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From the Great Lakes to the Mississippi and beyond

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We spent another two days getting our van fully tested. To do that, we started sleeping in the van in Janis’ driveway. Sam also tested most technical features and discovering some issues that require fixing. Luckily enough the guys at Art’s RV were kind enough to check our van. They had a new anode for our heating system on stock (we hardly recognized that this was the part we needed, as it did not look at all like the worn part we had in our van) and they were able to order a part to replace our leaking gas valve.


In addition, we did some shopping such that our van now features among others new colorful carpets, a doormat and a new folding table. So eventually on Thursday May 5 we were all set and it was time to say goodbye to Janis, Phil and Sam in Glenview. But not before they had written into our guest book. Everybody who has been at our place knows that our guests are always asked to write into the book. As this is such a nice routine and flipping through it brings back so many nice memories, we figured we might as well continue that tradition while traveling around.
Our plan was to spend a couple of hours in Chicago on Thursday. We were lucky to find street parking and set off in freezing temperatures (it’s the Windy City after all) to take the L train into town. After a stop in the beautiful and huge City Library, we headed off to famous Buckingham fountain in Grant park. Unfortunately, a lady advised us not to approach the fountain. But it did not feature water yet anyhow – no wonder given the freezing temperatures the last couple of days. After the mandatory stop in Millennium Park at the Bean we had to get back to our car again, as the parking spot unfortunately had a two hours maximum parking limit. And we did not want to risk a ticket already in the first week.


As we had decided to take the scenic route South, we got to see along Lake Shore Drive not only Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum and Soldier Field, but also the Museum of Science and Technology in Hyde Park. Most likely many people would avoid driving through Chicago’s South Side. When I was in high school I sometimes spent my weekends at my friend Precious’ place and usually our weekend count of white people was below five. Still, at bright daylight on one of the larger streets, there was no reason why we should not go that way. Everything looked pretty well kept, even though it was obvious that the neighborhoods cannot benefit from the same income level as on the North Side or in the suburbs.
After a night in Carol and Pete’s driveway in Oak Lawn where we benefited from lots of traveling hints from Dave and the scheduled visit at Art’s RV, we were ready to leave Chicagoland headed Southwest. Even though we pretty much followed Route 66, we consciously decided to stay on the interstate to get moving forward more quickly. With all the national parks and scenery waiting for us in the Southwest, we can’t wait to get there. And even though that might not do some of the sights in the Midwest justice, even having five months in North America require us to make some choices.
We spent our first night at campground in Sangchris State Park outside Springfield, IL. We had planned to stock up on our groceries just before getting to the prk in Rochester, the small town with a population of 3400. Our first stop was at the local hardware store which had everything Sam desired to buy on stock. While this was true for the hardware store, we were not as lucky in regards to groceries. Seemingly Rochester is too small to have a grocery store of it’s own and we had to go back the five miles into Springfield to do our shopping.
We found a really nice spot in the Deer Run campsite. Best of all: it featured very nice neighbors. Tim and Barb were on an outing with their six-year-old grandson Nigel. So Max had a companion to play with and later at night all of us were sitting together at their campfire. What a nice start into our adventures.
A late start into the next morning brought us to St. Louis in the late afternoon. It was fairly straight forward to find parking downtown, but it was also a bit spooky to hear from a guy passing by that a girl just had her car stolen around the corner from where we were. Still, we figured that our rather old car would not classify for being stolen. Still, we rather took all valuables and passports with us. The skyline of St. Louis featuring the Gateway Arch is spectacular. Still, Max was by far more attracted by the lively Citygarden. At the first time around he limited himself to biking once through the fountain area. The second time around he was unstoppable and eventually even jumped into the pool. He had fun and luckily the temperatures allowed for getting wet without having a set of changing clothes with us.

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We ended our day at Meramac Caves and were surprised to find the campground there almost empty despite the fact that it was a Saturday evening. So we chose a spot next to the river, not too far away from the playground and enjoyed our second night camping out.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 08:03 Archived in USA Tagged fountain chicago leaving camping springfield st.louis Comments (1)

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