Thursday, September 29, 2011

Historical Blackhills

Pretty mellow day today as we drove up to Deadwood for a little wild,wild west history. It would be a blast to spend one day there in the 1880's when the men were rough and tumble and the women even tougher! Of course, we had a lot of Wild Bill and Calamity Jane stories. We even went to Mount Moriah Cemetary to see thier graves, though the rest of the cemetary was more interesting as a whole.

We had lunch at a restaurant HIGHLY recommended by a local shop was AWFUL. But our waitress/owner directed us to a winery that she said was the GREATEST. It was NOT! In fact, for the first time in my life I actually wanted to spit out the wine we tasted!

From Deadwood we took a short but extremely scenic side trip to Sturgis. Just to see. We saw...and left.

Another 60 miles brought us back to beautiful Custer and the BP, where we are probably going to do a bit of cleaning, have a nice hot bowl of Chili (it was mid-70's during the afternoon but cooling down rapidly) and prepare for departure tommorrow. On to Lander,WY and my dear brother!
This is the BP parked at Custer State Park, Bluebell Campground. Viwed from atop a hill reached from a short hike through our backyard.

WEDNESDAY. Playing Tourist in the Black Hills

We truly spent the day acting every bit the part of tourist.
Which we are. After taking the "Wildlife Loop" tour around the
south part of Custer (which consisted of a few begging burros and the rounded up Buffalo), we made our way to the biggest tourist attraction in the Black Hills....Mount Rushmore. Having been there, done that I really considered this a stop "for Jeff's sake". Yet, even when we got our first long distance view of the monument, it gave me a thrill and a feeling of astonishment at what had been accomplished on the mountain top. I also felt, while gazing up at the four presidents, how ashamed they would be of politians (and politics in general) today.
After what was possible the best burger I have ever had in my life, in Keystone, we drove through Hill City and decided to take the Needles Highway home. Notorious for it's winding, narrow curves and extremely small tunnels, we HAD to do it. Okay, honestly....Jeff did not want to, but I was driving. Until, that is, we got to this tunnel. 8'4" at its widest. Our Truck is...8' at it's widest. Not a lot of room for error. Although I was the one that insisted on driving this route, Jeff got the honors of driving through this tunnel. I walked in front of him watching, ever so closely as the BB barely squeeked through! It was a rush!

Needles Highway

Obviously, we made it home all in one, intact piece and even saw a couple more Buffalo on the side of the road near our camp. Rumor has it they frequently walk right through the campground and are extremely unconcerned with "people".  We had met our camp neighbor, Keith, that morning. He is a lone camper who drove his Harley from Corpus Christie, TX for a solo vacation and much needed break. He does love to socialize, however, and we ended up sitting around the campfire with him, drinking Shiner Bock and scotch and even shared a chicken dinner with him. Nice fellow. Hit the rack about 11 p.m. with only a slight buzz but a very full belly!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day 2...and much improved!

Started out the day with a good chuckle as we surveyed our surroundings and then got the HELL outta there! First stop was a mere 2 1/2 hours down the road...BADLANDS!!! Beautiful, inspiring, Mars-like. At the time we arrived out thermostat was reading 82 degrees, and by the time we exited the west end of the park, 88 degrees!!

After leaving the Badlands we just had to make the required stop at Wall Drug. I had been there before and warned Jeff it was simply a tourist spot full of tourist shit and yet...

Yes, I bought the prerequisite "cowboy hat". In my defense...Jeff bought 2 !! Well, I think I look pretty cool and it actually fits my huge head (XLarge).

We proceeded on to our campground destination of Custer State Park. Amazing how the landscape changed from barren, flat and boring to mountains of evergreen and buffalo grazing on the side of the road. Now I have to back up a little. Jeff is driving (of course) and as soon as we entered Custer the road started going up,up,up and from side to side. I was relatively calm as Jeff seemed to be handling the BP and the road like an old trucker. We were just about half way up the mountain and I actually complimented Jeff on his driving skill. He replied with a comment about how tight his a--h--- was feeling (an attempt to let me know this was not as easy as it appeared to be). We rounded yet another "hairpin" corner and lo and behold, 3 Buffalo, two to the left and one to the right, grazing inches from the roadside. They were completely unconcerned with the presense of the BB/BP bearing down on them. Jeff and I were just astounded. We actually believed that buffalo grazed in lowland prairies, not mountain top roadsides. Silly us!

