May 8th until May 18th 2017, New York and the mid-West
Upon arrival at Liberty RV Park I booked for 3 nights so we still have one day to look around in New York. We’re lucky, on Monday all the rain disappeared and the sun shines in a steel blue sky. We are early and that’s good because this nice weather is an excellent opportunity to visit the “One World Tower”, the one that is risen on the ruins of the World Trade Center. We walk to the PATH station, board the train and 10 minutes later we walk under “the wings that fly to heaven” to the Tower. There are some people in line but that’s nothing compared to the rows that were there on Saturday and besides that, you always have to stand in line everywhere in the USA. So we have to be patient!
At 10 am we have our senior tickets (I got them when I told our year of birth) and we’re heading to the 102nd floor, along the bedrocks on which the foundations of this huge building are anchored. From here we have a beautiful view over the city of New York. It is extremely clear and we can see a lot. It’s special that we can also spot our RV on the other side of the Hudson. For a picture, we have to use our zoom lens. Finally after many pictures we go down drink a coffee at Starbucks and talk about the fantastic views. After a delicious coffee we walk to Wall Street. We want to take a look at the Government Hall. Here George Washington was sworn in as the first president.
As we will not walk again the long way uptown, we grab the metro and soon we are in Central Park where we find a few geocaches and enjoy the fantastic weather. The air continues to look like steel blue. Of course we also have to visit Abercrombie & Fitch. In contrast to previous years, the music is not so loud so Dick is also coming inside. There are not directly clothes that I urgent have to buy so we continue our walk on 5th avenue to the South until we are at Macy’s on 34th Street where we can take the PATH to Jersey City and after a walk along the waterline with the beautiful view on Manhattan, we arrive at our RV. We still walked 9 miles. Good for our condition. Tuesday May 9th, we say goodbye to New York. Dick had seen enough and don’t want to return. I, on the other hand, can easily go again and again; I love this city, so hopefully I have the possibility to come again with Auntie Ank. After we filled up with water and dumped our grey- and black water we leave Jersey City and after some time the hustle and bustle of a big city is behind us.
In Hershey, Pennsylvania we stop because the chocolate factory must be worth visiting. Our Garmin cannot find the right place but after some driving around we find “Chocolate World”. We walk in and find a shop filled with chocolate products and a fair attraction with carts that brings you a virtually tour through a chocolate factory. Fun for little children but too much kitsch for adults. Within the hour, after tasting some Hershey Chocolate, we are back on the road, driving west. Walmart Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, allows us to stay overnight so between the throbbing trucks and tooting trains, very common near a Walmart, we sleep great! The following days we continue driving westward and soon we pass the Appalachian Mountains. The road takes us over steep roads up and down and the brakes of our RV our tested and succeed.
The landscape is beautiful. In Dayton, Ohio, we stop to take a look at the Wright Brothers, who managed, after many failed attempts, to fly their airplane over 39 minutes. It is fascinating to see how this worked and after visiting the field where they tried and tried again to fly, a grassland with hangar and catapult to give the planes a start speed, we move on. Again we sleep in the parking lot of a Walmart. It is never quiet and there is a lot of noise but the benefits are that you can shop in the evening, look around, and find nice clothes. There are also eateries nearby like Applebee in Dayton, OH where we had dinner instead of cooking our self. After 3 nights staying at Walmart, we look for a State Park in Indiana. Unfortunately the campground is full but luckily not so far is a nice public park in Westwood where we can stay overnight.
We go for a walk along the Lake and of course search for some geocaches. And the fillet steaks on the grill taste even more delicious than the Applebee steaks. The weather now has completely folded the temperature reach values of 80 degrees. The long trousers are stored in the closet and we only walk in shorts. In Indianapolis we have a glimpse of the circuit and the race cars, but no parking spot so we drive to Springfield, Illinois. Here President Lincoln spent much of his life.
The movie about his life as well as the House where he lived makes deep impressions. Now we got the information we missed when we visited the theater in Washington DC where Lincoln was assassinated. Because it is quiet on the road (Sunday may 14th) we decide, after this impressive visit to Springfield, to drive further West and visit the Arch in St Louis, Missouri. It is on the banks of the Mississippi, a crowded place but maybe on Sunday we will manage to find a place there. Unfortunately, despite the many rounds that Dick rides around the Arch, that towers high above us, we cannot find a parking spot for our RV. There are enough garages but insufficient high so finally we leave this place after one last look at the Arch. At Walmart St Louis, Missouri, we look for a sleeping place.
However, it is full of loitering man and security cars drive off and on, really unusual for a Walmart during the day. After two hours we decide to leave this Walmart and the city of St Louis and 60 mile further in Warrenton, Missouri, we find a quiet Walmart. Although quiet? If you mean the loitering, yes but not the traffic noise. The trucks hurtling on the nearby I-70 and of course there are many honking and tooting trains here. But with all our windows wide open, its 85 degrees, we sleep here as a block of concrete. Unfortunately on Monday May 15th we cannot skype with auntie Ank, we announced it too late. So we are back on the road, further west, before nine am. Our goal today is Independence, Missouri, the frontier city where around 1835 the first wagon trains with covered wagons left for Oregon. Also Harry Truman, the 33rd president of the USA lived here. A good reason to fill up with history. As Lincoln’s life was so interesting, so boring is that of Truman and Independence looks like a modern American town. There is little to be seen of the old days. Fortunately the old train station of Independence is nice to see and the tour we are given is very interesting.
