Back to the Excellent Adventure

When we came home for the Alaska cruise, we expected to go back to the Code 3 drug education trailer a couple of days after we got home from the cruise, probably September 17. That changed to September 29, which turned out to be God’s plan all along, since we didn’t make it home until September 21.

We’d been home from the cruise two days, just about caught up on laundry, when we got a call Monday afternoon: could we leave Wednesday or Thursday, the 25th or 26th? I drew a big sigh, revised my to-do list and said we could leave Thursday. Which meant actually leaving Wednesday because for this trip we were flying out of San Francisco, which meant renting a car in Fresno and driving to SF, staying in a hotel near the airport the night before.

The cat had just started speaking to us again. I apologized profusely to him and promised him lots of shrimp or chicken or whatever he wanted when we got back in November. He was not impressed.

I changed our rental car reservation and looked for a hotel near the airport. Well. That did not go well. Everything was super expensive. I think because it was last minute. We’ve stayed near the airport before and not paid anything near those rates. I finally got something through Priceline for double our usual budget. Except while we were on our way to pick up the rental car in Fresno Wednesday afternoon, I got an email that the hotel was reneging and would not be able to accommodate us. So back to searching. I finally surrendered and paid triple our usual rate for a Holiday Inn Express with a shuttle that would take us to the airport at 5 am.

We had an uneventful drive into the city, dropped off the rental car, rode the light rail into the airport, caught the shuttle to the hotel, and checked in. We had to leave before breakfast the next morning, so the front desk staff offered to have a breakfast to-go bag ready for us. We accepted, then went to sleep in our very expensive room which was not worth it since the hotel was being renovated and we were in the midst of a construction zone. 

Everything went smoothly the next day, except the to-go breakfast bag was a myth. We left SFO on time and arrived in Newark where we were transferring to a connecting flight to Portland, Maine. We grabbed a quick bite and had just enough time to find the adjunct terminal and our gate with a row of gates for the smaller, commuter flights. We chatted with a young man going to Jacksonville, Florida. He had left Italy and was eager to get home. We were all watching scrolling announcements that due to high winds in Newark, the FAA was restricting arrivals and that was impacting departures. Which didn’t bode well, since we were supposed to be boarding and there was no action at our gate.

Sure enough, the announcement came a few minutes later. Our crew was on a delayed arrival. We’d be delayed at least 45 minutes to an hour. What to do? Find a place to sit and have something to drink. We ended up next to two men who were also on the Portland flight. One was a very loud talker so we had no choice but to eavesdrop. He traveled a lot for business and was headed home to a town outside of Portland. The other man was younger, from Boston, and headed to Portland for a wedding that weekend.

Our Code 3 assignment in Portland was to pick up the trailer where it had been parked a couple of weeks previously, and drive it to the Chicago area. We had an event scheduled for Sunday, September 29th, so we had two days to drive about 1000 miles. Since we had done that a week ago, Bellingham to Fresno, we sort of knew what that was like. But now we’d be pulling a 32′ trailer. Although, we were back to the original trailer that handles so poorly in the wind.

Our personal goal in Portland was to have some lobster. Our flight was scheduled to land at about 7:15 pm, so I’d looked up a couple of restaurants close to the airport that had good reviews and we were ready. But with every announcement, our lobster dinner window was getting smaller.

We finally were called to board. Whew! We got on a bus that carried us out to our plane. David asked another passenger for a dinner recommendation, but he hadn’t lived in Portland for about 30 years, he said, so he was no help. I noticed his luggage tag was his business card and it said Harper Collins. I was just about to ask him what imprint or what he did for them, but didn’t have a chance. The flight was short and we were soon in Portland. The truck had been left for us in the parking garage and the key was taped to the back bumper. It didn’t take us long to find the truck or the key, but the key had been wrapped in 32,000 layers of duct tape (only a very slight exaggeration). It took longer to unwrap the thing than it took to find it. Then, the remote wouldn’t unlock the door. Dave had to open the door with the key, which set off the alarm, until he turned on the ignition. That seems weird to me. If you have the key, why would the alarm go off? Anyway, we were finally in Portland and looking for lobster. I found a restaurant that had great reviews in downtown Portland that was still open, (it was about 9:30 by now) so we headed there. The area was super cute and looked like it would be fun to browse in the daytime.

After wrestling the truck into a parking spot, calling our boss to ask about the key fob (turn the ignition on within 10 seconds of unlocking the door and the alarm won’t go off)  and we were finally ready for our lobster dinner.

