South for the Winter

Current Location: Pineglen RV Park, Panama City Beach, Florida

We made it through the weekend without any real weather concerns. Yes, it was cold (mid-20’s at night), but not terrible. We left our heated water hose hooked up and always had running water, so not bad.

On Saturday we did some shopping and on Sunday went to church. We mostly spent the rest of the time in the trailer taking it easy. Val is still recovering from the cold she caught before we left Washington. Malcolm, so far, has lucked out and avoided catching the same.

This morning we ran two different directions to get things done before we left Alabama. Malcolm filled another propane tank (running the furnace over the cold weekend ran through a whole tank) and made sure the truck was full of fuel. Val mailed off our 2016 t-shirts to the quilt folks and stopped by Dollar General for more cold supplies.

We loaded up and headed down to Panama City Beach around mid-morning, but not before stopping by to empty the trailer tanks. When Val brought in the slide-outs, she found quite a few asian ladybugs hiding behind the seals. It was too late to vacuum them up when we got to Florida, so we’ll be doing that through the week as they emerge into the warm trailer.

We arrived here around 3:30 PM and told David where we were. He came over and we went out to eat dinner at a place called Newk’s Eatery. It was pretty good food. We also stopped by Home Depot so David could price out some lumber needed for a shelving project he wants to do. He headed home afterwards.

We’ll be here through Saturday.

 

 

And We’re Here

Current Location: Kentucky Horse Park Campground, Lexington, Kentucky

“Here” would be Lexington, Kentucky, where we were heading after leaving Washington state 9 days ago. We’ll be here at the Horse Park campground in our favorite spot for a few days. Here’s a rundown of the rest of our trip here:

Once we left Sioux Falls, South Dakota, we decided to just drive as far as we felt like and stop for the night. As we were heading south on I-29 we decided to stop just after crossing into Missouri. Malcolm found a nice sounding campground (Rock Port Riversedge Campground) on our Allstays app and we just drove in. It was fairly full, but the super nice couple that run the campground found one open spot for us – perfect.

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Parked next to the cornfield in Rock Port, Missouri

It was sunny when we arrived in Rock Port, but it was rainy the next morning. We drove on south on I-29 to Kansas City, then turned east on I-70. That’s about when we ran out of rain and the skies turned sunny.

We realized in the last couple of days that we were going to have more days than miles, so we changed our Kentucky reservation to arrive on Thursday instead of Friday. Given that, we divided the drive from Rock Port, Missouri to Lexington into three fairly even increments. For Tuesday night, we ended up at another nice campground find – theĀ Lazy Day Campground in Danville, Missouri. It was a really nice campground and had the bonus of giving a 15% discount to Escapees members (like us).

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Lazy Day Campground site.

We left Lazy Day on Wednesday with the intent of staying the night in Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park campground in western Kentucky. We entered the campground mid-afternoon to find the office closed but instructions to grab an envelope, find a site that isn’t reserved, drop money in and deposit the envelope.

We drove around the campground and found that the only empty 50 amp sites had the power post located 50 or more feet away from the site. Our power cord wouldn’t reach that far. We then decided to drive around and look at the 30 amp sites. About the time we found one that looked suitable, a gentleman in a plumbing company van stopped to tell us that there was a water leak in the park and that most of the park water was going to be off overnight. We decided to look elsewhere since all the sites were fairly unlevel, under low hanging branches or other issues.

We ended up Wednesday night in the nearby Paducah / I-24 / Kentucky Lake KOA, run by a very nice older couple. Given the For Sale sign outside of the campground and their age, we figured they were ready to fully retire. We left the truck hooked up to the trailer for the night and headed out in the morning. The gentleman that owned the place stopped us and thanked us for stopping through.

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Our KOA site

Today we headed up the road to our final destination here at the Horse Park. We had reserved our favorite site based on previous experience with the site. The nice thing is that it is the last site on the row with our door facing the large expanse of grass between our site and the main road. Plus, it is in the back part of the park, so less traffic going by.

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Most of our front yard here at the Horse Park

Plans for the long weekend are to visit the Horse Park, head over to Paris, Kentucky for the Secretariat Festival, visit with Malcolm’s aunt and uncle, have dinner with some friends of ours that live in the area and visit with Val’s sister and family.

Monday morning we head down the road to Chattanooga for several days at a Heartland Owners Club rally being held there.

