Escaping Winter

escaping-winter1My last sunset at the Badlands is nothing short of amazing. It’s just the right mixture of clouds and clear to make for dramatic shapes and interesting colors. Everything I can pack up is packed, so there’s nothing else to do but walk the grounds I have called home for the past almost six months and soak in the beauty… and take lots of pictures of course. Goodbye Cedar Pass, goodbye Badlands. I’ve enjoyed my stay here but more snow is in the forecast, the road is calling and it’s time to go.



It’s raining. Why is it raining? The rain wasn’t suppose to start until tomorrow. Luckily I got Bertha and Cas hitched yesterday, the only dry day the Badlands has seen in a while and will be seeing again for some time.

The game plan today is simple. 275 miles east of here on I90 is Sioux Falls, where a friend I worked with this past summer lives, her term at the Lodge ended before mine. I have plans to meet up with her for dinner and a tour of the city, so an early start is imperative for maximum visitation time. I’ll be staying the night in a Walmart parking lot, my friend will provide transportation around town.

escaping-winter3By 9 am, I’m pulling out. Last night I got a little emotional about it being the end of an adventure, but today my thoughts are centered on the adventure ahead. The time between jobs like this is pretty much my vacation time. It’s the 13th, and I’m not due in to Big Chief park until the 22nd, that’s a good 9-10 days of vacation (although a couple will be spent entirely on driving), during which I can go about anywhere the truck and weather will allow me, so long as I’m in Coffeyville by the appointed date.

The leaves are turning in South Dakota. It’s almost exclusively yellows up here, but the color is still a welcome sight as I roll down the otherwise somewhat monotonous drive. Not too far down I90 the light rain stops.. for now. It’s suppose to be a beautiful day in Sioux Falls, but tomorrow is going to be an all day soaking kind of rain. Luckily, I won’t be sticking around for that (not that leaving ends up helping the situation).

escaping-winter4Sioux Falls is reached without incident, and it is a beautiful day. We go down to Falls park, where the city gets it’s name from. The area use to be a rock quarry, so the stone around the falls isn’t natural looking, it’s still beautiful though. We can walk from the park to the downtown area, and look at the statues that line the streets. Sioux Falls has some sort of program where people make statues and they get displayed downtown for a year, within that year people and businesses can buy them. Every year new ones get rotated in. It’s pretty neat.

escaping-winter5Supper is sushi at Fuji. I haven’t had sushi since before the Badlands, it’s been missed. After that we catch Elysium at the $3 cinema, for that price, the show was worth it โ€“ again I haven’t been to a movie since I got up here. After that it’s back to Cas, this is the first night I’ve slept at home since the blizzard forced me to evacuate 10 days ago. The low is 45, plenty warm enough for me, and I have no problem falling asleep.


I awake to the pitter patter of rain on the roof in the early hours of the morning, and drift in and out of sleep for a while. By 5:30 though it’s pretty clear I’m not getting back to sleep, so I get up for a quick run into Walmart for milk for my cereal. I take my time and read on my Kindle while I have breakfast and for a while afterward until it gets light out, there’s no rush after all, I’m on vacation.

My next planned stop is going to be Clinton State Park, in Kansas. It got the thumbs up from two different people who follow IO and one person who came though the Badlands this summer, and it’s generally between here and where I need to end up. That’s too far to drive today, so I don’t have a specific stop in mind for tonight. I’ll get far enough to be able to make it to Lawrence tomorrow, and stop whenever I get tired of driving.

escaping-winter6It still looks awfully dark outside behind my reflectix window covers and blinds, but it also feels like I’ve been reading a long time, my feet are getting itchy. I peek outside into a very dark and rainy morning, doesn’t look like it’s going to be a bright kind of day. There’s no help for it, time to get driving.

Aside from the rain, there’s a steady wind coming from the SE today, and I’m trying to drive south so I’m fighting it all the way. Bertha has one of those fancy overhead displays that’ll tell you direction you’re traveling, temperature, trip mileage, and also fuel efficiency. I turn it on that last option and watch with dismay as my mpg ranges between 10-12 all morning, usually I manage 15 on the highway.

escaping-winter7My first stop at a rest stop in Iowa has me running back to check on the windows in Cas. I’ve been driving through rain all morning and last time I did that in Missouri last spring three of my four living area windows leaked. I’d put towels below them this morning in preparation for more leakage, but they’re dry. Instead it’s the one window that hadn’t leaked last time that has the barest trace of moisture below it, but it looks like it’s been drying for a while already. I send up a prayer of thanks to whatever god is in control of random RV leaks for my good fortune.

