Part 8 Iowa.
Here we are in Des Moines,, approx. 1800 miles into this road trip. A tip, for when you travel through Omaha is NOT stay on the I-80. You may be thinking,, why not?.
First of all,,, This a huge city,,, Think Dallas or Houston or even Chicago,, maybe even L.A.. Totally insane with the amount of vehicles crammed onto a hwy. This is a hub to all points to anywhere. You have, Lincoln, Sioux City,Des Moines,Topeka and Kansas City. To avoid alot of the headaches trying to merge quickly along the road with 3/4's of the drivers emerged into their phones texting and playing video games while buzzing along at 70 plus mph,, I have dropped off onto hwy, 275. Its still a major hub hwy, but not as insane as the designated I-80 route through down town so to speak. You will still be traveling along side I-80 till you come up to the I-29 north. ( I-80 and I-29 are basically the same hwy as you go through down town) . Taking the 275 to the I-29 was quicker and less stressful. I took the north bound 29 to merge back with the 80 and resumed the treck towards Des Moines. As you get closer to Des Moines, another tip to avoid down town grid lock and squeezing the truck and RV around drivers, is take the I-35 North loop around down town.The I-35 will merge easily onto I-80 and resuming the trip is less stressful. With me being behind in my Horns to the wind driving,, I hammer down and pour on the coals. The road way is clear, traffic moving along. Remnants of snow along the shoulders, and a brisk 29 degrees, makes for good road time. I make good travel time to Williamsburg, the next fuel stop and inspection point. Nice little fuel plaza with plenty of parking. I top the tanks, and pull off away from the fuel islands and park in a clearing. (Yes I paid for my fuel.). The sun is out,, partly cloudy, and a brisk wind. I would assume its around freezing maybe a tad above that. I do a walk around and just shaking my head at the amount of road grime one can pick up. It looks like I went mud bogging and came in last place. The fender skirts on the trailer have accumilated enough slush to extend them to the mid point of the tires, including a nice array of ice sickles to complete the ensemble. After inspecting the truck and the trailer, its time to go inside and yes, start a pot of coffee and change into Work clothes. The clothes that you need when you know your going to get dirty,,, not just an ordinary dirty, but the nasty cold slushy wet kind of dirty. (dress in layers). After your changed,, head out to the water heater compartment and get the water heater turned on, ( your going to need warm water real soon,, trust me). You go back in the trailer, turn the furnace on to get it nice and toasty,, and grab a cup of coffee,, take a few sips to warm the ole insides a little.. Time to get to the nitty gritty. To get my point across,, when traveling through snow country in the winter time, with a trailer in tow, (mine being a 5th wheel). The elements of mother nature is against you the whole trip. With a 5th wheel, the point Im getting at, is that your a tad higher at the front and you have a front wall that will and does catch anything and everything that your truck will run over and sling backwards. You dont have the luxury of a trailer tongue deflecting the slung back slush and crud. You my friend have a 4x8 flat area, some how designed to catch everything,, and what ever doesnt attach itself to the front will slide underneath and down the under belly to the axles,,just waiting to become encrusted. Ok,, 1st cup of coffee downed,, belly all warm,, bundled up like an eskimo ready to tackle the world,so to speak. Oooooops... Now that your bundled up all cozy,, you hafta poddy.(funny how that works,, just ask a 4 yr old after you get them bundled up). Ok,, buisness taken care of,, out side we go. First order of buisness is to have your hammer and crawl underneath. Thank goodness the pavement is clear and dry.I shimmy underneath and commince to tapping on the blocks of rounded ice encrusting the front axle. After about 15 minutes of tapping away,, the ice slowly breaks free,, I can see metal finally. One you have a section cleared you can take the claw side of your hammer and lift up sections of ice a lot easier.. Thud goes the ice blocks. This takes another 10 minutes or so, and I attack the rear axle with the same effort and results. While Im under there, Im checking over the back plates of the hub assmblies and they are looking good.. The natural heat from the tires spinning is keeping the accumilation to a minimum. I lay down there for a couple more minutes admiring the cute ice sickles dotting the under side, then realize, brrrrrr its still cold out. I wiggle my way out from underneath and grunt my way back into the upright position, (getting old sucks). I then take my hammer and gently tap on the ice made fender skirts. Just light tapping will do the trick,, the plastic is very very brittle in below freezing temps. After getting the ice skirts off, I clean the ice off the tire valve stem and check the tire pressure. Tires are doing good, so check that off the check list. At the back of the trailer,, its a mystery as to how much road grime can accumilate. The tail lights are barely recognizable. So they get a good wipe down and look all clean and spiffy. I go back in the trailer, needing another cup of coffee to take the chill off,, and plus I like my coffee. While I sip my coffee, I get my secret formula out. Its a bottle of soap water with a splash of washer solvent. If you apply a little of this to your tail lights,, it makes them easier to wipe off when you stop for fuel etc,, saves from scrubbing the road grime off. You just spray it on the tail light lens,, and wipe it off and it leaves a very thing coating on the lens. I have to make one more trip outside before I can get out of these now wet and cold clothes. Thank goodness for heaters. Its a balmy 65 degrees inside. I finish my cup of coffee,, take a second to contimplate using the poddy room,,,,, ummm,, ok,, alls good,, still bundled. and bladder is content. (common,, u smiled). I head outside and resume the ice removal.. Tapping the ice off the inner fenders of the truck as ice crashes down. I finish that task and pop the hood of the truck and check the oil, and coolant resv, and look for anything out of place. I take my trusty solution and a rag and clean the head lights and turn signals, and walk around to the back and clean off the tail lights. I put the solution back inside the trailer and go back and close the hood on the truck. I take one more walk around the truck and trailer, doing a last call visual inspection and all seems good. I go inside and getting out of these wet dirty clothes. Now you know why I turned the water heater on.. Im am going to enjoy a good ole fashioned Military shower,,(3 mins if your lucky). After a quick shower, and clean clothes,, its a quick sammich and road time.
Leaving out of Williamsburg,, headed back on the I-80 towards Rock Island ,, Gateway into Illinois. As I roll down the I-80, I take the Bypass 280 which will take me below the hustle and bustle of down town and the route steady flowing, unlike the constant braking as drivers swerve from the far left lane to take an exit to the right at the last minute. Plus to 280 flows right into the I-80 with no turn offs or exits,, just hunker in the center lane and roll with the flow and then move over to your right lane. I continue along the 80 to Lasalle Ill.
I take the 178 exit and have to pay a visit to the MANS store,, a.k.a. JCWhitney. Its their big warehouse and everytime I am up this way, I stop in to browse at all the goodies,, which lately have been import stuff from every place but the U.S. But still, its tradition. After spending an hour or so looking at nothing,, its back on the road.I stay on the 80 through Joliet all the way to Marham where the hwy changes to 94 east. In this area,, its very wise to do the exact speed limit,, Chicago police will pull you over just to pull you over and issue a ticket for any type of revenue., Hammond, Gary and Lake Station Indiana are the same way,,, They see an out of state tag and your free game so to speak. From Gary Indiana to Michigan City Indiana, you cant help but smell the sulfer and funk in the air,,, windows up and a couple tic tacs and you should be ok. Another 2 hours and will be pulling off for the night in Bridgeman Michigan, thus ending the I-80 journey across the states.
Thus logging in 2,280 miles.