Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Return of Middleboro Jones & driving cross country....

The Return of Middleboro Jones....From where? Well I got home from my last sojourn to Afghanistan in late May of this year. It was a great feeling to be home and I wanted to spend time offline as much as possible. Blogger.com made that easier as I had trouble logging in to the website and posting any info. That allowed me to be free of the need to feel I should make a regular post. So what have I been doing since then? Well to start off, I looked at starting a small business and acquired a vehicle for that purpose. A 1974 VW Bus no less. Bought it online from a man in Seattle. The key issue was how to get it from Seattle to Boston. After a few discussion of pros and cons, I decided to drive it home from the West Coast. Now a few advised against it but as someone who traveled the wilds of Afghanistan, how could this be more risky? The real risk was if I bent it up or it broke down seriously while in transit. I had a ton of frequent flyer miles from my rides to & from the far side of the world so getting to Seattle from Boston cost me $25, First Class no less. The owner of the bus picked me up and we drove out to his home about 20 miles north of Seattle. Nice country but not someplace I would like to stay long term.....winter there must be tough as it is very hilly. Got to the VW and looked her over....she ran OK and I had my doubts but paid the man $3000 and off we went....3200 miles to Boston and nothing but lots of open road. The first 300 miles took me from Seattle to Spokane across the largest area of emptiness I had seen in quite some time, The Columbia River Valley. Miles and miles of green rolling hills and not a thing in between. Pretty country but very empty of people. Pulled into the Spokane KOA at 9 PM and was glad to rest. A long day of traveling. Got the Kombi set up for sleep, plugged in my extension cord for device power and off to sleep. Next AM, got up and decided to hit the road early. One problem - the VW would not idle or stay running. It was a Sunday, so that means I am not going anywhere. Not that this is the worst problem as I am at a campground and can be comfortable while I wait. So I kill a day and Monday AM get AAA to tow me to a local shop that handles VWs and has done so for 40 yrs. The issue turns out to be a faulty fuel pump. An easy fix and by 1 pm, I am back on the road heading west toward Idaho. I manager to get across Idaho and into the western edge of Montanna where I pull off for the night at the next KOA I find. A nice rest stop and again, some incredible sights along the way cross the Cascade Mountains. The Continental Divide is no small feat in a VW bus. The sign says 6396 ft and that is a long way up for the VW and then we have to go down the other side which is also no small feat for a VW Bus which has skinny tires. Next Day is spent driving across a good sized piece of Montana following Rte 90 East. I manage to get where I am supposed to go and land in Sheridan, WY. Just as I arrive, I can see a large and nasty looking Thunderstorm closing in as you can see for quite some distance and the storm is about 20 miles wide as it bears down on us. I get to Sheridan when the most hellatious hailstorm hits and for better part of 2 hours, I hide under a service station canopy. This is good as the hail is pounding anything exposed. After the storm, I make my way to the Sheridan KOA. Sheridan is a pretty town with a nice rustic center with shops & such. Just when I get settled in late in the evening, a 2nd round of thunder & lightning hits....I am too tired to care & sleep takes over. Another early start and I head into the vast open nothingness of the flatlands of South Dakota.... open & flat pretty much sums it up. Lots of wide open spaces. I stop at a service station just off the highway and while I am in my VW making notes, 2 bikers walk up all dressed in leather. I wonder if they are looking for a hippie to beat up.... The first one walks up and says " Das is ein gut bus!!" - They are 2 Germans driving bikes cross country and were admiring my VW Bus.....funny guys and they spend about 20 minutes looking her over and talking in their best english about how much they like the Kombi. I set off on my way and was planning to stop in a little village called Belvedere, SD where there is a KOA. I get there and discover that the only things there are the KOA & a gas station....kinda spooky looking too and decide tosee where the next KOA is along Rt 90. I find the next one is only 50 miles and decide to make a run for it before it gets dark. The next place worth stopping turns out to be Kennebec, SD which is small (population 248) but it will do. Get settled in and even able to pull up the Stanley Cup Finals game on my Ipad via wifi...will wonders never cease?) More to follow in the next day or so.....as long as Blogspot works well. Update - Blogspot still misbehaving .....not easy to post.

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