There is also a strange looking Church, Church of Christ. The building looks like a soft ice or is it a seashell? We visit this church too and it is interesting. The Walmart in Independence is even noisier than those in Warrenton but maybe because of the heat, still 85 degrees, and despite the open windows we sleep like roses. Tuesday may 16th, again we drive further westward. We already passed one time zone by passing the state border of Illinois, and the next time zone is near the Kansas – Colorado border. Our hakuna (Garmin) let us follow part of the original route of the wagon trails to the west but after some time we are led around Kansas City. Thanks to the hakuna who constantly says: “take either of the five left lanes” (can you imagine how wide the road is?) we finally reach quieter roads that take us through the undulating and grass-covered land of the state of Kansas. The storm is still going on and increased in strength so we need both hands to steer our RV and stay on the road. In Marion, KS we find a public park at a lake where we can stay overnight amidst mobile homes. We are the only guests. Tomorrow we can fill up with water and dump our grey- and black water. Unfortunately, there is only one cache so we have a short walk here, only 2 miles. The rest of the afternoon we sit outside, doing administration and I finally succeed in skyping auntie Ank. End of the afternoon it’s getting cold, the wind is very strong and the chill factor is big. So Dick is grilling the meat outside but we have our dinner inside the RV. The next morning there are strong winds but after dumping grey and black water and filling up clean water the clouds, are gone, the air is blue and the sun shines, only the temperature , 58 degrees, is a little bit low. We drive further west on the Great Plains covered with long grass, black cows and huge ranches. Next to us are the honking and tooting trains, 120 wagons long and with 4 locomotives. If you have the misfortune to cross their path, you better can make a coffee, because they are driving so slowly.
At half past 9 a.m. we arrive in Hutchinson, KS where we soon find the salt mines. One of the 8 wonders of Kansas. Since two school buses with children arrived before us we have to wait for one hour but then we can take the elevator to the underground 650 ft. below. Advised by the ticket lady we also bought a ticket for a tour in the non-touristic part of the mine. Here with only flashlights you can admire the underground. The mining of salt stopped in this part of the mine in the 1950’s. This extra part of the tour proved to be a success. This hour ride brings you to the vast rooms left when the salt was removed. It’s special and it’s huge, we are driving and driving and driving underground. The other two train rides where lights shows you the salt formations, remaining ammunition boxes as well as vehicles left behind is less impressive. After also looked at movies how the salt for the Icy roads is taken, we can take some salt souvenirs with us. Dick is against the taking of salt pieces and it turns out that he is right.
The salt chunks I have taken, they are also pretty bulky, fall apart in small pieces when we are back in our RV and travelling around for a year with crumbling salt that eats and destroys everything (especially a car) is also not a good idea. As a result, I throw huge chunks of salt in the trashcan at Walmart. Leaving this on the land is not really a good idea because plants dies under this concentrated salt and also birds cannot stand it as we were warned in the mine. At 2 pm we leave this impressive salt mine. The weather has improved considerably although the winds are still there. In Great Bend, KS we stay overnight at the Walmart parking lodge. In the nearby laundry we can wash our clothes and the neighboring Applebee provides us a great dinner. Fortunately, the tornado that passed here yesterday did not trouble us although there was a lot of damage as locals told us in Applebee. Because it is so warm we decide to take off our duvet. Not a good idea, because when we wake up Thursday morning we are icy, icy cold. The temperature dropped to 50 degrees and the wind-chill makes it even colder. With jeans and hoody we leave Great bend, KS. The Barb wired museum in LaCrosse is not open so we continue our way to Monument Rocks.
We could not find an address but fortunately our Hakuna (the name I gave to our navigation because with this navigation I never have to worry about getting lost) we find a gravel path, sideway from the 83 and partly sandy with quite steep slopes that leads us to the Monumental Rock formations in the middle of the prairies. Although the landscape is mostly flat we slowly climbed up to 2790 feet and still climbing up, we approach the Colorado Plateau. In spite of the chilling wind and 50 degrees it is awesome to walk between these high uprising rocks. The cows don’t agree our walk and with staring, lowing and bellowing they let us know that’s their territory. The cold does not allow a very long stay here so after a good look around and making a lot of pictures we drive further west. We pass through infinite plains with wheat and grass fields and cows. Mostly flat with some slopes and only grain silos and noddy donkeys appear. The mini drizzle degenerates in an advanced drizzle and tries to develop into rain so we decide in stay overnight at Walmart in Goodland, KS just after passing the time zone. Now our time difference with the Netherlands is 8 hours. Fortunately, the rain stops end of the afternoon so we can search some caches nearby. We find them rather quickly thanks to an American couple from Wyoming, also Geo catchers. Just when we think that we could wash our RV on the other side of the road (it is really necessary) it starts to rain, so we take shelter and heat up in our RV and work at our laptop.