|Fri, 17 May: We slept very well well in the Checotah, Oklahoma Wal*Mart. We slept well because we had an very busy day with little sleep last nite due to the storms.
We awoke with the alarm at six and got rolling a few minutes before seven. We weren't sure just how far we'd travel and left it open ended. We knew we'd like to be with the our sister in law and family as soon as possible. But, we still had more than 700 miles to go.
We got on I 40 toward Fort Smith and set the cruise control. We encountered patches of early morning fog, but nothing too dangerous. Traffic was lite and we made good time.
We crossed into Arkansas at Fort Smith. Arkansas is a new to Carpe state, her forty seventh in the continental US. The only two states we have not visited in Carpe are Hawai`i (won't happen) and Deleware. We'll have to see about getting that Deleware sticker on our map.
East of Fort Smith we transitioned from I 40 to I 540 for the trip north. I 540 should be named the Wal*Mart interstate as it was probably built in large part due to the Wal*Mart truck traffic between Bentonville and I 40. Before I 540 traffic had to drive through the Boston Mountains, a very steep, windy, and dangerous road. I 540 was a pleasant drive and we made good time to Bentonville.
At Bentonville we encountered a serious traffic backup due to a two vehicle accident. One vehicle was lying on its side in the center median and the other was already on a flatbed. Once past the accident scene traffic was moving again with no further delays.
Our route took us through Bella Vista, Arkansas. Bob's father and his second wife lived here in their retirement and we often visited in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. It has been fourteen years since we've been here and boy, has it ever changed. The once sleepy retirement area is now Wal*Mart-ville. Many upscale hotels and business parks to house all the vendors and suppliers to Sam Walton's creation.
Just north of Bella Vista we crossed into Missouri where the highway became US 71/I 49. This road used to go thru every small town, each with a speed trap. It is now four lane, mostly divided and limited access. We reached the southern burbs of Kansas City, MO about 1230 and took the I 435 bypass. Traffic was fairly light and moved very well. In little time we were at the junction with I 35 and we continued north on that road. It'll take us all the way to Forest City.
Lunch break, stretch breaks, and driver changes; all calculated to keep us awake and alert. We fueled up in Eagle, MO, a few miles south of the Iowa line. Our "Gas Buddy" program advised us that diesel was at least 20¢/gallon more in Iowa. We crossed into Iowa a few minutes before five and decided to keep rolling.
We reached Des Moines during the last vestiges of rush hour and had no problem getting thru town. A few miles north of town, in the burb of Ankeny we found a spot in the Wal*Mart parking lot at 1840. We drove 559 miles in one day, a record we hope not to eclipse. We know we can do it when it matters, and being with family at at time like this matters.
Now for an "It's A Small World" Department. We had just parked Carpe and stepped outside to start leveling the coach when a car pulled right in front of the coach. The window rolled down and a voice shouted "You can't park here"! We looked up and saw the familiar and smiling faces of Ann & John Kuhn. Ann & John are winter residents of RoVers Roost in Casa Grande and they just happened to be shopping at that Wal*Mart when we drove in and they recognized Carpe. If we tried to arrange this meeting it couldn't have been smoother.
After chatting until their milk threatened to curdle in their car we got the coach set up and walked to a nearby China Buffet for dinner. Back at the coach we had some adult beverages and fell into bed a bit after nine. We were really pooped...