Back From WY!! - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-03-2011, 05:54 PM   #1
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Back From WY!!

Well we made it back in one piece!! What a trip!! 6000 miles total and I have to count up how many states. The route home took a completely different turn eliminating one state and traveling through another due to having to drive farther looking for a place to stop. There are 2 less racoons in the world, drove through the worse road construction on US 18 in SD ever where the pilot car ran off and left me through soft dirt they just layed down as a "road" in which my minivan/trailer about got stuck and was sliding sideways it was so deep, I couldnt even see the pilot car or other traffic and was going along beside machinery whos tires towered over me throwing dirt and mud onto my windshield while praying they could see me down here since they wouldnt be looking for a car so far away from the rest of the group, got panhandled by Indians selling medicine pouches and ended up buying a beaded necklace so one would leave me alone (thanks to my 8 yr old begging please mommy, it's so pretty), couldnt find 3 of the 4 campgrounds by GPS or Trailer Life directions even after calling one of them and being told they were easy to find and just follow the GPS, why is it CG's dont have lights or even signs?!?! We never did find one so drove another 20+ miles to the next CG in IA arriving around 1am getting the last spot which was reserved due to a Scandavian Convention in town. I took it anyway and hoped nobody came to claim it in the night. We arrived in AL 5 mins after our COE Park locked the gates and had to find another palce. There was 1 "Campground" and 1 "RV Resort" which were actually scarry Permanent Resident Trailer Parks so our last hope was a State Park which the gates were locked but as we were sitting there trying to figure out what to do next a nice Ranger came by for security checks and felt sorry for us and let us in since by now it was nearly midnight. We were the only ones on the entire loop and it was pitch black. Creeeeeeeeeeeeepy, lol. Ya'll already know about the emergency lane change in Montgomery, AL due to a tow truck coming at me in my lane, I lost a highway somehow going through road construction in a small town in GA where apparantly US 82 took a turn somewhere but the signs were down so I just went on through the town which turned out to be Hwy 19 South but thankfully it did run into I-10 in FL so no harm no foul. I just had planned to stay on 82 all the way to just N. of Jacksonville to avoid I-10. Drove through Birmingham, AL at 5:30pm with construction so that was exciting. While at my folks in WY we got hailed on several times and driving rain. Tabitha didnt leak a drop and suffered no dents or dings. The hail was about pea size and once a few golf ball sized came down but thankfully didnt last long. My fridge died a slow death on the way to TX so I have to get that looked at. A small 1000 watt generator is now on the wish list before next year's trip b/c the only reason I needed hookups was to run the A/C since I choose a nationwide heatwave to take my first cross country trip with a trailer. If I have a generator for next year I wont need to find campgrounds. Walmarts and Rest Stops will do just fine. Tabitha got beat and banged over the worst roads in IA, hit rail road tracks in small towns all across America that no matter how slow you try and crawl over them they are still rough, peeled out of a parking lot when more panhandlers were coming at us throwing gravel as we left, lol. Ever heard that song "Uneasy rider" by Charlie Daniels? I had a few of those moments......

We had other little adventures and challenges but I wont go into that in this already long post. Bottom line, it was loads of fun, frustrating and scarry at times, Tabitha performed flawlessly no matter what came at her, no leaks, not so much as a lose screw or open cabinet, e'thing rode tight even while playing leapfrog/seesaw on some roads. I hit elevations as high as 5500 feet and grades of 6%. The minivan did good but I wouldnt want to tow anything heavier up those hills. I never even hit any mountains, just hills along the CO/NE border, and some hills in WY and SD. I honestly dont know how folks with minivans and small SUV's tow 16/17 foot trailers up the Rockies etc. Maybe I was just too cautious but I climed hills at about 45 mph and 3000 RPM with my Sienna. My gas mileage was terrible on this trip averaging between 12-15 mpg running 55-60 mph. That's over a 10 mpg drop where I see folks post only a 5 mpg or less with their Scamp 13. Gas mileage, trailer height/shape is gonna be another post though. My Sienna ate $700 in gas to go 2300 miles and I swear IA and MO were uphill the entire way South! LOL. Tabitha was comfy but have to do something about the "She's touching me, she kicked me first, she poked me, stop it" etc etc. Dont know how we're gonna sleep the 4 of us yet....taking the A/C in and out every night when you've driven 12 hrs and nearly 500 miles was a huge hassle, need to find a permanent solution. We didnt plan to drive so long/late but we really struggled finding places to stay and we had state maps, GPS, Trailer Life Guide, COE Guidebook and a State Parks Guide Book. Just not a lot off the interstates along the US Highways we wanted to travel.

Ok, I'm tired so gonna just catch up on some reading on the site. I'll post more later along with pix!!

