Useless dinette – gone!

July 20th, 2022

We thought we made a good choice when we went with a table and chairs instead of a booth option when we purchased our RV. A tiny booth was never going to fit our larger than average bodies. However, because the table was attached to the wall we could not adjust the space for a comfortable eating/working spot.

So the table became a dumping ground for anything we brought into the RV that we didn’t feel like putting away immediately. The only useful part was that we removed two of the four chairs and put our dog’s crate on the recliner side of the dinette. The top of the crate sort of served as a side table for the recliner.

We either ate at the picnic table outside, at our camp chairs/tables or even in our recliners on occasion. I was doing work for my blog, project and board work in my recliner with my I-pad or phone stacked on a pillow – it was comical.

We decided to remove the table and replace it with a much needed desk.

I forgot to take a pre-picture of what the table looked like before we removed it, but here is a link to a pic on Alliance’s site. Imagine Tim and I trying to squeeze in there. LOL.

https://show.alliancerv.com/marketing/Paradigm/2021/interiors/310RL

I searched for a desk we could assemble inside the RV that was sturdy but not terribly heavy. We found one on Wayfair. The IKEA desks we found were nice and light, but were either too wide or too narrow for the space we had. And I wanted the desk to be as large as possible.

Here is our after picture!

New desk is in!

One drawback was that we no longer had room for Reba’s crate. She used it on occasion, but no more than once or twice a week and we no longer crate her when we are out. So, instead of the crate we chose to not install the file drawer that came with the desk and we put her bed into the space below the lower part of the desk. It worked perfectly. She still has a little quiet, enclosed space to escape to if she feels the need.

Here are a few more pictures and a close up of Reba’s little nest.

If you are interested in checking out the table with all the included parts you can find it here:

https://www.wayfair.com/furniture/pdp/dotted-line-jazmin-reversible-desk-with-hutch-w002625528.html?piid=1890129158

We do not have an affiliate agreement with Wayfair and do not receive any funds if you end up buying one. But we would love to know if you decide to do something similar! 🙂

We did store the table and three chairs we removed in case we ever were to sell the RV, but we have no plans to do that anytime soon!

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Mount Rushmore – must see

It’s something you have to see – Mount Rushmore

We threaded through the Needles Highway and a nasty thunderstorm on our way to Mount Rushmore. But when we arrived, the skies cleared, the sun shone and it was a magnificent sight to see.

As you walk into the gates you are greeted by the flags of all 50 states.

majestic

We took our a short hike that got us a little closer to the monument and that took us to the studio where they have the smaller replica.

I now own a Mt Rushmore sweatshirt, the storm dropped the temp quickly!

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Devil’s Tower – lived up to its name

June 29th, 2022

It looks pretty tame from here, right?

We were able to find a nice doggie daycare near our campground so we were able to spend a couple of days exploring the National Parks and monuments in the Black Hills.

First up was Devil’s Tower in Wyoming.

We followed our GyPSy app from Spearfish and made a fun stop in Aladdin, Wyoming at the General Store. We would have never found it without the help of our friendly navigator!

After a pit stop and a cherry soda (Tim) at this eclectic store, we headed towards Devil’s Tower. The drive itself was incredibly beautiful and then, in the distance….G – A – F – F (octave) – C.

Over 50? I’ll bet you are humming the Close Encounters song by now.

We knew we wanted to do one of the hikes around the tower. And I was shocked and thrilled when Tim said “let’s do the 2.8 mile hike” instead of the one mile paved hike around the base. Our GyPSy navigator had told us that we would get some amazing views on this hike. He forgot to tell us that this was no simple flat hike. And apparently we forgot we were in the BLACK HILLS!

Luckily we were prepared with plenty of water thanks to a hiking backpack Emily got me for Christmas last year. You carry a bladder of water and there is a long sippy straw handy!

The hike started out simple and then we started going downhill. Which also was not so bad.

Of course what goes down eventually has to go up!

Lots of rocky steps, no railings and about a 450 foot elevation change. By the end of the hike, we were both gasping. Remember the base of the tower is already 4250 feet of elevation.

Timmy stopping to make some friends – and catch his breath.
I’ll just lean here for a minute or five.
My celebration was a bit premature –

The guidebooks call this an intermediate hike and for some people it probably is. For us, there were moments we were not 100% sure both of us would make it – but we did! 🙂 Next up – Badlands!

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Bear Country USA

June 30th, 2022

Baby bears at Bear Country USA

The cheesiest thing we have done in the Black Hills, but one of the most delightful too!

We spent a couple of hours at Bear Country USA and got to see some incredible creatures up close. Bear Country USA is a drive through zoo or maybe more like a mini drive through safari.

You pay your $20, get your instructions to keep your windows up, and drive through various sections of grasslands that are filled with elk, pronghorn, mountain lions, bison, wolves and of course black bear.

