Catching Up Again

Hi. Long time, no see. Yes, it’s been over a month (closer to two) since we last updated the blog. Here’s a capsule summary of life since we left North Carolina just after Labor Day weekend.

Dates: Sept. 4 to 5, 2018

Location: Point South / Yemassee KOA, Yemassee, South Carolina

David rode back home with us in the RV from North Carolina. Our halfway point stop to his house was the Yemassee KOA in South Carolina. Since we stayed in North Carolina until after lunch time to see Elizabeth and the girls off to the airport, we arrived in South Carolina very much after dark. We just extended jacks and headed to bed.

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Dates: Sept. 5 to 7, 2018

Location: Rustic Sands RV Resort, Mexico Beach, Florida

The next morning, we drove on down to Panama City, Florida, where our son lives.

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We were initially going to try to park our trailer next to our son’s new house that he moved into in July. There is space next to it, but traversing the front yard with the various trees turned into quite the challenge. That, and it decided to start pouring rain just as we arrived. We finally gave up and parked at Rustic Sands RV Park in Mexico Beach, Florida (yes, that Mexico Beach – more on that in a while).

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After getting the trailer set up, we headed back to David’s house. We went with him to PetSmart to pick up his new kitty that he adopted. Her name is Siren and she was about 9 months old.

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We got the grand tour of his new home and visited for a couple days before heading on towards our own home location.

Location: Our RV Lot at Deer Creek RV Golf and Country Club

Dates: Sept. 7 to Oct. 20, 2018

Back at our own place, we settled in pretty quickly and started back in to the normal day-to-day non-travel activities that we do. Malcolm works most every weekday and Val works on various projects.

One project we weren’t prepared for, though, was having to gut and re-do the walls in our recently renovated guest house. It seems the air conditioner just blew all that humid air around in the back part of the house and mold started growing on the paneling (and on the underlying sheetrock).

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Yuck!

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Starting demolition

Yes, we probably should have purchased a dehumidifier for the guest house, but didn’t and now we were going to pay the price. Malcolm took several days to fully tear down all the wall material in the back room (fortunately, the fully drywalled front room didn’t sustain any mold damage).

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Back to bare walls

We found some nice shiplap boards at Lowe’s and ended up using that to re-do the walls. We wish we had done that in the first place as we could tell right away that it was going to looks much better than cheap paneling.

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Work in progress

We put shiplap on all four walls and the ceiling and trimmed out the corners, baseboards and edges. The bathroom side shows how well it came out.

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Sink area.

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Toilet area

We painted the walls a light gray color and left the trim white. We think it looks great. Oh, and yes, we now have a dehumidifier in the room. The first 24 hours it was in the room, it pulled about 8 gallons of water out of the air! It has since been plumbed to expel the water outside through a hose.

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Dehumidifier

Aside from rebuilding our remodeled area, there were no other major things to take care of after we got back. Typical activities such as trimming all the palm trees and pressure washing all the concrete (a downside of living near busy US 27 is all the black dirt/soot/tire dust that collects on everything).

We took a “vacation day” on October 4th and stayed for one night in a room at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort. We managed to find the room available on the same day we went to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

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Saratoga Springs Resort

We went swimming for a while, then relaxed in our room until it was time to put on our costumes (yes, adults get to dress up for Halloween at Disney).

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Val Relaxing in the Room

We headed over to Magic Kingdom in our costumes and enjoyed a fun evening trick-or-treating (we brought back a huge sack of candy), riding a couple rides and just enjoying the evening.

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Malcolm as Goofy (and Bullseye as Pegasus)

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Val as Merida (from the movie “Brave”)

Other “excitement” this month was hurricane Michael. While the only effects we got in the Orlando area was a breezy, rainy day, our son had a more direct exposure. He lives near Tyndall Air Force Base (where he is stationed) and was ordered to evacuate the area by the Tuesday before the storm hit his area.

David and his roommates boarded up windows and doors at his house and they all headed north to the Montgomery, Alabama area to wait out the evacuation order. Literally today, a week and a half after the hurricane hit, David was allowed to travel back to town to check on his house. He was very fortunate.

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There are trees down everywhere. A couple fell against the side of his house and slightly onto the roof, but just the tops of the trees. It doesn’t appear the roof was damaged by the trees at all.

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David’s back yard was previously heavily shaded by a lot of tall pine trees. As you can see in the photo, above, they are mostly all blown down. Fortunately, the largest tree that fell near the house fell in the back yard.

