Columbus NE to Hankinson ND

I woke up around 7:00 this morning. It was cold and foggy, so I put the furnace on then went back to bed for an hour, delaying departure from 9ish to 10ish.

By the time I got up, I could tell that this morning fog was not the beachy kind that cloys for days but rather the prairie kind that promises a beautiful hot day. By the time I had the truck hooked up, the sun was already coming out and I shed my fleece hoodie.

The first half of the day was along US-81, a good highway with high speeds except through a small handful of towns. It was steady going. At noon, I hit not only the South Dakota welcome centre, but also summer temps that made me shed even more layers. I was hungry but decided to delay lunch, silly person that I am.

I was about a half hour out from taking I-29 that I had to take a 10KM detour because there was a barn on two trucks blocking the highway. I’m glad my GPS behaved because the police officers directing traffic were absolutely no help, telling me to just follow the 18 wheelers. Judging by the number of them who missed the turns and had to back up, I’d say even the truckers were a little discombobulated by the detour. Anyway, it was on nice roads and didn’t really add that much more to my day.

By the time I reached I-29, I only had a quarter tank of gas left, so I stopped to fuel up and decided that there really wasn’t any good place to park, so I delayed lunch again. What is wrong with me?

It was 3:00 p.m. by the time I got to a rest area and was finally able to have lunch! It was dang time for it, I was getting a little shaky. I had a good break and then set off, with just over 300KM still left to go.

It was to that point a really good driving day; just enough cloud cover not to blind me and, best of all, almost no wind!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And, of course, I was heading into those prairie landscapes I love so much. I had really earned an easy day, especially since I was covering so much ground.

And then, an hour and a half out, BOOM.

I glanced in my mirrors and saw no evidence of the blowout. I wasn’t even sure I’d had a blowout, but the noise and rig shaking spoke to the contrary. I happened to pass a ‘rest area 2 miles’ sign, so I slowed down, put on the four-way flashers, and headed there to check out the damage rather than pull over onto the shoulder. There was a slightly smaller BOOM as I rolled in.

A walk around the rig puzzled me. Everything looked copacetic. All 10 tires were good, there was no scorched scent. I went in the house and, again, everything looked and smelled good. But I obviously couldn’t go anywhere until I knew what had happened. That noise had been LOUD and really shook the rig.

I did an interior walk through. Soon as I got into the cat area I knew what had happened and I had to burst out laughing even as I scolded myself for being such an idiot.

Here’s an RV travel tip for you fine folks: don’t forget to put your stove top cover back on the stove, especially if it is a large heavy wooden one. If you do forget, it is very likely that it will slide off the counter, bounce off the cat box and gain enough velocity to hit the ground on its edge sufficiently hard to sound like the coming of the apocalypse and then fall flat with a noise that portents that the end of the world has indeed arrived.

My nerves were shot after this. Thank goodness it happened at the end of the day! 🙂

It was really strange to see snow in the shadows along the interstate as I approached the North Dakota border. The forecasts ahead are definitely of the snow melting variety, but I think I need to give it a few days. I paid for two nights at the casino, but will likely stay a third.

I was really excited when I saw the Dakota Magic ball on a post about a mile out as I was really tired. I had no trouble getting settled into the RV park even though it is much more full than the last time I was here. I went to the hotel to check in and got the same unwelcoming clerk as I did last year. You’re in the wrong business, dear.

It’s a beautiful evening here in Hankinson. I have the front door open for the first time since Wichita!

Off to make dinner before I pass out. It’s been one of those grumbly tummy days. 🙂

Sunshine From Iowa

Reader P.J. and her hubby just left after spending the afternoon together. They treated me to one last meal at Applebee’s (thank you!!!) and then came down to the campground to get a tour of Miranda. I have given so many tours of Miranda this winter. I haven’t felt that comfortable showing my home before.

It’s been a full year since we last saw each other, so it was good to catch up. A lot has changed!

