I woke up this morning to the sound of a crying baby. Actually, let me be more specific: I listened to a crying baby before falling asleep last night, I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of a crying baby at least twice, and I woke up this morning — at a time my computer thinks was 4AM, but my phone thinks was 7AM — to the sound of a crying baby. I feel sorry for the baby and for my neighbors, but I feel sorrier for me.

I feel particularly sorry because I am staying at a hotel. Thursday night, spent at lovely little boondocking spot in Nebraska, was really damn hot. 85 degrees in the van at midnight and I don’t think it got much cooler until the wind picked up around 4AM and let me worry about tornadoes. (They weren’t supposed to be happening near me, only farther north, but when did that ever stop middle-of-the-night worrying?)

Friday’s drive was equally hot. A beautiful day, plenty of sunshine, but in the 90s, and the dashboard AC at fully cranked could barely keep up. I didn’t even want to stop at rest stops to take breaks, because it was so hot in the back of the van. Even the house battery was struggling, draining really fast although the only thing running was the refrigerator. I’m assuming that the fridge was drawing a lot of power because of the heat, but the reality is that the house batteries are five years old which means it’s probably time to replace them. Sigh.

I’ve actually spent a lot of my drive thinking about selling Serenity. It’s a notion that’s been slowly growing on me. I’d have to go back and look at texts to the BBE to remember when the idea first came up, but even before I left California, it was in the back of my mind. And I was going to write more about that, but I need to get on the road again today, not spend my day staring at my computer screen thinking, so back to my story for now. More on possible Serenity sale & its rationale later.

Eventually, after the hell that was Chicago-area traffic, I stopped for gas. I answered a text from the BBE honestly (the words “so so tired” were included), and he said, “Get a hotel room.” It was a lightning bolt moment. Yes!! In all my years of solo van traveling, I have never stopped for a hotel. But I was tired and hot, and hadn’t eaten a real meal or had a real shower in days. A hotel sounded fantastic. I googled for motels and made a quick reservation at what looked like the closest one, a Comfort Suites in South Bend, Indiana. It was another half an hour away along the toll interstate and somewhat to my annoyance, I passed several other motels before getting here. When I got to my room, that was forgotten, though, because I’ve never stayed in a hotel with a nicer bathtub. I felt grateful to the universe while I had my first bath in eons — since pre-pandemic, in fact!

I’m not quite sure what the universe might be trying to tell me, though. The bath was lovely and the bed was comfortable, but the crying baby made me wish I was in the van so I could pack up and drive away. Not that I would have been likely to do that in the middle of the night, because where would I have gone? But this morning while I was trying to figure out how to use the in-room coffee maker, I discovered that no one had cleaned it after its last use and the coffee filter in it had grown mold. Needless to say, that made me wish for the van even more. But I haven’t been making coffee all the way cross-country because the propane’s not working so… yeah. Maybe the universe is just reminding me that travel is always filled with stupid small challenges?

But it’s past 8 — if only 5:11AM according to my computer — so time for me to get on the road. I am 7 hours away from my aunt & uncle, so have invited myself to dinner. Now to get there!