A Girl and A Travel Trailer

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Stuffing the Trailer for Sandy Recovery

Turns out my CRAZY PLAN is contagious!

I am staying with a friend in Cincinnati whose kids go to The New School Montessori. They were Facebooking the whole thing.. so there are more pictures here.

When they heard I was heading to New Jersey to volunteer in the Sandy Zone they decided to have their holiday donation drive early.

We called it STUFF THE TRAILER.

And boy did they stuff it!

Some of the younger children decorated boxes and filled them with things like bubbles, play-doh, toys and snacks for the kids who  may not be staying in a home.

FOX19 came out and interviewed some students and shot video of them literally stuffing the trailer.

Here is a link to the story: Stuffing the Trailer.

 

I plan on heading out Sunday and will probably get to the New Jersey coast on Monday.

Now that I know what I have I have been reaching out to groups in the beachfront areas that are having a tough time to see who needs the supplies.

I’ll post and tweet along the way.

Illinois Beach State Park Tour

 

It is probably not the most comfortable time of year to come to the Illinois Beach State Park to hang out but it does have its upside to be there in October. The cool 40 degree temps mean creating a big camp fire is more than just a cool visual. Each campsite comes with a fire pit with a grill top.

Another plus is the beautiful trees and quiet. There were around what looked like 50 to 60 people there on the weekend  – during the week it dropped to about 25.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beach must be nice during the warmer months but it sure was pretty.

 

Trip to the Bathroom

My trailer is 14ft and while well designed to give a feel of roomy space it does not have enough room for a real bathroom or shower. If I had to I have a portable potty – it is actually called a “Luggable Loo”.

At the park if I wanted a shower or to use the toilet I had to walk about 5 minutes down a road to the bath house. In the early morning it is insanely quiet and peaceful.

The first morning I saw three deer just roaming around. The didn’t even run away. I got a couple of pictures which I tweeted but a couple of days later I accidentally dropped my iPhone into a glass of water and it died. Luckily, I had insurance on it so it was replaced but since the park does not have wi-fi the last time I backed it up was back at home. So several on the road pictures and my first few days in the park were all gone.

Anyway – back to my morning ritual walk  – I did see the deer – white-tailed and pretty – but only on that first day.

 

 

I had prepared myself for a cold or at best lukewarm shower so imagine my surprise when the water pounded out and it was so warm.

 

The perfect remedy to the cold walk.

 

 

 

 

 

It really wasn’t all that different from college dorm showers, except I don’t even think those had this kind of water pressure and certainly weren’t this hot.

All in all – not too shabby.

First night visitor

Okay – so this is obviously a picture in the daylight, my story takes place in the nighttime, but when it gets dark – it gets pitch black. So I have no picture or proof for what I am about to tell you.

I am all settled in and snuggling under blankets asleep when I hear crunching right outside the window. It was the distinct sound of footsteps. My bed is right where those two windows are.

I had a slight fear that someone MIGHT snatch my super great rocking lawn chairs. I LOVE them so (thanks Mary Beth Mosley).

Anyway, I woke up for some reason and thought I heard something… then yes! I did.

You can’t see it  but the trailer is parked on gravely rocks and I heard them crunching under foot.

I grabbed my gun (I am from Texas after all – several of my friends wouldn’t let me leave without having one – and at that very moment I was thrilled they had insisted) and went to the door.

Now to get out of my trailer you have to unlock the screen door and pull the handle which is all very loud. I had a flashlight in one hand and swung the light all over outside.

ABSOLUTELY nothing.

I went back in and to bed.

An hour later – FOOTSTEPS. Real footstep walking around.

Having done it before I was quicker this time… I swung open the door all “Make my day” like and JUST caught the butt end of the most gigantic raccoon I have EVER seen.

I mean his backside brushed the bottom to that rocker, not the bar but the fabric as he walked under it and disappeared in the dark.

I felt all powerful and tough – but in reality he didn’t run away – he more like moseyed along.

A few days later I caught a crew new the trailer – I AM TELLING YOU THERE WERE THREE OF THEM. They were ALL enormously FAT.

I had thrown out one of those plastic containers where the crackers come in rows. There were only maybe 10 left but they were stale. Not a problem for the free and easy palate of a raccoon, I guess.

I was popping out to throw something away and saw the trash container on its side… This time there was a full moon out.

I looked towards the wooded area and there was one of those little rascals sitting up – the cracker container in his hands. He looked at me, a little shocked, but then just turned and walked casually into the woods with it.

Those park raccoons are gangsters!

Chicago and my first State Park Stay

 

I left Wichita, Kansas and made my way to the Chicago area. There are no places to stay in the city so the closest I could get was the Illinois Beach State Park which is in the city of Zion, IL. I wanted an area where I could take a train or bus into the city. This fit the bill.

There was a trailer park in Joliet,IL but I liked the idea of trying the state park. They are supposed to be cheaper, but this one was still $25 a night. That was just $3 less that the Joliet trailer park. It includes electricity but not water, although they have places trailers can fill their water tanks and a dump for waste. There are two bathhouses but one was under construction and the other one was going to be under construction after I left.

Volunteers man the booth at the front. You pull in, pick your spot and then go pay.

My parking spot – #288

I was pretty proud – I did it in less than 5 minutes. I got hooked up, it was nice to have electricity. I use a little space heater and with the temperatures dropping to 40 degrees the first night that was vital!

 

Each spot has a fire pit, a park table and it looks like a baby christmas.

The little trees were really at each spot.

Seriously, they had a baby evergreen at almost every spot.

Must be fun, except I don’t know who is braving the winter to camp here.

 

I picked a spot a little closer to the front and a little bit of a walk from the bathhouse.

It was cold enough that most people stayed close to their fires or inside their trailers.

 

Being October, I got there on Saturday,  the park wasn’t very full but there were still quite a few people there.

I didn’t do it on purpose, but it was neat to see all the changing leaves.

Not something we experience much of in Houston, TX.

 

After parking I made a run into town and got to shop at the Piggly-Wiggly grocery store. I love that name for a food store.

Tanks to the electric and the cold temperatures my refrigerator is all set to go. Typically it can take a day to cool down enough to use, but not here.

I went back and made some chicken and veggies for super. It took a while but pretty soon it was nice and toasty inside.

 

 

 

 

 

Back to Hitting the Road

 

I plan on staying there for the night and then moving on to Chicago.

It’s 605 miles and the GPS says it will be about 9 and 1/2 hour hours,

but with the trailer I don’t want to go over 60mph so I figure it will be a little longer.

This is the view, since I am staying on mostly highway it doesn’t change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did find  really cool Rest Stop or as the state of Texas calls it a “Safety Rest Area” –

It is on I-45 near exit 218 – one of the nicest safety rest stop ever!

Nice and pretty and great smelling public rest stop bathroom.

And here I am.. refreshed and ready to hit the road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was kind of interesting – I had to park with the big boys in the back.

My little trailer looks so little.

A Word on Tags and Titles

Now I am street legal.

One thing I didn’t realize before I bought this trailer is that having a title is a really big deal.

Coco Bush who sold me the trailer told me about the headache she went through and the money she spent trying to get the title for my Shasta. When she sold it to me she gave me a bill of sale with her information on it too.

Having those two things made it easy to switch the trailer into my name which is a “must do” to get the tags for the license plate.

I saw a lot of trailers for sale at www.tincantourists.com that do not come with tags. Since I am planning on traveling across state lines and every state seems to have a different leniency policy I thought it better to be safe.

It took two trips but I finally got my current tags.

Our tax office only takes cash so I actually had to hold up my trip a day to go back down there with the right amount of money.

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