Saturday, April 30, 2011

4/28–4/30/2011 Wind, Snow, Rain

Thursday was an absolutely beautiful day. Sunshine, fairly warm for South Dakota in April and it was great being outdoors. And then…..

….the wind started. Bob was setting up our satellite dish and was paying attention to what he was doing and I was inside doing something but I don’t remember what right now. All of a sudden our 16,000 +pound 5th wheel shook and I heard this strange sound. Then I heard Bob yell as if in pain. I went to look out the screen door and
Bob was rubbing his lower back. When he looked up and saw me standing there he said, “What the hell was that?” A gust of wind came so forcefully that it literally knocked him down and he hit his back on our steps. Just as quickly as it came it calmed.

The rest of the day was nice. If we only knew of what was to come.

Friday was a cold blustery day. It rained off and on all day. I’m sure we could have found a museum to go to but it was raw outside so we just stayed put in the 5th wheel all day. I did go over to the Shoppette just across the street to get some sodas and I rented a few Red Box movies. First time I ever did that, somebody had a good idea with that!

Saturday. My day started a whole lot earlier than I wanted it to because Bob decided that at six in the morning I needed to know that it was snowing outside. Once I’m awake, there’s no going back to sleep for me, I’m up. Oh yeah, I called him every name in the book under my breath, he woke me out of a really, really good dream for a weather report!

The wind is blowing so hard that the snow is coming down sideways. Bob starts monitoring the weather website and this wind doesn’t seem like its going to stop but in fact will get stronger. By mid morning we’ve strong winds and our house on wheels is just rocking back and forth, side to side. Bob said to look at the coffee pot and the coffee was sloshing in the pot! The rig is moving THAT MUCH!

By mid-afternoon we are really getting concerned. We’ve got sustained winds at 45 mph with gusts to 62. The wind is hitting us broadside and the whole is creaking under the relentless beating its taking.

We’re not comfortable here. We discuss going to the BX (department store and mini mall) just to be in a brick and mortar type structure. At the same time we’re afraid to leave in case we have to respond to something happening to our rig. Sustained winds are now between 49 and 52 miles with gusts in the mid-60’s. This is not fun. I’ll tell right ya up front, I was scared.

We are being pounded by wind and the 5th wheel feels at times that it will tip. We decided we had better leave. We got ready as quickly as we could and pulled the slides in. The weight of the rig is now centered and feels more stable but we don’t know if higher winds are yet to come or just how forceful the gusts will be.

Shoes and winter jackets on, ID gathered, we’re ready to go find a safer shelter. Bob stands at the door and gives me instructions to move fast because its going to be hard for him to hold the door. Little did we know.

Bob pulled the door handle open and pushed. Nothing. It didn’t budge. The wind is so strong he can’t push against it enough to open the door. He waited until the gusts subsided and tried again, nothing. The wind is hitting us broadside and its just too much pressure on the door. Our inside door is a screen door so it isn’t like he could put his shoulder against and push, besides if it did go then and the wind caught it he would be off balance and likely fall down the steps. Not a good option.

So, we were trapped. We couldn’t get out due to Mother Nature. Putting the slides back out wasn’t an option so I went to the bedroom and laid across the bed and watched TV. We could get a few channels even without our antenna being up. Bob crawled over our kitchen island and was able to grab a dining room chair and my computer which he situated in the area in front of the fridge. He monitored the weather website. While laying across the bed, on my side, I rolled back and forth like I was in an automatically swinging cradle and the cradle motor was on speed! Got the picture?

So we sat there and we likened our situation to being in a rowboat on a large river during a hurricane. We were rocking and rolling that much. And everything was creaking. Now I can tell ya we were BOTH scared.

At one point our rig did get lifted because we found out later a piece of leveling wood, 2x8 about a foot long was missing under our auxiliary stabilizing gear. Bob found it laying in the grass.

At five the gusts had subsided and winds were steady between 35 and 37 miles an hour. Still a force to reckon with when dealing with head on. We were both hungry as we hadn’t eaten anything all day and cooking something was out of the question with the slides in. We decided to try to get again.

Once again, winter jackets on, Bob opened the door enough to get both hands on the edge of the door and when it opened enough I grabbed on the top of the door with one hand. We held for on dear life until he could get on the ground and get his body behind the door to prevent it from slamming into the side of the rig or possibly just snapping off.

With the wind at our backs we were pushed to the truck in just seconds and we were both glad to get inside. This wind is just unbelievable!

