St. Clair, Michigan
82° / 63° Sunny ☀
TODAY’S RV PARK: St. Clair RV Resort
OUR RATING: 3 Stars – Decent campground, cell signal is terrible on Verizon and 2 bars 5G on AT&T. Constant struggle with campground staff regarding Electrical. Our Watchdog surge protector has errors. So does our neighbors. Staff says they are about to ban all surge protectors because they cause them problems. ;-( Our 50amp breaker broke yesterday and has to be replaced. Nearby towns are quaint with the Great Lake Huron a short 15 minute drive up the highway.
PRICE: (Free) Thousand Trails resort
TRIP MILES DRIVEN: 30,593
Our previous post left us in the Washington Cascade Mountains on our way to Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Well, Mother Nature had other plans for us. The night before we were due to drive across the Washington/Idaho state border to Glacier, the floods hit Yellowstone and the park was closed. The popular Glacier “Road to the Sun” was closed within hours, due to flooding as well. Guess you can’t drive on a road when it’s been washed away. NOW WHAT?!
I won’t kid you dear readers, we did panic. For about 7 loud minutes. Then we swung into action. We needed to act fast as all those other RV travelers who are also being re-routed out of the national parks and are also looking for alternate accommodations. RV blogs were going crazy with the news. We re-routed ourselves south of I-90 to hedge our luck on securing good vacation-worthy accommodations. After all, Tara did fly clear across the country for this trip and held a non-refundable return ticket to Tampa out of Milwaukee… in just 14 days.
KOA Super Patio
We backtracked and went straight south, losing 2 days in our 14-day countdown. Landing in Idaho, in our first ever KOA Patio ® Super Site. WOW folks! If you haven’t tried this yet, you gotta stay in one of these just once. “Patio ® Super Site” is different then the normal patios and is so new, it’s not even on the KOA website as an RV Site yet. Fortunately, you can see the options in the online booking process. These gazebo-like covered patios are fully enclosed grassy areas with brand new comfy patio furniture. Both of the ones we stayed at had outdoor kitchens, multiple seating areas for guests and a propane fueled fire pit. Our dogs were in love with these, since they were able to sun-bathe leash-free. Something they haven’t done since they had their own backyard.
Since we missed out on Glacier and Yellowstone, all our vacation want-to sights were fully rested on Mt. Rushmore. South Dakota didn’t disappoint.
The drive to South Dakota led us through Wyoming and the Badlands (photo right). There was no need to pay an over-priced wild animal park fare somewhere, the Buffalo clearly liked to roam near the highways. At least we got a stamp for our National Park stamp book at this rest stop. If you are planning a trip, by the time you read this and go yourself, the roads around the rest stop should be freshly paved. However, the roads WEST of the rest stop were awful.
A good/bad RV park can set the stage for things to come, no matter how adult and mature we try to be about things. Sometimes emotions and expectations get the better of us. In this case, our expectations were EXCEEDED by the Hart Ranch Camping Resort.
I’m here to testify, that this is the park all other parks should be measured by! It was laid out like a perfect little grid-like RV neighborhood with brand new roads, super large concrete pads for every camper and a full-time Activities Director planning tons of events throughout their many amenities. Including a super-busy snack bar by the pool with REAL FOOD and ice cream, a bar with TWO BUSY bartenders, bicycle rentals, a rodeo arena and stalls with those rodeo horses. The list just goes on. Tara and I enjoyed Happy Hour each night at the bar, as each happy hour was themed with some planned activities and fun. We only missed the live music because, well, we needed a nap. This was the only RV park where we felt like we were on a cruise ship and needed to stay much much longer then our planned 4 day vacation. Dang it if I was on vacation, the Verizon MOFI WIFI was 100/50. Oh the amount of work I could’ve done!!!!
