July 13, 2015

It's Good To Have Options

I know I keep photographing the corn field across the highway and posting it here ... but it's just amazing how tall that corn is ten days into July.

An old friend of mine that was raised in flat northern Indiana was amazed when she saw the photo and how green everything is ... as she begs me for water via email and texts from Sacramento California.

So that farmer had options whether to work or take a day off (they never do). He decided not only to put fertilizer on his field before planting this year, he got it all in about an hour before it started raining.

Where a different farmer that bales the hay field behind my house, has not had the chance to cut and bale anything ... it's more than hay ... I'd say its mostly weeds now. Still, when the weather was nice and dry, it was not tall enough to cut. Once it was tall enough to cut, it doesn't stop raining long enough to dry the ground out where he can get his tractor and baler in the field. So his options are few.

Sometime after my blog post on Saturday I went full speed ahead on planning our next trip by looking at maps, roads, weather, camping spots, campgrounds and found about 100 different ways to get to my destination.

It's been mentioned here before by some readers, maybe the "planning" is the high I get instead of arriving. Or the driving, since I love to drive long miles without stopping. Of course with the warning of the local tv weatherman on Saturday night, that summer temps will finally arrive any hour in "the tropics", my thought was to get north as fast as possible, to cooler weather.

It didn't really matter.

When I plugged a town name, that was 988 miles north of me, into Wunderground weather for a current and 10 day forecast, I found out it is hot everywhere. Now for those that have a RV in any class and those with trailers that have generators, 30/50 amp systems, or solar panels ... hot weather may not be that much of a factor since you can run the AC at your leisure.

When you don't have an RV or a trailer ... a Toyota FJ and a tent, it makes hot weather a little different factor. Add in the built in "drooling" of a basset or bloodhound breed, especially in hot weather as they pant to cool off ... at times those strings of drool get longer and more dangerous.

So ... the hot weather is a factor in my trip planning. Not only for me but for the hounds as well. High temps definitely affect my hounds ... otherwise in the currently hot and muggy weather here in "the tropics" of southern Indiana (@10:28pm it "feels" like 98°) ... they would stay outside longer than just to use the bathroom. They sprint for the house and don't stay a second longer than needed to dump their tanks.

"that has to be a mole"

"is that a mole"

It does bring up an interesting question. At what temperature would it be too hot to travel with hounds in the car?

Sure the AC would be on when driving ... but while buying gas, making a run to the restroom, or going inside for a cup of needed coffee would leave them in the FJ with the windows down just enough where they couldn't jump out or couldn't get stolen and still get some kind of fresh air.

The more I looked at different routes and different towns on Wunderground, it was amazing just how hot it is all over the country. I have a few of these towns always loaded into my iPhone weather app that comes with the phone and it's easy to see at one glance what is taking place, temperature wise.

Some other factors I have while planning ... as we all know boondocking on BLM land is few and far between in the Midwest. So it's campgrounds or a Walmart parking lot unless I find a motel without bedbugs that allows drooling hounds .. for sleeping.

No ... I'm not miserable ... I just look that way
When I thought of sleeping in my FJ with the windows down in hot and muggy Midwest, I remembered our trip to pick up the Lil Snoozy trailer in Arkansas in September 2013 ... it was in the 90's that day. I had an H3 Hummer then and sometime around 2am, with two hounds panting and hanging drool from their jowls because it was too hot to sleep in the H3 ... we had no choice but to turn the H3 on and flip the AC switch to "on".

The third hound, Heidi, was sound asleep because that is what she does well ... she sleeps ... anywhere ... anytime.

I remembered what I thought of that hot and muggy night after midnight when I was trying to sleep without any success. I remembered feeling miserable. So basically it could be either a campground in a tent or a motel room with no bedbugs ... or drive straight through to the destination to bypass the heat.

Remember I said in my last post that I would not be driving straight through anywhere, so sleeping, setting up camp is going to be taking place a lot more than my last trip. I found a lot of good highways, with towns few and far between ... so the sleep question came up ... where?

I found plenty of camping and campground symbols on my McNally ... then I'd cross that information with a DeLorme map of that state. Throw in some Mapquest analysis and the options were tenfold ... hundreds to choose from.

But that one word ... HOT ... was still a factor.

After spending a lot of hours going over possible routes ... stuff that I love to do, I decided to research stuff after I would get to my destination. My friend that is a blogger and traveler with dogs, offered an itinerary ... I took my friend up on that offer and soon after I received a one page email of where to go. It was detailed enough to tell me where to camp, where to park, what to see and how many days to stay in each spot.

It was great information.

Along with that came even more options ... a lot of them. Now when it comes to options, I like them, at times I like a lot of them. Even though I have downsized a lot over the past few years .. I still like having three different browsers to choose from to move around the internet, two different cars to drive, different t-shirts to wear ... even three different hounds to talk to and pet.

So options are good for me.

I was so enthused about all of this research I couldn't stop. Why? Well one reason it's pretty obvious I get a thrill or a "rush" from analyzing ... always have. I like planning a route and possible places to stay but I don't put a day and time to it. It happens when it happens. The last trip I wanted to get to Moab before it rained, I did, but that meant I had gone against my normal planning and basically drove straight to Rifle Colorado before getting a night of sleep.

When I glanced at the clock on my monitor in the upper right corner, it was way after midnight by this time, and I was still wide awake from adrenaline and basically I had to force myself to turn off the computer, put the maps away, the highlighter, the red pens and try to get some sleep.

Only after one more thing. ... that one page email had a ton of places to see and I was curious enough to stay up a little longer. I had an idea that I had to try out just for my own curiosity otherwise I would not be able to sleep.

How long was it going to take in days, how many hours of driving time and how many miles .... all minimum numbers

So it was a matter of plugging in all the routes, even the short ones that got me from Point A to Point B, into Mapquest for time and distance. I listed all of those on my spiral 5x8 notebook. After that I read through the one page email from my friend, adding the days that were suggested to stay, and added the day(s) based on driving time.

So if I were to arrive at a campground and stay two nights .. that equated to three days.

When I finished, it's going to be a 27 day trip, give or take a few days ... 79 hours and 35 minutes of driving time, covering 4,550 miles. With the knowledge that a change in weather could be a factor in moving from one place to another sooner than listed .. such as smoke from forest fires.

After 5-6 hours of analysis ... a list of destinations ... and almost a month of travel ... there was still one word that was a factor ...


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