IMG_8420Only to find that they sold lobster rolls. Not lobster dinners or lobster tails. Well, beggars and choosiness, yada yada. We had lobster rolls and they were great! The lobster was sweet and tender and delicious. Our personal goal accomplished, we headed to our hotel.

The next morning we drove the twenty minutes to where the trailer had been parked, hooked it up and pulled out. We planned to make it to Buffalo that night, about 8 1/2 hours of driving. We debated trying to fit in a stop at Niagara Falls, but we just had too many miles and not enough hours to get to Chicago. Until Friday afternoon, when we got news that the event in Chicago Sunday had fallen through! All of a sudden, we had an extra day to get to Chicago. Which meant we were going to Niagara Falls! Of course, it’s our nature to never be satisfied, because now we were trying to figure out a way to fit in a visit to Hamilton, NY where Dave’s father was from and where Dave’s cousin lives. But that was too far off our route, by the time we got the news.

Saturday morning, we left the trailer at our hotel and drove to the US side of Niagara Falls, a NY state park. We spent a couple of hours walking through the park, along the river and to the tops of the three main falls, Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridalveil Falls.

It was fabulous, and I’m so glad and grateful we got to do that. I’m just sorry we didn’t have our passports to see the falls from the Canada side. But that seems greedy, since we had no idea we’d even be able to stop.

It was after 1:00 by the time we made it back to Buffalo, hooked up the trailer and hit the road again. We made a quick stop at New Era Field to take a picture in front of the Buffalo Bills field.

Now we were headed to Toledo, Ohio, about four hours away. After the eight hours yesterday, that was pretty easy, and left us with only about four more hours for Sunday to get to Chicago. We don’t get a lot of notice about locations and times for our events, but Friday I’d gotten a loose schedule and was able to find a suburban hotel about half an hour from most of the events. And it had a huge parking lot, which is a plus with the trailer. It worked out great. We stayed there a week and a half total.

Starting tomorrow, our Chicago events! As always, thanks for reading!

 

Advertisements

Final Thoughts on the Iowa State Fair

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

We were ex.haus.ted by Sunday evening after the Iowa State Fair.

But there are some thoughts/people/experiences I want to share.

The booth across from us. Farm Boy Garage. Super nice people over there. I’ve posted IMG_2680pictures of their dog, Cuda. She was just a love sponge. One day I was giving a tour and she sauntered into the trailer, looking for someone, or wanting some attention. The garage owner, Bryan, is a super-nice guy, as are his employees. He shared some stories with several of us that show his big heart, his work ethic, and his love of muscle cars. I also posted a couple of videos. Every so often Bryan would get into one of the cars he had on display, fire up the ignition and rev the engine. The sound was deafening. I’m not exaggerating. Many of you know I have a severe hearing loss in my right ear and my doctor has cautioned me to protect the hearing I have left in that ear and all my hearing in my left ear. So whenever Bryan fired up an engine, I’d stick my fingers in my ears, apologize to anyone I was giving a tour to, and wait it out. After about a minute, Bryan would turn off the engine. It was interesting to watch though. Whenever he did that, people would flock to his tents from all around us. It was like bugs to a bug light. (Also … Bryan shared with one of our team … a family member is going through a health crisis, and … it’s not going to end well. In fact, the end, is imminent and Bryan can’t bring himself to talk about it. So, my praying readers, please pray for Bryan.)

IMG_2728

 

Mid-Westerners: I’m a 2nd generation native Californian. Dave’s at least a 3rd generation. We know California missions. Yosemite. Giant Sequoias. The beach. But there’s much in this country we’re clueless about. And we don’t try to hide that. More than once we’ve tilted our heads and said, “Ummm … what?”

 

 

The Butter Cow. And the Sesame Street Characters made of butter. I do love butter. But not enough to sculpt with it. Or craft with it. And apparently they reuse the butter, so the cow is 19 years old.

Humidity. Californians don’t know humidity. Trust me. We only think we do.

