There is nothing particularly exotic about traveling in a motor home once the outside temp heads south of 20. Our furnaces worked fine Christmas night, but we certainly had not yet been crazy enough to put water into the storage tanks. That translates to no showers for the uninitiated. We were up again at 5:00 to greet the 12 degree day, warmed up some water on the stove so we could at least wash up, and sort of held out hope for a shower at a truck stop later in the day – if we could fit it in our busy schedule. After a quick breakfast we were rolling down I-35 toward Kansas City in the dark. For those scoring at home, this was the Sunday after Christmas – there were folks lined up for Wal-Mart’s 6:00 day after Christmas sale – we took a pass on that one.
It was just getting light as we approached the KC metro area. On the east side we could see a huge area with lights ablaze like it was daytime. This was Arrowhead Stadium fully lit up for the noon Chiefs game. There were already tailgaters in the lot – only 5 hours to kickoff you know – I’m sure many patrons were plenty lit up later as the Chiefs won to make the playoffs.
As we approached Joplin, MO later in the morning we had a tough decision to make. As mentioned, after our no-shower morning we were at best semi-clean. On the other hand, after our drive on delightful Minnesota I-90 the day previous, the Allegro Bay and Saturn were nothing short of disgusting. When we stopped for fuel at the Joplin Flying J we decided that Sara & family would accept groady parents / grandparents for a few hours later that day, but Murph & Jill couldn’t live with those filthy vehicles. Right next to Flying J was a location of my old account, Blue Beacon Truck Wash so off we went. Some 20 minutes and $47 later we had two brand new (well sort of) vehicles. The only disconcerting development was that Blue Beacon’s high pressure wash obviously got something wet that wasn’t designed to be in the Allegro Bay's electronics. For 500 miles I had to witness all my dash lights flashing in unison whenever I turned on my left turn signal. It finally dried out and the condition went away in Arizona, but it sure was weird in the meantime.
You may recall from previous trip journals that Sara, Brian & family used to live in Utah, outside of Ogden. While Utah was beautiful, getting there in late December was often quite a chore, usually making our 3 hours on I-90 this year seem like a walk in the park. In any event, just over a year ago Sara and Brian moved with Kimberly-Clark to their plant in Paris, Texas. Don’t let the name fool you. The only thing the French city and the Texas city have in common is they both have an Eiffel Tower – but tower is a lot shorter and has a red cowboy hat atop.
Getting to Paris, TX is not nearly as difficult as getting to Utah once was, but then there is this small issue of Oklahoma – specifically eastern Oklahoma. I’m certain that folks who live in this area just love the place – remember Merle Haggard proclaiming he was “Proud To Be An Okie From Muskogee”? Well Jill & I spent a night in Muskogee (on a previous trip) and we were darn glad when morning got us out of there. The really rough news is that Muskogee is the highlight of the 4 hour drive from Joplin across Oklahoma to Paris. Certainly parts of the drive are nice and scenic – in a kind of Appalachia sort of way. The Red River is really not very pretty (at least this part of it), but at least it signifies putting Oklahoma behind you.
This was our second trip to Paris in the motor home so we already had our RV spot picked out. We visited Angel’s RV Park in March of 2010 for only 4 days and we were surprised to get a Christmas card from them. My cynical mind suggested that we must have grossly overpaid in March, but I think they are just genuinely nice folks. In any event we got set up by 4:00P and headed into Paris to see Sara, Brian, Eli (6), Braedy (4) and Owen (7 months) for a few hours. This was our first set up since driving in all the salt and sand of Minnesota. Apparently some of that guck got up into at least one of our stabilizing jacks, as the front left one complained bitterly as it was coming down – hmmm.