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 > Been a busy year

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kohldad

Goose Creek, SC

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Posted: 10/17/21 08:56pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Been a busy year. Been an exciting year!

After almost 34 years with the same company, last 20 years on the same project, I retired June 2020. Two days after retirement we started on a long celebration trip. Figured we were as isolated traveling in the camper as we would be sitting home so why not. You can follow along our route by using this link Trip Map to google maps. Each pin is a campground with picture of the campsite.

The first week was spent visiting my youngest daughter, then on to Knoxville, TN for a few days with our first daughter and granddaughter.

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We prefer to travel without reservations and COVID made this a bit more interesting. Lots of places where we would just normally show up for a FF site went to reservations only. This is fine when traveling within cell service, but since we tend to stay off the beaten path, not so easy. Once we arrived at a campground which provided a land line phone to make the reservation. However, they closed at 4pm on Friday so wasn’t any good to us when we arrived at 6pm. Overall though, by making reservations a few days out when we had phone service, worked out. So on up through Missouri, across Kansas, up to Nebraska, and South Dakota we went.
We found some huge mushrooms at Mushroom Rock State Park, Kansas

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We stopped at Minooka Park on Lake Wilson. It was pretty windy but at least the wind kept the flies at bay. Plus we had a wonderful sunset that evening.

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We were lucky enough to grab a site in Badlands for two nights. This gave us time to do a little bit of hiking.

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Never rained where we were but to see this one on the horizon in such a dry area was neat.

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We then decided to go visit the Black Hills for a few days before heading north. It was time to find something with power, showers, and dump which we found at Rocky Point State Park. The first evening, we were introduced to the hazardous weather speaker system. While the voice over the speaker was muffled I managed to make out enough to do some quick detail checking. Yep, we were right in the path of a severe thunderstorm with golf ball size hail and 70mph winds. We quickly strapped a board over the bedroom vent and put truck floor mats over the two rear vents. Good thing too because it hit us square on the back of the camper.

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Even with the row of trees behind us, we now have a dimpled camper. If you’ve never been in a hail storm in a metal camper, you can’t imagine the noise level. Hail storm Video Luckily, we didn’t get any damage that needed to be repaired immediately. Only thing was the rear edge of the bedroom vent was broken in several places which I repaired with painters tape, though all the breakage was outside the gasket. A few days later back in the Black Hills, we ran into someone packing up to go home because they had been at a restaurant 5 miles from the campground where they were pounded with softball size hail taking out every roof penetration cover and cracking the truck window.

Then came the crisis of finding a spot with power for July 4th weekend due to the heat. While we lucked up with a site, it was 300 miles eastward so we had to double back. Turned out to be such a nice place, we stayed an extra day. Cross Ranch State Park is a heavily cottonwood area with all the sites a very short distance to the Missouri River.

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Had a little rain shower while trying to cook diner so made a quick cover with the 8x10 tarp I carry. That’s my hiking stick which I used as a prop rod.

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Next stop was Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. This was the one spot we really wanted to hit this trip as we had not made it to North Dakota in our travels yet. There are 3 different sections to the park and we managed to hit all 3 sections of the park.
North unit is greener with the Missouri River flowing through it. That is a herd of buffalo in the water.

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South section is more arid but still plenty of wildlife. Our favorite here were the wild horse.

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On the west side of the south unit, accessed from a dirt road a couple of exits down from Medora, is the Wilderness section which has some petrified stumps. Was a little surprised with the stump portion as I’m used to trees. So we made the mile hike out to area to see.

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The first night we stayed in a BLM campground just outside the park where we watched a massive hail producing storm split right around our spot. After our previous encounter with hail, we didn’t want to experience it again. On our second night in the park, we choose to boondock finding a wonderful spot requiring 4wd to negotiate the ditch but well worth it as we looked down on.

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We also had another beautiful sunset and later could see Medora light up.

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Next few days were spent working down to Yellowstone. One place we came across was Charles M Russell Wildlife Management Area. Drove up this 4wd road and found a great place to pull off. Gave us views of the Missouri River and somehow cell service which was amazing considering I couldn’t see any lights or towers at night.

