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”.


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


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.


Upstairs bedroom at the Surveyors’ House

We also toured DeSmet’s first school house.


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


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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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.



Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Corn

Current Location: Lake Mitchell Campground, Mitchell, South Dakota

We got up this morning with the sound of distant thunder in the background. Looking outside, we could see rain heading our way. The Weather Channel radar verified that we had until about 9:00 AM to get underway if we didn’t want a soggy departure (though it did storm off and on through the night). We rolled out of the campground a little before 9:00 AM and hopped on I-35 northbound.

As we got to the northern-most exit in Iowa on I-35, we stopped for a break at the rest area and browsed the gift shop. Iowa has about the nicest rest areas on the interstates that we’ve run across so far in our travels. We were impressed by the number of huge power generation windmills we saw through Iowa, Minnesota and especially in South Dakota.

Today, we traveled up to I-90 and headed west on it. We’ll be following I-90 all the way into the Seattle area. It was spitting rain off and on during the trip. There was a short period of headwind, but mostly it was blowing from the south and hitting us on the driver’s side. Fuel mileage improved to nearly normal today.

We decided to do a little easier drive today, since we are nearly a day ahead of schedule. Instead of pushing for Kennebec, SD, which was our original planned stop for tomorrow night, we stopped 100 miles east of that in Mitchell, SD. One reason was to check out the Corn Palace. Malcolm’s grandparents had visited it during some of their travels and Malcolm wanted to see it for himself. Might as well do a few sightseeing things while we’re traveling.

Site 0 (zero) in Lake Mitchell Campground

Site 0 (zero) in Lake Mitchell Campground

Once we parked the trailer in site #0 (zero) in the Lake Mitchell Campground, we headed out to eat dinner at The Depot. After that, we visited the Corn Palace and a candy store right  down the street (like we didn’t have enough candy already from Wakarusa). On the way back to the campground, we stopped by a grocery store and picked up a few needed items.

The Corn Palace

The Corn Palace

The Corn Palace is, essentially, an entertainment arena. The claim to fame is that each year the outside and inside murals are changed and decorated with corn cobs, grains and grasses. In the picture, above, the street beside it is blocked off because they are still working on some of this year’s murals down the side of the building.

Our license plate game didn’t garner as many hits today. I-35 and I-90 were not very busy. We didn’t have nearly as many people passing us, especially trucks. We got 24 out of 51 (including D.C.) plates today.

Today's license plate wins

Today’s license plate wins

Tomorrow’s planned destination will probably be somewhere around Gillette, Wyoming, if not a little sooner. We are going to attempt to visit Mount Rushmore on the way through the area by just parking and visiting, if they have an available long vehicle space.

Heading West – Day 1

Current Location: Whispering Oaks Campground, Story City, Iowa (no web site)

This morning, we got up early, packed up the trailer and hitched up in Elkhart. We pulled up near the rally hall and stopped to say our goodbyes to a few folks and grab some breakfast items for the road. We pulled out about 8:00 AM Eastern Time.

We headed up to the Indiana Toll Road (I-80/90) and headed west on that. We paid $13.70 in tolls at the end of the tolled section in Indiana, and another $1.70 in Illinois.

Welcome to Illinois

Welcome to Illinois

Couple of huge wind turbines we saw along the way

Couple of huge wind turbines we saw along the way

We continued west on I-80 into Iowa. Early on, we passed or were passed by various other rally-goers heading down the interstate, but we didn’t see anyone else after western Illinois. Lunch was served at the Iowa welcome center rest area just across the border. Since it was windy, and a storm front was blowing in, we ate lunch in the truck. It started spitting rain just as we were pulling out, but it didn’t last long.

The Mississippi River, heading into Iowa.

The Mississippi River, heading into Iowa.

Lunch in Iowa

Lunch in Iowa

In the western half of Illinois and all of Iowa we encountered a fairly strong headwind. It was evident by the fact that the smallest rise in the road caused the truck to kick down out of overdrive. We drove 482 miles today, and stopped to fill the tank twice (both times the gauge was around 3/8 full, it was just handy to stop and stretch and fill up while we were there). Fuel mileage also reflected the headwind, averaging about 8.2 MPG for the day.

One of two fuel stops

One of two fuel stops

We initially had decided to stop for the night east of Des Moines, but every campground was full. As we drove by one of the Newton, Iowa exits, we saw why. There is a big IndyCar race today at the Iowa Speedway. Every campground we called immediately indicated they were full tonight.

We went on past Des Moines and stopped a few miles north to scope out additional campgrounds. The first one we called – Whispering Oaks – had plenty of spots available, so we headed on in. It’s a fairly nice campground and we got a perfect pull-through spot for the night. It was just level enough front to back that we got the trailer level still hitched to the truck. We didn’t auto-level, but used the leveling system to manually level the trailer, in case the front was too low (don’t want to pull the truck off the ground).

Stopped in Story City

Stopped in Story City

On the way today, we dug out the state license plate board and marked all the plates we saw on the road. The blue sides indicate the states found. The remaining were not. Looks like we saw 30 of 50. We’ll reset our board and play again tomorrow.

License Plates Found

License Plates Found

Tomorrow, we’re heading up to I-90, then heading west on that. We’ll probably stop somewhere in South Dakota tomorrow night.