A few of the sections were either empty or their inhabitants were good at hiding. But the black bear section more than made up for a missing mountain lion!

There were dozens of them, just roaming around, stretching, sleeping. Some of them were HUGE!

After the drive through portion, we could walk through a section that was more like a traditional zoo. This area was filled with small animals and…the BABY BEARS!

They keep the babies with their mothers for the first three months until they are weaned and then they move them into this bear adorable bear kindergarten until they are old enough to be able to be in with the adults.

While we were there, a ranger stopped by to feed the babies some carrots. They were delighted with the treats!

When you get to the Black Hills – I highly recommend doing this fun tourist trap experience! 🙂

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Badlands

June 30th, 2022

Panorama of the Badlands

The stark landscapes and beautiful skies blew me away when we were in the Badlands. This was the day that I decided that I needed to upgrade from my I Phone 10 and get a “real” camera. Looks like we will have to come back when I get one!

We started the day with a stop at a prairie dog town. Our GyPSy navigator told us about the little side drive to get to them and also that the fleas prairie dogs tend to wear can carry the Bubonic Plague. I stayed a reasonable distance away, while watching whole families try to entice the critters with Cheetos so they could get real close!

I understand that at one time, there were more than 2 billion (B) prairie dogs in the region. There were certainly hundreds in the area we stopped.

The Badlands got it’s name from the Lakota Indians who called it “mako sica” or bad lands according to Wikipedia and our app navigator. This area is known for high winds, lack of water and a challenging to navigate terrain.

While the Badlands is a National Park, Reba was able to join us on this adventure since most of the day was spent in or very near the truck. She loved posing for posing for pictures and showing off the scenery.

Here’s a video of one of the most spectacular vistas!

:29 seconds of the Badlands!

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Custer State Park

June 28th, 2022

Custer State Park is known for its bison herds.

We purchased a seven day pass to spend time in Custer State Park during our visit to the Black Hills. This is a spectacular park where you can take a drive through the hills and prairie and you are certain to spot some of the park’s resident bison, pronghorn, deer, elk, big horn sheep and a huge variety of birds.

On our first visit to Custer State Park we took the wildlife loop road and parts of the Iron Mountain Road and the Peter Norbeck Scenic byway. We saved the Needles Highway for our trip to Mount Rushmore later in the week. Wait until you see those pictures!

In the park, we were able to get up close and personal with a group of what we thought were prairie dogs, but a ranger told us they were likely yellow bellied marmots. You decide!

We also saw a couple of bison laying in a field as we drove by, but the big herds were quite a distance away.

You have probably heard news stories recently about bison goring visitors to state parks. These happen when idiot people get FAR too close to these 2000 pound beasts. We stayed in our car when we were anywhere near them.

Did you know that these beautiful animals can run far faster than the fastest Olympic runners? Can you imagine 2000 furry pounds of muscle and horns charging at you?

One other magical thing we saw in Custer State Park was Mt Coolidge Lookout. We would have missed this beautiful sight if not for our navigator from GyPSy Guide.

The Mt. Coolidge Lookout starts with a narrow, windy, gravel road that takes you to 6024 elevation. It is BARELY big enough for two vehicles to pass without one of them careening down the mountain.

White knuckles on the way up and down.

The mountain is home to several cell towers. They don’t take away from the view and I’m sure the rent helps pay the park’s bills!

360 degree video of the views from Mount Coolidge.

We did a second drive through Custer State Park a couple of days later on our way to Mount Rushmore. That post will be coming soon!

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Spearfish Canyon, SD

June 28th, 2022

Timmy ready to roll – Spearfish Canyon

No matter how much you research your journey before you leave, nothing beats having a navigator with you who knows the region like they have lived there their whole lives.

I searched sites and grabbed every single tourist magazine I could find. I have piles of pages for each of the excursions we have planned. And then we found our navigator.

We downloaded a new app today called GyPSy Guide. I’ll write a longer post about it in the next couple days. For now, know that we would have missed many of the wonderful things we saw without our GyPSy Guide.

We started our day with a drive through Spearfish Canyon. We started at Chris’ Campground where we parked Honey for the next week or so.

Overlook

We took 14-A through gorgeous landscape. Our first stop was Bridal Veil Falls. With two daughters planning to get married in the next several months, this seemed like a stop we were required to make.

Bridal Veil Falls drops 60 feet and was flowing beautifully when we stopped.

Bridal Veil Falls – Spearfish Canyon

Next we stopped at Roughlock Falls. There is a great place to park the beast (Tim’s truck.) Reba loved checking out the falls’ many levels and she even got to dip her toes and her knees and her haunches in the chilly water. We learned that Roughlock Falls was likely named because pioneers who were traveling through the area had to “roughlock” their wheels to keep them from turning as they lowered their wagons over the drops.

