Tuesday at 930 am,we left for Chicago under the pall of unending rain and wind..it rained continually from Baldwin,Wisconsin to Chicago..and at times it rained really hard,and I was glad to have 4 new tires and Rain X on the windscreen..no wipers needed.
We stayed with Mimi’s brother, and set the alarm for 4am, wanting to clear Chicago before the traffic.Onward to Michigan,and Port Huron..Uneventful border crossing,and we arrived at CAnAm Rv shortly after noon..
We had been watching the forecast,which had been enlivened by the first major winter storm for the Chicago area.This necessitated a change in Plans,…basically get our business done and down the road ASAP.
everyone at CanAm Rv was as concerned about our trip as we were,and they did everything possible to expedite our departure..there will be more on CanAm’s wonderful culture of helpfulness that is so refreshing ,in a later edition ..suffice to say the custom hitch was created,WDH installed,test pull with emergency maneuvers completed,and OMG does this rig STOP..and handle..I could race this thing at Road America!
On Thursday,it turned out that we exited Canada just as the sun set,and we were treated to a brief blazing orange western horizon,and after bidding a heartfelt adieu to Marshall,(the trailer export person who now seems like an old friend)..we kicked off down the entrance ramp,straight into a 25 mph headwind,with gusts to 40..
press the POWER Button,please..
After about ten miles I had adjusted to how much throttle this wind demanded,and if you have ever been on I 69 out of PH you will remember it also seems to go up hill for about 20 miles..leaving me just thinking that this is a heck of a way to start a 12 hour trip..every moment to occur in the black of night,with strong headwinds forecast in every city on the route…
the alternate northern route for snowstorm avoidance,chosen by a motorhome CanAm exported later that day,was the Mackinac Bridge crossing.there were reported westerly gusts of 50mph sweeping across the towering and narrow iron passageway to the UP…no, thanks..
it was about 20 miles out of Port Huron when we came upon a another RV being pulled by a “proper” tow vehicle ,a huge GMC truck with dualies,and he was going perhaps 50mph,up the grade,and as we blew by at 64 in the draft of a nice semi, we said a little prayer for those pilgrims,and hoped they made it home ok..he was the slowest vehicle we would encounter,well under the minimum speed and working hard.perhaps it was not too surprising that we saw no other RV’s on the road for the remaining 12 hours..
but what can you do?You drive with your entire skill set displayed,and you play like a remora in the sea,catching one draft after the next,searching for that one trucker who doesn’t mind you there,and is matching your speed..even so,with the wind being WSW there was always a strong crosswind,and the sweet spot draft was hard to hang out in..we got shed by one truck after the next,most were just too fast at 66 plus,and gas mileage was alarmingly bad..like 14.22 for the first 26 miles..even the Prius seemed to mutter WTF occasionally,as the revs built,and another gust ate us up..
being a small boat sailor,I am used to getting beat on by the wind,and this little caravan never twitched or did anything threatening,EVER.It felt more like driving a Dodge Sprinter,or a box truck,but a lot cushier,softer and quieter..some pretty awful road surfaces are on that route.. .there was never even a twinge of sway,and on the big ,sweeping,wind tunnel ramps of Chicago, we just drilled on like a night train,and the semis faded behind as the PriAlto executed a perfect arc,unaffected by the extremely lumpy pavement.The frontal wave cushions from semis just felt like gentle billows and the security level was better than any transatlantic flight I have ever been on..’passengers are now free to move about the cabin’..but we didn’t,we just sat,viewing the fleeting nocturnal activities with a feeling of gratitude and wonder..
We split one Sub sandwich just before Flint,and that was the only food we purchased during the entire trip..we bring it with us..
I developed a skill for finding sweet spots in the draft of semis,very similar to racing bicycles,and about as relaxing..to clarify,I left a solid gap to allow for the occasional dead deer(yup)avoidance,and to give room for the double UPS rig that had to immediately take my lane when some semi somnolent semi driver realized his lane was not there anymore..
but most of the trip was about being vigilant,yet relaxed,knowing that your fate is in your own hands,exactly where you want it,no matter what you are doing.
stats..I tried to stay between 60-65 mph..for the last 742 miles we averaged 18.2mpg…did one stretch where we got 21.2..but we never had anything but a headwind…even when almost home we faced a 16 mph W and we were going straight into it..
in downtown Chicago they abruptly closed 290 ,and I just turned the car off and we waited,with thousands of other detainees..for an hour,while they worked on both lanes?? Later in Madison they routed us off into a 20 mile detour as I94 was closed!You discover that the Interstate at night has its own rules,and no one is from around here,and anyone can do almost anything and get away very quickly,so it is best to be about your business, keep some distance, and just get your butt home..
so now I dream of Tailwinds,and the high associated with lifting the throttle and feeling the rig strangely accelerate and float along faster and faster,until all sensations cease and that incredible feeling of lift off occurs,and the PriAlto is once again flying above the clouds,gaining altitude,getting atleast 32mpg,and there is nothing to make us want to ever land again..perhaps because we watched the movie ‘Finding Neverland’ in the Alto the night before our departure..
whatever..ultimately,very pleased to have a tow vehicle with a CD 0f 0.25,a light trailer and a totally well behaved little rig,courtesy of our friends(who seem like family) at CanAm RV!
and as it turned out,the areas along our route began receiving up to 17″ of wet snow within 12 hours of our passage,and the Chicago freeways apparently became a Cape Horn for any drivers who were up for the challenge..
we were all smiles as we unhitched and reflected on the journey.it was a good trip,not scary at all…pics to follow!