Two States At One Time!

Sunrise @ the Rosebud Casino

Sunrise @ the Rosebud Casino

Day 24    July 3

Since we’d spent the night in the Rosebud Casino parking lot, just about 30’ from the state line marker at one end of the parking lot, first thing we did in the morning, was walk over the state line into Nebraska. Yippeee!!! A new state!

Rosebud Casino. It was a nice, quiet parking lot for the night

Rosebud Casino. It was a nice, quiet parking lot for the night

The casino and the parking lot, were partially in South Dakota and partially in Nebraska. I’m sure this is a bureaucratic nightmare for at least two people in cubicles.

The state line

The state line

Anxious to explore Nebraska, we started it off right by having breakfast in Valentine, just over the state line. When I told the waitress that we were looking for fun stuff to do in Valentine, she laughed and said, “There’s not much to do here, so good luck with that!” Not the kind of encouragement we were hoping for.

Despite the waitress’s remarks, we did find something to do. After a walk-a-bout around town, we drove through the Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, and took a hike down to a small waterfall.

More cuteness in Valentine, NE

More cuteness in Valentine, NE

Valentine, NE

Valentine, NE

Cute sidewalks in Valentine, NE

Cute sidewalks in Valentine, NE

Valentine, Nebraska. Getting ready for July 4th.

Valentine, Nebraska. Getting ready for July 4th.

Nice hike to this little waterfall

Nice hike to this little waterfall

Longest train I've ever seen

Longest train I’ve ever seen

And….then back on the road again. On this day, I completely gave in to the junk food lifestyle. I had Fritos, chocolate covered pretzels, and a Dr. Pepper. I was officially having junk with my junk. Great.

Late in the afternoon, we stopped in Broken Bow, a quintessential small Nebraskan town. There were a few vendors set up in the town square, as a kind of pre-July 4th little set-up. We bought fireworks from the local volunteer fire department, and we bought some homemade jams, and a homemade pie from a couple of the local women.

The jam maker’s young son told us all about how he almost blew up his brother and sister last July 4th, with fireworks they’d purchased from the local volunteer fire department. And his mom and I lamented about how fireworks are dangerous. Foreshadowing of what was to come for us the next day!

Our last stop would be Omaha, where we were going to visit Mark’s cousin Rick and his family. On the way, I noticed a very small yet very annoying gnat on the inside of the front windshield. That sucker drove me crazy for almost 30 miles. And then, finally, I obliterated the bastard right on the windshield. A small splat, clean-upable with just a little piece of tissue. Take no prisoners!

Yes, I Spat In Their Face

Sunset, on the road

Sunset, on the road

Day 23   part 2     July 2

BADLANDS   (are ya catchin’ my Springsteen references?)

On July 2, we headed east on South Dakota Rt 44. Our mission….to spit in the face of the Badlands. And spit, we did!

Badlands National Park was amazing, and we spent lots of time looking around and taking pictures. It’s a place unlike any other that we’d been to. Very cool.

Badlands

Badlands

Badlands

Badlands

Mark, takin' a selfie @ Badlands

Mark, takin’ a selfie @ Badlands

Badlands

Badlands

Badlands

Badlands

Badlands

Badlands

Badlands

Badlands

Badlands

Badlands

Mark, Fiona & the Badlands

Mark, Fiona & the Badlands

Badlands

Badlands

Badlands

Badlands

Mark, taking in the Badlands

Mark, taking in the Badlands

Badlands & Fiona

Badlands & Fiona

Badlands

Badlands

When you exit the Badlands, I believe it’s actually a state law, that you have to stop at Wall, SD. Specifically, it seems to be required that you stop at Wall Drug, in Wall, SD.

I’ve seen those bumper stickers for years, that say, “Where the hell is Wall Drug?”, and I thought there was a town called Wall Drug. But no. The town is called Wall. Wall Drug is the drug store in Wall, SD.

Wall Drug Store

Wall Drug Store

Post Office in Wall

Post Office in Wall

Wall Drug, in Wall, South Dakota, is one of those places where Americans, and peeps from all over the world, can stop and buy a bunch more stuff to add to their pile of stuff that they store and cart around with them! 

Mark bought a t-shirt. And it was really hot out, so we got ice-cream cones. An ice-cream cone is something you can buy and you never have to worry about what you’re gonna do with it or where you’ll have to store it.

We then headed south.

Beautiful sunset

Beautiful sunset

On the road again

On the road again

Spent the night in the parking lot (FREE!!) of the Rosebud Casino, right on the South Dakota, Nebraska State Line. Oh so close to touching Nebraska, but that’d have to wait until the morning!

