POSTCARD: First Week on the Road

Week one is in the books!

So, in the two weeks leading up to this trip, I was riding - no-hands! - on an emotional rollercoaster with a straight 90º drop. I panicked about money, never finding another job again, getting bit by a rattlesnake (still worried about that one) in daily intervals that became so routine, I could predict them down to the hour. 

A week and the reviews are in: no regrets. This is worth it. 

However, this is 2020 right, so basically I expect a hurdle to jump every 10 miles, and day one did not disappoint. 

Day 1-2 | Michigan to Indiana  

Five hours into our drive to Indiana and the brakes start locking up. Coolcoolcool. Luckily we were 30 miles from a friend's house (that we were planning to stay with anyway) and Ryan got the parts he needed to get those brakes back up and running. No biggie. 

We got to our friend Jay's around 3ish, made a few cocktails, and started living that lake life for the evening. We boated out to an island and Duke would have swum for a hundred years if I let him. 

The next day, Ryan had to zip over to Napa for some parts for the brakes and bless him, was working on them in 90º heat all afternoon. It was kind of late to leave at that point, so we just stayed an extra night -- couple more drinks, a little more swimming - and everyone slept like a baby.

Webster Indiana |

Day 3 | Indiana to Iowa

Wednesday kind of felt like the real first day of our trip. It was the first day that we wanted to crush some miles and see how far west we could get. No concrete plan, we just hit the 80 and chased the sunset. 

We stopped at the Iowa 80, which if you are not in the know, is the largest truck stop in the world. I thought I saw a Panda Express logo on one of the billions of signs leading up to the place, and I think Ryan got a tear in his eyes when we got closer and realized it was an Einstein Bagels instead. Ha! Anyway, Duke was into the place. It has a full food court, a zillion tchotchkes, and a real semi parked inside. 

We stopped for the night in Eldora, IA where we landed a camping spot with water AND electric for $16. Such a smokin’ deal. 

Sunset in Iowa|

Day 4 | Iowa to South Dakota

Day 4 brought us to my favorite camping spot so far. We hauled into South Dakota, which I’ll be honest, I had low expectations of. I came here once when I was a kid and it was winter, and all I remember is a haze of white. But man, is this place beautiful. We jogged north a little to avoid a storm, and came through Sioux Falls, stopping for the night on the Missouri River. There were a few other campers there, but it’s not an actual campground (I can’t remember if it’s BLM or national forest, etc). We left the awning up on our camper and woke up around 5am to some intense wind. Ryan and I shot out of bed and lucky too, because we woke up to the prettiest sunrise. 

Rottweiler on the Road|

Sunrise on the Missouri River, South Dakota|

Campsite on the Missouri River, South Dakota|

Day 5 | The Badlands and The Black Hills, South Dakota

This was a travel day, so we just drove and drove and drove. Driving through the Badlands is nuts -- you go from flat green and cornfields to endless weird rocks. 

The Badlands|

The Badlands|

We hit a good rain/wind storm complete with hail, so we waited that out in a Cabelas parking lot while Duke and I napped for a while. We also stopped by Dinosaur Park for Duke, who proceeded to sleep through the whole thing. We camped in a national forest that was surprisingly populated, but we got there so late, we just conked out. 

Dinosaur Park, South Dakota|

Day 6 | Big Horn Mountains, South Dakota

Lemme tell you about day 6: the day I almost had a heart attack. We drove all day, wound up in the Big Horn Mountains and found a really nice campsite on RoamFree - an app that shows you free/BLM camping sites with reviews. Very handy. Anyway, we enter in on the back end - the top of a canyon - and it’s a pretty steep decline. Basically right away we’re committed because we don’t have 4-wheel drive and we’re not 100% sure we could get back out the same way we came in. So whatever. Keep going, I guess. We end up finding this great spot to stop, with a waterfall and a river, and I immediately make myself a beverage. Ryan wanders around to make friends and one really nice guy tells us we can get out just fine if we follow the canyon down and come out on the opposite side. Coolcoolcool. 

The next morning, we pack up and head out and probably three people stop us to tell us that the road is really narrow and there are rocks over the road, and we probably can’t fit. I hyperventilate. Ryan hops on the Honda 90 strapped to our camper to check things out. 

Okay, so it was kind of tight, but we did get out and the only thing I’m mad about is when I had to jump out to spot for Ryan, I didn’t bring my camera, because I was in the bottom of a canyon and it was truly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in real life. Anyway, as we cruised out, there was a sign that said “No RVs, Trailers, or Semi Trucks” which would have been helpful on the entrance we came in on. I certainly agree and now I have paranoia about any hills or gravel. 

South Dakota|

South Dakota|

South Dakota|

Day 7 | South Dakota to Cody, Wyoming

Long travel day, but smooth sailing. We were pretty low on water, and our fridge wasn’t working (awesome!) and it was literally 101º so we planned to stay at a campground where we could refresh our tanks and take a shower. Bonus, we found one with a laundromat, so I ran a load of that too. We cruised into Cody, WY around 4pm local time, plugged in and basked in the air conditioning. 


So I mentioned some 2020 style hurdles to clear and I think we had good expectations when we expected the unexpected. 

Our fridge will only run for about 10 minutes on propane, so we have to constantly reset it, have our generator running daily, plug into an electrical source, which is 10000% contrary to our plans to camp in national forests and other boondocking spots or just eat everything today and live on canned goods moving forward. That one has Ryan flummoxed (and mad). 

Also, the TV that we've watched a zillion movies on, just won't work all of a sudden. Who knows why, but also I don't care that much. 

Anyway, the moral of the story is it's all the things I forgot to worry about that are becoming a total pain in the ass. The things we tested and used several times before pushing off, those are the items that are giving up on us. 


We're in Yellowstone now, and will spend a couple days here. I'm already looking forward to next week's update, because there are going to be a LOT of bison in that one. 

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