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One of the apps we use for finding campgrounds is Ultimate Campground. They concentrate on government operated campgrounds and dispersed camping sites. If you pay a fee, you can even download a cvs file. After a tad bit of manipulation, the file can be loaded into Garmin Basecamp and a Nuvi. This makes finding a remote campsite much easier traveling remote. The next campsite, Half Moon was found this way. It was 12 miles up a gravel road with the last mile getting fairly rough but doable in 2wd. By talking to other campers, we found a nice waterfall just a short hike up the stream

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Tired of being hot, we decided to head for higher ground. So we set our sights on Bear Tooth Highway. The drive up was very interesting and a piece of cake as long as shear drop offs, narrow roads, or switchbacks don’t bother the driver.
Looking up the valley and we aren’t even near the top yet.

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Us at the overlook about 3/4 of the way up.

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Clear, glacier feed mountain lake. Would have loved to hike down to it but my health doesn’t allow much hiking over 10,000ft.

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Yellow Bellied Marmot

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Pica. Only found above 8,000ft as they can’t stand the heat. These fellas are hard to photograph since they are always scampering around collecting food. But every once in a while, they will pause on a rock just long enough.

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After you cross Bear Tooth Pass on the way to Yellowstone, if you keep you eye out you get a glimpse of a waterfall on the right. Years ago, the road actually went over the waterfall but was rerouted with the new bridge. There are places on the side of the road to pull over so you can walk up the old roadbed just a few hundred feet.

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We decided we wanted to stay in Yellowstone a few nights so we called Xanterra to see what we could snag. Because we didn’t care which campground, were small, and willing to change sites each day figured we could get something. They were helpful and we quickly found a site in Grant Village for 4 nights. Turns out it was for a 40’ motorhome so we had tons of space to park our little camper.

To help avoid the crowds, we would try to get up early, some times maybe too early. While we were the only ones there, we couldn’t see much due to all the fog and steam.

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The Grand Prismatic Pool shrouded in some steam and sun still blocked by all the fog this morning. We would walk to it 3 times and never get a good picture.

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We decided to do the 3 mile hike to Fairy Falls. It was busier than we had hoped so didn’t stay long but definitely worth the hike.

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On the way out, we finally had fantastic views of Prismatic Pool from an overlook on the trail to the falls.

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Sapphire Pool, crystal clear as always.

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Love the different colors you can find. Most people take in the big picture but forget to look at the details.

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Saw a bunch of elk. Watched this small group cross the river.

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Even had time to visit the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

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Now was the time to start slowly heading back east. We still had weeks to go before needing to be home for doctors appointment. So when we saw something about wild horses, we just had to investigate. We saw a few on the paved road but learned most of the herds were father up on Pryor Mountain. Map showed an interesting way to go, Burnt Timber, Route 1018. Of course, interesting and challenging kind of mean the same when we go off the beaten path.

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We finally found a good place to pull over for lunch before heading down.

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If it hadn’t been almost 90 degrees and early in the day, we would have just spent the night here just for the views.

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But we had been advised by a jeeper that we wouldn’t make it to our destination. When I walked up the road a little bit, I saw where the road went. That combined and with the temps being almost 90*, we decided to head back the way we came and try for some higher ground.

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Anytime I have talked about crossing the Big Horn Mountains, advise is always given to take 16 over the south end or take 14 over the north end but don’t take the shorter 14A. So naturally we had to go up 14. All I can say is that is the steepest long climb we have done. We had plenty of power to spare but was down 1st gear as 2nd was just wouldn’t keep the rpms up where they needed to be. But the views are worth the climb if you have the rig.

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Our reward was a campsite on the side of a single track with an old cabin just down the road and nothing else around us. Instead of 9pm temp in the 80s, we enjoyed temps in the low 60s by sunset and a low in the morning in the 40s.

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The last scenic stop we had was Devil’s Tower. We enjoyed a stroll around the base despite the heat. Would loved to stay at the National Park campground but it was still closed due to COVID. Instead we settled for a no thrills side of the forest road in the nearby Black Hills.

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The next morning we stopped at a Fire Tower. Normally you could go up to the top and the watcher would explain how they use the equipment. Instead, all we could do was go as far as the bottom of the tower and talk to the guy from 100’ away. After getting back in the truck I told my wife I was done with dealing with the COVID limitations so we made a be-line from home.

