Since we left the beautiful Lions Club park in Gilman, WI, we have cruised through Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and into Pennsylvania.
As I write, we are staying in a Cracker Barrel restaurant parking lot for the night (Tuesday, 8/30) in Erie.
We have slept in the parking lots of outdoor outfitter stores Gander Mountain and Cabela's, along with one Walmart in Illinois. We are happier staying overnight at the other stores versus Walmart. We just feel more comfortable overall. It's great that these retailers, this restaurant, (and Walmart) allow RV'ers to do this. Typically, we are looking for a place just to sleep and then move on, so a free campsite at one of these locations is welcomed!
Once we depart Erie, tomorrow (Wednesday), we plan to head further east to the Allegheny National Forest here in PA, or to another spot that calls out to us! We will look for free, or what is called "dispersed" campsites, which are
permitted in national forests. If we find a nice spot, we'll stay a few days.
The last several days of driving took us by an endless stream of farms. Rolling green farms of corn, soy bean, and other crops flew by with beautiful shades of greens and gold. It really has driven home the immensity of the farm industry and the sense we have been in America's heartland. Very impressive!
Bird-wise we have seen more sandhill cranes, along with turkey vultures, assorted unidentified hawks, plus sharp-shinned, broad-winged and red-tailed hawks. Lots of blackbirds are on the move and are still seeing migrating monarch butterflies. Love the changes and activity that comes with summer transitioning to fall.
We only had a quick peek at Lake Erie, but want to visit the Great Lakes next spring. We have a tentative plan going forward into 2017. After NJ this September, we'll head down the east coast to Florida, then to Quartzsite, AZ for a HUGE RV gathering that we have been told about, and that we need to attend at least one time! From AZ we will book it back to Livingston, Texas where we have been hired as "work campers" at the Escapees' Rainbow's End campground for the months of February, March, and April.
Work camping is very popular with full-time RV'ers as a way to supplement monthly incomes. In our case, we won't earn a salary, but instead will get a free site with hook-ups (water, electric, and sewer). This will allow us to sock away some money, give the car and POD a break from wear & tear, and save on fuel. All we need to do is work a combined 20 hours a week! Michael will be cooking three meals a week, and I will work in the office registering campers and taking reservations. And I will help Michael out as needed. And when we aren't working, we will bird all around Texas!
Come May, we are planning a trip back to Michigan to look for a Kirtland's warbler, found primarily in one spot in MI that has stands of Jack pines, required by these birds for food and habitat. Then up to the UP, and then to the northwest (and maybe Canada) for the summer. We'll be planning in more detail once we are closer in. Boy, are having fun! And are we blessed!
Nevelle scopes out all patches of grass!