Select Page
Summer Travels Taught Us Flexibility

Summer Travels Taught Us Flexibility

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

Super PatioWe 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.

South Dakota

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.

BadlandsThe 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!!!!

Mt Rushmore Henry in Tatakna window

Henry, our driving buddy, in Tatanka’s window at Mt. Rushmore.

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.

It starts…

“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.

Needles highway Tour bus in tunnelOur 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.

 

RV Hack thankshanks

RV Hacks

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.

Weather Made Us Double Back Through California

Weather Made Us Double Back Through California

Hollister, CA
40° / 69° Sunny ☀
TODAY’S RV PARK: San Benito RV Resort
OUR RATING: 3 Stars – a rustic campground tucked between hills of vineyards and farmlands, cell signal is poor but tolerable, nearby towns are fantastic and 1 hour drive from many awesome adventures
PRICE: (Free) Thousand Trails resort
TRIP MILES DRIVEN: 21,895

We never made it to Lake Tahoe. The National Weather service had severe wind advisories in effect for the area we were to travel to. Beyond his fear of heights, Steve’s healthy fear of high winds had us re-thinking our ambitious plans to get to the Northwest.

As we explored our options, comparing driving and travel costs with park fees, it made the most sense to go back to a Thousand Trails park in California, and wait out the storm. Then head up north to Washington, Goal post #2.

That’s just what we did, but it wasn’t without a bit of driving peril. As we headed south down Nevada Hwy 95, hoping to have outrun the winds that were north of us, we ended up right back in the middle of the winds!

windy detourTroopers had just closed the highway and all “high profile” vehicles were diverted to a dirt lot, to sit and wait.

There’s a YouTube channel that we are addicted to, HappilyEverHanks , made by the most goofball couple ever about RV life.  In a episode this past winter, they got caught in a wind storm and shared an app called Windy which shows real time and forecasted wind speed and directions.  We’ve used this in the past and it seems pretty accurate.

We watched this app like a hawk while parked in this dirt lot on the side of the road with other RVs and lots of Semi Trucks.  The thought of hanging out in this lot for the next several hours seemed daunting, especially with the wind rocking the RV.

I ran into the RV and did a hurry clean up, keeping the driver’s side slides closed, opening up just the couch side.  Steve came in with the dogs and we all lunched and then napped the windy afternoon away.

At sunset, as the Windy app predicted, the winds died down and we were able to continue rounding the Sierra Nevadas.

We overnighted in Bakersfield, and woke up Easter morning to a beautiful 72° sunny morning.  We hooked up after a delightful morning brunch and made our way north, back to Hollister.

Winded and Stranded Off-Course

Winded and Stranded Off-Course

Hawthorne NV
28° / 59° WINDY!!
TODAY’S RV PARK: Whiskey Flats RV Park
OUR RATING: 4 Stars – a clean rv park along a busy highway, wifi is ok for email only
PRICE: $36/day FHU with Good Sam
TRIP MILES DRIVEN: 21,231

Today, we made it an entire 104 miles from Tonopah. High winds and wind gusts have shut down the rest of the road to our next planned stop – Carson City.

As we drove into Hawthorne, we spent the last 29 miles in a sand storm.  We were trailing another RV and I noticed it was fish tailing a little.

Steve fired back “So are we, look in your mirror!”.

nevada sand storm rv life

Sand Storm in Minah, NV

Sure enough, Steve was working hard to keep us upright on the road and in the middle of the lane.  His hands were sweating so badly, that between sand gusts, we amped up the a/c so he could dry and cool his hands, and pause from the swearing.  Then the a/c went off again a lessons learned last year in a previous sand storm to save the air filters.  A very expensive lessons learned.  At least today, there was visitiblity and we could actually see the RV in front of us and beyond.

The part that upset Steve the most, was that we had just splurged for a professional RV wash in Las Vegas.  They scrubbed the RV and hand shined every window and crevice.  When we pulled out of Vegas we looked like a Million Bucks.  Rig still looks good.