A week later we had returned home and buttoned down for the fall/winter waiting on COVID to ease up. We knew we wanted to move to TN closer to my granddaughter and the mountains. Wife always wanted to buy a house in TN before selling our current house in Charleston. So I was very surprised when she told me one day “Let’s just go ahead and get the house sold with the market so good.” Three months later we had worked hard, moved all of our belongings to a storage unit in TN. Replaced the counter tops with Granite, put in new carpet, even made the garage look as clean and pristine as the inside of the house.

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The day the carpet folks showed up to install the new carpet, we moved into the camper. This was on March 28 which is when we started living full time in our Lance 815. On April 1 the house went on the market with the closure on April 28th – No going back now!

We use my daughter’s house as home base. So after getting new driving license, setting up new doctors, and a few other things, we were finally free to travel. All this took longer than we had planned, but we did get some local camping trips in while waiting on appointments. Tired of being stuck in one place for 3 months we finally set sail on July 3. So if you see us on the road (minus the Granddaughter), be sure to say “Hi!”

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Epilogue: So, what’s been going on since July 3? We have put over 11,000 miles on the truck, spent 109 nights in 77 different campgrounds. We have been in 16 different states and visited 18 National Park Service sites. And YES!!!!! We are still enjoying Full Timing in a small Truck Camper.


2015 Ram 3500 4x4 Crew Cab SRW 6.4 Hemi LB 3.73 (12.4 hand calc avg mpg after 92,000 miles with camper)
2004 Lance 815 (prev: 2004 FW 35'; 1994 TT 30'; Tents)


jimh425

Western MT

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Posted: 10/17/21 09:04pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice pictures. I’m glad you were able to get out and about.


'10 Ford F-450, 6.4, 4.30, 4x4, 14,500 GVWR, '06 Host Rainer 950 Dbl Slide, Torklift Talon tiedowns, Glow Steps, and Fastguns. Bilstein 4600s, Firestone Air Bags, Toyo M655 225/19.5 Gs, Curt front hitch, Energy Suspension bump stops.


joerg68

St. Ingbert, Germany

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Posted: 10/18/21 12:23am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for sharing! Sounds like a great trip, and a lot of good decisions. Happy travels!


2014 Ford F350 XLT 6.2 SCLB + 2017 Northstar Arrow


Downunda

Melbourne Australia

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Posted: 10/18/21 05:09am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Livin the dream, beats workin!

IB853347201

Eastern Ontario

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Posted: 10/18/21 06:21am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Man, your trip of 2020 and the review of the last year was a pleasure to read about. Thank you for posting.
We're in our 5th year of retirement and loving every minute of it. Although we don't full time, we do travel at least 6 months of the year in our RV.
Enjoy your future travels,


2010 Suncruiser

Dave in TN

Middle Tennessee

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Posted: 10/18/21 06:49am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great read! I’m tired now from reading about all of those adventures.

ferndaleflyer

everywhere

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Posted: 10/18/21 07:09am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice! We put about 12,000mi on our DP in the year ending this past March. Never got past the Mississippi river, but all over the East. Hope to roll out once more pretty soon. I am 80 and the end of the road get closer every day.

mleekamp

Washington, IL

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Posted: 10/18/21 08:10am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great year! Great story...inspiring. We are currently downsizing stuff -- selling junk/collectibles on ebay and what a hassle that is! We've listed stuff for sale on craigslist too. A lot left to go, and for us, a few years. But we hope to do what you did...prep the house and sell it, and off to new adventures.


2019 Jayco Redhawk 29XK Class C, Ford V10 E450 with Roadmaster Hitch Mounted Spare Tire holder, Bigfoot Hydraulic Leveling

zb39

slippery rock

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Posted: 10/18/21 08:12am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Awesome trip and pics. CONGRATS!! and enjoy.


2017 Host mammoth, sold
49 states, 41 National Parks, 7 Provinces
2019 2 door Rubicon 6 spd.
2019 Berkshire XLT 45B
2022 Host Cascade
2021 Ram 5500 Air ride

USAFBILL

Alabama

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Posted: 10/18/21 08:54am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

enjoyed, thank you


2003 Cougar 285EFS
2000 Chev 2500 Ex Cab


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