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.

 

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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).

 

Rolling East – Part 1

Location: Green Tree’s Crazy Woman Campground, Gillette, Wyoming

Dates: Sept. 10 to 11, 2017

After leaving the rally in Red Lodge, Montana, our next stop was in Gillette, Wyoming. We arrived mid-afternoon. After setting up the rig, we went to the gas station and the grocery, then back to the trailer for dinner.

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We were anxiously watching the news reports and our security camera on our site in Florida as Hurricane Irma passed through the state. Even though the eye of the hurricane practically passed right over our place, we didn’t have any damage. Some aluminum trim blew off a neighbor’s RV port and landed next to our car (not on the car). Also, our car cover blew off but is still wrapped around the rear tire. We’ll clean up when we get there next week.

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Malcolm got up early and took the truck to the Ford dealer across the street from the campground. It was due for an oil change and we thought it might be time for brakes on it. Mid-morning, Malcolm dropped off a payment for a second night’s stay but the truck was done about 10:30 since it didn’t need brakes yet. We called the office (they weren’t in yet) and told them to void out the check for the second night’s stay.

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We went ahead and rolled on out around 11:00 am and headed on east.

Location: Arrow Campground, Wall, South Dakota

Dates: Sept. 11 to 12, 2017

We took a little shorter drive today since we left Gillette later than we usually leave on a travel day. We arrived around 4:00 PM, got the trailer set up and headed out to fuel up the truck. We also walked around Wall Drug for a while, eating dinner in their diner. We ended up back at the trailer for the rest of the evening.

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We packed up and headed out fairly early from Wall since we had a longer drive to our next stop.

Location: Sioux City North KOA, North Sioux City, South Dakota

Dates: Sept. 12 to 13, 2017

On our way through South Dakota, we stopped at the rest area near Chamberlain. This time last year they had just unveiled this statue, named “Dignity”, that we didn’t notice through here last year. Tomorrow (Sept. 13) was to be her first birthday.

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We arrived at the North Sioux City KOA late in the afternoon since it was a longer driving day. After getting set up, we took one of our quilts over to the laundry to wash it (Callie had thrown up on it the other night).

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After doing our laundry, Malcolm grilled dinner while he flushed out the black tank and emptied the gray tanks. We left the truck hitched to the trailer for tonight’s stop. Tomorrow, it’s on to the Illinois-Iowa border.

 

 

 

Heading East and South

Current Location: Sioux Falls KOA, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

We left western Washington state on Tuesday morning and drove east on I-90. The first two days were longer drive days (close to 400 miles each day). As such, the first two nights on the road we just left the trailer hooked up to the truck overnight. We stopped at Kellogg, Idaho (same campground we stayed in on the way west) and south of Livingston, Montana. Both nights, Malcolm caught up on work and Val caught up on laundry.

On Thursday night, we stopped in Buffalo, Wyoming. Since it was a shorter trip, we decided to unhitch the truck. We drove into town and ate dinner at a downtown Mexican Cantina and Bar. The food was good. We also walked through a couple shops before they all started closing for the evening.

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Occidental Hotel, downtown Buffalo, Wyoming

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Buffalo, Wyoming downtown mural

After dinner and walking around downtown, we stopped at the gas station to fuel up the truck and headed back to the trailer. A cold front blew in overnight and brought the temperatures down into the 40’s overnight. Brrr. It remained cool on Friday as we headed to Wall, South Dakota for a two-night stay.

We stayed in the Sleepy Hollow Campground in Wall, which is only a couple blocks away from the famous Wall Drug Store. We stopped here last year, but it was just as fun this year. So much kitsch. The advertisements for the place dot I-90 for hundreds of miles each direction (we were seeing them back in Wyoming).

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Wall Drug Store

On Saturday, we loaded up in the truck and did a driving tour through Badlands National Park. It was a beautiful day and the temperatures were warming up into the upper 70’s by afternoon. When we got to the visitor center area, we stopped and ate lunch at the restaurant at the lodge, did some shopping and headed on out of the park back towards I-90.

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Badlands National Park scenery

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Colorful Badlands scenery

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More Badlands

Malcolm took a lot of pictures of the Badlands with his good camera. More pictures can be found in his photography site by clicking here.

As we left the Badlands park area, we ran across a small historical site that is an original prairie homestead. We decided to stop in and visit. Very interesting exhibit of the mostly original home from the late 1800’s.

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Prairie Home

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The kitchen and dining room. Bedroom behind the curtain

As we approached the interstate, we found that the fairly new Minuteman National Historical Site building so we stopped in. It was too late for any guided tours, but we were directed to an exit near Wall where we could take a look at a remaining silo. We did that on the way back to Wall. Pretty neat. (Malcolm couldn’t post pictures as our blog site is acting up).

Today we headed out from Wall and made it to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We are staying at the KOA here. There is a craft beer brewery across the street, so we decided to check that out. Malcolm enjoyed a very good seasonal beer that they were serving. Val had a tasty root beer from somewhere nearby. We used them to wash down some Dot’s Pretzels, which are apparently a regional treat. They are pretty tasty.

Tomorrow we start heading southward as well as continuing east.

 

A Train Ride

Current Location: Mt. Rushmore KOA, Hill City, South Dakota

Today we decided to ride the 1880 train. Malcolm purchased tickets online before we headed into Hill City where the train departs. The first run of the day uses their diesel locomotive. However, we signed up for the second run of the day, which leaves Hill City at 10:00 AM.

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Filling the water tank

We boarded our train and it pulled out of Hill City at 10:00. The ride over the hill to Keystone takes about an hour. The train chug, chug, chugs over a 4-6% grade on the way out of Hill City.

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Inside of our car

We arrived at Keystone and got off the train to do some walking around town and to look for some lunch. We arrived around 11:00 and our return ride departed at 2:30, so we had time for some sightseeing.

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Chugging over the pass

After lunch and some shopping, we went back to the train platform to rest our feet by sitting on the last open bench. Our train arrived on time and we got on board. We sat in a fancier car on the way back.

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Inside the fancy car

The cars are all nicely refurbished and well-maintained. They were mostly of early 1900’s vintage. The railroad has been in operation here for many years.

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Scenic view along the way

Once back in Keystone, we dropped our shopping bag off in the truck and left it in the train station parking lot while we walked around Hill City for a bit. Then we headed back to the campground to eat dinner and relax for the rest of the evening.

Tomorrow we head on up the road to Buffalo, Wyoming.