Thunder. Until it wakes you from a deep sleep in the middle of the night, you haven’t

IMG_2717heard it. We watched the weather forecast every evening so we’d know how to leave the trailer and its accoutrement. If rain was forecast, everything went inside the trailer. If the forecast was clear, some things could be left outside. That worked well, until our last night … we left some popup shelters out, and some plastic bins and cardboard boxes. The bins and boxes held some of the drug deactivation kits the RALI Cares people give away as well as the tote bags. Well … thunder woke us up about 4:00 Sunday morning. We knew that was not a good thing. When we got to the fair grounds, our co-worker/consultant, Heidi, was already there. One of the popup shelters was a twisted, mangled mess. Several boxes of supplies were soaked. The only good thing was that we weren’t the only ones to suffer losses. Several other exhibitors nearby also had twisted popups. I guess, in addition to the rain, a weird wind swept through our alley of booths, leaving a path of twisted aluminum tents and poles.  

IMG_2696Scooters. We’ve seen lots of electric scooters taking people to see exhibits and booths. And this picture … The man is driving an electric scooter … towing his wife in a wheelchair. He rigged up a tow line with PVC pipe. Talk about ingenuity …

I work in the agriculture industry. But even my eyes widened when I walked past a huge piece of equipment with a sign that proclaimed Fair Special! $10,000 off Regular Price!!  Ummm …. How much is the regular price if the sale price is ten THOUSAND dollars off?? Dave thinks it’s about a half-million dollars piece of equipment and it’s something that contract harvesters buy and use. Not your average farmer/rancher.

Tomorrow … Nebraska and Colorado!

 

 

 

 

 

Fair Fare!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Finally, I got my food pictures from my phone to my laptop. I forgot to take pictures of a few things, but we have nine days of fair food to share and talk about!

The choices were overwhelming, truly. The fair website has a subsection devoted to the food only. Then there are pages listing what foods are new to the fair that year, as well as healthy fare, and food on a stick. Because of course.

We shared most of our meals and we walked a lot, which is why our clothes don’t feel any tighter. There was a preponderance of fried options, so every couple of days we needed something green and would track down a salad.

Our first fair lunch we wandered to one of the food thoroughfares and just took it in.

58715000016__8A12BE5F-6C94-46FF-A6C5-26B520CE4F4F

Dave left it up to me to choose and I had literally no idea. Until I saw:

I’ve seen poutine on television, and even had it once, several years ago, but needed to try it again. It seemed like a safe choice for a first meal. I forgot to take a picture of the actual poutine, but for the uninitiated, it’s french fries and cheese curds with gravy on top. This poutine stand offered toppings on the fries, like garlic parmesan, bacon, pulled pork, sour cream, sriracha, or pork belly. We stuck with the original on the premise that you have to know what the original tastes like before you experiment.

There’s also a brochure that lists all the some info from the website, so for dinner Dave listed some of new to the fair choices. He thought it sounded weird, but I wanted to try the pickledawg. It’s a hollowed out pickle filled with a hotdog, then dipped in corndog batter and deep fried. It does sound weird, but also intriguing.

He went on the hunt and returned with the pickledawg and deep fried deviled eggs for a starter. The eggs were good, but the sauce to the left was really good. It was almost a tartar sauce, but with a kick of mustard that made it special. I enjoyed the pickledawg and even Dave said it was better than he expected. The salty tang of the pickle stood up nicely to the sweetness of the corn batter and the hotdog wasn’t lost in the corn.

Since I have 9 days to cover, I’m going to post the pictures with captions and only talk about the highlights. Hover your mouse or click on the pics below to read the captions.

I neglected to get a picture of one of our favorites. I’m ticked at myself, because it was amazing! It was called a Berkshire Bacon Ball. It had a cheese ball center, surrounded by seasoned ground pork and bacon, wrapped in bacon, smoked, dipped in BBQ sauce. It was wonderful! So many layers of flavor, sweet, smoky, savory in every bite.

Aha! Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I found a picture of it in the fair’s new food brochure: IMG_2753

Another food I neglected to take a picture of was a piece of pecan pie on a stick. Yes, pie on a stick. It had a really thick crust. Dave can’t eat nuts. I can’t eat much sugar. So he had a bite of crust and gooey sauce. I had a couple of bites. We gave Steve a bite, then we threw out the rest. It was fine, but we’d rather use our calories for meat, cheese, and more meat and more cheese.

Also undocumented but delicious: deep fried garlic cheese curds, crab fritters, and fried mac & cheese bites. The fried cheese curds were a perfect combo of creamy and crunchy with the added bite of garlic. Same for the mac & cheese bites, but without the garlic. The crab fritters were like a crabcake, but in a ball. Really really yummy and the sauce was amazing. A remoulade, not a tartar sauce.

Okay, back to my own pictures and captions.

