It was a long .. fun (for the most part !) trip … we were very fortunate in that we encountered no mechanical issues with either Casita or Sierra truck .. we stayed healthy for the entire trip with the exception of my cold last week. Our maps and planning were pretty much spot on (thanks Debbie !) .. very few ‘surprises’ on the road. If we are fortunate enough to undertake another long trip like this .. we will do it .. we just need to figure out where and when ! Thanks for following us !
We started our ‘adventure’ on April 25 … returned on June 20 .. almost 2 months on the road .. it’s the longest trip we’ve taken in the Casita .. Total mileage for trip was approx 11,600 miles. We saw many things ..visited many places .. some planned .. some unplanned .. a lot of times the unplanned adventures were the ones we’ll remember the most. Of course we enjoyed the National & State Parks .. It was our second opportunity to visit Arches.. Grand Canyon .. Bryce Canyon .. Sedona .. Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. New (to us) adventures included Slot Canyons in Page AZ .. Carlsbad Caverns .. White Sands .. Saguaro National Park .. Custer State Park .. and Crazy Horse Monument.
Some of our ‘unplanned’ adventures included ..
Being under a tornado watch in Mulberry Grove Ill.. we saw sky turn from pretty blue in the afternoon to almost black by the evening. We were up most of the night listening to our NOAA radio .. listening as towns near us were in the path of significant tornados and heavy rains/wind. A little crazy in that we would have to check maps as towns were being mentioned to figure out where tornado(s) were heading. By the end of the night … we were very familiar on how to understand NOAA broadcasts !
Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo Tx … We’ve heard of this place .. but .. never thought we’d see it … car ‘sculptures’ .. half buried in a farmland … Very strange …
‘Fiesta Del Rio’ … Fiesta by the River and Balloon Festival in Roswell NM .. we just happened to be in Roswell when they were having both events.. Fiesta by the River was a small ‘party’ in an open field with food trucks … games for kids .. mechanical bull ride and volleyball and flag football games … hot day .. we had some Hawaiian shaved ice .. and watched some of the football games .. We watched many balloons launch for the hot air balloon festival .. blue sky day .. colorful balloons .. fun to watch them set up and lift off.
Pima Air & Space Museum .. and ‘The Boneyard’ in Tucson AZ … another place we’ve read about but had no plans to visit .. Air & Space Museum turned out to be pretty amazing… Rows and rows of almost every plane that has flown in Armed Services … Fighters.. Bombers .. Experimental … and on and on. They were all lined up on a flight line so you could walk up to and around all of them… ‘Boneyard’ tour was interesting in that there were acres and acres of planes that were in stages of being decommissioned … some wrapped up to preserve them for possible use at a later date .. some taken apart so they can be used for spare parts .. and some were just ‘outdated’ technology .. there was also a huge collection of helicopters that are longer is use .. sad to hear that some planes have been sent directly from manufacturer to ‘Boneyard’ … never really flown in any significant manner .. what a waste of taxpayer $$$$$..
Canyonlands Rodeo in Moab UT …. It was a small local rodeo … it was fun to be apart of a local event that has been held for 50 years by the small town of Moab … a lot of young kids participated in pre rodeo activities by dancing and performing skits in the arena .. you could tell everyone was very excited about having the rodeo in their town.
Short ride to get home this morning …. by 11:30 we were in the driveway .. unpacking truck & Casita .. Blue skies and warm weather …. excellent ! A lot of yard work to do .. laundry .. a lot of cleaning to do.. no food in the house … Terri was pleasantly surprised to find her peonies intact .. all 3 plants blooming nicely .. usually deer consume flowers as soon as they bloom !
Tonight I’ll update blog for the last time regarding our trip … Two months worth of ‘adventures’ .. not sure how we can sum them up in a few paragraphs !!
Thursday … by the numbers !
8:30 breakfast and on the road
9:00 windshield wipers on .. raining .. again
11:30 cross state line into PA !
3:30 arrive at KOA in Belafonte PA … 328 miles
Since leaving Custer SD .. we’ve had 4 consecutive days of driving in cloud covered .. rainy weather. Rained on/off for most of today … skies brightened up a little as we arrived at tonights destination. Our trip officially ends tomorrow (Friday) .. we should be home around noon.. approx 150 travel miles. We’ll take a little extra time tomorrow to give Casita black tank a thorough cleaning .. time to bust out the ‘swizel stick’ ! We probably won’t take Casita out again until Fall .. being gone for 2 months .. we have ALOT of catching up to do …
Todays Travel Route
Tomorrow’s Route .. Home !
Illinois … Indiana and Ohio !!
Went a little further than planned .. we are staying tonite in Perrysburg Ohio .. just outside of Toledo .. Logged 402 miles today … make that 402 ‘challenging’ miles ! Road construction .. lane closers .. and heavy rain & lightning for last 3 hours of our day.
I 80 border of Illinois and Indiana was the worst we’ve encountered the entire trip .. 2 hours of road construction .. poor road signage contributed to our missing our turn off to E 80 in Indiana … Not enough warning for us to get in turning lane for 80 … I don’t think it actually was a turning lane .. I think they used road shoulder as turn off .. Between the road construction .. 4 lanes of traffic with mostly 18 wheelers .. 18 wheelers blocking our vision .. it was a mess .. we passed our turnoff then had to reroute ourselves back to 80 .. causing us some delays…
Next .. having survived that .. our last 3 hours were in a heavy rain and lightning storm … couldn’t get away from it as we were driving into it. It’s bad enough driving in a rain storm .. but .. the high volume of 18 wheelers on the road .. made the driving worse … rain ‘blowback’ from trucks really cuts down on your vision..
