2017 July
some shots on the journey from florida to chicagoland [2017.07.12 - 2017.07.20]

on the first day of the drive north, i took a detour toward orlando to check out some tiny homes and meet a friend whom i hadn't seen in years. it was nice to see her, meet her husband, and feel inspired to go back to the avatar course in the future. after chatting for a bit, i left to make my way toward my cousin's place just outside atlanta, sleeping in a parking lot between a hotel and restaurant on the way up as it was late and i was getting tired. it was good to take the break, as in the morning i got to see the rolling hill landscape that i would've missed driving at night. atlanta had good food and a nice feel to the city (and neighboring towns/burbs) with winding roads, hills, and many trees that were much more pleasant than a typical city grid.

after spending a few days with my cousin, i visited a friend near chattanooga and met her family. we walked the long pedestrian bridge over the river and checked out part of the city, which also had a nice feel to it. i then stopped by the isha center in tennessee on my way toward chicagoland. when i arrived, i was a little surprised when the girl at the welcome center told me i could go to the meditation/ceremony that was starting soon (i thought i had missed it as i forgot i crossed into the central time zone on the way there.. my phone wasn't getting service most of the whole trip so still showed eastern time). the dinner hall was nice as everyone ate in silence. afterward, i sat by a small garden area and enjoyed the peacefulness of the grounds.

the next day, i discovered a wilderness preserve on my way toward kentucky and explored there for a bit. i also explored around the land between the lakes national recreation area. i was thinking of staying there overnight though i couldn't find the spot i had discovered a few years earlier, and there was still plenty of daylight left, so i headed toward garden of the gods in southern illinois. i was going to stay there, though i was feeling pretty sweaty as it was a hot day and i had been driving with the windows open the whole day. not having plumbing installed yet, i walked a little bit of the trail, took a few photos, had a snack, and decided to drive the rest of the way to my friend's place so i could shower before going to sleep. i also figured there'd be no traffic driving the small country roads up the state at night. by the time i went to sleep, the early morning light of the next day was beginning to show and i had been up for almost 24 hours straight without a nap.

the van build isn't fully complete yet, so the journey was shorter and with less stops along the way than it would've been, though i still decided to take back roads the whole way. i more than doubled the number of miles on the van on the trip up. the trip meter for the drive up read 1547.5 miles with a little over 35.5 hours of driving. per the meter, i averaged 19.7 mpg the whole trip, and i saw right around 22 mpg for the last tank (and when i had cruise control at 57 mph) which i was pretty happy with (though i'll have to determine how accurate the trip meter calculation is).

more than once during the trip i had just enough gas to make it to the next town that had a gas station. luckily that last night something told me to call the gas station on my way there (and i actually had a signal to do so).. they ended up leaving the pumps on a few extra minutes for me to get there as they were about to close. i ended up going a couple miles past the 0 miles range left indicator too. if i hadn't called, i would have had to sleep at the gas station all night until it opened the next morning or risk attempting to drive to the next one miles away without knowing if i had enough fuel to make it. sometimes navigation was a bit tricky without a phone signal to download the map data, though besides not finding the one spot in the recreation area (which i didn't remember exactly where it was anyhow), i managed to make my way pretty much on course until i got enough of a signal to find towns that had gas stations. luckily i usually didn't have to go too long without a signal before i got one where i could start the turn by turn directions (which downloaded all the data needed for my route to the next stop, so it'd continue to work even when i lost a signal). it was also nice that the google maps app was able to provide navigation solely via local roads.