Our first day trip in South Dakota was a bee-line to Mt. Rushmore. A short 30 minute drive from Hart’s Ranch Camping Resort. It was a once-in-a-lifetime excursion that we will never forget. The most awe-inspiring thing we discovered was the bronze etched 500-word winning essay written about the History of America for the dedication of Mt. Rushmore.
Henry, our driving buddy, in Tatanka’s window at Mt. Rushmore.
“Almighty God, from this pulpit of stone the American people render thanksgiving and praise for the new era of civilization brought forth upon this continent. Centuries of tyrannical oppression sent to these shores, God-fearing men to seek in freedom the guidance of the benevolent hand in the progress toward wisdom, goodness toward men, and piety toward God.”
Goosebumps. I want to live in an America like that.
Our second day trip took us on a white-knuckle drive through the Needles Highway. Just know this, our dually truck “Tatonka” is the same width as that tour bus! We measured just to make sure we’d fit before trying. Steve had to do this crazy maneuver 3 times. If you ever wanted to know what lies BEHIND the face of Mt. Rushmore… it’s the State park that the Needles Highway was built in.
At the tail end of our trip, we found a hack from Happily Ever Hanks on YouTube that we just had to try! While some windows are nice to have, the battle with privacy and constantly opening/closing blinds is just plain bothersome. Adding frosted/colored window tint to our RV windows was a game changer for us. What’s also great, is at night, you can’t see in!!! We have four windows that we treated, and the colored tint looks awesome from the outside – day or night. The white frosted film can’t be seen at either day or night from the outside. #ThanksHanks !!
Where We are Now
After dropping Tara off at the airport, we hung around Wisconsin for a bit and got really “cheesy”. Pun totally intended. We day-tripped to Amish country and loaded up on cheeses. Quickly passed through Chicago, and stayed only long enough to get take out deep-dish pizza from Pequods and a quick stop by a local hot dog stand. This took us to Indiana where we visited two groups of friends for lazy days by their pool. Followed by a very much needed 3-week break from the road at an RV park equi-distant between Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Since we discovered the carnival-like grocery store Jungle Jims in Cincinnati… we went twice. Just had to.
We are now in Michigan finishing up our summer Great Lakes tour and heading toward Niagara Falls for a couple of weeks. With our final destination of Maine in sights within 30 days.
Stay up to date with us on Facebook and Follow us on Instagram @RV_RoadKill as Steve is always sharing his culinary makings.
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Two – Two Pound Lobsters bought from the live wells at Jungle Jims grocery store in Cincinatti, OH. Steve split the lobsters, cleaned them and broiled them, then brushed with Lemon Garlic butter.
Steve’s Lemon Garlic Butter is the bomb! He used the hand-rolled Amish butter from Wisconsin, and seasoned with freshly minced garlic and both squeezed and grated lemon zest.
Upon plating, my very loving husband, and lobster chef extraordinaire, also pre-cracked my claws and little lobster legs. Nair a nail get dirty eating these delicious lobsters.
Grilled Shrimp – see previous post about these awesome shrimps
Grilled Asparagus – Ok, remember how I mentioned in an earlier post about the seafood section being huge? Well, the produce section is the size of it’s own warehouse full of crated fresh vegetables. These little sprigs came off a clearance shelf. We paid $0.99 for two bundles since we were cooking them that night. Gotta Love Jungle Jims!
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Gnocchi from Jungle Jims with homemade sausage from the local meat butcher, sourced from a local rancher. Absolutely authentic meal!
Are you jealous yet?
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Lemon Pesto found in the Mediterranean section of Jungle Jims. Raw shrimp found in the frozen seafood section of same store.
I say “section”, it was more like an entire store to itself, complete with large indoor tanks. No not little aquariums like where they keep the live lobsters, fish and eels. Real large swimming pool sized tanks!