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The trees on the house were pretty light. Most of David’s damage will be the trim and panels under the eaves. He walked around inside his house and didn’t note any water marks on the ceiling. He also stuck his head up inside the attic area and couldn’t really see much there, either. All in all, he came out pretty well.

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As soon as power is restored to his area, he and his roommates will move back in and start the cleanup process. Water is already running, cell service is good (he FaceTimed with us from his house earlier today) and he even had some mail delivered a couple days ago (an Amazon order).

We’ll still plan on having Thanksgiving dinner at his house unless anything changes from the storm.

 

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Birthday Time

Dates: Aug. 28 to 29, 2018

Location: Wytheville KOA, Wytheville, Virginia

After we left Kentucky, we traveled through West Virginia and into Virginia for a stop at Wytheville. On the way, we stopped at Tamarack which is a big building with a lot of crafts and other things made in West Virginia. We also ate lunch in their cafe.

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We arrived mid-afternoon at the Wytheville KOA and set up our trailer. They put us in a new area with a lot of nice, new pull-throughs.

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We decided to cheat for dinner and ordered a couple Hunts Brothers pizzas from the campground’s pizza counter. They offered to deliver it, but Malcolm walked up to pick it up.

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The next morning we hitched up and headed on to North Carolina.

Dates: Aug. 29 to 31, 2018

Location: Falls Lake SRA – Rolling View Campground, Durham, North Carolina

We arrived at the campground in North Carolina mid-afternoon and set up the trailer. It was a 30 amp site, so we ran one air conditioner to cool off the rig the best we could in the 90+ degree weather. Fortunately, our site had a pretty good tree cover.

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After we got the rig set up and relaxed for a bit, we headed over to the Raleigh-Durham airport to pick up our daughter, Elizabeth, and our granddaughters Violet and Scarlet. They flew in to help us celebrate Malcolm’s cousin Theresa’s 50th birthday. We stopped at Cracker Barrel after the airport so that Elizabeth could get her southern cooking fix (they don’t have Cracker Barrel restaurants near Seattle).

The next day, we contacted Malcolm’s cousin for ideas of things we could do in the area and she suggested the Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh. The girls had a great time. There were tons of interactive learning things to do. Even the adults found some fun stuff.

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Elizabeth Surfing

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Valerie Surfing

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Malcolm playing a tune on the musical stairs

After the museum visit, we headed to Theresa’s house for dinner and to map out our route there from the campground as well as find out where we were going to park the trailer over the Labor Day weekend at her place.

The next day we loaded everyone and hooked up the trailer to take it to Theresa’s place. We filled up the water tank on the trailer so we could reduce the need for water since Theresa was having problems with her water well.

Dates: Aug. 31 to Sept. 3, 2018

Location: Malcolm’s cousin Theresa’s House, Creedmoor, North Carolina

After we pulled in at Theresa’s house, Elizabeth and the girls got a surprise. Our son David had flown in for the weekend, as well, and had driven on over to Theresa’s house before we got there.

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Set up next to the barn at Theresa’s

We didn’t have enough power to run any air conditioners in the trailer at Theresa’s, so we opened windows and turned on the vent fans. We headed on into Durham for another fun field trip – The Lemur Center at Duke University. The girls had recently been reading about lemurs and the Lemur Center was mentioned in their books.

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Since Elizabeth had pre-arranged for five people for the tour, not knowing David was going to be there, Val decided to stay back in the gift shop while the rest of us went on the tour since they were otherwise booked full.

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The girls both picked out a couple of ringtail lemurs at the gift shop to take with them.

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After our Lemur Center visit, we decided to stop by Target and pick up a couple box fans to help keep the trailer comfortable.

On Saturday, Malcolm’s aunts had suggested we bring the girls over to the hotel where they were staying and go swimming in the pool. We had to stop by Target to go swimwear shopping then headed on to the hotel pool. We all had a good swim before heading back to the trailer, then out to a steakhouse for dinner with the whole family.

Violet wasn’t feeling good on Sunday morning, so we relaxed around the trailer. Malcolm helped Theresa and some of his family decorate up for the birthday dinner later in the day. Theresa’s birthday was on Sunday. One of Theresa’s friends brought some really good pulled pork and we had barbecue sandwiches with birthday cake for dessert.

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We visited with family late into the evening at Theresa’s house (in the air conditioning).

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Dates: Sept. 3 to 4, 2018

Location: Falls Lake SRA – Rolling View Campground, Durham, North Carolina

On Monday, which was Malcolm’s birthday, we pulled the trailer back over to Falls Lake so we could all have one evening of air conditioning and the ability to take showers, if desired, before Elizabeth and the girls flew back on Tuesday. David was going to ride back to Florida with us in the trailer.

