It was a lovely sunny, chilly morning at Kickapoo! As has become my routine, I was up with the sun and ready to roll by 7:30! After a quick visit to the dump station I was on my way west on 74!
Yesterday's drive was messed up because of lack of planning, today's ended up working out perfectly without being planned! I had about 450 miles on the agenda and I'd planned to stop Iowa 80, the World's Largest Truck stop. Turns out it was almost exactly halfway!
I started the morning with listening to Gone Missing. I've decided that an audiobook is almost like having an in-flight movie for your road trip! I'm enjoying it, but I can only listen for about 2 hours at a time. After I got tired of listening I put on some music for the 2nd two hours before I reached Iowa 80.
Today's drive did include crossing the Mississippi River! That's always exciting, yet anticlimactic. The bridge is a normal bridge, nothing special, it's marked that it's the Mississippi, but that's it. I figure if the Mississippi was on the east coast they'd probably charge you $30 to drive across it!
Iowa 80 claims to be the World's Largest Truck stop. There was even a reality TV show about it on the travel channel! I saw it 2 years ago but didn't stop, now I have a friend who has family in Nebraska and they stop every time they drive through. I had to stop and check it out! I will admit that it's quite a truck stop - food court, truck supplies, gift shop, resteraunt, even a chiropractor and a dentist! I spent an hour wandering around looking at everything, picked up a sticker for my table, and got fuel before continuing down the road.
At Iowa City I turned off I80 and headed up I380 to US218 to US18 to get to I35 so I didn't have to go all the way to Des Moines. I was thinking these roads would go through towns and such, but nope, except for a little bit it was all 4 lane divided highway, 65 mph, surrounded by corn. Corn as far as they eye can see!
Once I got to I35 I only had a little ways left to Albert Lea, MN, which is where I35 crosses I90. Last week I was looking at the map and saw that there was a state park right by the interstate, and they had a campground! I didn't want to pay the $8.50 reservation fee (which meant my dry camping site would cost $30 which seemed ridiculous!) so I decided to take my chances getting a site, there was a Wal-Mart nearby if the campground was full. I shouldn't have worried, there are lots of sites open! I pulled in a little before 5 and got a great site!
The park isn't that big but it's got a huge lake and several hiking trails as well as a bike path that I discovered once I got here. After I got parked up I decided to eat dinner and then explore. It was so nice to be able to sit outside and not be cooped up in the van! Although soon this Minnesota State Park began to remind me of the Everglades! Mosquitoes. I decided that a bike ride would be a better way to explore than on foot - move faster so the mosquitoes can't get you!
There are 2 campgrounds here - the one I'm in on the hill,and Big Island which is out on the lake. I rode down to Big Island - it's very nice! The road in is a dirt road and looks a bit rough, there were several big trailers and fifth wheels in the campground though so it must not be too bad!
After exploring Big Island I headed to The Blazing Star State Trail. Seems that this bike path is being built to connect several cities and things within the city! I rode out to two ponds, and then back to where the pavement ended. It was a nice path and reminded me a lot of Lake Anita in Iowa or the Stowe Rec Path in Vermont! There were lots of birds and bunnies, I even saw a turtle!
I have no idea how far I rode but I was out about an hour and a half so I'd guess 10-12 miles. When I came back I wanted to sit outside and enjoy the evening and blog and read but the mosquitoes were too much! Finally I decided to clean the dead bugs off the windshield (I had one smear right where it blocks my view!) and retreat into the van where there were at least fewer bugs!
I had a great view of the sunset from my bed, but the cloud moved in. It's cooling off nicely and there's a chance of thunderstorms overnight and early tomorrow morning.
Tomorrow it's on to South Dakota!