Iowa City here we come! Today Ashton and I embarked on our long awaited trip to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital for his 12 hours of clinical trial screening tests. This is our longest journey thus far. The trip started out a bit rocky as in after 7 miles on the road Ashton already needed a bathroom break. Good timing I guess as I did drive into town before getting on the freeway to withdraw some cash, fill up the van, get a bag of ice and an iced coffee. The bank first, quick and easy. The gas station was just filled with pickups and campers so go through McDonald’s drive-thru first, very slow, finally get to the first window to pay and told that their register went down with the previous customer and was just rebooted. Patiently wait 10 minutes to pay then get my iced black coffee that does not feel very cold. Park and take Ashton in to the bathroom, that turns into 15 more minutes but at least the gas station slowed down a bit so that can now get to a pump. As I fill up realized I forgot to get the bag of ice but since everything was put in the cooler cold decide that can wait for the next stop.
Finally make it on the freeway, tons of traffic. Very windy too, the kind of wind that makes it difficult to keep the big old van in my lane and makes me a bit sea sick. Managed to drive 88 miles before a bathroom break. The McDonald’s in Westfield has been slow every time I’ve stopped here. That is where we get off the freeway to head to MDA Summer Camp. We like the gas station the next town south as it has a huge bathroom with a large accessible stall, never busy there, always friendly and clean but Ashton needs to stop now. Waiting for Ashton I am wondering what people are thinking when they deem a bathroom stall is worthy of being called accessible. It’s a good thing Ashton can still walk and walked in to stretch his legs a bit because the stall is way too small for a wheelchair, never mind a personal assistant too for the person in the wheelchair. And why try and squeeze the diaper changing station in the same stall yet too?
Get the bag of ice, a cup of ice for my not very cold iced black coffee and a fruit and yogurt parfait for Ashton. Back on the freeway, a bit less traffic but more road construction, ’tis the season. Finally reach the interstate and traffic is at a dead stop. Slowly make our way down to our exit in the constant stop and start traffic. My least favorite part of the drive to Middleton, hilly, winding county highway. Made it down to where we normally turn left to head to our motel for Ashton’s appointments at UW Health Clinics & Hospital and American Family Children’s Hospital but today we continue south into unchartered territory. LOL!
When I have a long distance drive for medical appointments I really just prefer driving on the freeway and cruising to our destination instead of traveling on county highways, going through tiny towns with all the stop signs and 25 mph speed limits. Ugh, a detour! I need a place to stop and consult the map, I’m certainly not going to blindly follow a detour heading east as we had been traveling pretty much due south this whole time and are just a few miles from heading southwest, our destination. Ashton urgently needs a bathroom again. And a Kwik Trip in sight. As I was watching traffic Ashton spotted a subway across the street so we decide to go there after Kwik Trip to grab a sub for supper since we are stopped and it is already quarter after 5. Just young ones working, as in I’d guess High School age but I asked if they are familiar with the detour. One of the guys says he drives it to work, the shoulders are being worked on and no guardrails are up but you can get to the freeway if you can keep on the road. LOL. So I decide to give it a try and go through since is it daylight. Finally back on a freeway and we are southwestward bound!
The big hills in the southwestern corner of Wisconsin are a bit too much for using cruise with the big old van. But it is a fun and very scenic drive with all the exposed and cut rock. I remember admiring similar exposed and cut rock on my family’s trip to Wyalusing State Park 35 years ago. That is very near Prairie du Chien on the Mississippi River. Perhaps this is part of the stretch of highway we used to get there. As the exit numbers dwindle down I know we must be getting close to the boarder. Ashton is excited to see the Mississippi River and reminds me a couple of times to let him know when we cross it. I tell him he can’t miss it and that this will be the longest bridge he has ever been on.
I have not been to Iowa before either so I was not sure what to expect. Dubuque appears to be an industrial and river transport town. I kept expecting to see a city but then we were out of town already. Ashton needs bathroom break number four so I get off the freeway at the next exit that comes up. Wow, this is really out in the middle of no where. Getting Ashton out of the van noticed a car left running with no one inside. I think it is quite a bit more humid here than it is at home but Ashton does not. Get inside and we are both pleasantly surprised by the very large family bathroom as in there is room for our whole family plus Ashton’s wheelchair. This turns into a very long time in the bathroom. As I wait I’m wondering why we don’t run into bathrooms like this is Wisconsin. My cell battery is very low. Guess I really need to get a charger for the van. I take a screen shot of close to hotel for future reference and email Ken the hotel address just in case I need to call him and ask for directions. Supposed to be just one stretch of highway so turn off phone to conserve battery. Finally leaving and while getting Ashton loaded up notice another car pulling in and is left running while they go into the store. The middle of no where must have a very low crime rate. I haven’t seen people leaving their vehicles running unattended since I was a kid.
After driving about 20 minutes or so Ashton says “This is all farm land, I don’t think we have a hotel, I don’t think there is a city, I’m afraid our hotel is going to be scary.” Another detour, is getting late, starting to get dark, have no idea where we are so I follow it. Turn phone back on so can get directions to our hotel once we get in town. We actually made it!
After I park and turn off the van Ashton says rather relieved “This is our hotel? This is not what I was expecting at all!” So I ask him “What were you expecting, staying in a barn, sleeping on straw and having to help do chores?” His reply was “No, I was expecting a ranch.” Now a ranch would make for a very interesting trip. Probably have to drive much further west for that. Reminded me of City Slickers. I wonder if there are any wheelchair friendly ranch destinations? I thought it was even more humid here further into Iowa, Ashton thought it was a bit humid too.