Melting in the Midwest

Earl: “What are you doing?”

TK (me)::lying on the floor:: “It’s hot.”

Earl: “Let’s go back to the winery and get cool.”

TK: “I’d prefer to lie on the floor. . . “

* * * * * *

Once a year we return to our hometown in Illinois for our nieces’ spring birthdays. This past cycle ’round the country we cut things a little close, spending a couple months in Tucson and a couple weeks in Oklahoma City. We planned to make a final dash in the end, taking one week to go from Oklahoma City back to the suburbs of Chicago.

“What a great opportunity to use Harvest Hosts!” I’d thought. We booked a 3-night stay at a Boondocker’s Welcome site in Springfield, Missouri, then a winery near St. Louis, Missouri, followed by a winery in Effingham, Illinois, and ending with a night at Earl’s parents’ before reaching our final destination.

But as much as I like to think of myself as a planner, sometimes I miss some important details. Like Boondocker’s Welcome sites don’t tend to have a dumping option (so we have to limit our water usage). And Harvest Host locations don’t usually have any hookups at all. (Not even electricity!) And the most important part: we don’t yet have a generator.

A few days before our insane travel week Earl reminds me we probably won’t be able to use our fridge, and we have to figure out what do with our food. A couple days before our first Harvest Host night we check the weather to find it will be 91 degrees (for our first night without power). To make things even more fun, our car’s air conditioning hasn’t been working the past few months. (Earl made a gallant attempt to get it fixed when he took it in for an oil change in Tucson — and supposedly they did fix it — but it only blows warm air.)

So here I sit in this beautiful, wonderfully cool winery, feeling absolutely gross from not showering since Monday, wondering if the remains of our fridge will survive in our hastily constructed ice coolers, and dreading two more days of highway air hurling at me through all the lowered windows in our Subaru, yelling into the phone at Earl so he can hear me (he drives ahead of me in the towing truck), hoping that Link, Zelda, and Leia and I don’t combust in the 80 and 90-degree weather. Sometimes boondocking is not as romantic as you’d imagine. . .

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