Sometimes the best things in life are not free.

Deke recently got a job offer at id software in Dallas, so last week we packed up everything we would need for a week or so and headed south to The Big D.

We left Chicago on a “unseasonably cold” Monday and took, what was for us, a newly traveled route — 57 South, straight through Illinois.  There are many roads out of Chicago, but our thinking with Rt 57 was the sooner we could get south, the warmer it would be. Having lived in Chicago for 13 years, I am firmly and unapologetically a city girl. I have not explorer the state in which I lived these 13 years, and until this past year, I considered Chicago to be almost its own little independent state.  From my atlas (that’s right, much to Deke’s distain, I own an atlas) I knew it would take some time to get through Illinois, but as we passed by signs on the highway, those towns big enough to put on a sign just never seemed to get closer.  That first night we only made it to Marion Illinois (320 miles)and decided to stay at a little campsite right off the highway, however, when we got there the site had no water available and if there was one thing I needed, it was water.  I didn’t really feel like paying $30 for electricity when it was 11pm and we didn’t really need any.

Luckily along Rt 57 there are many, many Walmart stores, all with large parking lots.  My advice at this time, however, is although a 24 hour Walmart might seem like a good idea (the parking lot lights are always on and there’s bound to be security through the night), it is not the best idea. I think we averaged about 3 hours of sleep that night between the tractor trailers, the guy cutting the grass in the parking lot and most of the drunk people in the town needing food at 3am.  I decided that the next night, no matter what, we would stay in a quiet place with water/electric/sewer.

My wish would come true at the KOA in Hot Springs, Arkansas and we would pay $40 for the privilege. And I would use all the hot water I could handle, turn all the lights on and sleep quietly in the woods. This KOA is easily the nicest I’ve seen so far and as we drove by a few others in Arkansas and Texas, I think its probably the nicest one on this route. Its off the road and the spots are spaced out among the trees on the side of a hill so the views are great from the back-in spots on the top. Some spots have patio areas with chairs, a table with an umbrella and a fire pit, while others just have a small fire pit/grill. We had spot D29 — closer to the bottom of the hill because we asked for a pull-through so we wouldn’t have to hitch/unhitch. There’s a pond, a nice bathroom and an enclosed dog run. Oh, and a family of ducks that don’t make noise. Seriously, they don’t.