The Ties That Bind

Anywhere...USA

Anywhere…USA

Day 23  part 1      July 2

On the 23rd day, I did some calculating. We’d driven 3500 miles so far, and we were only as far east as South Dakota. We were on track for the longest cross country crossing ever. By most people’s calculations, we should have reached the east coast by then.

In all these miles driven, through cities and through tiny towns, I’d found what unites us all as Americans. It’s our need for self storage facilities to store all of our junk. Those are the ties that bind us as a nation.

Everywhere we went, no matter how big or small of a town or city, and no matter how rich or poor of a community….there was always at least one self storage facility. 

Why do we have so much stuff that we actually need to pay other people to store our stuff? Why can’t we get rid of any of it?

And while I’m analyzing this, let’s really call it like it is. By “stuff,” I mean “crap.”

There’s no logical explanation for this phenomenon, except for one. And that is, plain and simple, Americans just love their stuff.

Our Stuff….You’ll get it from us when you rip it from our cold dead hands.

Things Aren’t What They Seem!

Mt. Rushmore KOA

Mt. Rushmore KOA

Day 22   July 1

Woke up this morning at the Mt. Rushmore KOA campground, excited to start the day and to get to Mt. Rushmore!

On our morning dog walk, we noticed the sign for an all you can eat pancake breakfast at the campgrounds. I don’t even like pancakes, and they’re not high on Mark’s food list either. But, when you travel, you have to experience things for experience sake. And that’s why we ended up at the all you can eat pancake tent that morning. And now, at least, we can check that off of the bucket list.

Had to try it once @ Mt Rushmore KOA

Had to try it once @ Mt Rushmore KOA

First stop of the day was the highly anticipated Mt Rushmore. We were both really excited to see this great American spectacle. And I have to say, I was kind of disappointed at how small it looked from the entrance. Big let down. Until we walked on the path that takes you closer up to it. And then, disappointment disappeared! So if you go there, you MUST take the walking path that takes you up closer for a much better look and appreciation of the big heads in the rock!

Big Heads in Rock

Big Heads in Rock

Yippeee!!! We're at Mt Rushmore!

Yippeee!!! We’re at Mt Rushmore!

Mt Rushmore

Mt Rushmore

A new head has been added @ Mt Rushmore!

A new head has been added @ Mt Rushmore!

Second stop of the day was the Crazy Horse Monument. I’d heard from others that this was an amazing thing to see. And I have to say, that I was also kind of disappointed when we first arrived. But here’s the thing….if you go there, you have to watch the film that’s shown in the theatre. The film explained and showed the magnitude of what is being done at the monument. When you look out at the monument, it just doesn’t look like much of anything. But, when you see what that mass of rock started out as, it is truly remarkable. 

Crazy Horse. More impressive when you learn about than, than when you just look at it and don't know shit about it.

Crazy Horse. More impressive when you learn about than, than when you just look at it and don’t know shit about it.

American Indian bead collection @ Crazy Horse Monument

American Indian bead collection @ Crazy Horse Monument

You know what else is remarkable about the Crazy Horse Monument? That I didn’t buy any jewelry from the American Indian craftspeople that were showing their work in the visitor center. I love jewelry, and there were so many beautiful pieces there. But, in my new minimalistic lifestyle, I’m pretty content to just admire, and not have to own.

From Fit To Frump in 21 Days. You CAN Do It!

Little Big Horn

Little Big Horn

Day 21        June 30

This morning, we drove into downtown Billings, just to get a quick peek at what it looked like. I wasn’t sure what to make of the place. As we entered downtown, I can’t remember which we saw first, the Women’s Prison, or the Department of Corrections building. Howdy folks. Welcome to Billings. We did a quick drive-a-bout and then got the heck out of town.

Sometimes, ok, all the time, when we’re driving, we have weird conversations. Or, I should say, we have conversations about weird stuff. Today our conversation centered on our lack of exercise since we’ve been on the road. Mark cracked me up when he said,

“I’ve got to get on an exercise program. I can still feel my chest muscles, but, maybe it’s just fat.”

Well, I hear ya bro! Pretty sure I’ve lost every ounce of swimming muscles in my arms. And I’m not sure I could hold a plank for longer than 10 seconds anymore.

A couple days ago, I tried to do some tricep dips on a picnic bench. I did a few, and promptly got a splinter in my hand. I took that as a sign that my exercise program shouldn’t start that day.