We did manage to find our camp and get tucked in for the night but that itself was not without humor. This is clearly not a "big rig" friendly campground as the entrance was a winding dirt road wedged neatly between large pine trees. The BP BARELY fit, but again....Jeff did me proud and didn't take down a single tree! We have tenters the the left and tenters to the right making us the most conspicouos "condo-campers" ever. Here these people are sitting on thier camp sttols around the fire with thier jugs of water nearby and we are sitting out on our luxury loungers, set upon our damn big ass rug sipping wine from our real glass wine glasses. Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. But fun....and comfortable.

Monday, September 26, 2011

And I thought yesterday was bad....

True to my beliefs, Jeff had plenty to do this morning (and still had a list of things when asked about he replied... "We'll take care of it next spring"). He managed to be ready by 12:15. Needless to say, I was a bit testy. As we got in the truck I apologized in an attempt to start the trip on the right foot.
Three blocks later, we were literally screaming at each other.  Jeff managed to get lost three blocks from our house, AND turned down a dead end, narrow, city street. Making it necessary to back up 50 feet of RV and truck into an alley to turn around. If you thought I was pissy before...oh boy. I redefined the word. Then Xena pissed herself! I don't think she's ever heard that kind of language. Certainly not that loud.
An hour or so on the road and we again managed a few civil words. By the time we were 6 hours down the long, straight, boring, road,  things were again a little on edge. Okay, I was a little on edge. Did you know there are NO towns anywhere near Interstate 90 between Rapid City and Mitchell? Well, who'd have figured. We did exit at Mitchell where we found diesel and Arby's and then proceeded 24 miles further down 90 to Plankiton. Which has several bars and two campgrounds. We may have picked the wrong one but at least we are parked, locked in, Xena is fed and happy, and I have cracked a bottle of wine. I'm assuming we will not be venturing out to the local pub, there is no way we are attempting to set up the dish, so it's an early to bed (and early to rise and get the hell out of here) kind of night.
Our home for the night....(yes, we are the ONLY ones here)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

12 hours....ARGGGHHHHH!!!!

This was without question... THE DAY FROM HELL !

And even though my day was hell, Jeff's was hell x2. As he had even more to do than I did. My day started technically (and I say "technically since I think I looked at the damn alarm clock every 20 minutes from midnight on) at 6 a.m. and I was at the laundrymat at 8:30. After washing the last loads of comforters, blankets and rugs, returned home to hang them on the clothes lines. Too beautiful of a day to waste more time on dryers! I then had another and final goodbye at Katies. Amilia didn't get why Mommy and Grandma were crying. Probably a good thing. Returned to the house (and BP) to finish loading, cleaning and storing.
At 3 p.m. we met the Jeff's Chalet co-workers for drinks/dinner at Doolittles. It was actually a good thing that we had a little break and got to eat. Plus they are some dang nice people!
Returned home to pull the upstairs AC, put the hardtop on the Jeep and get it tucked in, finish MORE laundry (taking advantage while I can!), clean MORE....

And I am done.......

The only things left in the house will go to storage in the morning, or on my body after my shower. That's it....

Friday, September 23, 2011

Stress, Stress,STRESS!!!

Jeff and I picked up the BP this morning by 8:30 but had to wait a good long time for them to "pull it up". Whatever... We got it home and immediately started in on packing/repacking. Then the Direct TV guy called, came over within about 15 minutes and gave us a wonderful tutorial on getting the dish set up, aimed right and actually functioning! NFL channel, up and running! Jeff then made the (wonderful) call to Comcast to DC service. That was fun....we HATE Comcast and telling them to stick it was one of the better moments to date! Our two helpers, Dane and Jeff's nephew, Jason, arrived before noon and the loads to storage started immediately. Jeff and Jason pretty much cleared the house of furniture in 3 loads and Dane and I cleared the house of Comcast equipment. Next up was the oil/trasmission fluid change on the BB (Jeff) and the start of house cleaning (me). Just made a spaghetti dinner for my darling husband and then....maybe I'll have time to bathe tonight!