It's good to be home! Have to clean my van/trailer tomorrow as they are soooooooooo filthy. Well, depending on if the Tropical Storm is gonna rain on us more like it's doing now maybe wont get washed for a few days.

Oh! Saw a Trillium 4500 on I-90 West of either Siox Falls, SD or Sioux City, IA I forget which being towed by a black passenger car, was so shocked to see the Trill I forgot to take note of the tow vehicle. It was on on Sat. Jul 30th.

Melissa
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Old 08-03-2011, 06:36 PM   #2
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WOW, thanks for the trip report Melissa. Sounds like you had quite a time. LOOK AT ALL THE MEMORIES YOU MADE! Can't wait for the pictures
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Old 08-03-2011, 07:00 PM   #3
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WOW is right! You had more than your share of tribulations. Panhandlers throwing rocks? Egad! I hope you enjoyed the scenery and helped the kids make some lasting good memories. The fuel economy (or lack thereof) doesn't surprise me a bit, sorry if it did surprise you but it's right about where I would have expected. How many days were you gone altogether?
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Old 08-03-2011, 10:38 PM   #4
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Melissa, wow! You must be an adventure magnet! What an exciting trip!

Sounds like you had a ball. Thanks so much for the report... and I'm dying to see pictures, too!!!
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Old 08-03-2011, 10:43 PM   #5
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Yes I remember the emergency lane change in Montgomery. Well, no leaks thats great to hear. That ranger better open the gate for you...you have kids. Thumbs up for them. Thanks for sharing your adventure.
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Old 08-07-2011, 08:06 PM   #6
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Your trip sounds like it was very worthwhile and full of learning about new places and things. Traveling in many of the same areas, we haven't encountered all the difficulties you mentioned, or maybe we are just more used to them (rough roads, dirt roads, etc.).

I do have to make one comment about your reference to the "Indian panhandlers" in South Dakota. We have traveled to South Dakota for years, volunteering on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to make bunkbeds, dig outhouse pits, and rehab homes. This is the poorest economic part of the U.S. and has been generally forgotten by the government and the public. We always plan to take along our "jewelry" money on every trip because we know that one purchase of a necklace or dreamcatcher may be the only money that family earns in a month beyond a government welfare check. The average family income on the reservation is less than $4,000 per year and jobs are non-existent unless you drive the 100 miles to Rapid City. Not likely with no money and no gas. It was unfortunate that you may have run into some people who seemed rude and insistent to you, and they are out there, but the VAST majority are just looking for a way to make a meager living. By the way, their products are SO MUCH better than the stuff you find in the rest stops, and it feeds their families.

Sorry for the sermon. I just didn't want you to think that these are bad folks. They have been dumped on for over 100 years and most tourists just pass through marveling at the poor housing and lousy roads.

Glad you made it back safely! I've really enjoyed reading about your trailer saga.

Kevin
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Old 08-07-2011, 08:37 PM   #7
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Thanks, Kevin. That is reassuring. It was dark and I was filling my tank and he was standing so close he was touching my arm and staring at my 15 y/o daughter who was holding her 8 yr old sister's hand on my other side. I was going to have the kids get back in the van but others were standing by the doors. I dont mind helping folks out but they should know better than to crowd a woman traveling alone with kids. I was watching him closely in the reflection of my van and was ready to pull out the fuel nosel and use it if necessary. That was how unsafe they made us feel and it should have been evident as I moved off as far as possible to still allow fueling and he kept stepping forward. It was Pine Ridge area in the town of Mission we stopped in. That is one thing about traveling out West I've learned is if you're down to a half tank you need gas no matter where you are you'd better stop. It was on US 18. We made the next left we came to and backtracked 36 miles North to the interstate. We spent the night in Presho, SD at an adorable CG off I-90. That guy scared my teen so bad she was crying all the way back to the interstate saying she wanted Daddy and my daughter doesnt scare easy. I kept reassuring her we were ok and wouldnt go that route again. I couldnt believe the conditions of the area. I dont see how they are ever to improve their lives with no opportunity to do so. Each generation is going to be stuck like the previous ones. On the plus side the necklace is pretty and I'd like to know if they make them or purchase in bulk for the tourists?

Thanks for the info, I didnt mean to sound condescending I just didnt appreciate the pushyness and I felt they did it on purpose b/c I was traveling alone with kids at night so they could intimidate me.
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Old 08-08-2011, 05:29 AM   #8
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Melissa,

Had we known that you were taking that route, we would have warned you. It is not safe to drive the Rez at night, because alcoholism is so pervasive. The state of SD also refuses to upgrade 18 (although we did not make it out there this year; things may have changed), because they want to police the Rez, and the tribe has their own police. If you review the history of Wounded Knee II, it is not too hard to see why they don't want outsiders policing the Rez.

You hit the nail on the head about future generations. If you ever have a chance, go back in a way that you can see the positive side of the Rez. They do have a college with centers in each larger "town." The Lakota are funny when you get to know them.