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We met the family at Cracker Barrel for Malcolm’s birthday dinner and to say goodbye to the rest of the family members that were still in town.

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The two birthday cousins

On Tuesday, we took our time getting ready and about 2:00, Elizabeth and the girls headed to the airport in the rental car while we hitched up the trailer for the trip back to Florida. We had one minor glitch before we left and had to fix a slide out seal that had come loose. Malcolm and David took care of that and we were on our way.

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Nashville and Kentucky

Dates: Aug. 12 to 25, 2018

Location: Seven Points Campground, Hermitage, Tennessee

On the weekdays during the two weeks we were here, Malcolm worked downtown in his office. He rode the train in every day. Some days Val dropped him off at the train station and other days he drove the truck over and left it there all day. Val worked on various sewing projects.

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The Morning Train

The weather was nice most days. It rained one morning as Malcolm left the trailer but had fortunately stopped by the time he got to the train station.

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Barge Traffic in Downtown Nashville

Over the weekend, we did some antique shopping at a couple places in downtown Nashville. One specializes in mostly mid-century to 1970’s items. It’s always fun to walk through.

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We also did our laundry at a laundromat over the weekend so that we could catch up on our clothes washing since we don’t have sewer hookups at the campground. We did hitch the trailer up over the weekend and took it to the dump station and back to the site on Saturday morning.

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Mid-stay tank clearing

On the last workday, Malcolm left the office a little early and caught the first train out of town at 4:20 instead of 5:05, getting off at the first station where Val picked him up. We went out to dinner at a pizza place nearby before heading back to the trailer to start packing it up to leave.

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The Last Train Ride

On Saturday morning, the 25th, we hitched up the trailer and dumped the tanks once again and headed from Nashville to northeast Kentucky, where Malcolm grew up.

 

Dates: Aug. 25 to 28, 2018

Location: Ashland/Huntington West KOA, Argillite, Kentucky

We arrived at the KOA and set up the trailer on Saturday afternoon.

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KOA near Ashland, KY

After relaxing a bit, we drove into Flatwoods, Kentucky and had dinner at the Giovanni’s Pizza restaurant where Malcolm often went when growing up in the area. They had the usual pizza buffet set up. We added side salads to our meal along with the restaurant’s special red salad dressing (very similar to a Catalina dressing).

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On Sunday morning, we went to church with a couple of Malcolm’s classmates at Advance United Methodist church in Flatwoods. After church, Malcolm’s classmate Margaret King drove us over to the Chinese buffet for lunch. We had a great time visiting with Margaret and eating lunch.

We spent Sunday afternoon relaxing at the trailer. It was pretty hot outside and we just felt like sitting inside and doing nothing.

This morning (Monday), we drove out in Greenup County and visited the two covered bridges that are still standing. Both have been rebuilt to some extent over the years, but one is still in active use for light vehicles.

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Bennett’s Mill Covered Bridge

We also drove to the Greenup Locks and Dam on the Ohio River. You used to be able to take a tour of the locks and watch the barge traffic moving through, but you can only view it from the river bank now. We walked down to the bank and watched for a while, taking a few pictures.

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Tugboat heading to the locks

We drove on into Ashland and had lunch at Panera Bread followed by a shopping trip to Joann Fabrics. From there, we drove around town for a bit then headed back out to the campground to change clothes for a dinner engagement. On the way, we stopped at Crisp’s Dairy Bar, a local favorite, and got some frozen treats.

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We headed back into town and met several of Malcolm’s high school classmates (and a couple of their spouses) for dinner at Blazer’s restaurant in Ashland.

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We had a great visit and a pretty good turnout. Malcolm’s classmates decided after the last high school reunion last year that it would be fun to get together on a more frequent basis, so they go out to dinner once a month now as well as some other special get-togethers.

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The Dinner Crowd

We sat around and visited until about 9:00 when everyone started heading for home. We said our goodbyes and headed back out to the trailer to get ready for our trip tomorrow. We’re heading to North Carolina for the Labor Day weekend, with a stop tomorrow night in Wytheville, Virginia.

 

Heading Back East, Part 2

Dates: Aug. 7 to 9, 2018

Location: Lake Mitchell Campground, Mitchell, South Dakota

On our first full day in Mitchell (Aug. 7), we drove about an hour northeast to the town of DeSmet, South Dakota, otherwise known as “The Little Town on the Prairie”.

