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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

The things we learn on the road….

Last night I really struggled with figuring out how to publish the blog! It has been some time since I’d written a blog and after finally finishing it around 10:30pm last night I had to get on a live chat with a WIX support person, who reminded me that I needed to be on CHROME for my browser instead of SAFARI! Yikes…!!!

Isn’t old age grand?!! Anyway, after I finally figured that out and Richard had already gone to bed, I read myself to sleep with my Kindle. I’m doing fantastic with my Reading Challenge for the year, having already read 28 books towards goal of 55 books in 2022. I guess being retired has been very good for my reading enjoyment!

We left our hillbilly RV park in Tennessee this morning around 9:40am. We had slept in until 8:40am, so the barking dogs in the empty trailer next door didn’t really affect our sleep last night. We will know where NOT to stay if we ever drive Newman back down to Florida!

And speaking of where to stop for the night, we weren’t sure where we were going to stay tonight, since Richard thought it might be a good idea to use our Harvest Hosts membership. Before we left the wifi at the RV park, I got on my Ipad and started searching for Harvest Hosts locations near Columbus, Ohio. I didn’t want to drive as far as we did yesterday since we had a very long day yesterday. I was able to find a winery to stop at just outside of Columbus but they didn’t take online reservations and they didn’t open until 11am, so I would have to wait and call them from the road.

As we got back on the I-75 North, the rain started to fall every so lightly. We had a big ‘dump’ of rain overnight at the RV park, but there was no thunder or lightening that kept us awake all night thank goodness!

Tennessee Great Smoky Mountains.

We really did see some fog in the mountains in Tennessee! I was curious to know more about these Great Smoky Mountains since we have driven through so many mountain passes with Newman in the Canadian Rockies. The Great Smokies are home to the densest black bear population in the Eastern United States and the Smokies have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name ‘Smoky’ comes from the natural fog that often hangs over the range and presents as large smoke plumes from a distance. This fog is caused by the vegetation emitting volatile organic compounds, chemicals that have a high vapor pressure and easily form vapors at normal temperature pressure. Very interesting! We were not going to be stopping on this trip to see anything in the Smoky Mountains, but it was nice to see some changes in elevation from the flat lands we have driven through on the rest of the trip home from Florida.

Starting our descent into Kentucky, from Tennessee.

And we have arrived in Kentucky!

The sun came out too once we reached Kentucky. It is always easier to be driving on dry roads with nice blue skies.

I told Richard we were NOT going to drive all day today without stopping! Yesterday was a killer with only one stop at ’Buc-ee’s’, and today was going to be different! I knew I wanted to stop at a grocery store because grocery stores will NOT be open tomorrow in Fort Erie when we get home. We have quite a bit of food on board that we brought from Florida, but I wanted to pick up something for Easter - like a ham, and we were almost out of toothpaste too!

We found a great place to stop in Lexington, Kentucky. I’m still wearing my shorts since it was 17C in Kentucky!

Ok, so stopping at Meijer for toothpaste and a ham was like going to Costco for one or two items! We walked into Meijer and our jaws dropped!

This Meijer store was humongous! We could not believe how big this store was and so we got a shopping cart and spent some time wandering around browsing. Unbelievable!

Beautiful Easter flowers on display in Meijer.

I wish we could have brought some flowers home with us but that is NOT allowed at the Border!

We ended up getting a frequent buyer card at Meijer, not that we will be back anytime soon, but the discounts were worth getting the card! We also got a $10 off coupon for our next trip to Meijer, but we won’t be back to use it before it expires!! Meijers, which commenced business in Michigan in 1934 by a Dutch immigrant (Henri Meijer) was the original hypermarket! In 1962 Meijer launched a combined grocery shopping and department store in a single large store. The store was built with six-inch thick floors, so if the concept failed, the non grocery half could be converted into an indoor car dealership. New stores were built in the same manner, with the six-inch thick floors until the mid-1970’s, when an architect finally mentioned to management the extra cost of having six inch floors! When Sam Walton of Walmart launched the first hypermart in the USA in 1987 he didn’t understand the importance of having good quality produce, which is something that Meijers always prided themselves on. Meijers understood that food could not just be tacked onto a discount store and until Walmart understood this, their hypermarket concept was not successful. Very interesting and how happenstance that I chose Meijers as our place to stop and shop today!

We turned on our generator in Meijer’s parking lot and heated up some homemade pizza in our oven, that we had made on the Green Egg in Florida, for our trip. It’s always nice to have homemade food on the road, and to be able to stop and enjoy a proper lunch, rest stop.

We knew that Cincinnati might have a bit of traffic as we were heading through it around 2pm today, and sure enough traffic started to get a bit heavier as we were on the outskirts of Cincinnati.

Traffic in suburban Cincinnati.

As we were driving through Cincinnati I looked at Richard and said “Didn’t the Cincinnati Bengals play in the Super Bowl this year?” Richard couldn’t’ remember even though we both watched the game in Florida and had a Super Bowl party! Anyway, yes in fact Cincinnati did play in the Super Bowl this year and lost to the L.A. Rams. Better luck next year Cincinnati!

