We don’t seem to plan our trips more than a month or two in advance and generally only book camping spots at destination parks prior to leaving the last one. We prefer to get to a new spot and see if we want to stay longer before figuring out where to stay next. Last summer we learned how difficult getting into the preferred weekend campsites where when school was out. Over the past year of RV travel we have also learned that we prefer weekly stays and avoid overnighters. Generally, our attitude is to move into a state and “live there” for awhile. It takes a few days to learn our way around at each stop, take time to slow down and enjoy the area as well as not get in a terrible hurry to plan our next move. Among the most enjoyable experiences has been staying long enough in an area to find the hidden gems. This is our life and not a race around the country. We finally came up with a plan for the 2020 summer while keeping in mind the virus thing could cause us to react to any changes.
So we have decided Nebraska and South Dakota will be our families home over the summer. I’ll get it out of the way and also pass along that our Cocker Spaniel Huck passed away a few days ago. The cancer got him sooner than we had hoped for. At 15 years old he lived a good life and was loyal to us to the end. Karen and I knew when his time had come. Up to the last day Huck did his best to act like the dog he always was. As I type this sentence I’m up early as we are leaving today for an overnight visit with family in southern Missouri and pickup our puppy Wyatt. We are leaving the fifth wheel and taking an overnight road trip. I’m not good with the emotions of loosing family members. I’m one of those people who gets mad about death but firmly know the emotional process includes different stages ultimately ending in acceptance and moving on.
We came to an agreement that we prefer not to put much on our calendar because we want to be flexible in planning this part of life’s journey. There will be times when something drops into the schedule which is out of our control such as in October I was to testify in a murder trial. I had hoped this would be the last trial for the cases where I was the lead detective. I received news the trial was moved again to May of 2021. I’ll not spend much time thinking about the trial screwing with next springs plans and just find a way to work it in.
Planning for our summer began with Karen and I agreeing where we wanted to travel. The Midwest is close to home and a good place to be in case the virus thing takes off again. We have never spent time in South Dakota and there are things yet to see in Nebraska. So we picked a couple destination spots which include the area of the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota. We also want to spend time at Fort Robinson in northwestern Nebraska. I suspect we will book our spots at the busier parks before we leave which in part will help set the timing of each visit. The dates will be centered around the three areas previously mentioned.
So I went to my spreadsheet to check what others had to say about their visits to the area. During the five years of planning for our future in an RV it was fun following other’s journeys and keeping notes. If anyone sees holes in our plans please let us know!
Right or wrong from what I understand there are a couple ways to experience western South Dakota? One can stay centrally located at Rapid City. Or you can get closer to the Badlands staying near the Wall SD area and Black Hills by staying in or near Custer State Park. So far we have decided to split up and not stay centrally located. Next I dropped a what-if plan into RV Trip Wizard.
The above roadmap shows a journey beginning 7/19/20 and ending 9/27/20 taking off and landing in Platte City Missouri where we are currently staying. I’ve done my best to consider what is going on in the area as the trip includes visits during the busy season. I would have preferred to travel on either side of the busy dates but things did not work out. I’m hoping to avoid the Sturgis motorcycle rally and figure if the parks have spots then we should be okay. I’ve been hearing a lack of international travelers is helping and so far even AAA is forecasting fewer travelers this year.
Our plans are subject to change and we appreciate your comments. I’ve already started to watch YouTube video where people recorded drives down specific highways. Especially on US 385 and around Custer State Park. This trip will be in elevations we have yet to travel. Many stops will be for a week or more.
- Omaha Nebraska 7/18/20.
- Sioux Falls 7/26/20
- Left Tailrace COE campground Fort Thompson SD 8/2/20
- Sleepy Hollow RV Park Wall SD 8/16/20 (to see the Badlands)
- Custer SD area 8/23/20 (to see the Black Hills area)
- Fort Robinson State Park Nebraska 9/6/20
- Travel back to Missouri beginning 9/13/20 with two or three stops along I-80 to south I-29.
Note: After I wrote this blog post I met a local from Nebraska at the campground in Platte City Missouri. He suggests I should look at driving Nebraska Highway 2 through the sandhills area after leaving Fort Robinson State Park. The sandhills area runs between Alliance to Grand Island Nebraska. I read up and found the drive on highway 2 is said to be among the top 10 scenic US routes.
I suppose there is a chance we will book a one month stay in Rapid City SD but others posted moving into the Custer State Park area would be a good thing.
Karen usually reviews my camping spot recommendations and checks areas to find even better locations. Our budget is $25 per night on average. We have the America the Beautiful pass which helps. We don’t go much out of our way to make use of our Escapees, Goodsam or Passport America discounts. Remarkably I’m finding veteran or senior discounts to be most used! So far we don’t boondock and have little issue with 30 amp electric only sites. With the virus thing and chance of being confined to a park long-term, we had been booking sites with full utilities but are moving away from that rule. I’ll get around to posting something about our purchase of a 30 gallon water bladder and electric water transfer pump which now eliminates any concern for spots that don’t include a water spigot.