Right before the detour, complete with flashing police lights, I had spotted a large RV park.  After being turned around, we went straight to said RV park and snagged the last available spot with hookups.

This is our first time being stranded due to weather.  In one way, it’s exciting.  In another, a total bummer, as it takes a day off our Lake Tahoe visit, which was already a short 4 days.

While setting up camp, the wind was so strong that Steve and I had a hard time hearing each other over the walkie-talkies.  I literally felt the wind try to pick me up off the ground.  That’s some serious wind!

While I did my part for setting up, I started freaking out over the sheer noise hitting the driver’s side of the trailer, especially with our slide covers whipping in the wind.  After a quick vacuum, I pulled both driver’s side slides back in.  I could still feel the wind pressing up against the sides and the trailer started rocking.

We all came inside and had our lunches in the enclosed trailer, with the wind all around us.

Oh! the joys of exploring someplace new and various climates.

hawthorne navseaOne interesting point of note, this town is home to a NAVSEA location.  As evidenced by the signs on all the roadway fences “Restricted Area – Warfare Zone”.  The signs themselves aren’t creepy.  Coupled with the thousands of bunkers peeking out of the ground from behind those signs is!  Miles and miles of those bunkers.  Apparently warehouses for missiles.  Not entirely sure if that’s supposed to make me feel safer or not.

 

 

 

Don’t Take Utilities for Granted

Beaumont, CA
47° / 70° Sunny
TODAY’S RV PARK: Cherry Valley RV Park
OUR RATING: 4 Stars because it was convenient off the highway, super cell signals, full hookups, nice friendly staff, and great county park within a 5 minute drive
PRICE: $13/day with RPI membership
TRIP MILES DRIVEN: 20,361

Since this journal is about travel, let’s start today’s entry off with yesterday’s RV related snafu.

After taking the dogs to that GREAT dog park yesterday afternoon, we came back inside to wash up and get ready to bathe the dogs.  But when we turned on the water – only air came out!  No water.  Just pressurized air.  Oh No!

Steve ran outside to check the hose hookups – and only air coming out of the spigot too.  Our neighbors were outside stooped over their spigots with the same problem.  The RVs across the way from us had water just fine.  (lucky ducks!)

Panicked, Steve took off to find a park ranger – no small feat since it was after 4pm when most of the park employees go home.  In today’s case – for the weekend.

After piddling with the faucets and spigots for an hour – Steve finally gave up trying to save the day.  He looked so defeated when he came back in and said “Dry Camping Tonight!”  Which translates to no doggy baths and turn off the ice maker.  Small sacrafices to save our water for potty breaks.

Peanut didn’t mind.  Puddin sulked as she loves her baths, or anything to do with water really.

Our second snafu came at the same time.

Upon checking in, we asked the ranger if it was possible to extend our stay 3 nights, but we weren’t sure yet.  They said “Yes, just let us know when you decide.”  Yesterday, we decided.

Upon returning to the RV park after a romp with the dogs yesterday, I stopped to talk with the park ranger and requested the extra 3 nights.  She said I needed to call our RPI membership first for pre-approval.  It was nearly 4pm (PST) and I doubted anyone was still working at RPI.  I said as much to the ranger.  She just shrugged and said “it didn’t matter because she closed her register for the day.  You’ll have to come back on Sunday and work it out with my manager Stephanie when she comes back to work.”  She obviously wasn’t going to do any more work today.

I went home and called RPI right away, my gut said to do it right there in front of the Ranger and up them on the phone together.  But modesty took hold and I went home to make the call in private.  Sure enough, somebody at RPI answered!  She was able to give me the pre-approval for the 3 nights, but first had to call the park to arrange things and ensure they could accommodate us.

By now, I suppose you can guess that park worker had already bugged out for the day.  RPI wasn’t able to finalize the arrangements.  There’s always tomorrow, the day we are due to leave.  Except RPI is closed on the weekends.

