And so it begins!

November 25 & 26, 2019

I leave the house just after 7 pm on Monday night but it is almost another hour by the time I left Kalamazoo. Between stopping at Aldi for road food, dropping off a package and stopping for gas it was 8 o’clock. As I got on the highway and started to get up to speed, I hear this rattle I haven’t heard before so I stop at 8th Street to see if can figure it out. Nope, nothing seems to be awry. I decide it is the loose quarter panel at the front of the car that the wind on Hatteras (the last trip I took) loosened. I adjust it a bit, so it fits together better. Get back on the road. Nope! Still vibrating. Stop at the Mattawan exit. Look under the hood and under the car itself. Nothing. I decide that I will drive to Chicago anyway. See if it gets worse. I can always get it checked out along the way.

I got to King Spa about 9:00 pm. Time enough to have a good soak and grab a bite to eat before the kitchen closes. I love this place. there is something about soaking in hot water and hot rooms that does so much good for the body. I alternate between the hot and cold pools, soaking in the heat and feeling my body relax into the delicious heat and finish with a sit in the steam sauna before an ice cold shower to cool down a bit.

My body really needed this stop. I spent that last week getting the kitchen addition on my house framed and a temporary roof on it. I had plenty of help from friends and would not have been able to get it done without their support. It was important to get it as far as I did, before the snow flies. Now I will be able to work on it more. once I get back from this trip!

I head to the restaurant and order the chicken stew. It’s not really a stew, but a whole little capon stuffed with rice and cooked in a garlic infused broth. Served with a variety of kimchi and Korean condiments. Exactly what I need. Simple, hot and delicious. I head back to the pools to soak some more and go to the car to check on Leila, who is curled up on the “upper bunk” sleeping until I return. Nap for an hour, another soak before the pools close for the night and then sleep until about 4:30 on one of the loungers made for just such activities.

I get up at 4:30, wishing the pools opened prior to 6 am, so that I could have another soak. I am anxious to get on the road. It is an 11 hour drive to Hot Springs, Arkansas and I am hoping to get there in time to set up camp. Teeth brush and dressed in street clothes again. I take Leila for a quick walk and then get back on the road. But no coffee before getting on the road. Not even a Starbucks on the route as I wind my way out of the city.

It’s not long before I am on the highway. A quick stop at a plaza for that Starbucks I really need now. I decide to treat myself. A latte with 3 long shots AND 3 raw sugar! The city was quiet but the highway is busier than I expected, although it is not long before I am actually out of metro area and in farm country.

The sun begins to rise over, red and warming. The land it covered in fog, layers of it, big and small, thick and thin. It’s a beautiful morning and reminds me so much of Manitoba and the prairie there. Thoughts of the land where I grew up dance in my head, as I make my further and further south. There is nothing quite like a prairie sky, where the land seems to disappear and the heavens open to a universe that is so much greater than this little rock revolving around its star.

The rest of the drive is uneventful and beautiful. It is why I wanted to make this trip. Watching the landscape change as I move from prairie to river valley and back to prairie again. Crossing the Mississippi, entering Missouri and on. I stop regularly; more coffee, 3 tanks of gas, walking the dog, and moving. I am trying to be more intentional about stopping. This is long trip and I can feel that my body will need the time not sitting as much as possible.

The miles pass and it starts to rain. Hmm, time to think about that camp site. I think it might be better to stop in Memphis, as it will still be light for me to set up. I call the local KOA and try to book a site. The lovely gentleman on the phone doesn’t recommend tent camping. Major storms are predicted to roll through and into the night, with plenty of rain, wind, and thunder. He can offer me a cabin for $75. I say I will call him back and try to decide what to do. I choose to use some hotel points and get all the way to Hot Springs, AR. That way I can be there in the morning and get into the hot spring pools sooner rather than later and make my way to Joan’s earlier in the day, since it is only a 5 hour drive.

I book a room at a Home 2 Suites. It looks like it is on a big lake. It will be dark by the time I get there, so I won’t get to appreciate that very much. More driving, rush hour in Little Rock. How is it that when you are on a big trip, you seem to hit a big city right at rush hour? I don’t get to see much as I wind my way into the mountains and Hot Springs. But I imagine it is a beautiful drive in the day light.

I make it to the hotel at 6pm. The hotel is shiny and new, which is always a bonus.  Ahh, time to relax. I order some food, pick it up and settle in for the night. I only got about 5 hours of sleep the night before, with the time change and all. A long hot shower, some foam rolling, muscle rub, some bad TV and I am in bed by 9 pm.

Day 1 done!

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