Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Mid West Mosey

With the wild west in the rear view mirror, we moved on through the Mid West into territory I have never explored before.  Now I should explain something about myself.  I am NOT a planner.  Now, this works pretty well in areas that you have traveled before but it is entirely different in a brand new area.

               I don't consult the internet about all the sights one should see.
               I don't make campground reservations ahead to require arrival dates and times to be met.
               I don't set a timetable to keep myself tied to.

Instead I make a vague - we'll go this general route and timetable and set off.  If I want to spend a few more days along the way and see some additional sights I can.  This is a bit more challenging in areas I have never been to before since I'll be flying blind  I'll use the travels trough the midwest to illustrate how we mosey...

We spent three days in the Black Hills Area with the last being in the Badlands.  What a land of stark contrasts.  The USA has many areas of desert and others of erosion but rarely do you encounter both extreme erosion and contrasted with the green of the grasslands and wildflowers.    

  What a land of  stark contrasts.  The USA has many areas of desert and others of erosion but rarely do you encounter both extreme erosion and contrasted with the green of the grasslands and wildflowers.    


 The contrasts do not end with the landscape.  The animals are also diverse.  Signs indicate a herd of approximately 130 Big horned sheep call the Badlands home.  We were fortunate to see nearly 30 of the elusive creatures.

The sheep, at home on the sparsely vegetated rock formations are among the few animals who inhabit the steep slopes.

When first entering the park we were greeted by the entertaining prairie dogs near what is fondly call Prairie Dog Town.

As you stop along the roadside, you can hear them chirping across the fields to one another.  Their heads poking up and down out of the holes as they stand up to chat with one another.  Then to disappear into the hole again.

 Signs warn to stay clear of the cute little critters as they carry disease.

The grassland blooming and blowing in the wind were a thing of beauty.

Bison are seen often roaming the grassland.

 Along the roads of South Dakota are many small towns each beckoning tourists passing through to stop in their little town and stay awhile.
Signs dot the landscape, calling drivers stop here and spend their time and money.  

The two  successful campaigns to garner our attention were Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota and the Corn Palace in Mitchell South Dakota.   

For miles and miles and many signs called for us to stop at Wall Drug Store....not knowing what to expect, we stopped for a peek.  It was a full two hours before we were on our way again.  That is how it goes with us....You never know what to expect.

After reading sign after sign.....we of course were required to stop in each little shop.  The town converted several blocks of the downtown area to a covered little western style town.  You are able to wonder from room to room remaining inside the mall as you are tempted by every tourist souvenir known to man.

The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota is truly a reflection of a main crop of the area.  It is within the corn belt.  Each year murals are designed telling the history and culture of the area using only natural corn products.  Due to weather constraints the colors that are available will dictate the products used.

On the side of the building was a work crew finishing up more of the corn murals.  It was interesting watching how they bound it together.

Quite the labor intensive process.

Inside the smell of popcorn grabbed our attention.  Lots of corny products to check out.

And before long we were on our way...again.  We would hang out in the day at rest areas, or county or regional parks.  Find a scenic pull off to cook dinner and enjoy a rest.  It is amazing how much you can see while putzing along at a leisurely pace. The only worry's seem to be the van is heating up and having a hard time cooling off in stop and go traffic.  I will have it looked at as soon as we can find a radiator shop.  Not urgent, but I would rather be cautious.

This trip is the first time that we have used a Walmart to sleep over at night.  It has been a pretty easy way to travel.  We do our sightseeing and enjoying the local recreation areas then check on the internet list for Walmart's that allow RV overnight parking.   We check with the managers who are quiet friendly to find the area they prefer the parking to be located.  We always do a bit of shopping as a thank-you and are on our way in the morning.  We pulled into a couple of parking areas along the way that just didn't feel comfortable and just kept on going.  We also have stayed in a Crackle Barrel that welcomes over nighter's and one night in a truck stop which was my least favorite due to noise.   All areas have had video surveillance or employees on site so we have felt safe in the locations.

   It has been more difficult to find propane and RV sanitation dumps than a location to sleep.  In the West propane is sold at many gas stations or RV service departments.  They are not as visible in the midwest but we have found the propane at farm supply outlets.

I have a FaceBook friend that I have been in touch with for nearly five years.  Since we were going through the area we deceived to make our friendship official and meet in person.  I drove through Chicago with the name of her town and ended up calling her from a Walmart just blocks from her house.   Diane lives in a beautiful townhouse in a secluded suburb of Chicago so we spent a couple of nights her tree lined slice of paradise.

We drove into China town for dinner and shared a breakfast at a local dinner.  Best of all was connecting with a friend and seeing our friendship grow in  real time.

While we were here we got hooked up with a radiator shop and had a fan replaced that helps with cooling and it has improved the cooling immensely.

While the Roadtrek was being tended to, we rode the train into the downtown and walked along the water front and enjoyed the day in the
Windy City.

We attended a free concert of the Chicago Youth Symphony with Blue Man Group.  It was a lot of fun and the price and venue was certainly right!


Before long we received word that the van was ready.... and we left Chicago in the middle of rush hour.... Not what I would choose, but we made it out of the heavy traffic with only a little worse for wear.

At one point we felt like a semi-sandwich!!

Headed for Indiana where we 
Made Nachos for dinner along side a beautiful lake for dinner and enjoyed the beach until sunset
 and then we headed to our nighttime destination, 
a quiet little Walmart along side a sweet little pond. 



  1. Glad to hear your trip is going well after a rough start. I'm about 4 hours south of Chicago. Being a "semi sandwich" I can only assume you were on I-80 as you headed across the northern part of Indiana. I like your idea of taking time with no specific plan. I hope to follow that plan in a few weeks with the hounds.

  2. Wow - you guys are really seeing the sights! FYI - you can overnight park at Wall Drug. Do you have the Allstays App? You can find propane and dump stations that way. Here's another resource for dump stations:

  3. I remember stopping at Wall Drug store and editing pictures and putting them on line when I came through there on my personal part of a month-long vacation. Guess they catch almost all tourists.

  4. I like the way you travel so much less stress than trying to make dead lines. I'm having fun traveling a long with you

  5. You two have been busy travelers for sure. And WOW Chicago in rush hour. You really are a road warrior. I assume the Black Hills were the "west" and Chicago and Indiana the midwest? I really prefer your way of traveling too and you have a small enough rig that you can do it. Much harder to do with a class A although I try as much as I can. Kimbopolo has already put the link I was going to suggest.