Day 2: Elkhart, Indiana
Overnight temperatures never dipped below freezing, but that didn’t stop me from waking up 3 times to add more layers.
My alarm started buzzing around 7:30am, but my college roommates can attest to the fact that my alarm doesn’t mean I woke up. Closer to 9:30am, I got out of bed and went inside Planet Fitness to shower.
The plan was to then sneak into the continental breakfast at Comfort Suites or Hampton Inn (because according to Reddit and the 'Living in a Van' Facebook group I’m in, hotel staff don’t usually have a way to prove you stayed the night) but I didn’t have an appetite and decided to start my day.
I began driving south towards downtown Elkhart and figured I would spend the morning walking around while I waited to hear back from the Amish dad I had lined up. On the quick 10 minute drive, I stopped at a Salvation Army to restock my eBay inventory. I spent no more than 30 minutes perusing the aisles, looking at everything from homemade Amish sweaters to “vintage” VHS players.
*Pro-tip for anyone looking to get into eBay reselling: While walking down thrift store aisles, don’t waste your time looking at each article of clothing. Instead, run your hand through the clothes and you’ll notice when something is silk, cashmere, or another fine fabric. Buy this.
While running my hand through the clothes, I felt a silk shirt and within 15 seconds of searching the brand on eBay, I knew I had $15 of profit in hand. With lunch money secured, I ventured another 5 minutes down the road to the Elkhart Botanical Gardens. Usually, I wouldn’t mind paying $8 to experience something completely new, however, with 75% of the garden under construction, I paid $8 to watch bulldozers move dirt and for workers to rake leaves. Not the “Sensational Summer Walk” they advertised, but also an oversight on my end for choosing an early spring day to enter. Will come back again during the summer, but for now, 2.5 / 10.
I left Vanah White in the garden parking lot and had a brisk 10 minute walk to downtown Elkhart.
By the time I got to downtown, it was lunchtime and although I’ve tried to keep my food budget to $10 or less a day, I decided to treat myself to Old Style Deli. I ordered the VIP: hot pastrami, provolone cheese, grilled onion, and brown mustard on an onion bun (Arby’s style). My breath reeked for the next 3 days, but that sandwich alone made up for the lackluster morning at the botanical gardens.
Just around the corner from Old Style sat Electric Brew coffee. For those of you back in Kalamazoo (you’re like 90% of the people following The Dad Book) it had a very Fourth Coast vibe. For those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about (thank you for being here!) think of a hipster coffee shop in a Podunk town. I worked on my laptop at Electric Brew for most of the afternoon as I waited for a call from the Amish dad I was supposed to interview.
As 4:30pm approached with no contact from the Amish dad, I decided I would interview another Amish dad at a later date. I needed to be in Nashville by Thursday to meet my friends Clay and Madi, as I would crashing on their couch for a week, and Taylor was set to fly into Nashville on Friday morning.
I walked back to the botanical garden to get Vanah and went into the garden’s visitor center for a bathroom break before my 4.5 hour drive to Florence, Kentucky. While in the visitor center, the lady behind the counter asked, “Are you the owner of Vanah White?”
“Yes, yes I am! I’m traveling 13,000 miles….”, you know the spiel;)
We got to talking and she was uber impressed by my courage to tackle something so large at a young age. She mentioned how important a father figure was to the development of her children and wanted to know where she could follow along. You may be asking yourself the same thing right about now? Make sure to head over to @TheRealDadBook on Facebook and Instagram and hit the like and follow button;) Thank you, Kate, for being the first stranger I met on the road and for being so enthusiastic about my endeavor. Hope you’ve enjoyed following along!
With a full tank of gas and spare fluids from AutoZone, Vanah and I headed southwest towards Florence, KY to interview Andy Furman. After 4 long hours of driving through nothing but Indiana farmland and passing 10 horse and buggies (thought about pulling one over to conduct an interview along the side of the road, but decided against it) Vanah and I were exhausted. We pulled into Troy, Ohio, about an hour and a half north of Florence. I wasn’t planning to interview Andy until Wednesday afternoon/evening, so I was in no rush to continue forward. I stopped at the local Applebee’s and used one of the gift cards my Aunt Jean had given me before leaving Kalamazoo (thank you a million Aunt Jean. Half-off apps have been a lifesaver).
With a full stomach, Vanah and I made the 45 second drive to the Walmart next door, where we camped out for the night. Semi-truck drivers and travelers will use Walmart to rest and tend to park near the back of the parking lot. There’s something eerie about seeing 10-15 cars peppered around the back of a dimly lit lot and knowing there’s someone inside sleeping. For this reason, I’ve always tried to find a spot close to the Walmart entrance, where security cameras and lights are my best friend and a deterrent of theft… or at least I convince myself of that. Day 2 came to an end as I nestled my head under the covers to experience my first night in a Walmart parking lot.
On to Florence, Kentucky in the morning!
Read yesterday's post here.
Be sure to follow @TheRealDadBook on Facebook and Instagram to hear more stories and see pictures during my 250 day trip across all 50 states. To learn more about The Dad Book, head on over to www.TheRealDadBook.com/about. If you’re looking to get in contact with me, shoot an email to Nate@TheRealDadBook.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. See you on the road!