Our first Walmart parking lot

If you read my first post, you might have laughed that Dan has been set on the experience of spending the night in a Walmart parking lot, but here we are! Since leaving Shawnee National Forest, we’ve been heading north, aiming for the Great Lakes and chasing the 70 degree weather. Our first stop was circumstantial – I forgot something at home (of course) and we needed to find a spot where we could get mail delivered – thanks mom! It turns out that you can actually get packages delivered to almost any post office as “general delivery”, but we didn’t find that out until afterwards, so we began calling around to campsites that were on the way to our next destination. We got the kindest and most promising answer from a woman at Papa Murphy’s Tavern and Campground in Utica, IL. Yes, tavern-campground combo. Who knew that was a thing? Anyways, she was confused by our request and wanted to be sure we weren’t sending drugs through the mail, but was kind enough to let us get our mail sent to her house, and to bring it to us at our campsite on her day off. She also let Nala sit at the bar, so she’s a gem all around.

We camped at the tavern (lol) for two days waiting for the mail – the first day was a rainy lazy day, but yesterday we got up early and hit Starved Rock State park, one of the State parks in the area. It was a beautiful and super muddy hike, Nala’s favorite. If we let her, I’m pretty sure she would have stopped to smear mud on herself anytime we slowed down.

As we pulled back up to the campsite, so did our friendly bartender with the mail a day early, which meant we could say our goodbyes and hit the road North.

Our destination was about 700 miles away – when we were 2 hours out in Escanaba, MI, we stopped for supplies since our current camping stove was on its last leg. At this point it was already 8:30pm and the clouds were starting to light up with a huge storm that was on its way. It was an easy decision to not set up camp in the dark during a thunderstorm, so we stayed put. Luckily, you can park for free overnight in most Walmart parking lots (many camping stores let you do this as well), so we waited out the rain in our van for the night. It’s a good thing too, otherwise we would have missed a beautiful stop today! Sometimes things don’t always work out the way you expect, but sometimes that’s a good thing. Thanks for reading!

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