Ok, this is the final post of the road trip, so hold onto your britches!
We left Burwell, NE bright and early after a lovely evening of camping in their county park (picture just a park in town, with a random electrical hookup--yup, that's where we camped, worked out just fine), and, after a stop at the local coffee shop where I managed to befriend the owner, we were heading Northeast towards St. Paul, where we planned to spend a day visiting with your friends Dale and Karen. Dale and Karen live in the cottage next door to us in Grand Haven and spend their summers in Michigan, but the rest of the year in St. Paul where they have lived for the past 30 years, raising a family and working. Dale is a retired art professor from Bethel University, a small liberal arts college outside of St. Paul, and we were excited to see them, if only briefly.
When we were en route to St. Paul, we got in touch with Dale and Karen who didn't think parking the Airstream in front of their house would work due to parking issues, and, since we really wanted an electrical hookup anyway, we decided to find an RV or state park for the evening. Well. Nothing in Minneapolis or really in Minnesota is open yet for camping. I mean, it's still winter there....so after many, many, many phone calls using our AllStaysAmerica app, I finally managed to locate one RV park in Minneapolis that was open for camping. I called the host and he said to come on in. So...we did....and this was when things started to go awry.
When we arrived at the Groves RV Park, we weren't scared--I mean, it was in a really nice neighborhood with lots of older homes and big trees...there was a Target down the street and a Cracker Barrel. Just hometown America. Upon pulling into the park, though, we started to get a little uneasy. First things first, it was a mobile home park that happened to have a couple of RV hookups. Now, a mobile home park is fine. We have nothing against mobile home parks and have stayed successfully in a few with no issue whatsoever. This park, however, was not exactly clean...and it was very clear that each trailer had at least 8-10 people living in it and, upon taking the dogs out of the car to walk them, I managed to step on not 1 but 2 dead, wet, slimy rats. Not squirrels. Not mice. Rats. Full rats. And yes, I am sure they were rats because I checked and they had rat tails. Combine this with the fact that we were by far the only RV in the lot that was there for the night and the various looks and leering we were receiving from the park's residents, and we quickly made the executive decision to leave and head towards the closest Walmart for a night of boon docking.
It was, though, 8pm by this point and starting to get dark. We try really hard not to pull the trailer at night because it just doesn't feel super safe, we're a little leery of our old non-LED blinkers, etc, so we were a bit hesitant to head out, but this park was just not feeling at a all safe, so we hitched back up and hit the road. The Walmart was about 10 minutes away and we needed to take a highway to get there--no problem. Or so we thought. We were about 5 minutes out of the park on one of the Minneapolis highways when we crossed under an overpass and managed to hit the largest bump of our collective lives. The entire trailer and truck literally lifted off the ground, at 50 mph, the dogs were thrown out of their seats. We both screamed (truthfully I screamed and then immediately started crying) and were 100% sure the trailer had been lost--I mean to say this was a bump is putting it mildly. It scared the absolute shit out of both of us. How we didn't lose the trailer or get a flat or fly off into the median is only a testament to Ian's amazingly cool driving skills. It was definitely the closest call we had had on the entire 12000 mile trip.
So, when we finally made it to the Walmart parking lot, needless to say we were both a little rattled, very much in need of a beer and some brainless television. Ian headed to a Redbox, rented Anchorman 2, I made some soup and a kale salad, and we settled into an evening of unwinding. Then, out of nowhere, a dark car pulls quickly up next to our trailer and someone wearing a red jacket jumps out, runs up to the trailer and knocks. I immediately assume this is a Walmart security officer there to tell us to leave and I have already started to get ready to tell him/her that there is no possible way we will be moving and that if he wants us to move then we can just go in and talk to the manager, thank you very much, but then when we peer out the window we discover that it is not a security guard--it's DALE! Yeahhh!!!! Dale had driven over from his house to see us and we had a great time catching up in the trailer, he met Ruth Ann and it was just a lovely end to an extremely stressful day. We made a plan to meet up with him and Karen at their house in St. Paul the next morning (he promised we could take a hot shower, which was amazing as it had been about 4 days at this point since we'd had hookups), and off we went to bed. Sleeping in a Walmart parking lot is pretty much ok--we aren't ever really scared (I would have been waaaay more sacred at the RV park), it can be a bit noisy, but this evening was fine. A bit cold, we we definitely needed to utilize our sleeping bags, but all in all uneventful.
In the morning, we hitched up and headed through downtown Minneapolis to St. Paul--this is the point in the trip where I decided I was,without a doubt, ready to go home. Pulling a 31' trailer through a huge metropolis is, in no way, enjoyable or fun. It's terrifying. And we'd been on the road for 6 weeks--the trip was over, it was time to go. So we made a plan to spend the day with Karen and Dale and then head towards Madison for the evening, with the plan to get back to Grand Haven late on Friday night.
When we arrived to Dale and Karen's, they welcomed us with coffee and hot showers, we had a tour of their beautiful home (which they've lived in for 26 years and it's just lovely), Dale's art studio in the backyard and then headed out to breakfast where we spent the time catching up and sharing a bit of our travels with them. Then they gave us a whirlwind tour of Minneapolis/St. Paul which was a great city and we would love to go back one day. We ended the tour by seeing Dale's former college which was also really neat. He is a really big deal there, though he is so humble he'd never admit this, but his art is all over the place and it was lovely to see a bit of his life and work.
After the tour, it was time for us to hit the road, so we said our goodbyes with promises that we would see them in a few weeks once they get back to Grand Haven, and hit the road. Getting out of Minneapolis was just fine (no bumps, thank god) and we made it to Madison late on Thursday night. Madison to Holland was also totally uneventful and we pulled into our parking spot in Holland around 7pm on Friday evening. We had finished the road trip! This leg of the trip was over 7000 miles! We were both so happy to be home and to have a bit of time to stay stationary. There is a full post about our reflections on the trip coming up in a couple hours, so keep your eyes peeled for that.