Almost no tolls the entire trip until .. I .. I .. and Ohio .. Seems like every few miles there were toll booths .. Having EZ pass helped us a lot .. no maneuvering into lanes to pay. We payed a toll as we left Indiana .. within a mile or 2 .. toll booth entering Ohio … got us coming and going !
No unhitching again tonite … just connected water & electric .. glad rain slacked off when we arrived at campsite .. starting to rain again as we’re blogging. Looks like we can make home with just one more overnight stop .. we’re thinking Bellafonte PA will be it .. from there .. we can make it home with no problems … Showers .. another cup of tea .. some Kindle reading .. then sleep … it’s been a long .. long day .. and it’s only 7pm !
ps… Things get a bit worse … Showers in this campground are the worst we’ve ever seen !!! It’s a KOA .. they’ve always been pretty good .. THIS is the exception.. Terri’s shower did not drain .. she showered in ankle deep water .. Men’s room commode was loose from it’s base so it would wobble .. one stall was closed .. toilet hardly flushed. 2 inch gap between shower stall and wall .. to make it worse they have CLEAR shower curtains .. NO privacy at all .. no air circulation .. and numerous bugs !! Jeez .. what a mess .. this place needs to be condemned … good thing we are here for one night … good news is that it got us off I 80 .. and their internet is decent !
Our zig-zag route today … notice how close Worthington (see blog) and Sioux City are to us … both of those cities got flooding damage
Heavy rains last night .. our proposed travel route from I 29 S to 80 E is a no go .. I 29 S flooded .. roads closed .. working on alternate route over breakfast this morning .. as of now … thinking taking I 90 E until we can bypass flooded areas .. then turn South to pick up 80 E .. Will check with KOA office for any road updates before we leave .. Should be an interesting day on the road ! Will update blog later in the day …….
Plan B was in effect … After checking road conditions with 511 .. internet and campground folks .. we decided to stay on I 90 E .. through Minnesota for approx 3 hours .. then turned S on I 35 S taking us to Des Moines Iowa .. then on to 80 East … We encountered no road delays (other than normal road construction) … Long day behind the wheel today .. 480 miles .. approx 8 hours of driving. We are staying at KOA in Rock Island just inside Illinois border … this means we had a 4 state day … SD.. Minn.. Iowa .. and Ill .. !
Area of Sioux Falls received 2.5 to 5 inches of rain yesterday .. causing a lot flooding in the area .. other towns received up to 10 inches (Worthington .. 10 inches .. people were evacuated) … Driving through Minn we noted a lot of farms partially flooded and rivers up to their banks …
Trip observations ..
There were hundreds and hundreds of Wind Turbines on I 90 in Minn … (we googled .. they cost approx 2.5 mil per unit !) … One turbine can supply power for approx 500 homes for a year
Rest stops in Minn are NOT too spiffy … bare bones !
Hate when folks park their cars at gas pumps .. leave their car .. go into store and take their time shopping for goods.. Happenned twice today .. had to back Casita up at a pump to go to another pump .. guy finally comes out with bags of snacks … seriously .. park your car AWAY from pumps !
Buy gas in Iowa .. Illinois is much more expensive
Next stop should be in Indiana !
Today’s route … almost entirely on 90 E .. almost made it out of the state .. tomorrow we link up with 29 S … then we stay on E 80 all the way home .. Severe flooding/weather/tornado alerts for Sioux City tonite .. just South of us…
Racked up some miles today .. approx 380 miles .. 6 hours of driving time .. Before we arrived at our KOA Sioux Falls campsite .. we stopped in Mitchell to check out the one and only ‘Corn Palace’.. Unfortunately .. they were working on front of Palace .. but .. they did complete one of the sides of the building .. Because there were storms in area .. we did not take time to go inside the building … we still had an hour of driving till we reached our campsite .. and skies were getting darker and darker by the minute.
Arrived at campsite as rain started to intensify … parked truck .. no unhitching tonite .. throw on raincoat .. set up water/electric/cable and headed into Casita .. soaked … Of course .. 10-15 minutes later .. rain stopped.. Seems as though severe storm & tornado warnings are hitting Sioux City SD … South of us !!!
Driving towards Sioux Falls
Father’s day breakfast in downtown Custer .. then on to Sylvan Lake for some photos while sun was out and sky was blue.. weather changing quickly .. taking advantage while we can. Sylvan Lake is very nice .. very scenic .. we walked around a trail that led us around entire lake .. easier said than done .. trail included some rock scrambling as well as walking path. Sylvan Lake (as well as several areas in Park) seem to be a very popular areas for weddings .. past 2 days we’ve seen 3 or 4 weddings either in progress or setting up .. scenery is that good in the Park.
Downtown Custer is a pretty nice small town .. several small shops and restaurants .. but . not too touristy .. their main street is supposed to be the widest in the USA ..
Main Street in Custer
After our lake walk .. we headed to Wildlife loop to try and find the 1490 missing missing from yesterday .. no luck .. the entire 1500 herd is now missing ! Actually .. Park is so big and has numerous rolling hills that they could be on a hill that you can’t see from the road … lots of places for them to hide from the camera toting tourists. But .. we ran into our burro friends from yesterday .. they were in an open field schmoozing with the tourists .. grubbing for apples/carrots .. etc .. no wonder that burro stuck his head in my window yesterday .. he was looking for something to eat. Burros were very docile .. they would let you pet them as they went from person to person looking for handouts.
Back to campsite for dinner .. grilled up a steak and some potatoes .. A few phone calls and FaceTime chats .. then geared up for tomorrows departure .. in that all our ‘vacation’ destinations are done .. with the exception of ‘The Corn Palace’ in SD .. we’ll be doing a lot of steady driving until we arrive home … probably next Sun if all goes well.