Friday, August 31, 2007

Labor Day conundrum solved

When last I posted, we were in Kentucky, wondering what we were going to do for the holiday weekend. Not in regards to entertainment, but, rather, where to stay for the duration, given that we are in a heavily populated part of the country, and campgrounds had filled up for the big holiday weekend long in advance.

We decided to press on fairly quickly to some arbitrary point north of the Ohio river, to move into somewhat cooler temperatures in the event we ended up boondocking for the holiday. That would also move us closer to Goshen, where we are contemplating attending the upcoming Escapade.

So Wednesday, after packing up and clearing out of Barren Lake a good bit past 2:00 (checkout there was an incredibly generous 4:30), we headed north along US31E, connecting with the Blue Grass Parkway and then US127 through the state capitol of Frankfort, and pushed all the way to the Markland dam (after a very widgety drive on Kentucky 36, 47, and 184) and into Indiana. We continued east along IN156, past the Belterra casino and on to the town of Rising Sun, where we spent the night in the parking lot at the Grand Victoria Casino (map). We arrived quite late, an hour past sunset (and and hour later than our watches indicated, having crossed from the Central to the Eastern time zone), and rewarded ourselves with a nice dinner in the on-premise steakhouse/Italian restaurant, Wellington's, which was acceptable if a bit overpriced. When we came out of dinner, it was refreshingly cool outside, in stark contrast to the past several days.

We spent yesterday morning researching our Labor Day weekend options. Every Corps of Engineers, national forest, and state park campground in Indiana was sold out, and, disappointingly, all the Elks lodges in the state were, essentially, dry camping. It took a couple of hours, but I eventually found a city park in Fort Wayne, of all places, that was on our planned route, offered camping with electrical hookups, and was strictly first-come, first-served. As of mid-day, when I called, they still had space, and we figured we could squeak in on a Thursday afternoon, and beat the holiday crowd. We had resigned ourselves to spending most of the weekend in a completely full park, but consoled ourselves with the idea that it was still a fairly rustic setting on the St. Joseph river, but within walking distance of several restaurants and a transit system serving downtown Fort Wayne. We decided to get under way pronto, to arrive in the daylight and not miss out on our pick of spaces -- by this time, we had already been back to the Grand Victoria for a delicious buffet breakfast, and to take a cursory look at the now-stationary paddlewheeler that houses the gaming operation itself.

We did not get far. Somewhere around the historic town of Aurora, Indiana, we got a phone call from our Red Cross chapter asking if we were available for deployment. I won't bore you with all the details of what transpired next (suffice it to say that the right hand and left hand are not in direct communication when it comes to Red Cross deployment logistics), but the long and short of it is we started to divert to Rochester, Minnesota, abandoned that diversion in favor of continuing on to Fort Wayne, and then diverted again, this time toward Chicago, Illinois.

This second diversion "stuck", and we continued for the remainder of the day to where we are now, at Red Cross relief headquarters in Montgomery, Illinois (approximate map). We made a brief dinner stop at (where else) Olive Garden south of Gary, Indiana, and arrived here on site around 9:30 last night. The team was still getting the headquarters wired and ready for operation, so I worked through until close to 1am, and Louise pitched in until 11:30 or so.

I confess to being a bit disappointed, after all that research, to have missed the opportunity to stay at what looks to be a lovely spot in Fort Wayne. We'll hold that option in reserve for another time, possibly right after this job is finished. But this did render moot the whole question of where to park for the holiday and how to deal with the crowds. We are well situated in the parking lot here at relief HQ, and we even have a power cord good for about 10 amps, which is plenty in the weather we are having here right now, with temperatures in the 70s to low 80s.

It remains to be seen if we will be done here in time to make the Escapade. But it feels good to be back on the job after nearly a year hiatus.

As Louise mentioned, we will likely not be posting much to the blog while we are deployed here. The days are long and tiring, especially at the beginning of an operation. I will try to update our status, though, as things progress and time is available.

1 comment:

  1. I am amazed at the mileage you have done since I first looked at your blog when you were in New Mex. You've covered 1/2 the country and now button-hooked north!
    It is great you are available to help w/ Red Cross. Flooding I presume?
    Look forward to hearing about it first hand - when you have time.
    Michael K - San Francisco.


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