Me now....

Me later....

Well, later next week, anyway!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

5 days and counting (or if you are a squirrel....chewing)

Just had an update from Hilltop Trailers on the BP. Seems that after much searching, testing, pondering the verdict on the gas issue was finally in. Appears a nut-loving creature (aka....squirrel) chewed a hole right through our gas line. I had to question how this snaggle toothed creature could have chewed a hole through copper. Seems there is a segment of line that is plastic around the kitchen slide. And they apparently love the taste of LP!

Oh well, the situation will be resolved, the brakes will be top notch AND... I will have a new, quiet water pump by 5pm tomorrow!

Just got back from a fabulous dinner with my beautiful sister, Julie and her husband (who cooked!), John. We even had Dane for the evening. I won't even elaborate on what a lovely time we had but needless to say, I ended up in a puddle of tears and clutching kind of hugs. I love my family and my absence from them is extremely hard to take. Be it a week, a month, 5 months....I will miss them terribly. Must be time for bed. It has been another long and stressful day. Tomorrow will be another day....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


As of June we are the proud owners of a 2006 Holiday Rambler Presidential. It is 36 feet long and, so far, feels like home! The BP (or Big Presidential, as we refer to her) is pulled by a 2003 Dodge Ram 3500 dually diesel . The BB (or Big Blue) is a monster truck fully capable of pulling roughly 16,000 pounds of house and belongings.

Fine Tuning

We never did resolve the gas issue in the BP over the weekend. For that matter, we never resolved the Direct TV issue either (as in we can't figure out how to actual GET Direct TV with the potable dish). 

And we packed up Sunday in this miserable drizzle....leaving me with the brilliant idea of placing our wet, dirty, $100 outdoor rug in the back of the truck versus the underbelly of BP. Who knew that the combination of truck and BP created a wind tunnel like no other. Shortly after getting on Hwy 55 we watched in horror as the wind literally sucked the rug out of the back of the truck, under the BP and into traffic behind us (of which there was plenty). After ordering Jeff to "Pull Over!!!!!" I ran the 1/2 mile or so back (yes, I Ran) and I rescued my beloved and expensive rug from oncoming traffic. Not even a scratch. On either of us. I slept well Sunday night....

Xena was really good for the duration of her trial run and made herself right at home, claiming the back of the sofa and the middle of the bed as her own. Just like at home-home. She didn't even fuss too much on the ride home but did sequester herself on the floor behind the drivers seat. Whatever makes her happy.

Monday, Jeff made me proud and got right to work on his to-do list. He started on his closets/dresser and pretty much worked from sun-up to sun-down. Very impressive, my husband!
Today we delivered the BP to Hilltop Trailers for a resolution of the gas issue. On the way from the storage to Hilltop we threw the wheel chocks in the back of the truck. Guess what blew out of the back? Yup, both chocks. This time there was no pulling over to rescue them so they were left for dead. New chocks-$17, lesson finally learned about putting things in the back of the truck- PRICELESS!!! So add to our list of things for Hilltop, new chocks. And while we're at it, might want to check the old brakes...gonna be navigating some big hills! Oh, and one other thing. The water pump squeals like a pig in a poke so could you check that out as well.

A week from today we will be in Custer State Park. Hopefully with working heat, working stove, quiet water pump, and nerves intact. One thing we know for sure. We will be officially.....

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Whomp...there it is!

No gas flow=no heat=blue nails. New fashion statement? I don't think so.
Well, this is why we are out here. Trials and tribulations. Seems the regulator on our central gas decided to go bad. We'll survive the night with burgers on the portable grill, microwavable vegies and wine. Or in Jeff's case, BEER! And one really warm blanket that I did have the forthought to use on the bed. Xena has her own fur coat so she'll be fine as well. Tommorrow....another job for Jeff.

Trial Run!