The RPI rep assured use that she’s more than willing to back date things in her system on Monday if the Park would let us stay until then, which we can’t find out until Sunday when the manager Stephanie is in and can make the go-ahead call.

Good Grief!  The drama.

The KOA deposit already paid for those 3 nights is looking pretty good about now.

 

Random Thoughts During an Inside Day

Random Thoughts During an Inside Day

Beaumont, CA
46° / 64° SunnyTODAY’S RV PARK: Cherry Valley RV Park
OUR RATING: 4 Stars because it was convenient off the highway, super cell signals, full hookups, nice friendly staff, and great county park within a 5 minute drive
PRICE: $13/day with RPI membership
TRIP MILES DRIVEN: 20,211

Yesterday was an inside sort of day.  A day to rest between a day of adventuring and tonight’s wedding Rehearsal dinner.

Some people can’t stand inside days.  I love them for the opportunity to enjoy quiet and get things caught up.  Work seems to be plugging along and I got some good work done yesterday.  Today I already “Ate My Frog” at work.  It’s all downhill from here, and I’m still on my first cup of coffee.  Tomorrow will be a bear at the desk because it’s the 1st – and that generally comes with alot of campaign budget changes.  Most of the day, I anticipate will be housekeeping/administrative work for clients.  Not hard stuff, just tedious work.  I actually enjoy that kind of work.  It takes a bit of effort, yet yields a good sense of accomplishment.  And of course a good sense of control over my environment.

The other quiet day activity I enjoyed yesterday, was my DIY spa day.  Full pedicure, manicure and wax.  After I do my facial and body scrub later this morning, I’ll be all set for the weekend’s festivities.  Today, I’ll give Steve a quick shave – just the hair neck line, iron his clothes and he’ll be set to go too.

dog-signThat just leaves our puppies.  After 3 days of rain, an inside day for them – they are itching for activity.  After lunch, we are taking them to the dog park up the street so they can run themselves out.  Noble Dog Park is one of the better dog parks we’ve been to, and its quite obvious the county is proud of it – it is very well tended too.  When we went there last week, there were some other good dogs there for them to play with, even a Great Dane!  Puddin’s favorite breed is Great Dane.  She’s always been attracted to them and can’t leave them alone.  Perhaps its their size or their natural gentle nature or how “softly” they play.  Puddin enjoys playing and running with other dogs – she just doesn’t like it too rough – even for dog standards.  Some dogs get really rough – and that’s when we leave.  Or if an “intact” male gets “rowdy” with her.  We don’t put up with that kind of behavior.  She won’t either.  It’s surprising how many dog parents don’t control their male dogs when they get “rowdy”.  It’s not cute.

So far, we’ve been enjoying Cherry Valley RV Park.   We are scheduled to leave Sunday, but we are going to request to stay until Wednesday when we head to Vegas.  The original plan was to stop over at the KOA in Barsto/Calico for a few nights.  We stayed at this KOA as we came into California and enjoyed the super fast WIFI.  We no longer see the need to stop overnight heading out of California.  Vegas is only a 4 hour drive from here, we can drive straight through and save the $300 for a nice Vegas RV park.  We anticipate an expensive lodging month in April as we head toward Oregon.  There aren’t any RPI’s or Thousand Trails along the way, so we will be paying for all nights for a few weeks.

We’ve already pre-paid for a few nights in Lake Tahoe, so everything else can be cheaper road stops.  Unless I can convince Steve to finally try a Harvest Host.  He’s still nervous about boondocking because our refrigerator requires an electrical hookup.  Now that we have a 30 amp adapter, we may be able to give it a try, as some Harvest Hosts are said to have electrical.  (Note to self: research this)

UPDATE 4/14/2022: The change in plans with Cherry Valley took three days to unfold.  Read on dear reader to see how this unfolds.

UPDATE 4/14/2022: A windstorm in Nevada closed highways, and we weren’t able to stay in Lake Tahoe.  Lost our entire prepayment.