Our navigator told us to be sure to go up a dirt road just outside of Roughlock Falls to see the site where they filmed Dances With Wolves. They had just sprayed the dirt and we thought, good, that will keep the dust down. Little did we know that the substance they sprayed turned the dirt into a substance resembling a mushy concrete after several hours in the sun. A separate post on our truck and dog wash adventures later!

Reba and I got out to explore the Dances with Wolves filming site. Tim waited in the truck. I encouraged Reba to cool off in the creek by stepping in the water myself and promptly sunk in the mud halfway up my calf. I managed to get myself and the dog of this quicksand like mud while keeping my phone safe and dry. No pictures of this particular adventure because Tim was blissfully playing Words with Friends in the truck.

Reba posing for her audition – a few decades too late…

We decided to spend our afternoon at Custer State Park since this is one of the parks that is pretty dog friendly and there are bison roaming free there!

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Neshonoc Lakeside Campground – West Salem, WI

June 21-22, 2022

View from our site.

This campground was just a two night stop over on our way to the Badlands, but we would definitely come here again for a longer visit.

The customer service here is incredible. I know it seems like such a little thing, but they have an little ice cream store next to the check in area that serves big, beautiful soft serve cones for TWO DOLLARS! These days it is such a delight to be surprised by something costing significantly less than you thought it would.

I know it’s silly, but it made my day.

Neshonoc Lakeside Campground is a beautiful campground on a bluff overlooking, you guessed it, Lake Neshonoc in Salem, Wisconsin.

There are two sections to the park. One side is filled with beautifully maintained tiny homes/RVs that stay on site all year round and are used seasonally. Reba and I took a walk through the neighborhood and it was a delight. We saw neighbors gathering for parties, driving their carts around with fixings for happy hour. There were tons of dog friends for Reba to meet.

The rest of the park is a more traditional RV park with short term campers. The sites are well maintained, large and have full-hookups. We stayed on a site on the second tier of the bluff and looked over the lake. Sunset was incredible.

I rented a kayak and spent an hour on the lake. The winds tested my skill and endurance for sure!

We also took a trip into La Crosse to check out their riverwalk. They could learn a thing or two from Milwaukee’s riverwalk. It was pretty, but there were no riverside cafes and very few facilities. They did have a really interesting garden that featured little vignettes of gardens from around the world.

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Can I finally learn? Urban campgrounds are not my style….

June 24th, 2022

For the most part the campgrounds we have stayed at were at least “fine” but the times I have kicked myself for the booking were when we were in a campground marked “easy interstate access.”

Like the real estate codes “cozy” that means REALLY small, “easy interstate access,” means you are sleeping with the semis.

The people running the place were nice, however, they were closed for an hour right in the middle of check-in time. So after driving nearly six hours we showed up to a closed office, nobody answering the phones and an RV already parked in the spot we were assigned. Because we could not reach anyone we had no idea if we were going to have a spot for the night. Grrr…

I’m usually the calm one of our traveling couple, but this time Tim had to talk me off the cab of the truck.

When they opened an hour after we arrived, and I let them know that we had been waiting an hour and were very worried, they simply said, “didn’t you get our E Mail?” Um, nope. No E mail. And couldn’t you simply answer your emergency line if you were going to close in the middle of the day?

They assigned us a new spot in the corner which, while large was extremely difficult to back into and backed up to Interstate 20 where the semis serenaded us all night long. (Hey truckers, jake brakes at midnight don’t make you cool and you don’t need them in the middle of Sioux Falls.)

If you must stay here for a one night stop over, ask for a pull through in the parking lot. I know that sounds horrible, but it’s an easy set up and at least you are a few hundred yards from the interstate.

Lesson learned, finally! Sometimes I can be thick headed.

If it says easy interstate access, read the bad reviews and look to see if you are going to be literally parked on the interstate shoulder.

Onward – to the Badlands!

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Woodford Reserve Tour

When we were in Lexington, we made time to go to the Woodford Reserve tour. Tim used to travel for work regularly and when he was in business or first class and they would bring him a couple of those little bottles of Woodford when he ordered a bourbon. Quite a few of them made their way to our house in his pocket!

A few years ago, I developed an allergy to red wine and transitioned my evening drink to Timmy’s tiny Woodford stash. This started my love of bourbons!

Woodford Reserve

The grounds are nestled in horse country. More than once we thought our GPS had taken us down the wrong road, but we made it in time for our tour!

The start and end of our tour. Tasting room and store (of course!)
Our guide was fun and very knowledgeable!

One thing I learned is that every single standard sized bottle of Woodford, no matter where in the world you find it, comes out of this facility. The little tiny bottles that got me started are filled somewhere else.

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