Off to Baker Park for our second "camping" trip and the real test of our knowledge and understanding of the BP. Also trial for the hotspot and Direct TV (which we still have been unable to access). I'm as nervous as a whore in church! Developed an unsightly twitch in my left eye this morning and actually a bit nauseous. More than likely because this is quickly becoming a reality (ten days away now) and this camping trip is a very real test. Jeff is on his way to bring the BP to the house where we will continue loading up clothes, food and personal effects (make-up, hair products and such alone may take up the entire closet). Xena, too, is having her trial this weekend. The first time camping, new potty, new bed and new rules. I'm pretty sure she will be less than thrilled with the whole experience but, if she wants to remain with her Dad and I, she'll have to adjust.
Tommorrow Jeff returns to town for his two final shifts at Chalet. Saturday evening when he returns to Baker he will be officially "retired", or as he refers to it..."a bum". Then he has the remaining week to tend to the multitude of jobs I have so generously listed for him. It is going to be one loooong week!
I had another great week of "good-byes" as I had dinner with Nancy and Julie on Monday, dinner with Mary L on Tuesday, lunch with Tami and dinner with Dane Wednesday. A lot of love and support from great friends who truly want us to have success and adventure while on the road. Thank-you all for that!
Time to pack up the BP. Wish us luck!!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New Hotspot, Happy Hour and Dinner...all in one day!

I was going to give the Sprint Hotspot a chance to prove itself but became completely frustrated Tuesday night so Yesterday it went back to Best Buy. After nearly an hour and a half of waiting/justifying/argueing...they finally refunded my money. Then the sales dude has the audacity to suggest I purchase a different one from them. I went to the AT+T store. There was no way I was going to make the mistake of dealing with Best Buy again....ever. New AT+T hotspot works great. May even be faster than Comcast!
Later in the afternoon I met a few of my PICU co-workers for a drink at Crave. So fun to see my besties from work again. Beautiful day to sit outside and have a summers-end Mojito.
Then it was on to dinner at my friend, Mary's, house with Mindy and Darcy also there. It was the old New Hope gang back together for a great dinner and a few drinks. Once again I find myself in the company of great women...intelligent, funny, kind and so much more. I have been very fortunate to have had wonderful friends from so many different aspects of my life. You might be co-workers, neighbors, parents of my kids friends, a childhood friend of mine....and you are all just GREAT! Thank-you for being my friend!!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

3 Week Countdown

It was a productive week for Jeff and I. We are now (technically) hooked up electronically. We got our "hotspot" internet access from Sprint. Worked right away on the laptop at home but is so slow. Also tends to disconnect with some frequency. I don't know if that is just the way hotspots work or if this was a bad choice in providers. We have the option of returning it and getting a different provider before we leave.
 Saturday Direct TV hooked us up with a satellite dish and reciever/DVR. Again, it's hooked up but we have no clue how to actually use it. The manuals provided are for a home installation (fixed dish) and ours obviously is not, so we have to position it, aim it, direct it....whatever. I guess we will figure it out. We have to...there's Packer games to be watched! Jeff has been working hard at getting all the wires straight and figuring out a way to safely move the giant dish in and out of the RV as well as where and how to store it when we are mobile. Good Luck!!!
Also got our storage unit and have begun the process of moving many, many boxes from the house to storage. It is sickening all the crap I still have that I can't quite allow myself to get rid of but in all honestly, may never use or need again. I tell myself it's safer not to burn all our bridges at this time. Better to store it now than have to buy it all over again in the future...maybe. Who knows when I might need 6 bedspreads, 8 giant pillows, three sets of everyday dishes and forty two tablecloths!
We had Clayton and Bryna (and Logan!) over for a BBQ last night. It was a very different "goodbye" as we will be seeing them in St. Maarten in February. So instead of being really sad, I was actually just so excited to talk to them about our upcoming "vacation from our vacation". This morning I even accomplished packing for that part of our trip. Jeff and I have to have a suitcase pretty much packed and ready and in the holding area of the BP. It was actually pretty easy...swimsuits and cover-ups, sundresses and flip-flops. The beauty of having been to St. Maarten the past two years is I have finally figured out just what to pack and little else. For a chronic over-packer, this is quite an accomplishment.