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We stopped into the gift shop and signed up for a Laura Ingalls Wilder tour.

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Laura Ingalls Wilder tour and gift shop

The tour started next door at the Surveyors’ House, where the Ingalls lived for a while during their stay in DeSmet.

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Upstairs bedroom at the Surveyors’ House

We also toured DeSmet’s first school house.

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From there, the tour group traveled a few blocks away to visit the house that the Ingalls built in DeSmet.

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It was a very nice tour. Our tour guide did a great job. After the tour, we bought a few souvenirs and headed downtown in DeSmet to grab a sandwich for lunch and look around a few of the shops. We headed back to Mitchell later in the afternoon and back to the trailer.

The next day (the 8th), we drove to downtown Mitchell and walked up and down the street, stopping in a couple stores along the way. We didn’t go into the Corn Palace (we’ve done that before), but looked around their gift shop which has moved from inside the building to across the street.

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We also did some other shopping in town before heading back to the trailer for the evening.

Dates: Aug. 9 to 10, 2018

Location: Onawa/Blue Lake KOA, Onawa, Iowa

Our next stop was in Onawa, Iowa at the KOA. Directly across Blue Lake from the campground was a state park campground. Both were fairly busy. The KOA is a nice park. We left the truck hooked to the trailer and enjoyed sitting outside for a while in the evening.

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Dates: Aug. 10 to 11, 2018

Location: Country Gardens RV Park, Odessa, Missouri

Our next stop was at the Country Gardens RV Park. We’ve stayed here a few other times along the way. They have a store with a huge selection of cheeses and other treats, some of them from various Amish areas. We stocked up on cheese and some sweet treats. We left the truck hooked up to the trailer here, as well.

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Dates: Aug. 11 to 12, 2018

Location: Hinton RV Park, Sikeston, Missouri

Our next stop was in Sikeston, Missouri. We’ve stayed at this campground before, as well. It’s a pretty nice campground and just a mile from one of our favorite restaurants – Lambert’s (the home of throwed rolls). We drove by Lambert’s on the way to check out an antique store and saw a huge crowd waiting for dinner (at 3:00 PM).

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We came on back about 3:30 and put in our name and got a number. It was a two hour wait to eat, which was pretty accurate – we were seated about 5:30. The food is worth the wait, though. The main reason for the huge crowd was that there was a rodeo going on later in the day.

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Before leaving the park, we made sure to empty and clean out all our gray and black tanks since our next stop is in the Nashville area and there are no sewer hookups there.

Aug. 12, 2018

Location: Seven Points Campground, Hermitage, Tennessee

We rolled into Nashville about 12:30 PM after noting that our campground has a 2:00 check-out time and a 3:00 check-in time. We decided to waste time by stopping at the Cracker Barrel on Music Valley Road (and parking in the mostly empty parking lot for the shopping center nearby).

We had a leisurely lunch and then drove on over to the campground, arriving around 2:00. The people that had been on our site had literally just left (we passed them on the way in), so we could head on back and set up. We have a very shaded and wooded site.

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After setting up the trailer, we headed out to get some shopping done, then back to the trailer to cook dinner and go through our mail via FaceTime with our daughter. The rest of the evening was spent relaxing.

Malcolm will be working in the office here in Nashville the next two weeks.

 

Heading Back East, Part 1

Dates: July 30 to 31, 2018

Location: Spokane KOA, Spokane, Washington

Our first stop on the way back east was at the Spokane KOA. The trip through Washington wasn’t too bad. Leaving at the end of rush hour on  Monday wasn’t terrible, traffic-wise. Washington was still a bit smoky from forest fires, but not near as bad as last year.

The only small thing we ran into was that the site the KOA assigned to us was (still) occupied by an RV (we were in well past check-in time). We called the office and told them a couple nearby sites that were empty and they reassigned us to one of those. We left the truck hooked up to the trailer since we had recently filled the tank and didn’t need to run any errands.

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Site at Spokane KOA

Dates: July 31 to Aug. 1, 2018

Location: Deer Lodge KOA, Deer Lodge, Montana

Our second stop along the way was our favorite little KOA in the middle of Deer Lodge, Montana. We’ve apparently been here enough that the owner remembered Malcolm’s name. We unhooked here and Malcolm headed downtown to pick up a couple grocery items and fill the truck with fuel. He also did a little photography while out on his errands.

