We had driven 423 miles by the time we reached Missouri’s Wallace State Park. Off I-35 at Cameron, MO, which is east of St. Joseph and north of Kansas City, it looked like the state park would be our best bet for making the most miles for the day and finding a good spot for the night. Dietary experts say if it grows on a plant, eat it; if it’s made in a plant, don’t. However, by the time we got in, and as tired as we generally are the first day after rushing to get everything ready and get on the road, a quick meal was higher on the priority list than proper nutrition. In four minutes, we had two turkey, potato and gravy dinners out of the microwave, and a can of green beans heated on the stove. While we ate that, the microwave was preparing two three-berry personal-size pies for dessert. Wash two forks, two spoons, throw everything else away, and hit the sack.
On Thursday, the 25th, we were back on the road by 8:30. We later stopped at the Welcome Center at the Iowa/Minnesota state line. We had only been in there maybe 45-minutes, but everything had changed by the time we came out. I knew we were in trouble the instant I pushed the door open and stepped outside. The sky was black and green, the clouds had gone vertical, lightning was flashing to the west, and the wind had increased substantially. My first thought was about finding a place to hunker down, but a quick look at the rest area’s sign showed that overnight staying or camping was not permitted. We got back on the road, but by the time was had only gone eight miles, the strong straight-line wind was doing its best to knock the RV off the road. We made it another three miles when Jean said, “Look at the dirt line coming across the fields. We’re about to get hit.” We were right at exit 11, and I turned off the highway and pulled into a Petro Truck Stop. I backed in between a couple tractor trailers, and we ran back to the RV and got in just as sheets of rain hit us and the wind, even between a couple rigs, was rocking the RV back and forth.
We dried off, changed our clothes, and sat there watching the storm. After awhile it let up a bit, so I suggested that during the lull we should run inside and have an early dinner. Perhaps the storm would pass while we ate, and we could press on. Well, that didn’t pan out. The storm raged on, and even if we did drive further, that would put us in and around the City of Minneapolis with no place to stop. So, after 726 miles so far, we decided to spend the night. Several other motorhomes and RV’s had joined us, as their drivers had undoubtedly come to the same conclusions. It worked for us, having found a fairly safe place for the night, and it worked for Petro, because we ended up spending more than three times as much there than we would have at a state park.