~Wednesday, June 1, 2022
Day 717 (Travel Day)
Can’t believe June is already here. I thought time would slow down a bit being full-time RVers. But I can honestly say, it hasn’t. Couldn’t ask for a better day to travel through this gorgeous scenery of South Dakota. These pine-covered hills rising several thousand feet above surrounding prairies in Spring is better than I ever imagined.
But this time of year also brings a lot of unpredictable weather along with it, particularly in this part of the country, making it difficult to rely on the latest predictions. We’ve kept a very watchful eye on things ever since Wyoming 👀I’ve also fully accepted that we will pretty much miss most of our summer as we inch our way towards Alaska, filling the closet with mostly Fall-like gear.
We didn’t have time to stop at the missile site after all. Something to add to the list for next time. As we move state to state, it’s interesting to see what everyone’s version of a grocery or gas station is. Haven’t seen a Chevron, Pilot or Safeway for a while now. South Dakota’s version of a Pilot is “Common Cents”. We stopped at one in Rapid City, about an hour into our drive, mainly to use their free dump station. And what a nice one it was (if there was ever such a thing). But to our surprise they also had cheap gas (if you call $5.24 cents/gallon, cheap!??) It was definitely the cheapest we’d seen in a while. Gee, I can’t wait for those Canada and Alaska gas prices! 😳 It’s so funny how these little things….cheap gas, free dump stations, finding potable water, etc. can turn an o.k. trip into a GREAT trip. It’s like striking gold.
Hank did a great job getting us from 3,000 feet to 5,000+ feet in Custer. It was nice we didn’t have too long of a drive, arriving at our campground around 2:30. Big Pine Campground is right off the main highway into downtown Custer and close to all the points of interest. Our campsite happens to be at the far end of the property so we can’t hear any road noise, just the whisper of the pines as it backs right up to the Black Hills National Forest. They just opened up for the season a few weeks ago, so we’re one of their first customers.
Sadie is already loving the green grass hillside behind our site where she feels she owns the place. And they don’t seem too strict about dogs on leash, hoping they have common sense guests. Gosh, I wish every place was that way. If your dog’s unfriendly, leash. Friendly, no leash. And when camping amongst wildlife, you just have to use your head keeping an eye out for other 4-legged creatures, like Bullwinkle in Rocky Mountain NP.
After we got set up, I went immediately into laundry mode. It had been 2 weeks since our last load and wanted to take advantage of the facilities at the campground. Low on cash, I had to run into town for a few grocery items and cashback to get quarters for the laundry. Yes, it is a process. What I thought was going to take 2 to 3 hours took more like 5, with the facility located at the front of the property instead of close to where we’re camping. I think I must have done 10 trips between washing and drying (can you tell I’ve been a little spoiled lately with the laundry rooms being nearly out our front door?) Plus, the dryers were not really doing their job. You can tell they’re old machines. Close to the end of this task, I showed signs of fatigue by doing the darndest thing….I put my 75 cents in the wrong machine. I’ll just make an excuse that a pile of wet towels on top of the machine blocked my view of the correct coin box. I just went with the box that was conveniently to my right…..the machine that was OUT OF ORDER. After several attempts to turn on the working machine, I finally realized I had put the quarters in the wrong spot. What an idiot!! That was certainly a first. One of the few things I WON’T miss about this trip are the laundromat challenges. I look forward to the day that my washer and dryer come out of storage as I lavish them with kisses and hugs.
With all my coming and going, I knew I’d run into the owner at some point with the laundry room right next to his workshop. He and his family are in full summer prep mode. He had just put out some corn for the deer (a daily ritual), where all he has to do is shake the container and they come running down the hill and they certainly are used to people. He shared a few stories about how they came to own the property about 4 years ago and the labor of love it has become. He doesn’t consider his chores from sun up to sun down, work. Not very many people can say they love their jobs. But his worst fears came to light just a few months ago, when a wildfire struck the forest behind the campground. They think it started from power lines hitting trees due to high winds (sounds all too familiar). In the end, the heroic firefighters held it at bay where it consumed 150 acres of the national forest. You can see a slight bit of damage to a few trees and fencing on the edge of his property, with his campground spared. He is eternally grateful to the incredible firefighters who saved lives, property, structures and even the town. And on that note…..I’d like to wish all the brave fire men and women who risk their lives everyday to ensure community safety, a safe fire season. 🙏
While I finished up laundry, Jeff tried to salvage my left-over mess of a pasta dish that we had the other night. Hating to throw it away, I appreciated that he took on the challenge to fix it. I like to consider myself a very good cook, but that night was a disaster. I had cooked the fettuccine noodles too early, even reserving some pasta liquid for the final assembly but they all stuck together. It had a good flavor, just a poor presentation. Jeff’s fix (as best he could), was adding more of a garlic oil sauce which seemed to smooth out the stuck noodles, more mushrooms and more broccoli. At least it didn’t go to waste.