I should note here that Iowans are very, very proud of their pork. Lots of people walking around the fair wore shirts proclaiming them to be proud pig farmers. And truly, the pork was the best we’ve ever had. The pulled pork sandwich above and the pork belly on a stick below were from the Iowa Pork Producers building/booth/take-out/restaurant.

IMG_2709

The pork belly on a stick is just what the sign behind it says. Brown sugar. Yumm. Pork belly (basically thick cut bacon) on a stick. What’s not to like love?

IMG_2712

Burnt ends on fried onions. A definite highlight. I thought they were delicious! They were $13, so definitely on the pricey side. And when the server handed it to David, he told her to put more meat on. The serving was pretty skimpy for the price. But with the “enhanced,” portion, we felt full. He said she kind of glared at him, but she did as he asked.

Final pictures are of the random people Dave chased down to ask what they were eating.

I know Iowa is also very proud of their corn, but besides nuts, Dave can’t eat corn, so we didn’t partake of any sweet corn or popcorn. We also didn’t get a funnel cake although we intended to since Steve wanted one, but didn’t want a whole one by himself. What can I say? 9 days at the Iowa State Fair just isn’t enough to try all their offerings.

We’re now in Ogallala, Nebraska. We have an event in Julesburg, Colorado tomorrow. I hope to blog again tomorrow evening about my final impressions of the Iowa State Fair, the people we met and talked to, and whatever other random things occur to me.

Then I’ll catch us up to current days. Thanks, as always, for reading!

Iowa! They love Corn, Butter, and the Fair!

Monday, August 12 — Friday, August 16, 2019

I feel like a skipping record. It’s been crazy here.

The weekend was pretty busy. Monday was kind of quiet, as was (in hindsight) Tuesday. Dave and our friend and colleague, Steve, gave me Tuesday morning off, so I didn’t get up with Dave at 6 am. I slept until a little after 7, waved goodbye to him at 7:30, and worked in the hotel room until about noon when I headed to the diner next door for a salad for lunch.

I do like Fair Fare, but it’s mostly all fried and I was craving a salad and vegetables. After a healthy lunch, I Ubered to the fairgrounds, and we worked all afternoon.

Wednesday started normally. It was “Older Iowans Day” at the Fair. Steve, our friend and co-worker, was planning to take a few hours off that afternoon for a break and to do laundry. He’s been at the fair since the beginning. He did get his time off, but …

We drive into the fair, set up the trailer. There’s not a lot of set up since the trailer stays in place, but the awning has to be lifted, (Thanks, YouTube!) the stairs/platform put in IMG_2673place, the stanchions with adjustable entrance barriers placed, the generator hooked up so we have lights and AC inside. Once that’s done, one of the guys drives the pickup to a far, far away parking lot and hikes back. As we drove to the fair Wednesday morning, Dave realized he’d left his phone plugged in and charging at the hotel. So after the setup, he went to get his phone, parked, and hiked in.

It was a warm day. He was walking fast. He has A-Fib, kinda-sorta-not-really controlled by medication. (He and his cardiologist are planning a cardioversion procedure to correct it as soon as we’re off the road.) As he was walking, he felt the A-Fib kick in. His heart started fluttering.

When he got to the trailer, he sat for a few minutes. The fluttering didn’t go away, so while Steve gave a tour, Dave and I walked (slowly) to the First Aid tent for a BP check. (I tell you–it’s always something with us! But spoiler alert–everything is fine!!) The paramedics at the tent did a BP check. It was high. We discussed his options. He decided to go to the ER. Just to be safe. The concern with A-Fib is a stroke. The fluttering and uneven heart beat can make blood clots that travel along and cause strokes.

So he stayed at the First Aid room while a very nice fireman gave me a ride in a golf cart back to the trailer. Steve was in the middle of another tour, so I traded places with him. (Dave needed to talk to him before he left in an ambulance for the ER.) The fireman took Steve back to First Aid. The plan was I’d finish the tour, grab my purse, walk to First Aid and go to the ER with Dave while Steve came back to handle the trailer tours.

Except the ambulance arrived before I finished the tour. (Kudos to Des Moines EMS! They are on it!!) It looked like Dave was going to be long gone before I got back to First Aid.

But … the ambulance personnel, the First Aid paramedics, and Dave (who was an EMT when he was on the job) talked. By then, some time had passed, he’d cooled off (it was another hot and humid day–don’t forget we’re Californians! We’re not used to this humidity!) He felt better. So he decided to skip the hospital. He came back to the trailer. He sat in the shade. Took it easy. Within another hour or so, he felt normal again. Steve took his afternoon off. Whew! So that was our Wednesday. And it was pretty busy. Lots of Older Iowans came to the Fair!

