Thursday, October 9, 2008

At some point in our trip we will realize that the detour to Trader Joe's was totally worth the time and effort, but Monday at midnight, struggling to stay awake as we approached the Iowa border, like repentant sinners we regretted every single moment we may have strayed from the path.

It's about 1800 miles from West Lafayette to North Rim, Arizona and Mapquest says it should take about 27 hours on the road. Of course, we'll drive faster than Mapquest thinks we should, so one plan was to put in a couple of 10-12 hour killer days and do some sight seeing somewhere along the way. Another option was to take it a little easier on the road and do maybe about seven hours a day.

We chose the the second option and hoped to get about half way across Iowa on this first day and set up camp, literally, somewhere around Des Moines.

Camping is not only economical, but it's easy to do and it's great fun, too. We have a two person dome tent, sleeping pads, goose-down sleeping bags, a little camp stove that heats up like a blow torch, and a single burner lantern about the size of a wallet. Most of our gear fits in a crate and Shawn can set up camp in about 20 minutes.

However, on this night, as we approached Davenport IA (birthplace of modern Chiropractic) about a half a day behind schedule, setting up camp was the last thing on our minds. We were willing to sacrifice the joys and pleasures of sleeping on the ground, eating everything from a cup, changing clothes while kneeling and having to walk across camp to use the bathroom for the confining confines of a hotel. We knew it would be hard getting to sleep without the soothing sounds of the Interstate in the background, but somehow we figured we'd make it...

So, we woke up The Nuvi and asked her to find us a place to sleep. Our eyes were bleary and our vision was blurry. Shawn was driving because when I am near exhaustion on the road I get hyper-alert and shadows at night begin to play tricks on me. I "see" cars and trucks jumping out from the shoulders and behind signs. It's not like I see dead people, but it's a little disorienting because I'm not quite sure which ones are real and require an emergency maneuver to avoid and which ones I can just run over with reckless abandon.

The Nuvi couldn't help with this aspect of the trip but she directed us to an off-ramp that was promising. And true to form, she took issue with us several times after numerous wrong turns on the way to non-existent hotels at non-existent addresses, but there were plenty of places to choose from there at the Davenport airport exit. We settled on a hotel with a blue sign and crashed.