Sorry that you were going through there at night. I would have been scared too. One Lakota hit us up for money in the daylight last time we were there. He taught us the proper Lakota way to shake hands with a woman, and then took our money to the bar next door.

CindyL (Kevin's wife)

PS: My most beautiful earrings were made there. I paid 20.00 for them. The mother turned to her 7 year old daughter after I gave her my cash and said, "Now we can buy groceries."
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Old 08-08-2011, 07:27 AM   #9
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Hi mellisab,
Thanks for the detailed description of your trip. You certainly took a big bite for your first adventure in your new trailer; a mother alone with two daughters and 6,000 miles.
Your experience guides us all in planning and researching our route through unfamiliar areas. While your encounter with the disadvantaged happened to be with Native Americans it can easily happen in many depressed areas around the country; many inner city areas are just as scary, if not more so. The shortest route isn't always the safest; sometimes the choice is limited though. Taking the road less traveled offers many opportunities for unforgettable memories but often with increased risks. Those risks include breakdowns as well as human encounters. We learn as we go and you arrived home safely. Those scary moments will be family memories that will make you all stronger. Your daughters will have lots of stories to share with there friends that will surely beat what there friends did at the pool. "You won't believe what Mommy did!"
Congratulations!
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Old 08-08-2011, 08:14 AM   #10
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Road Less Traveled

We are fans of the roads less traveled.

Generally the traffic is less, the roads interesting and the people more supportive. Most people on the traveled roads, interstates, are almost flying along totally focused on destination and not the journey.

In our 11 years of RVing we have not had a single moment of concern for our safety other than from grizzles and the like.

One positive aspect of the Interstate system is that you don't often run in to difficult roads. On the road less traveled you do need to plan for steeper grades and the like.

Norm
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Old 08-08-2011, 09:27 AM   #11
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I agree with Kevin's comments and feel If you ever get a chance to return to Pine Ridge area you may learn more about the locals and become less afraid. Because it is a desolate area one has to feel so sorry to what we have forced upon the native Americans. Try to visit when there are local rodeos held and get to watch some fascinating horse riding. New Pine Ridge rodeo arena and horse racing track opens | www.lakotacountrytimes.com | Lakota Country Times. There is also a restored original prairie farm near Interior near the Badlands NP. Prairie Homestead Historic Site - Philip - Reviews of Prairie Homestead Historic Site - TripAdvisor
Scenic, Sd historic town http://abcnews.go.com/Business/south...ry?id=14161125
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Old 08-08-2011, 10:13 AM   #12
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And the very best chocolate cake you will ever have can be had at Aunt Betty's Kitchen. This restaurant, run by a great granddaughter of Black Elk (Black Elk Speaks - you can see his cabin in the valley below the restaurant), really is her kitchen. It is stuck outside of any "town" (Few towns on Pine Ridge are what we call towns. They are clusters of houses that we would condemn and probably did before they were given to the Lakota.), right across from these beautiful bluffs.


