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Leaving the East Coast: Dead Zone Mystery, Amish Feast, and Indiana Wetlands

Leaving the East Coast: Dead Zone Mystery, Amish Feast, and Indiana Wetlands

Leaving the East Coast, we were slowly venturing out of our comfort zone. As we drove along the beautiful Lake Erie with the open road ahead of us, iOverlander once again helped us find a free spot for the night right beside the lake. The abnormally large moon and the clashing waves lulled us to sleep, and we woke up to the gentle lake breeze coming through our back window. However, the sight that greeted us was anything but gentle. Dead fish, both on the shore and in the water, seemed to cover the area like a Biblical plague had struck the region. We went for a walk to investigate and found out later in the news that it was caused by oxygen-depleted water near the shoreline suffocating the fish. This bizarre occurrence called a "dead zone," had been pushed towards the shoreline by the winds.

dead zone

We skipped the coffee that morning and continued our journey westward until we entered the Geneva State Park where we rested, cooked, and enjoyed a sunset over the Great Lake – one for the history books.

journey by the shoreline

Indulging in Amish Tradition: Exploring the All-You-Can-Eat Feast at Der Dutchman in Bellville

As we continued along the following day, we drove through familiar terrain of cornfields, tall grass, cows, and sunshine, it felt like we were back in the Virginia countryside. We arrived in the small town of Bellville in Northern Ohio, and after a fantastic family run up the hill and through some neighborhoods, we treated ourselves to an all-you-can-eat Amish-style feast at Der Dutchman. Whether it was the run or the food tasting like home, it was amazing, especially their pies. Well done, well done, dear Amish community.

Bellville in Northern Ohio

Vanlife Adventures: Lake Marsh Exploration, Van Maintenance, and Showering in Nature in Northern Indiana

As we drove into Northern Indiana, we stumbled upon Lake Marsh, a beautiful marshland. Since we were traveling with our two Salukis, Sahara and Everest, we always kept an eye out for secluded, open grass areas where they could safely sprint. It was during this time I had to tackle a chore that no van lifer enjoys – refreshing the Nature Head toilet with new peat moss. You guessed it, that chore falls on me, the lucky husband. As with any dreaded task, I just go for it, feels like that’s the best way to get things done. Surprisingly, there was no bad smell. The constantly running toilet fan and the decomposing peat moss kept everything smelling earthy. The hardest part was actually moisturizing the dried cubes of peat moss, which could take up to 30 minutes and was easy to over-wet. But with some effort, I managed to break it down with my hands, which provided a good forearm workout. We recommend doing this chore at least once a month and being careful not to use too much water, as overwetting can cause mold and bugs. In fact, we had an infestation of red bugs due to our laziness, but that's a story for another time! With the toilet back in place, it was time for a shower. The benefit of being in a secluded spot is that we could take a shower outside, surrounded by nature.

showertime

We just popped open the two back doors of our rig, connected the hose, turned on the propane for hot water, and enjoyed a refreshing rinse. Trust us when we say that there's no greater shower experience than one taken in wild nature. Lilu's father is a truck driver and generously shared his free shower passes with us at any Pilot and Flying J gas stations. These passes were a lifesaver in bigger cities or during bad weather. Thanks, Dad!

Navigating Hidden Toll Fees: Lesson Learned and Road Trip Tips

After paying over $150 in sneaky toll fees we never even saw in New York, we were on high alert as we approached another toll booth. Lesson learned: keep all your toll tickets organized for future reference, because some charges may sneak up on you weeks later. Trust us, unpaid toll fees are like weeds - if you don't nip them in the bud, they'll grow on you like crazy. We crossed through Northern Pennsylvania, Northern Ohio, and Northern Indiana in the blink of an eye, and now we're headed even further north into beautiful Michigan. Little did we know that in this state, our world would be turned upside down. It was scary. Stay tuned.

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