Sunday, July 18, 2010

Second Leg: Kansas City to Chicago, IL

Wow. I have not had nearly as much wireless access as I thought I would. For the sake of real-ish time information, we have made it all the way to Ithaca, NY!!! More on that soon. For now, here's what we've been up to for the past week...

We continued our tour of the Midwest with a jaunt across Missouri and Illinois to The Windy City itself. This leg of the trip was decidedly more urban than the previous.

In Kansas City we stayed at a KOA to be close to the city itself. I think the campground manager intentionally put us next to the only other non-traditional vehicle there--a revamped "short bus". Unfortunately, we got there late and they left early, and we didn't get a chance to meet our funky neighbors. Staying at the KOA was a weird experience for us. It was a sea of giant RVs, humongous homes on wheels that for most people just serve for an occasional weekend "getaway". Peeking into their tinted windows, I could see complete living room sets, floor lamps, and the ubiquitous blue glow of the TV screen, beaming in programming from the satellite dish mounted on a tripod in the front yard. It seems so surreal to me, living full time in 54 sq. ft. I hope I don't come across as judgy--it's more a fascination with what our culture's perception of "the bare necessities" seems to have become.

But enough of that. We headed into KC and had ourselves some famous BBQ at LC's. The pork was particularly delicious, as were the homemade beans. The two of us only made it through one sandwich. The beef sandwich was repurposed into a stir fry later that night. After BBQ, we headed to the jazz district to hear some of that Kansas City jazz. We went to The Majestic, on the national register of historic buildings. It was a speakeasy in the 20s, and has some amazing tin ceilings. Sadly, the jazz wasn't so hot and we were the only guests for happy hour. We had a lot of fun tooling around Kansas City. There are some gorgeous old buildings, a pretty impressive (and free!) art museum and sculpture garden, etc.

We stopped in Columbus, MO just long enough to fill the cooler at a local health food store. Two other store patrons saw our rig and asked for a tour. They were interested in green building and tiny houses, and it was great fun to chat about our process in designing the wagon.

Then it was on to St. Louis, where we enjoyed some street-side sushi and then stayed up late at the City Museum, a must-see on any visit to St. Louis. Words cannot describe this lovingly crafted found-object playground/sculpture/tribute to St. Louis.

On our way to Chicago, we stopped for an evening in Quincy, IL, where a reader had invited us to drop in. We had dinner with Matt, his wife Leslie, and their neighbor Carrie. It was soooo amazing to have a home-cooked meal and enjoy some really stellar conversation. I can't get over how generous these folks were to feed a couple of complete strangers. I wish we could have stayed longer, but we pushed on, crashing for the night in Siloam Springs before trucking into Chicago.

Chicago found us again enjoying the generosity of a blog reader, who let us park in his driveway for three nights and fed us as many wonderful meals. Grant and his wife Lisa were so great to us, and Grant has some tiny house ideas of his own, not to mention some cool solar and wind projects cooking in the garage. We did the tourist thing in Chicago and hung out with a good friend of mine from way back in high school. Deep dish pizza was consumed, free concerts were heard, water taxis were taken, and many miles were walked.


Michelle said...

If you're ever in Asheville you're welcome to stay with us (email michelle.anonymous at gmail)! Following your trip with great interest as we are planning something similar (our "5 year plan"). How's Lionshead doing? Does she use her outdoor space?

Kieran said...

Hi Libby, I'm an editor in NYC and I was checking out your blog and wondering if you wanted to contribute to a project I'm working on. Is there a way to contact you?

Libby: said...


I can be contacted through the "email" link on my blogger profile page. Thanks!

Linda and Doug said...

You are being "judgementally"! We live fulltime in our 40' motorhome with living room furniture and lamps and a satellite dish. There is nothing superior to living in a drafty tent on wheels with few comforts. Our carbon footprint is considerably smaller than a sticks and bricks house and we live with everything we own in our 350 square feet. Have a safe trip and enjoy whatever lifestyle suits you.

Libby: said...

I meant to clarify this in my post, but I totally agree that full time RV living totally justifies having the comforts of home. Our wagon isn't even intended for year-round living, and if it were, there are probably things I would add (like a fridge and a bathroom). Whatever it takes to be comfortable in your tiny home will probably still result in a smaller footprint, plus a smaller chance of tiny house burnout. I'm all for it. However (and now I'm judging a little) I have a hard time understanding giant, fully loaded RVs as essential for a weekend getaway. Big rigs reserved for infrequent use actually increase rather than decrease your carbon footprint, no? Plus, I think having tv and such makes you less likely to get out and enjoy the place you're visiting. (says the girl who has to have Internet access in her wagon).

No feelings of superiority here. I do, however, believe that we live in a culture of excess consumption. For my individual self, I feel more free and able to enjoy life when I live simply. I suspect that most people would feel the same if they tried it, but I absolutely do not look down on those who feel fulfilled by other things. :)

/end rant

Mikey C said...

So have you guys camped in bad weather in the wagon yet? It would be kind of interesting to hear of that experience.

Eric said...

yeah! the city museum is awesome!