This is turning out to be the “Almost” RV trip! As in, we almost went some places, and almost had some disasters!
We had decided at the last minute to go to northern Minnesota near Lake Superior, and I was getting excited to kayak in some of the 10,000 lakes! So we parked the RV at the local RV park in Cave Springs as usual, loaded it up, and put the kayaks on the Jeep! We moved into the RV so we were ready to roll the next day.
We had done absolutely zero research on RV parks up that way, but figured we’d wing it as we do many times for shorter trips.
Well, it would be the 4th of July weekend and we started wondering if we would be able to find a decent place. The first place we called in Duluth was booked up. I then started reading that there were tons of mosquitos this time of year. I checked Twitter to see if anyone was writing about the mosquito situation, and sure enough… someone camping near Lake Superior said they were absolutely terrible right now. Some people call them the state bird! So… we figured, let’s head to the ocean. We really like the Orange Beach and Gulf Shores areas of Alabama, and Bella Terra RV Resort had some openings for a week. We had always wanted to stay there. We then checked the weather and it showed a 60% chance of rain every day for the upcoming week….ugh…
Now, keep in mind, our RV was already loaded at this point (which takes many hours) and was parked at the creeks RV resort in Cave Springs, ready to hit the road. So…we have to go somewhere! Not going to go through all of this packing for nothing!
Instead of a 2-3 week trip, we decided to just go to St. Louis for a week or so. At least we would be somewhere fun and familiar, and we could get there in just six hours. So, off to St. Louis we went the next day.
As soon as we got on the freeway on ramp, the Jeep started wobbling back-and-forth violently, shaking the entire RV! We thought either it had either come unhooked or it had a flat tire. We stopped on the shoulder of the on-ramp and looked everything over. Nothing appeared to be broken or unhooked. We went through the Jeep tow prep procedure again, just to make sure there wasn’t something strange going on with the transmission. I did notice that there was a lot of slop/play between the RV and the Jeep, due to the extra hitch we have installed for carrying bikes. The bikes were not with us this trip, which meant there was no weight on that extra hitch. Without the extra weight, it allowed the towbar hitch to move around too much. We hit the freeway and it never did it again. We will be removing the extra hitch when we get to St. Louis just in case, and I will be re-installing a hitch tightener that had come loose a long time ago.
Funny thing…while we were driving, a big tomato fell off the kitchen countertop onto the floor, and then a seat compartment panel came off and landed on the tomato, squishing tomato juice all over the floor. That was a first.
When we got into St. Louis, a bad storm had moved in, right over the area we were headed. When we were less than 10 minutes from the campground, a tornado warning was issued! Below is a photo of what we were driving into…dark and green, with winds picking up. I had taken over driving during the last part of the day, and this was nerve racking to say the least. High winds and a tornado warning, combined with driving a big box, is no bueno!
The kids were oblivious to the whole ordeal, as they were playing on iPads (on purpose….Tripp does NOT like storms, so Carla was frantically trying to get some headphones on him for noise / distraction).
I tried turning back south on Hwy 270 to get away from the storm, but missed the turn (I blamed the idiotic stoplight design). So instead of going directly away from the storm, we were now on some new route to the RV park for the last few miles, but fortunately we were going toward the back of the storm, away from the worst part.
To make it more nerve racking, we didn’t have the RV GPS going (we know our way to and around St. Louis, so no need to have it going), so I was just using the Waze app to route us to the RV park since I had missed the turn earlier and was on an unfamiliar road. It dawned on us that the Waze app knows nothing of our length / height / width like our RV GPS does, so we had our fingers crossed it would route us on major roads with no low overpasses, no sharp turns onto small roads, or low weight capacity bridges (the RV GPS was in a cabinet and we had no time to get it out, turn it on, and get it routing). So we were creeping along the new route, pouring down rain and lightning, high winds, looking for places we could park until the storm passed, but no luck finding a large enough parking lot that we could turn around in. We eventually got all the way to the RV park with no issues!
When we got to the RV park, there was a lot of debris on the ground from the wind, and someone’s awning was ripped off:
I had to unhook the Jeep in the rain, since we had a back-in site and not a pull through. Fun!
Obviously, we’ve rejected every hint today that maybe we should have just stayed home. But, that’s not us. It reminded me of a shirt I saw in Florida that said “Bad decisions make great stories”. I should have bought that shirt.
Anyway, here is what the sky looked like after the storm passed through…pure evil!
The Old Spaghetti Factory was the payoff for today, and made everything all better!
The storm made for a pretty sunset on the way home:
We’re looking forward to the weekend! Going to cram a lot in!
During my lunch break, we went to the National Museum of Transportation, or as I like to call it, the train museum. They have upgraded it quite a bit since we were here when Avin was a baby.
In an old caboose, the toilet plumbing consisted of a pipe through the floor! Not sure why RV makers don’t do the same thing…
After work, we headed to Das Bevo, a German restaurant I remembered seeing in a Bavarian part of St. Louis when we lived here years ago and had never tried it. It’s famous for its windmill. The restaurant was owned by the Anheuser-Busch family back in 1917. Really neat place! I wish the live band had been a polka band…would have fit the place a little better.
“Bevo was a non-alcoholic malt beverage, or near beer, brewed in the United States by the Anheuser-Busch company beginning in the early 20th century.”
We spent most of the day at the St. Louis Science Center!
We’ve been watching the Cardinals each night on TV. We wanted to go to a game, but it’s just too hot! Maybe in the Fall. They are also getting beaten badly by the Braves, so not a good time to go to a game!
Here are a few of the magnets we’ve collected over the years of RVing. We have a bag full of a lot more magnets at home from our last RV that I keep forgetting to bring into this RV.
We saved the best for last…City Museum! This place is truly unbelievable and amazes me every time I see it. It is an old shoe factory downtown that has been turned into a maze of tunnels, slides, and weird, crazy stuff to look at. They take scraps from junkyards, so it seems, and weld tunnels through all of it. Yes, that is a school bus hanging off the top of the building and yes, you can get in the cockpit of that jet! They do a great job of smoothing off all of the metal edges and welds, so that it’s really hard to get hurt on anything (or fall through anything!).
We didn’t do the rooftop or outdoor “Monstrocity” parts since it was so hot outside.
Below is a photo of a pipe organ that plays awesome, eerie music and is right next to a 10 story slide! It’s a weird feeling that seems out of movie when you’re standing down in the cave section looking up at it. Definitely my favorite part!
I went down the five story slide, because it was getting pretty warm climbing toward the top as heat rises.
Avin hurt his leg early on and couldn’t do a lot of the tunnels, so I followed Tripp wherever he wanted to go, which included sliding on my belly through VERY small openings. For the first time ever, I truly felt claustrophobic at one point when we went into a very small crawlspace (photo below… you know it’s small Tripp has to squat!) and realized we had to turn around and go out the way we came, but we couldn’t because a lady was working her way out as well and was taking a while!
What?? A whole drawer of Legos in the RV? Who would believe such a thing… except anyone who knows us!
We went to “Mama’s on the Hill” for lunch, which is a really neat Italian restaurant on The Hill. Home of the original toasted ravioli! REALLY good food!
While driving around The Hill, it’s neat to see the fire hydrants painted in Italian colors.