 

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.

 

Montana and More Planning

Current Location: Deer Lodge KOA, Deer Lodge, Montana

We packed up this morning and headed out from Buffalo, Wyoming towards Montana. Fresh from last night’s reservation-making, we were confident that we’d be staying in the Grant County, Washington fairgrounds campground on Saturday evening. Still, just to be safe, we decided to call the fairgrounds to make sure.

That’s when we found it pays to be flexible again. When Malcolm called the fairgrounds office, they indicated that they don’t open the campground unless their is some type of event going on and there isn’t right now. They did suggest a nearby city-run campground, instead, so Malcolm called them up.

The first person that answered the phone said that she was pretty confident we wouldn’t have any problem getting a site, but that there is a two-night minimum. Malcolm told her that we would call around to make sure we could re-arrange some reservations. We decided that we would travel on to Deer Lodge today instead of stopping in Livingston. Deer Lodge said that we could come on in today instead of tomorrow.

We couldn’t drop the Livingston reservation without losing all of our $50 deposit, though. However, we could change the reservation to a later date, so we changed it to coincide with our trip back east in early September.

With all that coordinated, Malcolm called the first campground back again. Another person answered and he wasn’t sure if they could accommodate a rig our size, but he was going to call the camp host at the campground to see what they could do. We drove on down the road while waiting for a callback. Once he called back, he said he could put us in an overflow area where could at least get electricity. Then he asked when we planned on arriving. This is where we should have asked up front. They are completely booked over the weekend, including the overflow area.

On our next stop, Malcolm just started calling around to campgrounds up and down I-90 between Deer Lodge, Montana and the eastern third of Washington state. He finally found a site for Saturday night at a little campground in the middle of Idaho and reserved that. Once we got to Deer Lodge, we found that we could stay two nights here, so that covers us through the weekend. Phew.

After all that phone calling and planning, we’re glad that we’ve finally got all the bases covered all the way through and including Labor Day weekend. After that weekend things get a lot easier to book, so we are more confident we’ll have a place to stay all the way back east. Such is the life of a full-time RV’er.

At any rate, here we are at the Deer Lodge KOA. We stayed here back in 2013 heading west with our son riding along with us. Though it is a small park in the middle of town, it is nice and quiet. The owner was very accommodating to all our changes.

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Some Montana Big Sky in the background

Tomorrow we’ll be running various errands around town in preparation for our week and a half camping with the family at Lake Chelan, Washington.

 

 

 

Wyoming and Planning

Current Location: Buffalo KOA, Buffalo, Wyoming

This morning we decided to take up the Mt. Rushmore KOA on their offer of all you can eat pancakes for $3. Though we only ate what they originally put on our plate (3 pancakes), it was a pretty good deal. After breakfast, we went back to the trailer, hitched up and headed out.

We had a windy drive today. A couple gusts hit us broadside and reminded us to take it easy, so we slowed back a bit. We stopped in Gillette, Wyoming at a truck stop and had lunch. It was about an hour from there when we arrived here in Buffalo, Wyoming. We were able to score the same creekside spot we had last fall when we were heading east through the same route.

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Creekside spot at Buffalo KOA

After we got set up, Malcolm took care of some work. Afterwards, we decided to eat out at a local steakhouse. The food was delicious and plentiful. We’ll have leftovers for dinner tomorrow night, for sure. After dinner we went to the grocery to get a few items and stopped to fill up the truck with fuel.

Our original plans had us stopping in Montana on Thursday, then on to either Coeur D’Alene, Idaho or Spokane, Washington for a two-night Friday/Saturday stay. It is still summer, though, and campgrounds in both areas are booked solid through the weekend.

We adapted and decided to stop in Livingston, Montana tomorrow night and Deer Lodge, Montana on Friday night, even though Deer Lodge and Livingston are not real far apart. On Saturday, we’ll make a fairly long (380-ish mile) trip on over to Moses Lake, Washington. There, we hope to find an empty spot in the Grant County Fairgrounds campground. Given that nothing is scheduled until their fair in a couple weeks and they have almost 300 campsites, we figure we’ll be able to find something.

Summer destinations are the bane of the full-time RV traveler. Many campgrounds understandably book up in advance for the weekends, requiring some pre-planning or flexibility on the part of the full-timer. Once we’re past Labor Day weekend, things typically open up pretty well.