Thursday was our busiest day yet! But when it started, we didn’t know it would be. We knew it was Legislator Day. So we expected a few state politicians and the filming/media crew. Side note: After our first day on Saturday, Dave had me order some counter/clickers so we could track numbers. The people in front of the trailer who are giving away tote bags and drug deactivation/disposal kits were estimating the number of people they contacted. We made hash marks on a note pad. As crew “boss” Dave decided we needed more than estimates, so I ordered clickers on Amazon and had them delivered to us at the hotel. Tuesday and Wednesday we gave tours to between 50 and 60 people. The RALI people contacted several hundred people and gave away that many tote bags and drug neutralizing kits.

The plan for Thursday was that after our morning set up, Dave would leave, come back to the hotel, do laundry and have his morning off. Which is what happened. For him.

For Steve and me … a totally different story.

We worked non-stop. By the end of the day, we’d given tours to double the number of people the other days. 110. Those other days, there were three of us giving tours. The majority of Thursday, it was two of us. It wasn’t Dave’s fault he was gone. We had no idea it would be so busy.

Several state legislators came through. I gave a tour to Ann Meyer. She was very attentive and definitely sees the value and importance of what we’re doing. Once David got there, he was all in. He did a lot of the tours and let me rest.

I’m writing this Friday evening. We thought today would be busy, because the fair ends Sunday. We’re into the final weekend. But today was like Monday or Tuesday. We may not have even reached 50 people touring the trailer. Like I said–Crazy!!

Since I was exhausted last night, Dave let me sleep again this morning. I woke before he left, then worked a few hours. Yesterday was the 15th and I have some mid-month stuff to do, so I took care of that this morning, and summoned an Uber ride. I told my driver

IMG_2680
Cuda, the dog who belongs to the booth across the walkway from us. She’s a sweetheart and when I need a doggie-fix and a break from the drug stuff, I go rub her nose and give her some love. But she gives me back even more.

what I was doing at the fair, and–I heard it in her voice–she connected immediately. She said her mom was always straight edge, a non-drinker, no drugs. Until she had hip surgery and was prescribed OxyContin. She got hooked and now she’s an addict. My driver said because of that she personally won’t take anything stronger than Tylenol.

There’s another drug education trailer at the fair and Dave visited it earlier this week. It’s put on by Iowa narcotics enforcement people. When I arrived this morning, I went to the other trailer for their tour. It’s similar to ours, in that it’s a mock teenager’s bedroom. It’s different from ours in that it’s messy (so more realistic, LOL). It also shows secret “codes” that signal drug use between users. That was interesting to learn. There’s some overlap, for sure. The officer giving me the tour handed me a personal safe, thinking he’d “teach” me something, but I twisted it apart because I knew what it was and showed him what it concealed instead of vice versa.

The rest of the day passed pretty quickly. We traded off giving tours. We’re still astounded how quiet it was for a Friday. But we’re also grateful. We were back in the hotel by 8:00, looking forward to a good night’s sleep so we’re ready for the last two days.

Next up when I have a few minutes: Fair Fare (the food!) and other impressions of Iowa: the fair, the people, the weather, etc. And the people who come through the trailers.

One of the tour “points” we make is that addicts use spoons to heat/liquify their drug. A mom today said she’s missing spoons in her kitchen …

This. Is. Real.

 

Iowa!

Saturday – Tuesday, August 10 – 13, 2019

It’s been a wonderful, busy, energizing, exhausting, crazy, full few days in Iowa.

After our recovery day on Friday, we hit it hard Saturday morning. We met our friend and colleague Steve for breakfast then headed to the fairgrounds. We stopped for gas for the generator that powers the trailer lights and air conditioners, bottled water, ice, an ice chest, snacks, and a few other supplies.

IMG_2653We were at the trailer by a few minutes after 8:00 and began the setup. People trickled in and I gave my first tour at about 8:30, to a couple who were working the booth across from us. They’d been told about us and wanted to get a tour before they started work.

Everyone who has been through the trailer is deeply impacted by what they see and learn. There are definite “categories” of visitors.

