3:10 to Yuma

Yuma? Yes, Yuma bound. But first, back in South Dakota, I’d just become a resident by getting a driver’s license and registering the 5th wheel. No luck with the truck.

Near Rapid City, Custer State Park is a 71,000 acre wildlife preserve in the Black Hills and a great place to see herds of Buffalo.

I was lucky to visit when I did. Tragically, the Lake Fire in South Dakota has Custer State Park closed right now (December 2017) and nine of the burros have suffered burns in the blaze. The fire is now 100% contained.

On through Lake De Smet, Alcova, and Rock Springs in Wyoming, Duchesne and the disappointing Crystal Geyser in Utah, we arrived at Green River, UT – base camp (at a truck stop) to see Arches National Park. This should be on everyone’s bucket list (the Arches, not the truck stop).


On to Sevier, Utah where I was stuck in a snow storm for 2 days, then Las Vegas where about six miles away the largest mass shooting in US History happened during my stay. So, yeah. Of course there’s nothing that could have been done to prevent that – who could have imagined that someone buying scores of automatic weapons and thousands of rounds of ammo might want to use them. Really, he was an NRA hero, showing just how much you can accomplish when you buy a congress. We should get him a statue.

Hmm, I may have gotten off topic there.

OK, on to Needles, Quartzsite and finally Phoenix to end the Big Truck ClusterTr**k.

Finally 310 to Yuma

On the old RV I had a solar power system installed by Starlight Solar in Yuma and it’s just about time to do the same on the new RV. Just 310 miles to go – Phoenix to Gila Bend to Holtville CA to Yuma. Sort of a cinematic epic.

Starlight is only open from November 1st to May 1st each year, because, you know, who wants to work outside in Yuma the rest of the year. When I got the new RV I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal living without solar for 4 months or so, but really it was. I had a little generator, but having to run it every day, listening to the noise, smelling the fumes, running out for gas every other day, and having to run it to even charge up my laptop … well it really made me appreciate the solar power. Silent, clean, always there for anything I need short of air conditioning. When I pulled in on November 13th for installation I was almost giddy.


[ List of places visited is not shown on this browser ]

[ Map of places visited is not shown on this browser ]

Wrapping Up Year 4

My fourth year on the road ended in a new RV, with some time in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, visiting Kylee in Seattle, and moving out of Arizona (huh?).

Hard to believe it’s been four years.

In this post:

  • From Washington to South Dakota
  • No Longer Arizonan
  • Year 4 Map

From Washington to South Dakota

Leda and I first stopped in Quilcene, a tiny town on the Hood Canal somewhere between Olympia and Port Townsend, where I promptly rubbed a tree with my brand new 5th wheel. The tree is fine and I’ve yet to repair the damage to the outside shower hatch, but the estimate is about $500, so yea. But enough of the lowlights, one of the highlights of the stop was going to the top of Mt. Walker. It was a clear day and you could see the Seattle skyline and Mt. Rainier across the water.

Mt Rainier appears to float above the clouds. 86 miles away it still dominates the skyline. This shot is from the top of Mt Walker near Quilcene, Washington.

Next up a trip to Seattle on the Kingston to Edmonds Ferry to see Kylee. No, not with the 5th wheel, it was tight enough just in the truck – had to fold in the mirrors to get on board.

ferry pulling into port
My ride from the peninsula to the mainland – the Kingston to Edmonds ferry
Murray and Kylee with the Seattle Space Needle in the background
Kylee and I get an elevated view of the Space Needle and the rest of beautiful Seattle.
Seattle skyline from Gasworks Park
Murray in front of the Seattle Troll
Seattle Troll

Leda and I then went to Port Townsend to see Leda’s brother. Love this place, I’ll definitely be back.

In nearby Sequim (pronounced skwim) which is between Port Townsend and Port Angeles I took two days of driving lessons with the new 5th wheel. Well worth it. Better late than never.

A bunch more stops before Leda headed to Oregon to see the total eclipse and I made a crazy long one day drive from the peninsula to Spokane. Leda met back up with me there where we had lunch in the diner from Benny and Joon. Then we went through Idaho, Montana and Wyoming to Box Elder South Dakota (a suburb of Rapid City).

Fergusons’ Cafe from the movie Benny and Joon
Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle from the movie Benny and Joon

No Longer Arizonan

The point of going to South Dakota was to change my residency. I’m now a South Dakotan. It’ll save money on vehicle registration and state income taxes. South Dakota plates are sort of a badge identifying full time RV’ers.