I’ve hatched a plan to avoid more rainy weather driving, aided by modern technology. The weather app on my smart phone shows the big band of rain is heading NE, I’m in the thickest part of it now and it’s raining quite hard, but if I just sit tight and wait for an hour or so, the worst of it will pass over and I’ll have much smoother sailing after that. At least I can wait out the rain in the comfort of my own home, time for more reading.

It worked. I continue along I29 only occasionally passing through light rain showers that diminish, by Omaha the roads are dry, although the sky remains gray. The wind however is still present and ruining my mpg so for the sake of my poor wallet I stop relatively early tonight.

escaping-winter8The truck stop I pull into looks awfully familiar, I’ve been here before! It’s the Pilot next to Nebraska City that I stayed in last September on my way down from Sioux Falls after establishing residency. I made the same number of miles today as I did that day just over a year ago, although then I was coming from Big Sioux park and had had to hitch up before I could start traveling. For a change of pace, I stay not at the Pilot this time, but at Sapp Brothers travel center next to it. An interesting piece of trivia: Last fall I had pulled into Sapp Bros first but the cashiers weren’t sure if RV over-nighting was okay (the only truck stop thus far that has said ‘no’ to me), so I drove next door. This time I either got cashiers who knew better, or the policy has changed. Another possibly interesting piece of trivia: Sapp Bros bathrooms have heated toilet seats. It feels… kind of odd.

The rain does eventually catch up with me again, and a thunderstorm blows in shortly after nightfall, I’m glad I’m not driving. After a bit more reading snuggled up all cozy in my bed, it’s easy to fall asleep.


Glorious sleep. After getting maybe six hours last night, I sleep over nine this night and it’s most definitely light out by the time I stumble inside to use the restroom. My class A neighbor in the parking lot has slept in even longer than me though it would seem, so I don’t feel too bad. I wave goodbye to Nebraska city, and continue my trek south under sunny skies.

Driving is easy today compared to yesterday. The wind isn’t making Bertha work harder, and there’s no need to worry about slick roads and poor visibility. Instead of getting back on I29, I take the much lesser used highway 75 down to Topeka. There are no glaring billboards cluttering up the view and no traffic to speak of. I almost fly past stands of trees that are just starting to show signs of fall color and small farming communities with quaint little downtowns. The gas station I pull into has lettering on their price sign, “Happy birthday Mary”. Temperatures are in the low 60’s and the sky is clear, looks like the start of a good birth day to me.


I take no rest stops today and make good time. Once at Topeka I get on I70 heading east, which turns out to be a partial toll road, something my google maps app didn’t make me aware of. At least the road is in really good condition, as toll roads tend to be.

Less than a halfhour later, I’m off of I70 $1.20 poorer and it’s just a hop skip and a jump to Clinton Lake and the park. I’ve arrived at my next destination! And I’ve gotten an e-mail of interest too while on the road this morning.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been working on lining up a gig for after Amazon. I actually had two interviews a couple weeks ago for positions that run from January โ€“ March of 2014. One place was in Texas, one was in Florida, and both had seemed very eager to get me on board but both had to deal with behind the scenes issues that delayed them from sending me an offer. I e-mailed both places back and forth a couple times afterward as they assured me they were still interested but were unsure when the green light was going to be given to them. One of them finally sent me the offer today.

What, you want to know which one it was? Well you’ll just have to wait until the next post, which will also be filled with goodies on Clinton State Park, which I will say right now has to be the biggest state park I’ve stayed in to date. I’m half afraid I’ll get lost in the campground trying to get back to my site tonight after posting this. I’ll also be posting the results of my first water test since below freezing temps during the blizzard and no heat combined to possibly freeze and damage Cas’ plumbing. Stay tuned!

