Because of COVID we stayed in Texas for six months and we were both incredibly grateful to our friends Cori and Greg for providing us a safe haven. We were both ready to start traveling again, and unfortunately COVID cases have surged and we were both nervous about traveling. Lee got a summer gig, so we needed to travel from Texas to Minnesota with a quick stop in Omaha so we could see a friend.
Neither one of us was quite sure how it would go but the only way to find out is to do it, so we set out on Tuesday and headed north. This is an account of that experience and please keep in mind your opinion on traveling right now could certainly vary. For a different perspective, please check out our friends Deb and Steve’s blog.
On our first travel day we hoped to get near Forth Worth, and we were pleased that we made our goal. Since it was incredibly hot, we really needed full hookups and 50 amp power, so we ended up stopping at the KOA Sanger-Denton which was close to the highway. I called ahead to make sure they had a spot and paid over the phone. Because we arrived before 5pm Lee had to go into the office to get the paperwork and he donned a mask prior to entering.
When Lee walked in the office no one had a mask, and he was checked in by Cecil, who was an older work kamper in his 60s. Cecil informed Lee that he did not need to wear his mask because Cecil had had pneumonia in 2014 so he had the antibodies to protect him against COVID. He then told Lee that if Lee got a pneumonia shot then he would be immune to COVID. Lee wisely said nothing but got out of the office as quickly as possible. On the plus side the sites were long and level although we chose a gravel site because it was $10 cheaper. The site still cost $40, but we definitely needed 50 amp. It was 94 degrees and the site had no shade so it took a few hours to cool down the rig.
The next day we looked forward to finally getting out of Texas (it’s a BIG state) and left with the goal of making it to Wichita. Lee was trying out a new TSD Logistics gas card program (future post dedicated to this), so we avoided our usual Pilot and Flying J truck stops, which is our go-to, and tried out other truck stops. Our first stop was a TA in Oklahoma City and when I went inside not one person was wearing a mask. They only had an Iron Skillet for food, but they were short staffed and the takeout took over 20 minutes.
Our original plan was to eat in our rig as we traveled, but with temperatures in the high 90s it would be too hot so we did takeout instead and ate in the cab of the truck. The food was good, but I was absolutely uncomfortable waiting for it as many of the patrons were giving me looks as they sat at the tables and ate. (It’s a little surreal to be the only person wearing a mask and getting dirty looks. I can see how someone would choose not to wear one, but I can’t understand why anything would think that someone else wearing one would be a problem. But, people are awful, so there’s that. – Lee)
We finally made it to Wichita and stopped at Air Capital RV park . Once again 50 amp came at a premium as these sites were $60 (minus $5.90 for Good Sam discount) for a pull through. Despite the prices and utilitarian nature of the park it was almost full, so we were glad we got a spot. Once again Lee went inside to pay and although there was a sign on door stating masks were mandatory, none of the employees were wearing one. At least Lee didn’t get a lecture this time, but once again he got out of the small office as quickly as possible.
These sites were incredibly hot and temperatures in the rig were 95 degrees. Despite the 50 amp it took hours to cool down and the poor puppy was cooped up because it was too hot to walk him for long. They did have a nice long pet area along a fence, but shade was minimal and the heat was extreme. The best part was a KFC was within walking distance, so once the sun was partially down I walked up and got myself some chicken. That was excellent!
We went to bed pretty early trying to get an early start, but around 4am the dog started barking. This is incredibly rare and we woke up a little disoriented with the dog barking and the rig shaking. My mind registered it was Kansas and the possibility of tornadoes, but I was so tired I just went back to sleep. Lee got up with Jack and he went outside to put down the stabilizer jacks and because the temperature had dropped around 30° he decided to take Jack for a walk and they had an awesome time running around outside with huge wind gusts and cooler temperatures. Jack is a great traveler but he wasn’t getting his usual exercise so that was really great.
When I got up it was raining and there was some lightning but no more heavy winds. We left and were both really grateful for the cooler temps. That gave us more options which was a good thing, because our next stop was a truck stop on the turnpike in Emporia Kansas. Despite the sign stating everyone had to wear masks per the governor, 50% of the patrons didn’t have them and many of the employees were missing them or had them pulled down. The rig was cooler though so we could use our own bathroom and eat leftover chicken in the RV at lunchtime.