Not know where anything is in town we just drove. We stopped at this one place, a bar/restaurant combination and when we walked in our ears were assaulted with extremely loud music. So loud you could feel it in your chest and through your feet on the floor. Not conducive to dining. On second thought, not conducive to ANYTHING!

Seeing as how we were both in sweats someplace nice just wasn’t an option. We ended up in the Country Market Restaurant in the Flying J just up the road. I had my usual hamburger and Bob heartily chowed down on a chicken fried steak. We both enjoyed our meals.

We went back to the FamCamp when done and finally around 9 pm the winds had died down to a very strong breeze and we could send the slides back out. Ahhhh….we have room again!

To say its been a helluva day would be an understatement I think.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

4/27/2011 Plan B

Ok, we’ve got Plan B in place since Plan A was all shot to hell.

We were up and out a little before nine and we didn’t have far to go, just 108 miles. Remember that, it will come into play later. First stop was in town to get fuel. Can you believe Bob said, “Oh look, only four oh three.” And we got excited! ONLY $4.03! ONLY! We’ve seen it higher in this area so we’ll take it!

We have decided to go to Ellsworth Air Force Base in Box Elder, South Dakota, not far from Rapid City. We’ll stay there in the FamCamp for a few days, make some calls to see if we can secure a camp host position for the month of May. We only have 108 miles to go so it shouldn’t be long before we are set up and settled in. Uh, yeah right.

Since we were pretty close to the border anyway it was no time at all before I was able to snap this picture.


Today started out partly cloudy and the further we drove the clouds seemed to get more dense. One good thing was that traffic was very light.


LaVon, I didn’t forget you,,,here’s your dead tree for the day. Or maybe it isn’t dead and it just hasn’t leafed out yet this spring.


Once again, the antelope were out in force. According to the comments left the other day I know of one of my friends who is going to once again have that song “Home on the Range” running through her head again.


The Badlands sure is pretty country to drive through. We couldn’t help but focus on the weather we were running into.


Somebody is getting’ a boatload of rain!


We managed to drive between the raindrops. Rain was pouring down all around us and drove through very brief showers, not even needing the windshield wipers.

So we get to Ellsworth AFB, get through the checkpoint with no problem and after getting directions to the FamCamp, well, let’s just say this is where the fun begins.

We pull into the FamCamp and see just two other RV’s there. One is there long term by the looks of things and the other was just visiting like us. Bob pulls up to the office and no one is there. Well, ok, we have a phone number to call so I get my cell phone and was helped by a very nice fellow on the other end of the line. He tells me to just pick a space, get set up and then to go to the Outdoor Rec building to see him to get signed in. Great! All the info we needed. Just as we were getting ready to hang up he drops this. “By the way, the water isn’t on yet so you’ll have to fill your tank.” OH NO! Ok, where do we get that done? You’ll have to go out to the Interstate to the Flying J, they have water. Oh, this isn’t good. We get directions and hit the road again.

I’m thinking there has to be other campgrounds, possibly half price Passport America parks in the area and I start looking. I found one and called and it sounded good. We missed our exit for Flying J and had to go to the next one to get turned around. While we were in a parking lot getting turned around I mentioned it to Bob and we decided to go there. We need to get back on the Interstate anyway its just one exit down so its all good. Well, it would have been had we gotten on the Interstate going in the right direction. Bob’s mind was still focused on Flying J. Now to make matters worse, here comes the rain. Torrential downpour! Traffic is crawling, we can hardly see and Bob says, well….. maybe I better not go there. Let’s just say we’re going back to Ellsworth. We pulled into Flying J, its pouring and Bob gets out to fill our 80 gallon water tank. Do you know how long that takes? Twice as long when its raining! Thank heaven he had a rain jacket. Of course as soon as he gets done filling the fresh water tank the rain stops, the clouds part and the sun peaks through. That didn’t still didn’t help the mood in the truck.

We get back to the base and we are greeted by this, right at the roadside. Black-tailed deer. As you can tell from the picture, the rain started again too.


I called Dave at the Outdoor Rec and ask if we can get set up and just come over in the morning because its going to downpour again and we’d like to get set up before that happens. He was agreeable to that.

We picked our spot, got set up as quickly as we could and were indoors before the rain came down again.