The “Professional.” This is an educator, or medical, or social worker, or law enforcement professional who believes they’ve seen and already know it all. They often decline a tour, so we say, “Why don’t you come on in and tell us if there’s something we’ve missed or something we can do better? Give us your opinion.” If they come in, by the end of the 15 minute tour, they’re amazed that they’ve learned something and they ask how can they get the trailer to their town/workplace for others to visit.

The “Reformed.” A former recreational drug/pot user who knows all the tricks. Again, we say, “Come on in and tell us what we can do better.” They listen, nod, and by the end, shrug, and say, “You’re doing a great job here.”

Parents who are “In It.” The first day I had two moms on two different tours react with visible emotion. They hid it very well, and I’m sure I was the only one who noticed, because I was the only one making direct eye contact. But they both had a finger hooked over their lips, and their eyes were tearing up.

Parents in “Denial.” A dad told us about his son, who he’s pretty sure isn’t using drugs even though the son has gone through a big personality change, has all new friends, and his girlfriend appears to be stoned a lot of the time. In this case, we hope that what he learned will come together with what he’s observing in his son in the next few weeks.

Parents who are “Open.” Many parents, as soon as they hear the premise of the trailer, hurry to the front door. They listen eagerly. They soak in everything. We had one such family yesterday. I gave the tour to the parents while Dave stayed outside with the four teenage boys. (We don’t allow anyone younger than 21 inside–don’t want to give them ideas! Though we do make an occasional exception.) After the tour, we visited with the parents and the sons for another twenty minutes. This is a family that’s aware of the opioid crisis and is staying educated, and isn’t thinking it couldn’t happen to them.

The “Unaware and Curious.” These people have heard about the trailer, or have a few minutes to kill. Five minutes into the tour their eyes widen and they are giving me their full attention. Sunday morning, one woman at the end of the tour said, “This is terrifying.” Because she had no clue about the extent of the opioid crisis in our country.

Without exception, every single person who exits the trailer has left it deeply impacted by what they learned.

We’re honored and humbled to be here and be a part of this.

In the next few days I’ll continue to share impressions of the Iowa State Fair (Fair Food!), and the people we meet. Thanks for reading!

 

The Adventure: Day 13

Saturday, July 27, 2019

We left Indy about 9:30, a little later than we’d planned, but I wanted to take our time loading up, making sure we didn’t forget anything, and had our bearings. We said a sad farewell to the Holiday Inn Express – Westfield staff. TJ at the front desk, Kym and Leslie in the dining room. They were great and helpful and kind and gracious.

We stopped to fuel up after about half an hour, at a gas station we’d visited last Saturday,

IMG_2450
Illinois

near the truck wash and Steak ‘n Shake. Then we were officially on new and unproven roads.

Pulling this huge trailer is no joke. It’s a giant wind sail. Every gust pulls or pushes us. Trucks that pass us create a draw that feels like an earthquake shaking us.

After an hour and a half, we entered Illinois and gained an hour as we went from Eastern time to Central. The trailer seemed to be swaying a lot so we pulled over at a rest stop (staffed with real people for giving information) and David made a call to an acquaintance for some advice. He left a message and I searched for a hotel on the outskirts of Springfield. I called to be sure they could accommodate the trailer. Then we continued on. 

I passed the time by posting this morning’s entry about yesterday, reading a little, looking at the new scenery, and making sure David didn’t miss any freeway navigation changes.

We needed gas shortly after we passed the last Pilot Travel stop. Of course. I didn’t realize we were that close to empty, until the low fuel warning popped up on the navigation screen. Dave didn’t realize how quickly the truck sucked up fuel, either, since this was our first long distance trip with the trailer.

IMG_2448
Rolls of hay

We still had 50 miles of fuel, and we were about 30 miles from our destination in Springfield, so we were fine, but Dave said to go ahead and find a gas station.

Which I did, in Mechanicsville, about 2 miles off the freeway. I cross-checked the route with our CoPilot app (of course! Lesson learned!) and looked at the gas station from a satellite view. I was pretty sure we could pull in, but not 100%.

We found it and it was close, but we were able to pull in and through. It had high roofs over the pumps, so we were okay. But they didn’t have “Premium,” which the truck needs, so we ended up getting only $10 of gas. We also bought beef jerky for our lunch, and headed back to the freeway.

We planned to find our hotel, drop off the trailer, and go to a Lincoln museum. We found the hotel, which was next to a Tractor Supply Company. Dave went in to ask the manager if we could park there. He brought her out a minute later and introduced me to Kimberly. Her son is an addict and she was very interested in the trailer. We opened it up and while Dave unhooked (she gave enthusiastic permission for us to park there), I showed her the highlights in the trailer. She got a little teary a few times as she recognized and remembered some of the things I pointed out as “red flag indicators.”