The Maps

Holy cow, 68 locations in the past year and I didn’t even get east of the Mississippi. Lots of Arizona and southwest locations traveling with the WINs and hanging close waiting for Kylee’s graduation. Definately too many places (and I probably missed one or two).


[ Map of places visited is not shown on this browser ]

[ List of places visited is not shown on this browser ]

Sioux Falls

In 1992 Sioux Falls, South Dakota was Money Magazine’s pick for best place to live in America. The place is beautiful. The buildings reflect the history of the area, there is lots of public art, plenty of entertainment and live music downtown and, of course, there’s Falls Park.

Falls Park surrounds the falls along the Big Sioux River. It’s quite a spot.

Roadside South Dakota

Wall Drug

Heading east on I-90 there is a sign every mile for 100 miles for Wall Drug. “5 cent coffee,” “free ice water,” “buffalo burgers,” “western wear,” on and on it goes. They never say where Wall Drug is until the last sign a half mile before the exit.

76,000 sq.ft. of roadside kitsch
76,000 sq.ft. of roadside kitsch

So Wall Drug is this maze of shops and restaurants (all owned by Wall Drug) under a single roof. It’s huge – think Walmart Supercenter size. The town of Wall, SD, has a population of 730. I’m guessing it takes 500+ employees to run Wall Drug. They get 2 million visitors a year (to put that in perspective, Mount Rushmore gets 2 million visitors per year).

Since I didn’t need any Chinese made cowboy hat bookends, I just had a buffalo burger and moved on.

Skel-o-Saur

Near Midland, in the middle of a field, there is a sculpture of a skeletal man walking a skeletal dinosaur on a leash. You can’t quite see the leash in my photo because I was 800-1000 feet away (the closest I could get). The dinosaur is about 40 feet tall.

Skeleton man walking skeleton dinosaur near Midland, South Dakota.
Skeleton man walking skeleton dinosaur near Midland, South Dakota.

Rest Area?

The view from this rest stop near Chamberlain is pretty awesome.

This is a view from a rest area on I-90 in South Dakota (~MP 220).
This is a view from a rest area on I-90 in South Dakota (~MP 220).

Corn Palace

The Corn Palace in downtown Mitchell hosts the area’s sporting and concert events. It’s also decorated inside and out with murals made from corn. All of the murals are taken down and replaced with new designs every year.

The whole exterior and much of the interior is made of corn and built new each year.
The whole exterior and much of the interior is made of corn and built new each year.

20140623_150029_E 6th Ave
Mural in corn
Mural in corn

Monumental, The Black Hills

I need to set up a dash cam. The drive from Wyoming into the Black Hills of South Dakota was amazingly beautiful. Rolling hills, dense forest and open prairie, spires of granite rising everywhere.

My campsite was between Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse.

View out my door. Black Hills, South Dakota
View out my door. Black Hills, South Dakota

Mount Rushmore

One cannot help but be a little stunned and choked up when the monument first comes into view.

First glimpse of the presidents as you enter the memorial
First glimpse of the presidents as you enter the memorial

It’s a stunning work of art and vision. The carving was completed in 1941, but I was surprised to learn that the memorial was not officially dedicated until 1991.
Mount Rushmore
State flags lining the walkway to the monument
State flags lining the walkway to the monument

The sculptor
The sculptor

I’d have to say, however, the visitor center, the flag thing, and the museums on site were disappointing. The architecture of the visitor center is like something that belongs in downtown LA, not the Black Hills. The flag thing looked like it was designed by congress. Still, the site is a national treasure.

Crazy Horse

The following day I went to the Crazy Horse memorial about 17 miles away. Conceived in 1924, and under construction since 1948, this may eventually be the largest sculpture in the world.

First glimpse
First glimpse

Crazy Horse

Scale model of  the eventual sculpture.
Scale model of the eventual sculpture.

The model and the full scale sculpture in progress
The model and the full scale sculpture in progress

Construction is funded entirely through donations. The family of the original artist, Korczak Ziolkowski, still manages the construction.

On to Minnesota

There was basically no cell service or internet in the area I was staying at in the Black Hills, and that was just fine.

Now I’m sitting in a very noisy hail storm, and severe thunderstorm warning that covers almost the whole state, in Midland, South Dakota. This town of 140 has excellent Verizon coverage.

I should be in Minnesota this time next week to see Duane and Janet.