So what should have taken us three hours tops for travel and set up time now has us almost into hour five! Between wrong turns, sitting in parking lots arguing about what we’re going to do, what our options are, why we are South Dakota in APRIL and the coming weather forecast, well, it just goes to show that life on the road isn’t always peaches and cream, sunshine and butterflies or as Flo says, glitter and unicorns. Things don’t always go as planned for us but I have to look at it as part of this Awesome Journey. I think without the problems, disappointments and the occasional wrong turn the good things wouldn’t be as nearly as good or as special as they are. And that’s the way it should be.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

4/26/2011 Headin’ to NEBRASKA!

Nebraska! The 37th state to join the union.

map of Nebraska in the USA

We are so excited about our month long stay here in Chadron State Park. This is my first time to Nebraska and if Bob has been here before it was because he was driving through. So we’re glad to spend several weeks here so we can explore the northwest corner of the CORNHUSKER state.

We were on the road a little after nine and it didn’t take us too long before we reached the state line.


Most of the day we pretty much had the road to ourselves.


It was a great day to play “What Do You See in the Clouds?” as the miles rolled underneath our wheels. I saw a seahorse, a bear cub laying on its back playing with a perfectly round snowball, a puppy running with ears flying back in the wind, a dinosaur and a dragon. Of course it helps have a good imagination too. Do you see the airplane? (Double click to enlarge if you need to)


I bet in these parts directions call for phrases like, “go past the barn with the red roof”.


We passed through this one stretch of Nebraska and they were all about tractors! New ones, old ones, red ones, green ones and tons and tons of parts.



I wonder what a good stiff wind would do to this building?


The earth is definitely NOT flat! In fact, its rather bumpy.


I seem to have garnered a fascination with trains, the longer the better.


We started seeing dark clouds accumulate and we ran through very brief showers.


We made it to Chadron State Park with no problems.


Our first impression was…..WOW! It was so green, truly a site to behold for our eyes.

As soon as we pulled into the park we got a glimpse of a pond to our right.


We each said to the other, “This is a beautiful park.”


Bob stayed with the truck while I went inside to let them know we were there and to find out where we should go. Here’s where it started.

The lady behind the desk did manage to get out a hello to me and proceeded to dig for a set of keys to give me, pulling sheets of info for me and not saying a darn thing to me. Had it been me I would have made some small talk while gathering things. You know, “How was your trip?” “Looks like rain doesn’t it?” SOMETHNG

She proceeded to give me instructions on what the job entailed and our duties and I had to interrupt her. I asked if this part could wait until tomorrow because we would really like to get set up before the rain hits here. She then really looked at me and could see the outside behind me and said, “Of course, I’m sure you want to get settled.”

She gave me a map of the campground and showed me the road to follow.

Back in the truck I directed Bob on where to go and the whole time we were just soaking everything in. When we got to the campground we were just so impressed with the layout, the spacing of the sites and sheer beauty of it all. This park is very, very well taken care of.

I got him backed in with no problem and we’re just grinning from ear to ear that we get to spend the next thirty days in this green garden- like setting.

I walked to the driver’s side of the rig and our whole happy moment fell apart. I yelled for Bob to come to the side of the rig and when he did I said, “Bob, there’s no water, there’s no sewer, just a 30 amp electric box.” He looked at me dumbfounded. We looked around at other campsites and sure enough, just electric. Bob said to me that there must be another campground within this park and they sent us to the wrong one. So we pulled out of the space and went back to the office. On the way Bob said, “There has to be another campground Snook, full hookups is the first thing we ask about.” It is.

So we get to the office and I walked in (Bob was getting the truck/rig repositioned to go back in the park) and asked if there was another campground that this site didn’t have full hookups. She looked at me like I had crawled out from a rock and said, “No, there’s no other campground and we don’t have full hookups.” I told her that is the first thing we ask because that is something that is important to us. She went on to tell me that the dump station is at the bottom of the hill and that we can get water seven sites up from the camp host site. “Uh, well, um, I’m sorry but that doesn’t fly with us.” She looked out the window and said something about the size of our rig but I didn’t quite catch it. I think she was saying something about people who camp host usually have smaller rigs. Hmmmmm….not where I come from. Usually, camp hosts are full timers and have sizable rigs because the rigs are in fact home. Regardless, moving our rig every 4 or 5 days to empty tanks and take on more water is not something we are willing to do. Could we stretch it longer? Sure if we were very frugal with water usage, but quite frankly, that just isn’t us. Not that we are blatantly wasteful, just that we are not ones to wet out toothbrushes, shut the water off, brush, turn the water on to rinse toothbrush, shut it off….well, you get the idea. With us, the water runs the whole time and that’s just how it is. So it would mean for us to pack up the rig and move it at least once a week. Uh-uh, not happening. I told her it was a beautiful park but I’m afraid this just isn’t a good fit. She said that was fine and out the door I went. From her demeanor I’m betting we aren’t the first ones to get there, find out there weren’t full hookups and leave on the same day. Bob is going to go through his emails to see if he can find something in writing that said there was full hookups or if the person from the Park Service just gave us bad info by mistake.