While Dave was unhooking, a part of the winch (?? I think that’s what it’s called??) that is used to raise and lower the trailer as it’s hooked and unhooked from the truck, broke. It had broken partway on Thursday, at the farmer’s market, but it broke the rest of the way today. We looked at the TSC store, but they didn’t have a replacement. The part that broke is what made it possible for Dave to use an impact drill to raise and lower the trailer quickly and easily. Luckily (??), we still had the original part for raising and lowering the trailer manually. So he put that part back on. But by then, it was nearly 4:00. Too late to do any sight seeing or museum visiting. We went ahead and checked in.

And I was out of steam. Remember, beef jerky for lunch? It caught up with me. We checked in, went to our room and it was hot in there. The AC wouldn’t come on. So back to the front desk to get a different room.

We finally got a cool room, got our bags in, and collapsed. I did a bit of Googling on “Illinois regional cuisine.” And discovered that a Springfield specialty is the Horseshoe. I found two nearby places that had it on their menus. One was called the Trade Winds Pub

IMG_2457
The Trade Winds–good thing a review said to ignore the outside appearance!

& Eatery. The other was the Engrained Brew Pub. David asked the front desk staff for a recommendation. They hadn’t heard of either one at first. They thought for a minute, then one guy said, “Oh, yeah, that’s a bar!” referring to the Trade Winds, about 3/4s of a mile away.

We headed there, to the Trade Winds first, since it was close, thinking to check it out, then go to Engrained if the Trade Winds didn’t make the cut. We followed my trusty Google Maps and found a deserted-looking hut in the middle of a dusty parking lot. With trepidation, we headed in. One of the reviews I’d seen said, “Don’t be put off by the exterior.” Good thing I’d read that.

Inside it was definitely a bar. Some would call it a dive bar. But it looked clean and the staff was friendly and quick. We didn’t even look at a menu, just asked about the Horseshoe.

IMG_2453

Basically it’s a piece (or two) of Texas toast, with meat, topped with french fries, topped with cheese sauce. The original has hamburger. Now they offer a choice of meats. The waiter said their most popular is the breaded pork tenderloin so that’s what we ordered. He said, “It’s big,” so we knew to order just one and share it.

Big is an understatement. We both ate until we were full, brought some back to the hotel (I think Dave’s planning to have it for breakfast), and we still left quite a bit behind.

IMG_2455
The Horseshoe, after we were both full!

We waddled to the truck, then made it back to the hotel. It’s early to bed for us. Our plan is to hit the road again early tomorrow. Our destination is Austin, Minnesota. It’s six hours and twenty minutes away. Today’s journey was not quite three and a half. So we’re adding another three hours to tomorrow.

No Mr. Lincoln for us. No Springfield sights.

But … we’re scheduled to be back in Illinois in late September/early October. So I know where I want to go! And maybe what to eat.

The Adventure: Day 11

I think I should be dating these … Hmmm … I need to go back and edit them.

Thursday, July 25th, turned out to be another crazy, roller coaster day.

It started out fine. The usual breakfast at the hotel. I’m already over the egg choices. The first few days I was fine with the omelets. Most people who know me at all, know I don’t IMG_2395do scrambled eggs. At all. Ever. But I can handle omelets with lots of cheese and other ingredients. But the packaged ones here lost their appeal pretty quickly. I can’t eat sugar on an empty stomach (I get nauseated, clammy, and shaky), so no cinnamon rolls , pancakes with syrup, or sugary cereals. Like most of the country, I avoid carbs (toast/muffins/bagels). Which leaves sausage. Good thing I like sausage and they usually offer both pork and turkey. Sometimes there’s bacon. Sometimes I do have half a biscuit with gravy. One day I did half a bagel with cream cheese. There are enough options that I don’t leave hungry.

Anyway, after breakfast, I did a little work while Dave readied the trailer for our event in the afternoon. We headed out about 11:00 for Lawrence, which is about 25 minutes away. Our venue was a farmer’s market, on the grounds of the former army base, Fort Benjamin Harrison. It’s been converted to other uses. There are restaurants and housing now. A central greenspace hosts a weekly farmer’s market. We arrived, got the directions of where to set up, which involved pulling the trailer up a curb, over a sidewalk and down the grass to the other end of the area. We did that okay, with minimal adjusting. (Meaning Dave only had to back up and pull forward two or three times to get the trailer mostly straight and even with the sidewalk.)

