Let’s be honest guys…I am a city girl. I really enjoyed all of the little small towns that we found and stayed in along our journey but driving through the midwest and staying in Iowa and Illinois were interesting. In the “city” you have a grocery, pharmacy, library, and school all within 5 minutes of you. In the midwest it’s more like a 30 minute drive just to reach one of those and you pray that the other three places you need to get to are also on that side of town. It’s wild and probably perfect for the small subset of the population that live in towns like this but it’s not for me.
We rolled into the state of Iowa where corn and wind fields are bountiful. We had a lot of time staring at the wind turbines so we did some research on them once we got cell service. It costs a farmer 3-5 million for each one and it takes 1-3 years for them to pay off. We also learned that it doesn’t even have to be windy to get a turbine to turn. Once a turbine catches some wind, the wind could die and it would still take hours for the turbine to slow down.
Once in Iowa we were tracking a huge thunderstorm that we could see for almost the entire drive. We decided to drive south and finally catch up to I-70 again. That decision paid off big time when we skirted the storm for hours and never got rained on. We booked our campsite while on the road that day and were lucky enough to get the best spot in the place. We had treated our kids to their first “normal” fast food since leaving MD. That Chick-fil-a was well received would be an understatement.
The campground in Iowa was on a lake, quiet, and perfect for sunset. There was no one in the campground and only cornfields and water for the barriers of the place so we felt confident leaving the kids at the playground and taking a walk. We had to figure out why the campground was full of really nice, well maintained, and somewhat permanent looking campers/RV’s and no people. Well, for starters it was desolate because it was a Tuesday and also all the campers were everyone’s second home. Some of these campers had built decks and patios, had flowers hanging, gardens growing, PVC pipes set up for their waste, and even electric meters on their site! We had a blast going around picking out the best camper and which one we would choose and the best location.
We packed up early the next morning and headed off to our destination - the Antique Archaeology store featured on the American Pickers show. This is in LeClaire, Iowa and right on the Mississippi River. We got to LeClaire and had no trouble parking as it was midday. The town was super cute but shockingly dead. We quickly went to the American Pickers store and then headed down the street for some pizza. Our kids were so grateful we finally decided to feed them as we were crossing time zones and didn’t even know what the “right” time was for lunch anymore.
Illinois had an interesting campsite for us. We always try to choose a campsite based on its reviews, amenities, and, if we can manage it, park down by a stream or lake. Well the place we chose in Illinois seemed ok at first but then quickly went downhill. Greg took Addy and Eric to the pool while I had some chill time with my little shadow. Maggie and I eventually walked up to the pool and looked at the permanent campers and were greeted with some interesting clientele with equally interesting tattoos and language. Addy and Eric didn’t even seem to notice how dirty the pool was or that everything around it was broken. Greg and I quickly headed everyone down the road to our RV once they had fulfilled their pool quota for the day as the whole campsite seemed to start gathering for drinks at 4pm. We figured down by the end of the road where the semipermanent campers were that it was quiet and safe. We decided we would certainly be locking the doors that night as well as scheduling an early departure.
It’s still an anomaly to us that people chose a cornfield in Iowa or Illinois as a semi-permanent retreat for themselves or their family but I can see the beautiful simplicity it brings to life and that maybe that’s all you need. I am a Marylander/Delawarean and I need water and a little space at my retreat but am so grateful I got to see this side of America.