We thought we had dodged a bullet heading through Cincinnati as you can see there was not much traffic as we went through downtown. Unfortunately the traffic was on the other side of town!

We found our exit in Cincinnati to I71 North. We were finally leaving the I75 North which we had taken all the way from Tampa to Cincinnati!

When we saw this sign we both looked at each other and said what does ‘NO HAZMATS’ mean? Of course that is exactly what it means! NO HAZARDOUS MATERIALS were allowed on the I71 North. We’ve never ever seen that on a road sign before though. Good thing we were not carrying anything hazardous today!

We still had not found a place to stay for the night and after looking at our timing I said to Richard “Why don’t we just stop in Columbus and stay at a Cabela’s?” Cabela‘s is a camping store chain and they allow RV’s to camp at their stores offering free potable water and also a dump station. St. Stephen and Karen had told us about being able to stay at Cabela’s so we set the GPS for Cabela’s in Columbus and away we went…

As Richard was driving I got curious about Harvest Hosts again though and thought maybe we could get further than Columbus today with our drive. I could see the time that we were planning to arrive at Cabela’s (6pm) and knew that if we went a bit further than Columbus, we wouldn’t have any risk of rush hour traffic in the morning. I paired my phone with my Ipad and started searching for Harvest Hosts locations that allowed for same day booking and had their booking calendar enabled in the Harvest Hosts application. I didn’t feel like calling around and waiting for a call back, since I wanted to be sure we would have somewhere to stay for the night, if we weren’t stopping at Cabela’s.

The other consideration for us tonight was if we were driving a bit longer, I wasn’t going to be cooking tonight so we needed to find a Harvest Hosts that had somewhere to eat our dinner!

If you look along Highway I75 North East of Columbus there is a blue symbol at the town of Bellville. I was able to find a great Amish restaurant that served home cooking until 8pm and I was able to book a same day reservation online using the booking calendar! Perfect. Our ETA was 6:35pm which would give us enough time to park and have our dinner cooked for us tonight!

We arrived at ’Der Dutchman’ Amish Kitchen Cooking at 6:35pm as planned and parked Newman in the big overflow parking lot.

Newman looks good from the side! You can’t see the bungee cord holding his rear end down!

Perfect! No waiting either! I know buffets are still not a ‘thing’ in Canada, but this buffet was very nicely covered up and we enjoyed a great soup, salad bar, and home made beef pot roast, homemade mashed potatoes and vegetables. Just what we needed after a long day on the road!

Richard even had a slice of bread pudding for his dessert. In French they call this dessert ‘pudding au CHOMEUR’ or ‘Unemployment Pudding’. Apparently this dessert was created in the early years of the Great Depression in Quebec. I’m not a fan of bread pudding at all so I elected to buy some ’Buckeyes’ instead for my dessert in Newman after we finished our dinner.

Chocolate and peanut butter ‘Buckeyes’. Of course they would have ‘BUCKEYES’ in Ohio! Which made me wonder; “Why is Ohio called the Buckeye State?” Ohio is commonly referrred to as the Buckeye State due to the prevalence of Ohio Buckeye trees within the state’s borders. In 1953 the Ohio legislature designated the Ohio Buckeye as Ohio’s official state tree. The tree is called the buckeye tree because its nuts resemble the shape and color of a deer’s eye. Ohio State University which we passed by in Columbus, Ohio has adopted ‘Brutus Buckeye’ as its mascot. Ohioans have referred to themselves as Buckeyes since the presidential election of 1840 when William Henry Harrison won the presidency. Harrison’s supporters carved campaign souvenirs out of buckeye wood to illustrate their support for the fellow Ohioan.

Our server tonight mentioned that if we wanted a really fantastic home cooked breakfast tomorrow we should visit a local diner in town called ‘V&M restaurant’. She said the town of Bellville, Ohio is very much like Mayberry RFD from the Andy Griffith’s show; a quaint, small town. Unfortunately I don’t think we will be stopping for breakfast at ’V&M’s’ tomorrow, but its good information for another day, should we ever find ourselves nearby!

The things we’ve learned on the road over the past few years have been quite amazing and today was no different. If we‘re curious we’ll google a road sign, or look something up to find out more information about it. Isn’t it nice to have that pocket computer on our phones?!!!

Tonight is our last night on the road. Tomorrow we will have been away from home exactly 6 months! We left home on October 15th, 2021 to drive to Fanny Bay, Vancouver Island and tomorrow we will have completed a circle around North America when we arrive back to Fort Erie via the Peace Bridge into Canada! WOW! If you had told me two years ago, (pre-Covid), before I retired that we would be driving all over North America that we would be living in an RV, and driving so much I would have said ”You have got to be crazy!” Anyway, its amazing how life and plans change depending on circumstances. At least we feel like we’ve been able to make lemonade out of lemons over the past few years with all of our adventures in Newman!

One more day Newman (and Richard) you can do it…don’t fail us now!!!!

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