Tag Archive: Tired on the road


Montana and then Wyoming

There is simple beauty of water reflected in the sky and in the land. In the evening the moon plays along with the extended dusk. Up on the hill are “acquaintances” of the moment in a Pleasure Way Lexor on the Sprinter Van. They’ve moved three times now, first in to one of the few powered space, then to the other side away from the main path and now past where I am parked to the top of the hill sans power. When I arrived at this little lake it was like an invading a private party, which in a way it was; a fishing derby for the Lyons Club had attracted a large crowd. The husband in the PW encouraged me to stay and I’m glad he did. He told me how he admired women that took off on their own in a camper van….LOL! My site is $10 right on the water. I admired his sleek new Pleasure Way and his wife happily chopping vegetables for their dinner.  He told how his wife can sleep though anything, but he needs quiet.  Yep, I can relate! I’ve moved as many times myself. The storm, the latest of a series is still on the way.  I have not outrun it.

Only a few other campers stayed. There were signs to stay in your vehicle if there was lightning strikes. As it turned out this was a beautiful stop and there were no problems.

“Deep-blue body of water in Johnson County is a jewel. And it’s a jewel that possesses not just beauty, but plenty of legend as well. Named after the first white man to lay eyes on it back in 1840, Lake De Smet is a huge, deep watery Wonder of Wyoming. Oh yes, the lake took it’s name from a Jesuit priest, Father Pierre Jean De Smet, who when travelling with fur trappers came upon Lake De Smet. It’s a well-protected jewel, nestled in among the hills that surround it on virtually all sides. It pops up, all the sudden, off to the east from Interstate 25. Lake De Smet is a stunner, in a breathtaking setting, just a strong stone’s throw from the base of the Bighorn Mountains, and smack dab in a place with a wonderfully-long history. And, of course the history of Lake De Smet goes back long before it became Lake De Smet. Legend has it that survivors of pre-historic monsters inhabit the lake, and there is one, the real star of the legend, that is believed to rise from the vast depths of Lake De Smet at times, even today. This sea-creature, that has made a centuries-long home in the “fresh water” of Lake De Smet, goes by the name of “Smetty”. Lake De Smet lies over great masses of coal. Smetty is a pre-historic, dinosaur-like creature. Hey, makes sense to me, I’m a Smetty-legend believer. Lake De Smet was also the scene of many an Indian legend. The tragic Crow love story of Little Moon and Star Dust happened here, and to this day, when the wind blows over the waters and creates those “moaning” sounds, that is the Warrior calling. The Sioux firmly believed the lake had magical healing powers, and prompted visions.” 

Been listening to local Cowboy Radio, I like it. After some time however with the love of  family coming on strong and the land so wide open and all, I felt teary, never wanted to be alone and certainly not struggling with each day as appears. There can be a certain stupidly in being faithful, no I mean loyal. An old friend mentioned that there was a value in loyalty maybe he had missed but when used badly it brings heartbreak. I have been so adamantly loyal that no amount of hardship could turn me aside; so many doors opened then closed. I didn’t make the choice to get on and pursue those dreams. Now I temper loyalty, let things drift, open my arms to change even if its solitude in a van full of canines. Living’s not what we think it’s going to be, at least it has not been so for me.  Many of us try too hard, battling to maintain stasis.  We can’t “live-awake”  (to borrow a term) if we’re absorbed in not letting life move though us. Instead of worrying all the contradictions and complications that slog the daylight hours and toss and turn the nights. Nature is not rigid, nature has no concept of absolute no matter how many rules we apply, we really don’t know. I just get up and feed my hungry dogs.

After a nice warm afternoon walk, the night turned cold and my little Mason was tired.

Several far away friends wondered if I was having fun. In truth, the answer is determined, stoic and driven to make it to the Great Lakes or BUST. After the comforts of visiting homes, it’s been drive like mad in the unpredictable moods of the elements with my aging van and pack of dogs. It was a good wake up call; time to reassess. Solo RV’ers like me know we don’t always get to our pre-determined destination, unless there is a real purpose to be at a certain place…  meeting someone, visiting family, an event to attend. Rather our destination becomes wherever we go. I considered this before I announced that I was heading for the Great Lakes but I was proud of saying I would travel all the way there and back but I did say it would depend on the weather, the dogs and my little LTV.

The weather has been scary. I’d heard on the news how a few smaller RV’s like mine flipped with dire results only a week ago in heavy flash flooding and winds. Being so tired driving these roads alone sometimes with no cell coverage isn’t smart. Bring someone with you, drive a vehicle made for bad weather or be willing to hang out and wait for clear passage. I’m confident I can make it but like Mason I’m near exhaustion.

