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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Day 91 - The Ups and Downs of Traveling

I wish I was going to talk about hills and valleys or mountains I climbed but this is about today's ups and downs of life on the road.

I knew I had between 500 & 600 miles to travel today to get close to Illinois so with my blog done last night I fell asleep in my clean sheets reading on my IPad last night.

I woke about 5:30 am this morning and it was still dark and I decided to get up early to shower and get on the road early.

I unlock the car doors and step out of the back driver's side and get in the driver's seat.  It was very dark with low overcast and thick fog and dew on everything.

I proceed to drive over to the bathroom with 4 combined toilet, sink, and shower and as I was driving out of the camping space I bump into something I didn't see.

I get out and I hit the 4"x4" post that marks the camping spot and dented the plastic shell bumper the Prius has.  It's a sheet of molded plastic.  I hit the front drivers corner and the directional light imbedded in this plastic shell got a broken lens.  This dent resulted in all the light weight plastic that is the air dam under the bumper and the same material that forms the inside of the wheelwell to separate at the connections where they meet and hang down, back and out of shape.

I go for the shower waiting to buy time for more light as I now have plastic hanging/draging on the ground rubbing the tire.

The post I hit was painted dark brown and was not visible as I pulled out as the Prius has a front corner blind spot.  Not to mention it was dark and very foggy.  

I was aware of this Prius blind spot because I have a hard time seeing things that are moving the same speed when I am moving in at direction.  

Having a long sloping "A" post is how they get the Prius low coefficient of friction, but gave this long post you can't see through.

I have already mentioned that the low clearance for the Prius and the piece of plastic bumper was scuffed before I bought the car.   I have also scraped it too by riding up on parking wheel stops that are too high to get the plastic over to rest the wheels against.

After my shower I got my tool bag out and stared to check the damage out with a flashlight.  I couldn't push the dent out by myself as the plastic needs to be supported as I push from behind.  

I took some nylon cord rope I found in the campground in the Oklahoma Panhandle and started to stitch the plastic pieces that came undone together.  This worked but it isn't beautiful.

This damage is minor considering all I have driven on the trip an it's still drivable for my long drive today.  

I did plan on replacing this plastic when I got back from my trip as it wasn't looking good from all the scraping.  The plastic underneath was loose already and the dealer in Tucson wanted $250 to replace just the black underneath plastic part.  I told him I had to many miles to go to fix it now.  Plus I told him I can get the parts off of Internet for much less and my labor is free to do the work.

Every cloud has a silver lining and I finally got out of the clouds and fog and it became a nice drive to head north on US 75 through Topeka, KS then US 73 into Nebraska.

After going through the most southeast corner of Nebraska I headed east into Iowa over the Missouri River staying on back roads through picturesque towns.

After entering Iowa I noticed I could have full bars on my cell phone with basically no data.  I could make phone calls but could not load web pages or use my apps.

This became very frustrating as I drove hour after hour.  I use Google maps and they wouldn't load and I couldn't do searches.  

It's one thing not having a signal but having a full signal and no data is a problem for me.  I had received a question from one of my students and I finally stopped at a McDonalds to log onto the college system to look up the answer.  I tried but couldn't get bandwidth from the cell phone, still with full bars.  Now at McDonalds I could get mail with their WIFI but could not load web pages, so I couldn't log into the college.

I check the time and I have too far to go still and I am loosing time messing around. 

I decide I will need to jump on the interstate to head north on I35 to Des Moines, Iowa and head east on I 80 and stay around Davenport, Iowa for the night. This isn't what I wanted to do as I have been enjoying the rural scenery.

While at McDonalds my phone switches to Off Network and I can get some data now.  I tried to book the hotel through the Choice Hotel App but it would not store my credit card to reserve the room.  I needed to get out of the app and book the room using my phone's browser. 

I need good WIFi to work on my class today so I decide to book a hotel room as I will be getting there late. 

I booked a room through Choice Hotels at a Quality Inn Suites for $49.00 before tax with the senior rate for a suite.  Not a bad deal, but now I am running further behind schedule having wasted too much time trying to get my technology to work.

My son Brent suggested I eat at the Machine Shed Restaurant chain.  I have not been there before and decided to go to the Davenport location as it is about 7 miles from my hotel.

Their speciality is Pork so I had the pork stuffed tenderloin.  It was good but the meat was dryer than I like.  The service was also just ok.  It was good enough to try again but I would try a different entrĂ©e. 

The restaurant has a motif like the Crackerbarrel Chain with home style antiques.

After I ate I went to the Flying-J Truck Stop for gas.  On the good side today after I filled up this am I had a wonderful run on fuel consumption.  I got 60.4 mpg and drove 437 miles and had 3 bars left in the tank.  I put 7.8 gallons in the 11 gallon tank.  That would give me 4 gallons left in the tank and at 60 mpg I could have easily gone 600 miles on this tank. 

As I headed over to the hotel the sun was giving me a wonderful sunset to make up for some bumps in the road day. 

I got settled in the hotel and was working on grading my students work and sending them a message and the fire alarm went off and I went to see the manager on duty.  She had never had a fire alarm go off so I helped her with the panel.  I then met a Davenport Full Time firefighter who is stating in the hotel as they are selling and buying a new house and have one night in the hotel.  We are in Eldridge, Iowa and they have a volunteer FD and it too forever for the first firefighter to show up.  I didn't offer advice beyond reading the alarm panel as ever Fiee Department is different in what they allow the manager to do.

On to visit my Aunt in Illinois over the next couple days. I visited her last year.


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