I have a 1972 (or '73, I'm still not entirely certain of the year) Amerigo
16' trailer, hauled with a 2011 Ram 1500. Gas mileage wasn't the best, but the way I look at it, it's a whale of a lot less expensive than flying, hotels (which can be dicey..more on that later, and renting cars.)
The original plan was to drive to my son's home in Colorado and spend a few days with him and return to Maine. Like all well planned trips, it fairly quickly escalated to "why not drive to Keystone, S.D. to see Mt. Rushmore?". I'd certainly not ever been there before and although my (82 yr old) mother had been, she certainly wanted to go back to revisit it.
My mother held up very well I might add, she had several years of experience traveling the country with my step-dad in two of the truck campers that they owned, and fortunately loves an adventure.
We did not get an early start our first day, the previous weekend of trying to get everything ready for the gal that was taking care of my 3 horses, 2 dogs and the cat had worn me out more than I'd care to think about. So we probably left home at around 12:00..much later than I'd anticipated, and made it to NY state, Oneida to be exact. We stayed at a very nice campground called Turning Leaf Campground ($58 a night). I believe it is located on an Indian reservation, there was a nice hotel and gambling casino in the area we stopped. The campground was beautiful, plenty of activities, pool, playground, tennis courts, etc. And the sites were very nice and roomy. Paved pads to pull in on and all services. We were quite happy until a few minutes after we set up we heard a train run through..and it sounded like we bordered the train tracks. LOL. Fortunately I was either so tired I didn't notice it after awhile or the train didn't run all night.
We got a fairly early start the next day and made it through the rest of NY state, PA, OH, Ind, and Illinois and headed straight for Chicago. Bless GPS..it took us directly though Chicago on I90. I figured how bad could it be on a Sunday night...well, let me tell you, if there is another way around Chi town..take it. That night we made it to Rockford, Illinois to a Walmart yard. And I'd always heard that you should tell the Customer Service desk that you were there and ask them where they would prefer that you park. So I went inside and asked a Manager..who said, yes you can park here but you need to be gone by early a.m. Hmmm, the welcome wagon was not out that night. So my response was.."well, I sort of thought I'd come in a buy supplies tomorrow morning..would be be alright?". Oh, yes, she guessed so. This Walmart (or at least that manager, was not high on my list of favorite people.) I did go in the next day and made my purchases and we hit the road fairly early.
We then made it through Wisconsin and over the mighty Mississippi (and construction. LOL) and through Minnesota (beautiful scenery) and also saw a very cute, I think fairly new Casita
, being hauled by a nice old coupe. We tried to get some pictures of it, but mostly they are of the Casita
. Then we made it to Mitchell, S.D. Mitchell is known for it's Corn Palace, which is a pretty cool place to see, the entire building is decorated with parts and portions of corn. Corn leaves, corn kernels, very interesting to see. It's used for sporting events, and concerts and has a second floor with information all about the corn palace. It was fairly late when we got there, so we stopped at Chef Louie's for dinner, which was very good, and the people there, very welcoming and nice. We found a wonderful campground (Dakota Campground) for the night which we considered a win. I'd called to find out if they were open but got their answering machine and felt that they might be closed for the evening, just a few minutes later he returned my call (and I hadn't left a message.) and offered to open up when I got there. Again, nice and clean, he gave us a nice drive through spot and it turned out to be a nice quiet and reasonably priced ($28/night) camping area. Again we got a fairly early start (9 ish) and made it to Keystone, S.D and to Mt Rushmore to meet my son. We had a great time at Mt Rushmore, it is simply breathtaking and well worth the visit. I truly enjoyed the scenery and the learning experience. I think that it is a place that everyone should see at least once. From there we went to Happy Holidays Campground in Rapid City, S.D. Again, clean, reasonable, very nice people that run it and an altogether nice place to stay. We stayed only one night, and drove back toward Wall so that we could visit Wall Drug and the Badlands. Another must see is the Badlands, it is an amazing drive. We saw mountain goats, and prairie dogs while we were there, it was well worth doing. I even bought a National park pass (62 and over) for $10, which I understand will give me admission to any US National Park for life. And to top it off, the ranger didn't apparently think that I was old enough to qualify for the park pass, so I proved the point with my driver's liscense. Her parting words to me were that I should keep on doing whatever I have been because she thought I was in my 40's. Ha! Made my day!
From the Badlands, we drove down through Custer, S.D., through Wyoming and down into Colorado. It was a long day, but we made it to my son's home in the foothills of the Rockies. I just love Colorado, and we made several day trips during the five days we were there. Estes Park, Boulder for some shopping and to check out a specialty food store that is owned by my farrier's nephew. A road trip to Gold Hill and some of the beautiful scenery surrounding it. And one of the highlights of our trip was driving to Colorado Springs to meet with my 4th cousin, whom I'd never met. She and her husband are living full time in their bus converted into a beautiful and creative RV. They had come to Colorado Springs to attend a vintage Oldsmobile rally
, for which she is the editor of their magazine. It was a wonderful visit, and my mother related a few stories about her parents while we visited. A good time was had by all and we were so pleased that we were able to make a connection with them. We also drove through the Garden of the Gods while we were there, also a beautiful place to see and experience and no charge to visit!
As with every great vacation there comes a time when you have to head back home. I could go on and on. The traveling went fairly well. We stayed at the Prairie Oasis Campground and Cabins in Henderson, NB. Again. super clean, very reasonable and the owner Patty couldn't have been more helpful. When we stopped that night I found that a bottle of maple syrup had fallen out of an upper cabinet and the plastic cap and broken..I had maple syrup all over the floor of my camper. It had dried on the floor during the 100 degree temps..more like welded to the camper floor. Patty offered cleaning supplies and even offered to wash the cloths I'd used to clean up the mess. I was able to clean everything up fairly well and so didn't take advantage of her kindness. But it's the thought that counts and so kind of her to offer. Another great pull through site. Not a lot to offer young children, but plenty of swings to sit in an enjoy the summer evening and paddle boats that are free of charge to use in the pond that borders the campground. It was a lovely spot indeed.
Not a lot to report about the trip back, other than we lost about 5 hours of road time due to accidents and detours off of I80 through Ohio. We stayed another night at a KOA in Ohio (also built right next door to a railroad..what's up with that???) and a night at a Walmart in NY. And then a 10 hour ride home. Home was looking pretty good at that point. It was a nice trip and a long trip, and we enjoyed it very much. But I have come to the conclusion that I probably won't do another road trip that is quite that long until after I retire and can take it a bit easier. Sorry if I've bored you all to tears, but hopefully you can take away that there are some very nice, clean and quiet campgrounds along the roads, and hopefully it will help another weary traveler.