42° / 68° Always Rainy ☂
TODAY’S RV PARK: Birch Bay RV Campground
OUR RATING: 4 Stars – Decent campground, cell signal is ok on both Verizon and AT&T, nearby town are incredible with the bay only a couple of blocks away
PRICE: (Free) Thousand Trails resort
TRIP MILES DRIVEN: 23,249
Since leaving California, we’ve driven north through Oregon to Washington. As soon as we crossed into Oregon, it started snowing and raining. It hasn’t stopped raining in the past month, although there are moments of sunshine most days that we take full advantage of.
While we passed through Oregon, we were delayed a week for RV repairs. Having not been in any kind of wet weather, well, since Florida, any water leak soon reared it’s ugly head. We were delayed in Portland, OR (of all places) while the repairs were completed. We were very disappointed with the homeless situation in Portland. Those poor folks are living on any stretch of highway they can find, including the grass in the highway exit cloverleafs, side of roads and entrances to shopping centers. Homeless tent encampments everywhere. Sad, that’s what remember most about Portland.
Fortunately, our campground was right on the Oregon Trail. Which we followed on a day trip to visit Multnomah Falls – which was just a short 20 minute drive out of town. There were a lot of waterfalls along the way, but this one certainly takes the cake! The hiking paths leading up to the falls were super simple which made for a nice excursion. We were not visiting in their primary season, so we missed out on any trolley adventures that run during that time.
We eventually made our way north to Washington, with a short weeklong stop just outside of Port Angeles. We have never seen trees or forestry so tall before! The campground at Dow Creek RV Resort was completely empty and we were one of only a few travelers staying that particular week. Which meant we had no neighbors and nothing but forest to look at and the sound of a lovely creek nearby. Dogs wandered off-leash (since there was nobody around to say otherwise) and enjoyed the private trails that climbed up the hills in the campground. Puddin enjoyed running in and out of the stream every time the trails crossed over them. Even Peanut delighted in the trail adventures. Being that this camp was in the same forest as where “Twilight” was filmed, we were thankful not to run into any vampires. Bats, however, are a different story. We added this park to our Must Re-Visit list of campgrounds!
Peanut and Puddin watching Steve go “clamming”. Canada in the distance.
After our empty-handed vampire trip, we headed all the way north…. as far as possible that you can drive in America without crossing the Canadian border to Blaine, WA. We stayed for three weeks and loved every minute of it, except the constant rain. Our first free day in Blaine gave us time to enjoy the famous clamming sport that the area is known for. One of the many things we loved about the area, is that Washington state is very very dog-friendly. Most places encourage you to bring your dogs and really go above and beyond to give your dogs a great experience. From terrific leash free areas to special dog parks, our puppies put this town on their Must Re-Visit list as well.
Steve got lost for hours in the bay shore, digging up clams for dinner. Even came up with a handful of oysters for a raw-oyster bar appetizer later that night.
Toward the end of our time, Tara flew out to join us as we make our way across the top of America toward the great lakes for our official summer vacation. The first thing we did with Tara was take our Goal Post photo at the Peace Arch, which borders America and Canada. This is a beautiful park that is maintained by both countries – apparently the only National Park in America that is maintained by two countries. And the pride is obvious. There are immaculate gardens all around to showcase the peace agreement. Even border police were peaceful to us, as we took an innocent wrong turn out of a very busy traffic circle and accidentally ended up in the traffic line to cross the border. They turned us around and let us back into America, after proving our citizenship of course.
Leaving Blaine and heading toward Glacier National Park led us down Highway 20 which snakes through the Cascade mountains. Steve, of course, not happy with the mountain driving, I had to silently restrain my over-enjoyment of the beautiful cliffs and terrain that only mountains can provide. We ran into a bit of winter at the top and enjoyed an impromptu snowball fight on the side of the road. It was a gorgeous drive, and had we more time, we would’ve loved to have stayed at one of the many little rustic towns with adorable RV parks. But… we are on a mission and have dates to meet on the calendar. Tara has a flight to catch in a couple of weeks, and lots of ground to cover before then.