Anyways, we spent less than an hour where we were supposed to spend the whole month of May.

Now we had to find someplace to spend the night. Out came our trusty campground books and we found a place right up the road.

We’ll figure out our next move in the morning.

Monday, April 25, 2011

4/24-4/25/2011 Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

What in the world are we doing in an area where the temp doesn’t get out of the 40’s? Why are we here???? We don’t do cold! This is a real shock to our system after leaving Arizona where temps were in the mid 80’s when we left.

Bob did venture out for a walk to see the town. There wasn’t a whole lot to Seibert. In fact, this town doesn’t even have paved roads which really kind of surprised me. There’s probably a hundred, or perhaps a few less, homes in this town. We saw a grocery store, about 1.5 times the size of a 7-11 convenience store, a post office, a grain mill, several closed down businesses and the campground where we’re staying. That in a nutshell is Seibert. If the campgrounds owners are any indication this is one friendly town! This couple could not do enough for us! In fact, on Easter morning Bob went out to get something out of the truck and found an Easter basket filled with candy for us. Granted, it wasn’t a big basket, but it was CHOCOLATE!

I ventured out to go to the store to pick up rolls for our dinner and got hit with sticker shock when I priced things in the store. Surely, there must be a bigger town close by with a full size grocery store and much lower prices. This was just a half size bigger than a 7-11 but their prices were twice the size. I don’t imagine that the townspeople do a week’s worth of grocery shopping here but they did seem to carry everything you would need.

We’ve decided to move on tomorrow. It’s time to hit the road again.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

4/23/2011 Colorado = Cold

Well, here we are in chilly Colorado.  What a shock to our systems this is.  Out came the long pants and sweatshirts and to think just yesterday we were in shorts and T's and it was hot.

We didn't leave the rig today!  After having a couple days of very  s-l-o-w Internet connection we got caught up on our forums and blogs that we follow and we both played our games, online poker for him and Scrabble for me, to our hearts content.

They are calling for a dusting of snow tonight.  We are hoping "they" are wrong!  Oh how we long for the heat of Arizona!

Friday, April 22, 2011

4/22/2011 A Long Day on the Road

Once again we’re doing something we don’t usually do.  We’re traveling more than our normal 200 – 250 miles a day.  Today we’ll put in close to 340 miles.  Bob wanted to break the rest of way that we have to go into two days of travel rather than three.  It sounds good when we talk about it but it makes for a long day sitting in the truck.

So we started out in …..


…and a short while later we were driving through a small portion of…..


….and before we knew it we were saying hello to….


……of course we weren’t in this state long at all before we saw this…


I’ve mentioned this before but it just cracks me up that Colorado boasts about it colorfulness and yet greets one with a drab brown sign.

More about our day.  Just before we pulled out of the Tucumcari Elks Lodge Bob pointed out these oddly shaped birds.  Pea hens, perhaps?  I don’t know but I do know they put up quite a racket when they noticed I was walking towards them,  Each one stood as tall as it could get, stretched its neck as far it would go and let loose with a whole bunch of what to me was bird gibberish.  When they realized I wasn’t backing down and turning the other way they just went back to their grazing.


Not long after we were back in Texas Bob pointed out these Pronghorns.  Most people call these Antelope,,,me included.


Our short ride through Texas was uneventful, which is every RV’er’s dream.

The first thing we noticed about Oklahoma was the roads.  Can you say WASHBOARD-Y?  They weren’t  even dirt roads but actually paved and it still felt like we were driving on a giant washboard.  At one point we had to pull over just to check inside the rig to make sure everything was ok.  We did have to pick a few things up off the floor (some papers I had left on the dining table) and a few drawers had to be shut.  Ours drawers hardly ever come open when just headin’ down the road but under conditions like these…anything is possible.

I’m just gazing out the passenger side window watching the landscape slide by when I hear Bob say, “Where’s the camera? I think you might want to get it ready.”  This grabbed my attention immediately and I reached for the camera before I even knew what I was looking for.  Sure enough, a little further down the road there was something to photograph.