P.J. showed me her beautiful scrapbooking project. This is a craft that really appeals to me as it is very textured and visually appealing, but I obviously don’t have the space for such a hobby. Looking through the pages filled with little mementos of the day, I realised that my blog is rather like a digital scrapbook.

They brought good weather with them: it is warmish and almost sunny out now!!!

Neelix was also super happy to have company; he appears to be petted out. 🙂

I’m really hoping to make it to Hankinson tomorrow, but it will depend on the wind more than anything else. If it’s smooth sailing with no muscling needed, it should be a fairly easy drive easily split into morning and afternoon sessions. Otherwise, I will only get about halfway, to Sioux Fallsish. But the drive from Hankinson to Minot is almost as long, so I’d really rather push hard and stay two nights at the casino and then just drive hard for a few days.

I’ve been monitoring the weather at my property and they hit not just the teens today, but the high teens, and it looks like sun and warm to hot weather for the rest of the week!!!! If this keeps up, I am going to feel comfortable heading straight there instead of dropping Miranda somewhere and scouting ahead with the toad.

It was so good to have company today. I probably won’t have any more real social engagements until I get to Donna and Ken’s in June.

A Cold Nebraska Morning

Last night was perfect hibernating, I mean sleeping, conditions. I got nine straight hours. WOW!

I had a bit of a hard time finding the movie theatre in Columbus yesterday. I saw the sign by the road telling me I was in the general vicinity of it but could not find the building. I circled around the plaza for a bit until I saw some teenage boys holding soft drinks and popcorn bags come out of unmarked doors to what looked like a strip mall. I parked and walked through those doors to find a tiny mall with a few stores. I had to run a craft fair/Tupperware party gauntlet before I finally found the cinema.

It was your typical small town cinema, a couple of theatres and reasonable enough prices to make popcorn a treat, not a ridiculous indulgence. I ended up going for the 3D showing, but I won’t be doing that again. I had seen ‘Brave’ in 3D and was totally immersed, but with Iron Man 3, all I really got from the 3D glasses was blurriness at the periphery of my vision. Otherwise, I had a fun time as the movie is hilarious and makes up for the second one. I’m glad I saw ‘The Avengers’ in Hampton Roads, otherwise Iron Man 3 would have made almost no sense.

I got in and made my first real meal at home in AGES (pork chops, broccoli, rice) and then I settled down to watch another movie.

It’s another slow morning, but I’ll be doing a good cleaning blitz before I head out to meet P.J. I haven’t been spending much time at home and it shows.

When I’m just passing through an area like this for a night or two and don’t need my full office set up, I usually hang out in the living room and leave the office packed. I really don’t spend enough time in here when I’m parked long-term and I don’t know why. The arm chair is so much more comfortable for watching a movie than is the bed in the back of the study.

L gave me a 19″ TV to use for watching movies or as a bigger screen for my laptop because the tuner went out on it and it’s no good to use as a TV (a case of one person’s trash taking up storage room in the garage being someone else’s useful treasure). I was going to mount it in the study, but now I think I would be better off doing so in the living room to motivate me to use this space more. That will cut down on the ‘where’s your TV?!” comments that I get from most folks visiting the rig. 🙂 I do need to get an adapter for it as Macbook Pros don’t have an HDMI port, and the older ones don’t carry audio from their mini display port, so I need some sort of audio cable, too.

One way that I have made the living room more comfortable is that I got rid of one of the two night tables I had bought as storage for the living room and have FINALLY found the perfect place for the remaining one.


This way, I get a cat perch and I still have a surface on which to put a cup (that black surface pushes back into the night table). I used to have it laid out so the short side was against the wall, which meant the ottoman was blocked and I couldn’t stretch my legs. Neelix’s cushion (and it’s always been his and purchased expressly for him, Tabitha never had any use for such luxuries) moves around depending on where I am in the rig. So that night table is usually clear to receive bags of groceries or whatever else is coming into the RV.

