Friday, September 16, 2011

The beginning of unchartered territory

Sept. 9-16--Madison, Wisconsin
Settled into the KOA after making a wrong turn down a subdivision with no place to turn around; ended up having to unhitch the Toad and back up the motorhome to get back on the main road. There is so much for me to learn in terms of navigation and finding campgrounds. We entered into this journey with the attitude of learning as we go, but it is already clear we are extreme novices in terms of what to expect in campgrounds and how to safely negotiate the highway systems of this great land.  So much of Wisconsin highways were under extreme road construction that it seemed we spent so much time on detours or on narrow one lane highways with barriers that our nerves were frayed after only a six hour drive.  We are thinking three hours would be a better target. There is also the constant worry of facing a low clearance bridge or underpass. I have discovered that all low clearance areas are listed in the Big Rig atlas LD gave us—what a blessing.
Wisconsin Badger fans tailgating at the KOA

Met up with Jesse then he took off to meet a friend who was also attending the game tomorrow. Spent an uneventful evening in the park which is a bit hot and dusty—almost in a cornfield.  It is a classic Midwest setting.  Plenty of Wisconsin fans in the parking lot. Saw one RV with OSU flags but never saw its owners.

The game—super hot day and the game started at noon. Our seats were a mile high and directly in the sun. The Beavers played horribly remaining scoreless throughout all four quarters resulting in a 0-35 loss. We were not good Beaver fans as the heat was too intense, so we retreated to a Madison bar for brats and beer. Good choice!
State Street Brats bar in Madison, WI
View of the game from our mile high seats
We decided to hang out in Madison for a few more days getting our motor home ready for the longer journey ahead. Discovered a Camping World nearby where we bought a few more provisions foto make life more comfortable (outdoor rug, propane stove, and a toaster).

We are having major challenges with the DISH system put in our motorhome while we were in Michigan.  They poor guy did not know how to set up DISH in an RV. Everything was a disaster so we decided to return the equipment and put our service on hold until we could figure out how to proceed.  We found the answer at Camping World.  They sold us one receiver (no DVR L) that would work for all three tvs.  They set the system up for us for another $200.  Not sure if it was worth it, but we didn’t want to go on the roof of the motorhome and fiddle with the Winegard Road Trip dish ourselves.  The system worked but the local channels were still set to the UP and the remote would only work in the front of the coach—challenging if you were watching the tv in the back bedroom.  More to learn.  On the topic of technology, we have not been happy with our choice of wireless—using a hotspot on my Droid phone.  We bit the bullet and bought a 4G MiFi device from Verizon for faster and more independent wireless service.  While many of the campgrounds have wireless service included, we didn’t feel that it was secure enough for bill paying, banking, etc.

Jesse packing up.

Jesse took off for Virginia on Tuesday and I fought the tears—too many goodbyes lately.Kept busy getting organized for the road and mapping out our loose itinerary. The one destination that was important for me to visit on the way to Maine was Montreal. After looking at possible route options, we decided to avoid going through Chicago (even though I would have liked to visit with relatives there). The route through Chicago and Gary, Indiana to Detroit, then Toronto seemed overwhelming in terms of traffic, road construction, and industrial areas.  We decided to head back north to the Upper Peninsula and cross into Canada via the Soo (Sault Ste. Marie).  Happy to have a plan!!!

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