* * *

I’m a few days behind on comments and about a week behind on e-mails and getting caught up is tricky without consistent WiFi access. First it was the power being out in the Badlands from the blizzard, and now I’m traveling and usually don’t overnight at places with internet. I just want to let everyone who’s e-mailed me questions lately and posting on IO know that I will respond to all of them in time, thank you for your patience!

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19 Responses to Escaping Winter

  1. Beverly October 16, 2013 at 1:21 am #

    Becky, love reading about your adventures.

    The picture of the intense blue sky, looking up through the trees, is beautiful!!

    Stay safe and thanks for letting us have a peek into your world.

    • Becky October 16, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

      Glad you liked it Beverly, that picture looking up through the trees was taken here at Clinton State Park, there are more park pictures in the forecast. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Mike LeBlanc October 16, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    I enjoy the way you “paint” vivid images of your travels! I appreciate your openness in dealing with window leaks. You are creating such incredible memories! I wish you continued success!

    • Becky October 16, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

      Glad you liked it Mike, I certainly am making memories!

      The window leaks are frustrating because I don’t have a concrete reason why and thus don’t know how to fix it, but that hasn’t been the only RV related incident, I just tend not to post a lot about the little stuff.

      For those who want to know more: my fridge has turned itself off twice while driving this trip, no idea why. One of my window valences has come loose from the wall again, luckily I caught it before it broke off. And one of my chemicals stored below the kitchen sink must have had the cap come loose or something while driving because Cas smells not so nice right now, I think it was the PVC cement (which was going bad anyway) and have disposed of it. Let’s hope that fixes the problem because I’ve never been the sort of person who enjoyed getting high off of fumes. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Jim Morgan October 16, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    I can’t recall how old your RV is, but if it’s under 20 years old, I would think you’d have the newer kind of PEX plastic plumbing…there is some ‘give’ with PEX that allows it to survive freezing. If you can see any of your pipes, and if they are white, as opposed to grey, then you have that newer PEX. Grey PEX doesn’t have as much give as the white stuff.

    But in any case, if you were able to drain most of your pipes before the freeze, you’re probably good anyway.

    What I do to test in those situations is to use the on-board tank and pump. After turning on the pump and closing all the valves, I just listen. Once the pump has pressurized the system, it shouldn’t run again for hours (if you have first run water at all the faucets and shower and gotten the air out of them). If it’s periodically running for a few seconds, you have a leak. In that case, it’s time to search for wet spots. If you hook up right up to city water, you can’t tell until there’s a big puddle somewhere.

    Pretty good post today. Really enjoyed it. Great pictures. BTW, I was interviewed by a NY Times reporter about the Amazon Camperforce and I gave her your blog address. So you might get contacted by her.

    As far as Camperforce goes, I worked at Amazon Fernley, NV (a big thank you for the lead on that job, BTW), from Sept. 24th until Oct. 15th. What I had forgotten is that I’m flat footed, and just couldn’t walk 8-18 miles/day. I had to drop out of the force. Tried to get them to move me into stowing or receiving but they couldn’t or wouldn’t do that for me. I already was clocking out 1 to 1&1/2 hours early every day to give my feet and legs a rest, and it was only going to get worse when mandatory over time kicked in so I thought it best for all concerned to move on. Amazon was OK with me clocking out early but it was getting to be too painful and uncomfortable. Impossible to keep up my percentages too.

    On the bright side, I’m staying here at the Grand Sierra Resort & Casino and won $822 last Wednesday on a one-armed bandit…so that was nice.
    Jim Morgan recently posted..Enjoying Mexicoโ€ฆMy Profile

    • Becky October 16, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

      Heya Jim, wow what a comment.

      1. Yes, my piping is white – yay!
      2. I haven’t been able to test it yet and won’t be able to by your method because my ‘line’ already has a leak in it – my city water connection valve is bad and any water I put in my fresh water tank invariably drains out of that inlet, I haven’t been able to use my fresh tank since I bought Cas, I’ll get around to fixing it when it’s necessary (i.e., when I can’t just use city water)
      3. Thanks for the mention, and I’m sorry to hear about your Amazon experience but glad that you found something else to do that you’re enjoying. You must have been a picker – they have to do the lion’s share of walking by far.