Such a beautiful evening!

Bumpy, rumbley, clangy with stressed and throwing up dogs, dogs wanting to go out at 1 am, 3 am yet I was determined BECAUSE! I said I would. A dastardly romantic notion of camping on the shores of Lake Huron with wild birds and big waves…  oh and wait since I was late getting started will there be huge crowds and super high fees at my destination as I’m starting to find here too? This lovely little lake is Great Lake in my eyes.

My merry band. They each have their personality and issues but we are a team. They stay within the borders of my campsite and heed my call to load up (get back in the van at once) if there are distractions. It’s a judgement call for me, a smoothly operating training for them. well behaved dogs are far more welcomed. I see people all the time that have out of control dogs but I see far more that are really great travelers. Was much easier without the combo of my boy Jackson with his mom Olympia, it’s a challenge.

The speed limit in Montana is 80 mph but when the rain is fierce it gets under my RV and stalls it out. It was suggested I hide out for a few days until the weather cleared. The region is also affected by drought and dying crops, will this rain help? After this storm more are on the way with lightning and sporadic heavy winds and flooding. South Dakota where I’d had my sights on was being flooded right at the moment. It is peaceful here today but the storm is coming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dogs, drive, stop and feed dogs, drive, stop and sleep, drive, stop and let dogs have a break. My Daisy is not built for speed, nor built for long hours. Noisy, really loud noisy, bumpy, rumbley, clangy with barely sleeping nights, stressed dogs, throwing up dogs, dogs wanting to go out at 1 am or 3 am dogs. and me falling asleep behind the wheel. I was determined no matter what even though I told others that how far I got depended on the weather, the dogs, how I felt,  oh no, I was just determined BECAUSE! I said I would so I would. I wanted to know what the Great Lakes were like. And that dastardly romantic notion of camping on the shores of Lake Huron with wild brids and big waves.  My trip wasn’t really going to begin until I reached the Great Lakes….  I nixed Port Townsend and Sequim. Put the coffee in and it goes, but a little fermented kombutucha or a wine spritzers and it stops. She has a lot of ambition but she fails to deliver. Well no, that’s not right..  I’m the one that does too much and then retracts and does nothing al all, it’s that loyalty thing.   It’s that fundamentally being lost thing. Knock Knock, who’s there. No One, I took everyone away, why are you still asking!

 

So where was I? Somewhere in Montana with the 80 mph speed limit that the flooding rain started. Love that Montana.

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Loving Montana

We went up high in the mountains and we came down, we went up in the beautiful mountains, down and up and up and down again and again; cloudy, pretty, oh so green! It’s not crowded, it’s like a song or an opening scene from a classic movie, really lovely. My eyes are taking pictures. Passed through some huckleberry land a ways back.

Community Food Co-op on Main Street in Bozeman (thank you Bob.) Loved this place. Photo is the upstairs cafe and coffee bar. I’d say this is an exceptional co-op. Nice lively trendy downtown area too.

Not crazy about KOA’s. Some are amazing, most are so-so and some are really terrible. Consistency varies widely. Many are overpriced. This one was on the okay side of in-between. Mostly nice people except the guy with 2 BIG dogs that broke loose and came barreling towards me and my dogs as were walking!!!  I don’t get why people tie their dogs anyway expecting that will be sufficient …   can’t you train them? No?  Maybe you should not take them camping then.

Spent a night in Billings, Montana at the first KOA campground in Montana. My space is in the back with the pond at my feet. i.e. the rear of my van where my bed is. It’s as I asked, quiet and calm. That’s a miracle as there are 165 spaces and the camp is mostly full. The one and only dog exercise area is ridiculously petite. The camper two spaces down has a bloodhound and 2 pigs he’s traveling with, right next to me two senior women with 3 little yappy white poodles, across the way is part of a family meeting up with others on the other side of the camp, they have 2 dogs, one of which bites children! They are here to meet their grand kids and are driving a 1990 RoadTrek on the Dodge Ram, like my base unit, but they are having trouble with theirs. Saw a couple with 3 Burmese Mountain Dogs, still I’m that “crazy-lady” with the tiny camper and 4 dogs! No I don’t know what they call me, but everyone does notice me, I stop and talk to people interested in the breed, and sometimes women that are wondering how I can do what I do. The comments about my dogs being so well-behaved surprise me. I’m a good camper though, I always turn out my porch light, I don’t walk through other people’s sites, I keep my dogs quiet and happy, I don’t leave trash, don’t blast music or make piles of smoke; really its super easy but I’ve been camping and road tripping in one form or another since I was a baby.