A small herd of antelope were near the road’s edge and we were uncertain as to what they were going to do.  Turn back?  Wait until we passed?  Dart across?  Since we had no way of knowing their intent Bob started applying the brakes, just in case.

I guess they figured they had plenty of time to cross since we were slowing way down so across they went.


On after the other just as pretty as you please.


Off into the field they went to romp and play and graze.  Just a day in the life of an antelope I guess.


Further into the state we passed an area that was ravaged by fire.  This is what it looks like afterwards.  No color, no life, just scorched dead plants.  The burned area was just huge so this was no controlled burn but instead a wildfire.


When we got into Colorado we were quickly reminded that Colorado is a coal state.  We saw this train being pulled by two engines and it just seemed to go on forever.  I wish I had counted how many cars there were.  In doing some research about these trains I found that these trains have a couple of engines pulling, a couple pushing and in between, on average, there are 125 coal cars.  Average haul?  About 120 tons of coal.  And these trains run this route every day.


Coal car after coal car.


……and at the end?  Two engines pushing.


We passed a lot of farms and ranches on our journey today.  Cattle, alfalfa, more cattle but my favorite farm of all?  This kind!



Clean energy is sorely needed in this country as evidenced by the coal trains above.  I just love me a good wind farm!


We saw the old fashioned windmills ….


….and  today’s uber modern version.


If these walls could talk.


As we drove across the portions of New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma it never dawned us that we weren’t seeing a very familiar site in this part of the country.  It wasn’t until we were into Colorado and saw the first one did we realize what we weren’t seeing.  Oil wells!

LaVon, this is for you girlfriend….what do you see?


We’re going to be in the Shady Grove Campground for several days.  Temps are still pretty low in northwest Nebraska.  Of course it isn’t exactly summer temps here either!

We’ll see what’s in the area in the next couple of days and who knows, maybe we’ll be able to show you a little bit of Seibert, Colorado.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

4/21/2011 A Real Do Nothing Day

Today was a long miserable day.  Our Internet connection….how do I put this?  SUCKED!  There’s just no other way to put it!  We got two “bars” at most which is the pits and when both of us were on at the same time, well, it was just a waste of time.

At six we went over to the lodge to have dinner.  It was “burger night” and what a crowd they had!  Now we did run into something pretty strange in the course of the meal.  Having never been there before for “burger night” we didn’t know how or where to place our order and I went to the bar to ask. In answer, I was handed a rather large tongue depressor.  No explanation, nothing.  A lady down the bar saw my look of confusion evidently and called me over to her.  She explained that I had to write what I wanted on the small piece of wood and when “that door over there” opens, take it and lay it on the counter inside.  She handed me a pen and I wrote 2 Hamburgers, 2 Fries, Quinn and just then the door opened.  I did as I was told and twenty minutes later we heard our name called over the loudspeaker and we went to pick up and pay for our burgers and fries.  And what good burgers they were!

After dinner we got everything ready to go that we could.  We want to get an early start in the morning.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

4/20/2011 The Benefits of Being An Elk

We had everything pretty much put away last night so that we could get an early start today.  We were on the road just minutes after eight and we’re heading for New Mexico.  Again.  Just further north this time.

From the RV park in Fort Bliss to the end of the Fort Bliss boundary line we traveled 38 miles.  That was just heading in one direction.  I hadn’t realized Fort Bliss was so big.  Before we got off the fort we saw something cross the road down a ways and thought it too big to be a dog.  Sure enough, this coyote crossed the road and was just walking the shoulder along the median strip like nobody’s business.


LaVon….a dead tree for you!


Traffic wasn’t bad at all today.


What I had to look at as we drove down the road.


All day, we pretty much had the road to ourselves.  We seldom shared it during long stretches.


We made it to Tucumcari, NM without incident.  We decided to stay at the Elks Lodge as we knew they had an “RV park”.  At $7.50 a night the price was certainly right.  We decided to stay for two nights.

When we got there we found two other already in spaces and set up.  We pulled in next to a 5th wheel and we just couldn’t our eyes off its tow vehicle.


It took the owner 8 months to “build” it and its made from scratch!  The cab is circa 1941.


This couple was returning to California from a bike show I think was held in Oklahoma.

I went into the Elks Lodge to pay for our two nights and sitting in the lounge were all the same people we met here last September.  I remembered all of them and they remembered me.

We don’t plan on doing anything while we’re here as we didn’t even unhook the truck all the way.