still hitched to the truck. We didn’t auto-level, but used the leveling system to manually level the trailer, in case the front was too low (don’t want to pull the truck off the ground).

Stopped in Story City

Stopped in Story City

On the way today, we dug out the state license plate board and marked all the plates we saw on the road. The blue sides indicate the states found. The remaining were not. Looks like we saw 30 of 50. We’ll reset our board and play again tomorrow.

License Plates Found

License Plates Found

Tomorrow, we’re heading up to I-90, then heading west on that. We’ll probably stop somewhere in South Dakota tomorrow night.

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