Finally we made it to Omaha and since we were staying two days we decided to try a county park. They had 50 sites for $16 each with first come first serve spots. Since it was relatively early in the day we thought we might get lucky. Unfortunately, they only had two openings and two people were already in line so I called the KOA. It was $62 a night but more importantly they only had one night open. We could drive to other first come first serve county parks, or try the walk-ins at the Eugene T. Mahoney State Park. They were booked for reservations but had lots of walk ins so we decided to give that a try. It was getting later which was pretty stressful but thankfully they had lots of openings. Plus every single person was properly masked in the office and the 50 amp electric sites were only $30 per night. We did have to pay an additional $8 per day out of state visitor fee but $38 was a bargain at that point.
The campground was an older one with mature trees and beautifully kept sites. The only downside was the roads were a little tight for our big fifth wheel, but Lee was careful and managed. We stopped and took on fresh water at the dump station near the entrance and then navigated the tight turns to site 93. It was a beautiful long site, but Lee simply could not back into it. Thankfully site 91 right next to it was open and Lee threaded the needle on the first try. The site has lots of shade, beautiful mature trees, and is super deep. Absolutely lovely and the RV cooled down in no time with the shade. The puppy was in heaven with real grass and happily scampered around on our many walks. Since it is a shaded park I could walk him all times of the day and he was very happy.
Next up I will talk about exploring Omaha. Almost everything we were interested in was closed, but there were a couple of things that were open and we made the most of them!
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Long time reader/follower. My wife and I are finally after 2 1/2 years with our 5th wheel taking our first road trip. It’s only 400 miles round trip but I’m concerned about our tires. Since you travel alot, what brand tires do you run? I don’t think I’ve read about you having tire issues. Be safe and thank you for your blog.
We actually have had tire issues with the cheap Chinese tires that came with the rig. We updated to Goodyear G rated and haven’t had any issues
I think I wrote the comment for this post on the last one. Oh well. We’ve also had the 50/50 mask/no mask situation. Just do the best you can. I try not to let it make me crazy but it’s hard.
Protection from Having pneumonia and getting the pneumococcal vaccine?!? Where does this misinformation come from? I respect that your post didn’t include judgement. I hope that you arrived at your destination safely.
Sigh, this whole misinformation campaign that is going on with this virus is mind boggling… going from Texas to where we are in Virginia was no different with most not wearing a mask…
We aren’t traveling but we are encountering the same issues with non-mask wearing in our area. And we are in Florida! Virus numbers climbing all around us and so many people just going about their business as if nothing is going on. We have settled into a routine which includes a lot of at home time. I can’t even imagine what this winter is going to be like. We live in a park model in an rv resort. We are waiting to see how many of the winter residents even come this year. For sure, we are expecting that the Canadian residents probably won’t come. Weird times we are living in.
Good luck to Lee on his new summer gig! I am glad you found something that would work for you in these challenging times.
I’ll bet your happy to be on the road again! One edit to your mention of our blog could be that i am currently months behind so what someone nah read (even though it’s backdated), they may think are our current travels. We were quarantined in Monterey for the first 3 months. We’ve been spending our time a week or two in Thousand Trails parks. Very strict Covid rules. Only recently gVe we gone in a few breweries fir outdoor tasting. CA has strict Covid rules that almost all people follow. Luckily the things we enjoy, hiking, biking, kayaking are outdoor activities with few others around. Those sites looked so nice you had. Loved the shaded one!
Thanks for updating everyone! I will update it
Ah, Emporia, you were just minutes from us. In the State of Kansas, the Governor mandated masks, but because of her overreach, the legislature put some limits on her powers, one of which was allowing counties to make the choice on masks. 90 of the 105 counties opted out of the Governor’s mandate. Some counties have had no or single digit cases of the “virus”, with most cases in the metro area which are few and far between in KS. Many of the mandates or orders have a “must” part, and it moves to “should”, thus the confusion for some. We see people with and without masks, travelers and locals, and to each their own since there is much controversy regarding the pros and cons. No judgment either way is how it should be playing out.
If you ever come through and have the time, try to see the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve: https://www.nps.gov/tapr/index.htm I think you might enjoy that, and maybe walking through historic Cottonwood Falls: https://cwfks.org/history/ The Corp of Engineer Park in Council Grove is also very nice: https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/233449
Appreciate the insight Cathy and the recommendation
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