RV camping around Billings as it turns out is EXPENSIVE and minimal. I tried to stay closer to town but RV spaces were sardine-jammed and all on gravel… terrible for my dogs. Another “camp” down the road from the KOA was over $80 for partial hook-up or maybe that was without services. They had a sign saying not to freak out about their prices that they had some discounts…  ha-ha.  Everything was nearly full so guess they can charge whatever they want this time of year 😦 I needed heat and air-conditioning (for my dogs) so could not do without power and somewhere to safely exercise them. Billings did not look like the best town for Boondocking but I learned later that I might have checked Cabela’s or Sam’s Club, no power though and of course noisy but worth checking out if you are passing though and are not looking for a place for your kids to play.

 It’s 9 pm local time, I’m running my air conditioner in a dry spell, for the moment, in an ongoing storm with more rain for the next few days, a break and then more rain, heavy rain.  I’m bit up with mosquitoes; forgot to get lemons when I stopped at the Coop in Bozeman. Loved that Coop, actually loved the city of Bozeman and would have stayed except the rain is expected to produce heavy flooding and even stronger wind than I’ve been battling. I was hoping (erroneously) I could outmaneuver the worst of the storms and make headway east. Driving has been intense, loud, and stressful.. The dogs freak out, been giving all them calming pills, Jackson gets extra.

Every Morning Olympia carefully checks out the site for the day.

The distance to the Great Lakes is seeming like a joke. Other than visiting friends it’s been rest stops to walk the dogs, get gas, search for a sleeping / resting place for the night, clean the van, feed dogs, exercise dogs and occasional food stops for me. I’m driving all day, resolving problem as they occur, not sleeping very much, waking at 5 am, certainly not relaxing (there’s always something that needs doing and only me to do it) and super tired. The last part of today I picked up the speed. For the last 2 weeks I’d been keeping a steady 60 to 65 (except for the slow crawl in gridlock)…  today was 70 and at times 75 as it seems the more I drive the further I have to go… My little camper is running strong.

The windshields are dirty and for some reason almost every gas station lacks cleaning substance in their window washing supply, is mostly dirty water. Why is that? A new mood in the country, dirty windshields? Somewhere in my supplies I have soap, my own bottle of water and cleaning wand but it keeps raining anyway. Love these trains.

My hair is drenching hot, it holds warmth perfectly but I want to be cool. I slugged an entire bottle of Orange Recharge, refilled it with water and drank that too, all of which seemed to vanish directly, evaporating as fast as I could take it in.  I should let the dogs out more to play, but not tonight.  We did several spins in the way-too-small dog exercise area and walked all over the roads here including a path by the Yellowstone River and even through the tent area on the other side of the pond since no one is in a tent tonight.  All those swollen inflamed bites on my arms, and toes, the back of my neck are heavy.  The river too is swollen having flooded recently and from the looks of things it will flood again soon, it might flood tomorrow from listening to the news. The dogs all had Kaopectate with dinner as I’d let them drink some local water a few days ago, same as what I was drinking but that didn’t settle well for them. They responded by gobbling big wads of native grasses this morning then of course throwing that up along with waking me up during the nights for potty breaks. Mason was sluggish, I had to carry him for our walk so we all will rest. Jackson and Olympia of course disagree and want to go out and play! Olympia is liking the spot I made for her under the bed. Mason was the first to discover that space, he was so cute under there, I had the back door open, was the first night we actually camped and he ran under there all excited. He was so happy, I really meant the space for Olympia but both Mason and Olympia enjoy the crawl under spaces.  I have not missed not carrying the dog crates and exercise pen, my dogs are well-behaved, they stay close to home-base.

Battle of The Little Bighorn, known to the Lakota and Plains Indians as the Battle of the Greasy Grass.

Or known as Custer’s Last Stand

Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, leaders of the Sioux tribe on the Great Plains, strongly resisted the mid-19th-century efforts of the U.S. government to confine their people to reservations. In 1875, after gold was discovered in South Dakota’s Black Hills, the U.S. Army ignored previous treaty agreements and invaded the region. This betrayal led many Sioux and Cheyenne tribesmen to leave their reservations and join Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse in Montana. By the late spring of 1876, more than 10,000 Native Americans had gathered in a camp along the Little Bighorn River–which they called the Greasy Grass–in defiance of a U.S. War Department order to return to their reservations or risk being attacked. . . .”

 

 

This was the morning traffic jam before I left my campsite:

 

Chattering away at the gas stop.