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Old 08-08-2011, 10:16 AM   #13
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It never knew Kevin and Cindy are hubby and wife, neat. We know you didn't sound any bad way melissa. Your out there on the road with two girls and really have watch out for them, cheers.
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Old 08-08-2011, 10:25 AM   #14
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how about some indian tacos
Woodenknife Indian Fry Bread Mix, from the Badlands of South Dakota
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Old 08-08-2011, 10:27 AM   #15
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indian tacos, yum, had plenty of those. Now i can't get them out of my mind ha ha.
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Old 08-08-2011, 10:45 AM   #16
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Thanks e'one for the advice and encouragement. This was my first time ever venturing off the interstate. The experience was freeing. I was able to avoid all major cities that I chose to, show the kids small towns which had Historic court houses, churches, old gas stations with the orginal pumps, town squares and other stuff they've never seen, find farmers stands for fresh produce along the roads, and drive at a leisurely pace so that we actualy felt like we were on vacation the entire time instead of racing towards a destination to start our vacation. The farther West I got the lonlier and more desolate it became and I did think about breakdowns and not having cell service. I made sure I checked my tires daily, did a safety check of van and trailer at every stop, and was more aware of gauges, sounds etc to hopefully catch a problem before I was stranded far from anywhere. It was comforting knowing we had the trailer for food and shelter if we had to wait for help to come along. Every road but one I traveled had a vehicle occasionally and frequently it would be a County/Highway Truck or a Wildlife/Ranger. The only road where I didnt see another car for miles and miles was US 18 in SD. Funny, I didnt initially plan on taking that road but wanted to take a different route back than I'd taken before and since it was a US highway I thought why not. I was going to post my route on here before leaving to get opinions but being far from civilization as my folks are the internet went down 2 days before I was to leave. I didnt see any "larger" towns at all from the time I entered US 18 till I left it. In fact, I was shocked to see a "town" would show up on my GPS or map and when I arrived it only had a bar. I found out from the CG owner on I-90 who has lived and worked in the area driving trucks all over the reservations that the Co-op I stopped at was the local "watering hole" which is why e'body had brown bags in their hands and were being quite vocal about my daughter's figure etc. He said I couldnt have stopped at a worse place at night but had I kept going East on US 18 it gets much better so I dont know if that is where the larger towns/Rodeos and other neat happenings are going on. Accept for the one area of road construction US 18 was a very nice smooth road. A sherrif in a brand new Ford pickup was also in our little group waiting for pilot cars and he too ran of and left me. He was on his cell the entire time.
Traveling pretty much exclusively in the South all my life I have met lots of folks less fortunate and helped them out but none have ever gotten into my personal space or stared at my kids or touched me and kept pressing in as I backed off. That's the sad part, you dont know if they are going to buy food or alchohol. I didnt smell any alcohol on the man so hopefully it went for something good. A woman approached us in a Walmart parking lot in TX I think, she and her Mom were trying to get back home to AR after losing her job and was needing gas money. Dont know if the story was true but she was very polite, respectful and kept her distance and I helped her out. She started out by complimenting and asking about the T@b which could have just been an angle but hopefully I did a good deed and if not my heart was in the right place.
Yes, my daughter's have been telling their friends all about the trip and cant wait to do it again. Their friends were bored here at home all summer, lol. It will be interesting to see what stories my youngest relays to her classmates and teachers. Thankfully her teachers already know her and about our "Wild Wild West" Adventures as my little one calls them b/c she is in a Monterrori school and the grades are combined so she has her 2nd grade teachers for 3rd this year. They are pretty easy going as my little one always tells stories of target practice at Gmas and Gpas as well as Gpa Deer and Turkey hunting and this year she wanted to watch the video my Mom made of my Dad field dressing a deer which she thought was really cool so I can only imagine the stories she will tell which are all true as I've had to confirm to her teachers on various occasions. So far her teachers have not called me in but have asked me in the carloop about some things she said and I confirmed they were true. My Dad is a Federal Air Marshall and airline captain with a FFDL so probably has 300 or so various sizes/types of guns that he sells. I brought home a .38 last year and a 20 Gauge this year so hunting/shooting are a big part of our summer so it's hard to explain to an 8 yr old why the school doesnt like kids talking about such things.
If I have the time, I'll never travel the interstates again. I've been spoiled and love this new freedom I have. I can now enjoy the journey but will be more prepared for bad roads, steeper grades, gas stations closing up early, Campgrounds not being where they're suppose to or not lit/ marked so you cant find them after dark and e'thing else I've learned this trip, lol. Not brave enough yet to take a "grey" roads on the map yet but as long as it's a US or State highway I'm game, lol.

Sorry this post went to long, I feel like I could talk to you guys forever! Hopefully I'll have more adventures like Mike had now that I'm learning how to navigate off the interstate system. My folks dont know their area well since they only live there during the summer and with my Dad's flying schedule he is only home 1-2 days a week. They drive 210 miles round trip to the airport. Doesnt leave them much time for learning the area. They got their garage built this summer and the driveway rocked and the area around the house mowed (learned to drive the tractor/brushog) so when he's home he's got stuff to do. I'm doing all the reseach and siteseeing with my Mom when my Dad is gone so I'm learning about the area and what there is to do/see. I've already got lots planned for next year after picking up every visitors guide, map etc I found. As my confidence grows so should my adventures. This group is wonderful for teaching newbies how to travel this way and see/enjoy America.

Thanks e'body!

Melissa
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Old 08-08-2011, 10:59 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
In 2008 we ended up in Interior, SD down a dirtroad in a little campground just outside Interior after getting blocked by an early snow storm in Rapid City. Next time we'll check out the Woodenknife, thanks for the tip.

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Old 08-08-2011, 12:24 PM   #18
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We could call you a Pistol Packin' Mama, except the .38 is a revolver... Thanks for telling us, I think I'll avoid that reservation myself; it doesn't sound like ideal vacation routing.
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Old 08-08-2011, 12:31 PM   #19
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Kevin and I have talked about a fiberglass rally featuring Indian tacos for the main meal. We have looked at deep fat fryers, and I scouted out recipes for low carb versions of frybread. And wasabi for dessert. It is on our radar. I just have to get tenure first. Working on papers.

If you get the chance, try the Lakota recipe for wasabi (like a blueberry pudding) as dessert for your Indian tacos. My Lakota friends say that it is supposed to go over the frybread, but I have made it here at home over ricotta cheese. Mmmm.


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Old 08-08-2011, 01:03 PM   #20
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I miss the Badlands.....
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