We unhooked, and I ordered lunch from Panera across the street from my app. We grabbed it to go and headed to downtown Indy to meet our consultants/event schedulers to view a venue and decide on its viability for the trailer. It took us a while to find parking. The parking garage we found had a sign that said 6’8″ clearance. It felt like we couldn’t make it, but the attendant at the front watched us enter. He said only the antenna scraped and we’d be okay. So we went in. We parked without mishap and walked to meet the consultants.

From their office, we walked to the nearby venue, City Market. It’s very similar to the Oxbow Market in Napa. Or Chelsea Market in New York. A collection of independent IMG_2398shops under one roof in an older, converted building. We walked quickly through and out, to see their outside area, called a rain garden. There is a lovely plaza with bistro tables, trees, bocce ball courts. And an open area not nearly big enough for our 32′ trailer plus a pickup truck to pull it in. The director told us that they recently hosted a Cirque du Soleil team with their trailer. Except it was only 20′ and took a whole team to position and make 5-point turns. The only other option would be to get a permit from the city to block off a portion of the street and that could take up to a month. We only have a few days.

So we walked back to the consultants’ office, which is on Monument Circle, which circles a monument. Convenient, right? At the center is the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, which was built to honor those who fought in the Civil War and two other previous skirmishes. There is a possibility of getting a permit to park along the circle for a few hours. The consultants will work on that, and hopefully let us know by the end of the day.

IMG_2397They returned to work and we walked over to look at the monument. We paid $2 each to ride the elevator to the top for some amazing 360 degree views of downtown Indianapolis. Then we returned to the parking garage.

This is where the day fell apart. Because contrary to the sign and the attendant, we did not make it out of the garage unscathed. The top of the truck scraped a concrete beam. As soon as we heard the contact, Dave stopped and backed up and attempted a different angle, but a parked car was sticking out pretty far which hindered how he could take that corner. We ended up scrapping pretty significantly. After we exited, he went to find the attendant, who, of course, was on a break. I took pictures. Dave made notes. And we saw another garage across the street with a sign that said 7’3″ clearance. Another @#*%^$#&*@ moment. Why hadn’t we seen that place first??

By the time the attendant came back, we were pressed for time to make it back to Lawrence for the farmer’s market. But he gave us the owner’s name and number, and said he would pass on our information. And we hurried to the freeway.

IMG_2406We got to Lawrence just in time to meet up with the consultants again and to set up. They helped us unload all the boxes (mostly dried out from Monday’s rain) and set up.

We gave lots of tours. We think about 50-60 people went through the trailer. Dave gave a tour to the Lawrence police chief. I gave a tour to the adult sponsor and student captain of their Explorer post. And there were lots of other people. The consultants said they talked to about 150 people. About half of those said they’d seen the trailer on TV. So the media coverage Monday definitely got the word out.

Everyone I took through the trailer was very impressed and thankful and also surprised at how much they learned. And disappointed that this was likely our last Indiana event. They urged us to come back soon. We assured them we want to!

At 7:15, the last tour was over. The market ends at 7. We loaded the boxes back into the trailer, told the consultants goodbye. They promised to have a final answer about another event by the end of business today. IMG_2409

We hooked up again, pulled off the sidewalk and into the road and headed back to the hotel. Got here about 8:30, exhausted. Dave felt like White Castle, so after we unhooked, I collapsed in the room and he made a dinner run.

Then he called our boss to share the trailer news. Not a fun moment. And the fact that the consultants still don’t know if we’re done in Indiana didn’t help. If we’re done, we’re going to move the trailer to its next venue in Minnesota. But if we have to stay for another event, our boss has to get someone else to drive the trailer to Minnesota. We took this job with the understanding that we had two previously scheduled trips we would be going home for. We need to be home August 1. At this point, we don’t know if we’re flying out of Indianapolis or Minneapolis. For people who like a plan, we’re learning to be flexible!

It’s Friday morning now, technically day 12. Dave’s doing laundry again, I’m working. He found a Ford dealer nearby. He’ll go see them soon, to see about getting touchup paint to cover the scratches so they don’t rust, until we can get them repaired. Hopefully the garage owner will agree to have his insurance take care of it. Prayers for that, please! Also on today’s agenda: finding the Indiana culinary specialty–the fried pork tenderloin sandwich.