      • Jim Morgan October 18, 2013 at 1:12 am #

        I’m surprised to hear your city water connection has a leak…water won’t just JUMP out of a fill valve. “my city water connection valve is bad and any water I put in my fresh water tank invariably drains out of that inlet”

        I think I know what that is. Your input city connection has a little spring device that prevents backflow, called the backflow preventer. If it’s sticking, water will flow out of it at the wrong time. I have the same problem. All I did was buy a plug for that city connection (around $2) so with it there, no leak. It’s been 8 years now and one day I’ll replace that valve. The first couple years, I just lubed it and poked it with a tooth pick to make it work. Eventually, even that didn’t work so now I have a quick connect system so I can quickly attach a pressure gauge to that connection so it doesn’t leak. But…mine is in a compartment.

        Yes, I was a picker. No way I could walk all those miles every day. ๐Ÿ™
        Jim Morgan recently posted..Enjoying Mexicoโ€ฆMy Profile

  4. MarciaGB October 16, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    Beautiful pics and descriptions of your travels. Not to worry about being behind on posting/replying. We eagerly await the next installment whenever it comes. Happy trails!

    • Becky October 16, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

      Glad you liked it Marcia, thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. John of Sinbad and I on the Loose October 16, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    A wonderful read. You make us feel we’re right there alongside of you in the passenger seat.
    John of Sinbad and I on the Loose recently posted..TurningMy Profile

    • Becky October 16, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

      That’s kind of the feel I go for when I do the travelogue type posts like this. Most of the time my day to day routine is too boring to make a good post, it’s the time between jobs like this when I can blog like a typical RVer. Although I hope my more informational, inspirational, and philosophical type posts that are the norm when I’m in one spot for extended periods of time are enjoyable too!

  6. David Greybeard October 16, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    I hope you enjoy Lawrence and Clinton Lake. I lived in Lawrence for ten years and I “lived” at Clinton when I returned for a few days or weeks in the middle of big vagabonding trips. Check out downtown Lawrence if you have time. Free WiFi at all of the coffee shops and the library. For chow I recommend The Roost, Free State Brewery, and Wheatfields.

    • Becky October 16, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

      Thanks for the tips on downtown David, I’m typing this up from Lawrence right now and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen of the city so far.

  7. PamelaP October 16, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

    As usual – wonderfully told story – and fabulous pictures. I feel like I’m traveling right along side you. Hopefully I’ll see you in Coffeyville on the 25th or 26th!

    • Becky October 16, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

      Thanks Pamela, crossing my fingers for those days too!

  8. Dawn October 17, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

    WOW! I’ve been out of town and not watching TV. Did not even know there was a blizzard last weekend! Glad you’re out…will try to keep up better! LOL

    • Becky October 18, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

      Actually the blizzard got very little coverage on news networks, which is terrible because it’s caused a lot of damage. Especially for ranchers, the state lost an estimated 75,000 cattle and with the government shutdown they couldn’t get any help. ๐Ÿ™ I’ve been seeing more mention of it online now though which is good, and sites people can donate to to help.

      And I understand about getting behind – life happens. This is why I chose a format that shows my last ten posts all on one page, makes it easier to catch up I figure. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hope you had a good trip wherever you were.

  9. Angie2B October 19, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    Hi, I have spent a good part of this week’s evenings catching up on your blog.The last time I read it, you were heading to amazon to work. You have had so many cool adventures since then . Good for you. Anyway, I came out of lurkdom to share something with you. We have a little fiberglass egg. It is a 1971 compact jr. When we first got it, after a trip all of the drawers were always opened and stuff had fallen in the small aisle. We reorganized to make sure we were loading with weight distributed equally. That helped alot, but the big thing we did is got new trailer tires AND had them balanced. The guys at the shop poo-pooed us saying they normally did not balance small wheels. However, once they saw how out of balance the wheels were, they stopped poo-pooing us. This has made a tremendous difference in the amount of beating our camper takes on the road. I don’t know if you have had your tires looked at and balanced, but it might be worth it to cut down on the road vibration. Happy Trails!

    • Becky October 19, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

      I’m contemplating spending some of the free time I have between Amazon and Florida dropping down to Rice, TX to where Casitas are made and taking Cas in for maintenance stuff like this. Would sure be nice to have someone who knows what they’re doing work on him. Thanks for writing in, I just love those old fiberglass eggs!

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