May 1st to May 5th
Denver to Virginia
After dropping Sara off for her Hawaii flight, Beans and I were making a more direct route across the country. Our initial few weeks on the road had averaged 144 miles per day. During the 5 days with just Beans and I, we wound up driving an average of 394 miles per day.
A few hours out of Denver, I turned off the freeway onto dirt highways to head towards one of few points of interest I could find. As sunset approached, I made it to the “Kansas Badlands” area to check out Castle Rock.
Beans had her supper there. I called to check in with home and then continued further away from the freeway to a state birding area that allowed distributed camping.
After a quick morning walk along the lake shore, I cut blackout paper curtains for the front windows that would allow privacy if I had to camp in any truck stop style locations in the coming days. We pointed further south towards Oklahoma. The objective was to make it to Arkansas and check out the Ozark National Forest late that evening or the next day. We crossed back over onto interstate.
I had Beans set up in the front seat on the pillow Sara left behind.
Beans still made it into my lap at some point. Shortly thereafter, I found a tick crawling up my arm, which I had to figure out how to eliminate while driving highway speeds. Beans went back over to her pillow. Later that afternoon, she sat up and moved to the very front edge of the pillow signaling she was probably about to throw up. An exit did not come soon enough. I tried getting a plastic grocery bag under her and instead caught her vomit on the back of my hand. After pulling over and cleaning up, Beans made it back onto my lap. I swear I had checked her and I for ticks but two more appeared crawling on me once we were back on the highway. I had moved duck tape to the center console, which made trapping the ticks much simpler. It wasn’t a particularly fun day. I think transitioning from leisurely exploring with Sara to driving for distance on a deadline definitely changed the tone of the drive.
I made it to the Ozark National Forest and found a spot to hastily set up camp on a spot that would soon seem to be on a much greater slant that when I first parked.
It was warm and buggy. We did not have adequate bug proof venting of air for the car, which made for a warm night in the SUV and later lead us to buy bug screens for the windows.
I tossed and turned and picked out 4 potential hikes for the morning depending on which direction I wanted to drive and how long I wanted to stay in the forest.
Maybe an hour after falling asleep, the thunder started. It was loud, frequent, and close. The weather channel warned of severe storms, which passed over head while I tried to get sleep with minimal success.
Sun rose with me poorly rested and a continued downpour. I passed on the hike ideas and headed back to the interstate to get some miles on.
Less than 2 hours later, I was on the shoulder of an exit ramp with a very popped tire that met an unfortunately timed end with a chunk of asphalt in the driving lane. I was optimistic about getting back on the road with a Ford dealer only 1 mile away. The optimism was ill founded.
Ford dealerships do not stock the tires of a 2014 Escape. The only other tire shop in town could also not get the tire same day. About 30 miles down the road, I was able to find a shop that could get them next day.
Just outside of that town, there was a campground by the river in Toadsuck, Arkansas. On my donut spare, I headed down there for a campsite. They were sold out. I booked a cheap motel. On the drive over, I stopped for a quick walk in the park.
We got a new tire on next day. I had Beans in her spaceship while I waited and was inside to pay. I stopped frequently to check air pressure and to assure all was well with the new set of tires.
We made it to Memphis, TN and a wreck on I-40 lead the GPS to reroute us directly through the city. I saw a large green space on the GPS as we drove by & I pulled in to a parking area. Beans and I had a walk in what turned out to be a gorgeous 126 acre park with large tulip poplar trees.
We camped at an uneventful location and resumed driving the next morning. I stopped twice during the day from drowsiness and took short naps. By 8pm, I had made it to my destination in Virginia. The final mileage for our cross country trip was 5,151 miles driven. The next update will cover the two short trips we have taken in May.