Some time ago, while looking for something completely unrelated, I found my night stand on Amazon! I paid $10 for two. Amazon is selling them for $125 EACH!!! And, yes, it’s EXACTLY the same thing! If you look at the reviews, there is another RVing using this same unit since it matches standard RV ‘golden’ or ‘medium’ oak cabinetry perfectly.

Time to turn the furnace back on and get started with my day!

Stromsburg to Columbus (both NE)

Ah, this is the kind of travel day that would be normal for me if I was an American and could just travel at a leisurely pace all the time.

After an incredibly lazy morning, I got packing just before noon, when the temps hit +5C and the wind had died down a little. It was chilly, but tolerable, for dumping and hooking up the toad.

I pulled out at about 12:05 and drove to Shelby, where I had identified through Google Maps a gas station that would be an easier in and out than the ones I’d pass before. I took on 47 gallons of gas, so I was definitely running on fumes! That put my MPG for the trip from Wichita at 5.8. OUCH!!!

My GPS is useless for finding campgrounds, so I just left it on map to show me upcoming roads, and I navigated with a Post-It that indicated my turns. I’m glad I only had an hour to drive because it was incredibly windy and I could only move at a snail’s pace. The only good thing about driving in such conditions is that my biceps get quite a workout.

I had absolutely no trouble finding the Loup Park campground. I haven’t quite figured out this place. It’s carved into a hill and power posts appear to be scattered willy nilly. I’m much too long for any of the obvious sites, so I parallel parked along a secondary loop. If it was summer and busy, I would have likely tried somewhere else as I feel a little in the way, even though the road is clear, but for two nights in early May, I am fine. Getting myself leveled was a bit of work, but I finally managed it. Oh, I just saw the sheriff go by and he ignored me, so I’m obviously not blocking anyone.


I need to show off my latest MAJOR, life-changing improvement to my RV. TAH-DAH!


The cubbies traveled that way, rather than turned to the wall to keep the drawers from moving. I can do that now because the drawers are finally secured! It was one of my neighbours at Hidden Valley who came up with the solution in mere seconds when everyone else had failed!

The answer was… Velcro!

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The beige blobs are dried Gorilla glue that I used to adhere the Velcro to the surfaces. I knew that the stuff really expands, so I put just a drop, but it was still too much. In other words, I had to pry my drawers open once everything was dry. Go easy on the Gorilla glue, folks!

I’m off to find the movie theatre. I just realised it’s Saturday afternoon, so I’d better arrive early. There is a 3D showing at 3:30 and a 2D one at 4:00, so I should be able to squeeze into one or the other. I can’t believe I saw Iron Man 2 in Dawson City!

And finally, OMG IT’S %%@#$%&@)( COLD HERE!

Not a Great Day To Move

Dang, I really should have packed up and moved yesterday, even though I was insanely busy. 🙁 It’s been one of those mornings where I cranked up the furnace, went back to bed, and wished I could have stayed there all day.

With the wind chill, it feels like it’s below freezing out there. I’ll give it another couple of hours and then head out.

I was going to take on water, but have decided not to at this point to lighten the rig a little, something I have never felt I needed to do. I’m also going to dump the tanks for the same reason, although a good rinse of the black one will have to wait until Hankinson. I am keeping a few jugs of potable water on board for cleaning up.

I’m also going to wait as long as possible to get gas, again to reduce the load. It’s windy out there! 🙁

I’d like to be settled in Columbus by 3:00 p.m.ish so that I can catch a 4:00 p.m showing of Iron Man 3, which would let me get home early enough to make a good dinner as I need to start bringing down some of my stores.

I checked the rules for going back into Canada and I don’t think I will have any issues with anything on board (like pork chops and ham), but I am going to keep everything in original packages. Citrus is always tricky, so last night I juiced the rest of a big bag ‘o limes into some pretty dang tasty limeade.

It’s boggling that it’s May 4th and the weather is still like this, with no end in sight. Last year, spring sprung and stuck on April 23rd!