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Deer Lodge KOA

Dates: Aug. 1 to 4, 2018

Location: Red Lodge KOA, Red Lodge, Montana

We stopped in Red Lodge, Montana for three nights so we could do some sight-seeing for a couple days. We stayed in the same KOA that we attended a rally in last year.

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Red Lodge KOA Site

The rally organizers, Tom and Sherry Egenes, still have their respective businesses in downtown Red Lodge, so we stopped in to visit both of them our first full day there. We also did some shopping while we were there. Lunch was at the local pizza place.

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After a little more shopping, we headed to Red Lodge Ales so Malcolm could sample some of their beers so he would know which ones he wanted to pick up at the store. We also picked up a couple souvenirs while we were there.

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That evening, we drove over to Absarokee and visited with Malcolm’s cousin Sue and her husband Rich. We had a fun visit and met them at the Cowboy Bar restaurant for dinner. We said our goodbyes there and we headed back to the campground.

The next day we took a day trip with the truck (but not the trailer) over the Beartooth Highway. We drove about 38 miles of it to the Top of the World gift shop. We bought a couple souvenirs and turned around to head back to Red Lodge.

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Malcolm took a lot of pictures with the big camera. They are posted in his gallery [HERE].

Once back in town, we had a late lunch at the Red Lodge Ales brewery (downtown was really busy) and did a little more shopping downtown. We also picked up some groceries at the store and headed back to the trailer for the evening. We stayed in and ate dinner at the trailer.

Dates: Aug. 4 to 5, 2018

Location: Buffalo KOA, Buffalo, Wyoming

We left Red Lodge and headed on to Buffalo, Wyoming, staying in the KOA there. The only trip out we made was to fill up the truck with fuel nearby and then walked through the store at the KOA office, picking up some postcards.

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Buffalo KOA Site

Malcolm wandered around and dipped his toes in the creek that runs behind the campground (cold, as expected). He also went to mail out some postcards we had written to different people. On the way to drop them off at the front office, he found these two young rabbits (and later, their mother), frolicking in the grass near the main building.

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As we were hitching up the trailer to leave, Malcolm found this painted rock nestled in the trunk of the tree next to our site. On the back was instructions on logging your find on a Facebook page (Casper Rocks). You can keep the rock, or re-hide it either in the same spot, or, as we did, in a new spot. We thought the rock might enjoy a trip to Wall, South Dakota, so we took it with us.

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Painted Rock find

Dates: Aug. 5 to 6, 2018

Location: Sleepy Hollow Campground & RV Park, Wall, South Dakota

We had an uneventful drive to Wall, South Dakota. There were hundreds of motorcycles on the road (and in Wall) due to the nearby yearly bike rally in Sturgis, South Dakota.

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Teepee found at most South Dakota rest stops

We set up in the Sleepy Hollow Campground, which is only a couple blocks from the famous Wall Drug complex. While we could have walked over, we elected to drive over in the truck so that we could subsequently run by the gas station and fuel up while we were out. We bought a couple souvenirs and did some Christmas shopping before heading out to the gas station, then back to the trailer.

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Sleepy Hollow Campground

Malcolm found a place to hide the painted rock in the campground. On the way back to the trailer, he was stopped by one of our neighbors who was interested in both our Florida license plate and the University of Kentucky sticker on the back window of the trailer. As they talked, Malcolm found out that the other gentleman and his wife live in the next RV resort south of ours in Florida (less than a mile away). He also grew up in Kentucky about an hour from where Malcolm lived as a child. Small world!

Dates: Aug. 6, 2018

Location: Lake Mitchell Campground, Mitchell, South Dakota

Malcolm had made our reservations here based on three things we expected to do in the area. The first was to get the truck serviced. Based on our mileage, Malcolm saw that we would be in this area about the time the oil change was due and that there was a Ford dealer almost across the street from the campground. As it turns out, the “Change Oil Soon” indicator came on literally 40 miles before we got here.

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Our site at Lake Mitchell Campground

The second reason we chose this stop was that Val wanted to take a day trip to De Smet, where one of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s homesteads is located. And the final reason was to visit the Corn Palace (again) while we are here.

We got set up here about 3:00. Malcolm called the Ford dealer to see what day we could bring the truck in for its service. They indicated that they had an opening an hour later at 4:00, so we took that appointment and Malcolm headed over to sit at the dealer while they did the work (about 45 minutes).

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Old inventory in the showroom

With that out of the way, we plan on heading up to De Smet tomorrow and the Corn Palace the day after tomorrow.

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Lake Mitchell

From here, we’ll be driving pretty much on through to Nashville (with appropriate overnight stops along the way).