Towels and toiletries. Check.
Shotgun (our fur-baby). Check.
And…we’re off on our maiden voyage in our new-to-us compact travel trailer. Just Jim, Shotgun, and me. Shotgun is always ready to tag along and loves to ‘ride shotgun’ since he was a pup – thus, his name!
Our destination? A grandparenting conference in my home state of Iowa, coupled with visits with family, friends, and haunts of days gone by. We head northeast, taking our time due to a strong crosswind. Jim cringes as our MPG – displayed on the dashboard – drops by the moment. Perhaps this isn’t as economical as a hotel, yet we’re eager to have our own space.
Through the windshield, Shotgun and I have a front-row seat on our adventure as the familiar Kansas landscape flies by. Natural grasslands, tossed by the brisk wind which is as common as sunshine in this flyover state. Stubborn leaves dangle on nearly nude branches, unwilling to become carpet on the landscape of change, yet change is coming. The crisp air tells of chilly days ahead. Oh, how I love God’s changing seasons.
Our surroundings become more colorful as pastureland in the Flint Hills boasts green hues; evidence that our scorching heat is now history. Fall reawakens growth if only for a short time. Massive cottonwoods tower overhead, their leaves shimmer in the sunshine while a watchful hawk on a fence post awaits an unsuspecting tasty morsel to devour.
Golden hues crowd the stubborn greens of cattails as they sway in the road ditches. Sumac brightens the scene, as do orange vines attached to fences. Maples, brushed gently by the sun, show off in shades of red. Majestic oaks rest nearby, unscathed by the winds of change; their colors not yet as vibrant.
Jim and I pull over for a quick lunch in our cozy booth – another benefit of RV-ing. Sandwiches and chips are better on the road. Right? Shotgun smells every blade of grass on a short walk, then leaves his scent for future visitors. Once again we’re on the road again.
The beauty continues to line our route as fall-kissed leaves adorn the scrub brush. Feathery plumes of grass lean in a synchronized choreography directed by the breeze. Skeletal trees – their limbs swallowed up by invasive tendrils of red foliage – play peek a boo from deep within the wooded landscape with flashes of fall color. I’d forgotten how beautiful the trees are in Iowa this time of year. A creek meanders through pastureland and rocks peek through its shallow water.
Unexpectedly, my eyes are drawn to an old pickup, rusty and dull from decades of summer sunshine and harsh winters. Near this automotive relic is a rustic bench in a well-groomed and tranquil setting overlooking the creek. Scattered on hillsides, neatly-kept farmhouses and barns are surrounded by whitewashed fences lining the limestone roads that pass by. Cattle. Windmills. Horses. Creep feeders (Google it). Cropland. Together, they create a peaceful panoramic scene through our windshield. At 65 mph, I discover an optical illusion as we pass fields of soybeans and corn, awaiting harvest. Work continues for America’s farmers.
Before long, the rural landscapes disappear as suburbs rise in the distance. A housing development explodes on hillsides once tilled by farmers. Suburbs collide with one another as the city expands, swallowing up the countryside. Interstate highways cross one another, traffic becomes heavy, and exits come more rapidly. We navigate in search of Timberline Campground where friendly staff on four-wheelers lead us to our campsite. Ours is at the wooded edge of the property. Ahhh! Home Sweet Home for the next few days. We would be hooked up and cozy before sunset. Perfect!
Having lived in an RV and worked on the road for a few years, my capable husband has everything under control. He levels the trailer, installs wheel chocks, and hooks up electricity, water, and sewer before going inside to bleed the air out of the water lines. Shotgun and I just wander around listening to rustling leaves and watching them fall to the ground. The air was crisp and cooler than what we’d left in Kansas. Such a beautiful afternoon.
You know…I don’t understand it. I really don’t. It’s been fifty-some years since I lived in Iowa yet something is so ‘right’ in my world whenever I return to my home state. My heart is comforted and my soul is welcomed. I love this totally unexplainable feeling of being home. Tears form in the corners of my eyes as I embrace the phenomena.
That’s when I saw it!
Not a beautiful, scenic waterfall but a rushing waterfall coming from inside our trailer, pouring out the back underbelly, and flooding the ground at my feet. I pounded on the window and Jim rushed to investigate. This was not good! Suddenly, our glamping adventure in this peaceful setting became a bit stressful!
See Part Two (tomorrow) for the REST of the story…