Why Do I Need My Muscles Anyway?

I need my muscles because on days like today, I need to be able to slam our sliding door shut.

We took the scenic byway out of Billings, onto Rt 212 East, so that we could stop at the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument. Call me crazy, but I don’t like war stuff. Maybe ‘cause, growing up in Virginia, I was dragged to every battlefield and war related place known to Virginians. I’m done with that stuff. Over it.

BUT….Little Big Horn Battlefield N.M. was one of the most beautiful and spiritual places I’ve ever been. The land itself is stunning, and the American Indian Monument kind of got to me. I think what I was feeling was “White Man’s Guilt.”

Little Big Horn National Monument

Little Big Horn

Graveyard @ Little Big Horn

Graveyard @ Little Big Horn

Little Big Horn

Little Big Horn

Graveyard @ Little Big Horn

Graveyard @ Little Big Horn

Graveyard @ Little Big Horn

Graveyard @ Little Big Horn

Little Big Horn

Little Big Horn

Little Big Horn

Little Big Horn

American Indian monument @ Little Big Horn

American Indian monument @ Little Big Horn

American Indian monument @ Little Big Horn

American Indian monument @ Little Big Horn

The 45 mph winds also got to me. It was howling out there, which made it on the difficult side to open and shut the large sliding side door. Yep, I need to rebuild me some muscles!!

Tiny Spaces Going Places

So, you want to know what it’s like for me and my family to live in a small van? Here’s a little simulation you can do at home.

Take two dogs, your significant other, one microwave oven, one camp stove, a small college size fridge, and all the stuff you need for daily living (clothes, toiletries, food, etc), and lock yourself in a small bathroom in your home for one week.

Section off the shower so that it is 2’ x 2’. That is the only part of it you are allowed to use. To get the full experience, hang a plastic shower curtain in the round to section off this area so that the shower curtain can suck on to your body as you shower.

And, by the way, you can only use 2.5 gallons of water per day per person. That includes shower, sink and toilet usage. 

Any and all dirty laundry that you produce will stay in the room with you all week. Shouldn’t be too much laundry though, because you’re only allowed to bring 2 pairs of pants/shorts and 3 t-shirts/tops. You are allowed 7 pairs of underwear. If you have an accident, you’ve got yourself a problem.

So, what do you think? Can you do this? If you try it, and you are not bumping into each other and tripping over the dogs constantly, than you are doing the simulation in a bathroom that is way too big. Downsize, and try it again!

Goodbye Wyoming. Hello Montana

Before we left Yellowstone we stopped to see Old Faithful, and the beautiful historic Old Faithful Lodge.

Mark and I disagreed on the route to take out of Yellowstone, because we didn’t agree on where we were going next. Mark won, and we headed north, to Bozeman, Montana.  

Bozeman was a place I had little interest in. And it was a place that I ended up loving. In fact, I was loving it even before we got there, because the drive there was so gorgeous!

The road from Yellowstone to Bozeman

The road from Yellowstone to Bozeman

The town of Bozeman is a cool little college town where the main drag is filled with cute shops and restaurants. We ate lunch, walked around taking photos, took a drive through the campus of Montana State University, and then went to the Museum of the Rockies.

Lunch!

Lunch!

Downtown Bozeman

Downtown Bozeman

Bozeman, architecture

Bozeman, architecture

Bozeman, architecture

Bozeman, architecture

Bozeman, architecture

Bozeman, architecture

Bozeman, architecture

Bozeman, architecture

Public art, Bozeman

Public art, Bozeman

I thought we hit the jackpot at the Museum of the Rockies when I saw a flyer advertising some kind of art and beer tasting event. I was disappointed when I realized the flyer said JULY 29, not JUNE 29. Bummer.

Part of the Museum of the Rockies

Part of the Museum of the Rockies

Fence detail @ Museum of the Rockies

Fence detail @ Museum of the Rockies

Weird creatures in Bozeman

Weird creatures in Bozeman

Intersection. Bozeman

Intersection. Bozeman

Our final stop this day, was at the KOA in Billings, Montana. An ok place, with a slight sewer stink about it. Don’t recommend the place, but, some kind and honest person at the campground saved my sorry a** by turning in my backpack to the front desk, after I had left it in the bathroom. 

My backpack had my wallet and my phone in it, credit cards, cash, and keys to the RV. And I didn’t even realize it was gone until the next morning. Phew! I was really lucky! So, I must give some bonus points to the Billings KOA, for having a truly honest person staying there!