Sioux Falls or Bust

The second stage of my trip, getting from Georgia to South Dakota. Yes, I have my reasons for driving it all in one fell swoop which I’ll post about later since this it was threatening to become a monster of a post and I have less than two hours to find internet, get it posted, and get back before the park gates close.

9/17/12 – Monday

Since I had a camera (wo)man this morning for the last time for who knows how long, Julie recorded the steps I took getting the Casita all hooked up and ready for the road, and the process for dumping my tanks. There might have been a little silliness involved, but as I had a long drive ahead of me I needed the bolstering. By 10:30 everything was ready to go and Julie and I said our goodbyes, for now. It’s very possible I’ll be seeing her at Christmas time when I go to visit my parents since she’ll be flying up there to visit hers too.

With a deep breath, and a full thermos of water I hit the road. Low clouds followed me around the west side of Atlanta, and made for a moody Nashville skyline. Traveling up through Georgia instead of SC I missed driving through Smokey Mountain National park, but I still hit a bit of the southern edge of the Smokies in Tennessee. Bertha handled it like a champ. I of course slowed down, and watched her engine thermostat like a hawk – prepared to pull over and give her a rest if necessary, but it wasn’t. It climbed a little higher than usual chugging up the hills but was nowhere near the danger zone.

Going back down was likewise uneventful. I tapped the brakes twice, but didn’t need to ride them, and I never felt like the Casita was trying to outrun the truck, hooray for my brake controller.

Just as I was patting myself on the back for a job well done, the rain started. It followed me for a couple hours, and wore me out much more than the mountains did. I stopped at a TA truck stop to check the weather on my phone and realized that sitting still and waiting it out wasn’t going to work. A slow moving wide swath of green and yellow on the radar showed that my best bet was keep pushing North and West and I’d come out the other side of it, and indeed I did as I closed in on the Kentucky state line.

Originally I was thinking of stopping at Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area on the boarder of Tenessee and Kentucky, what google maps was calling a 7 hour and 10 minute drive from Indian Springs but given that I was driving a maximum of 60 miles per hour and was having to stop for gas and breaks of course it took longer. By the time I made it to the turnoff, it was nearing sundown and I wasn’t going to have enough time to get everything set up and enjoy it, so I went just a bit farther on I-29 and am staying at a Love’s travel center for the night. I promised Julie I’d call her and tell her where I’m stopping on the road so that someone knows where I am, so that’s what I’ll do next.

9/18/12 – Tuesday

Today was entirely a travel day. The night at Love’s was uneventful, but I was a bit surprised to discover that I needed a hoodie this morning, apparently I left summer behind yesterday.

Kentucky, Illinois, and then St. Louis – where I got a really good view of the arch driving past. Never have I done this much driving in a day, but good time was made. When I stopped for gas in Illinois, it was $4 a gallon, when I stopped in Missouri, it was $3.63 a gallon, about like it was back in South Carolina. Like yesterday I stopped a rest stop to make myself lunch, a sandwich with cold-cuts, but this one wasn’t as nice as the one in Tennessee that had the great lake view.

Tonight I’m at a Philips 66 gas station/Motel 8/nameless restaurant in one in the north western corner of Missouri. This much driving is wearing on me, but it means that I should only have five hours or so to get to Big Sioux in Sioux Falls, my final destination (on Thursday I looked up state parks in SD, and this one looked like the closest option for where I need to be).

9/19/12 – Wednesday

Yikes, the wind! I was only about 50 miles south of Sioux Falls and making good time when it really got going, and now I understand why RVers hate driving in it so much. I was in no danger of being blown off the road as it was coming head on, but poor Bertha was actually going into overdrive at 60 mph because of the increased resistance. I was driving 50 for much of it, and the speed limit is actually 75 here on the interstates.

A note for RVers: Iowa is a great state to drive through. I passed multiple rest stops that had free dump stations, how cool is that? There was some pretty significant construction work going on around Des Moines, but given the time of day traffic wasn’t an issue.

Around 2:30 I made it to Big Sioux Recreation Area, on the Big Sioux river. I chose a site right by the river and was rewarded with a great view, again I feel like I chose a good place to stop. Sadly they can only fit me in two nights since the whole campground is booked for the weekend, but that should be enough time to get my license and vehicle registration stuff taken care of. It feels very nice to be stopped for a while, even if it’s only a couple days. Now, to get my license taken care of…

* * *

I’m still behind! There’s just so much to write about now and so little time. Ah well, more updates to come time and internet permitting. Nothing major went wrong on the road (that I know of so far), but I did have a few smaller mishaps:

  • Some of my gray tank contents washed back up into the shower while I was driving from my site to the dump station in Indian Springs, getting the two things I stored in the bottom of the shower a bit nasty
  • My fridge shut itself off when I went over the mountains on Monday, I caught it before it got warm enough to spoil anything, it turned back on easily and hasn’t been a problem since…so far
  • On Tuesday the valence over the emergency escape window commited suicide at some point on the drive, I don’t think it’s salvageable since the wood is broke in several places, but I managed to get the blind itself back up for privacy’s sake
  • When I unhooked the Casita on Wednesday I discovered one of my friction pads had broke again, on the opposite side as last time. Fortunately it isn’t as bad and getting a replacement isn’t an immediate concern
  • The laminate flooring has shifted some in transit: it’s floating over the carpet below and so isn’t securely attached to anything, I have a couple cracks between pieces now that weren’t there before. This in itself isn’t a huge deal but it makes me wonder if any of my rivets have loosened or seals on the windows or vets may have loosened – I won’t know until it rains again

I could have gotten really upset by these little things, but in the long run I accept that they’re part of the learning process and that all good things come with a price. RVs are complex, and occasionally things will happen. Take the bad things in stride and enjoy the good things, like the beautiful view from the walk I went on today, but now I’m getting ahead of myself…

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. John Goodwin on September 22, 2012 at 10:46 am


    I happened upon this site quite serendipitously this morning and have been reading for about an hour. What a blast! You say on the Home Page that this site is “about RVing”…well, I must tell you that, after having spent some time here, it’s about a lot more than that to me. It’s about courage and focus and determination and planning and and anticipation and dreaming and……It’s about finding that balance between being a kid and an adult at the same time. Wow! Stay the course, Becky, knowing full well that it changes all the time. Good for you. I’ll be tuned in to see how it goes.

    John G

    • Becky on September 22, 2012 at 11:32 pm

      Welcome aboard John and thanks for reading! I hope you continue to find my posts both entertaining and helpful.

      It’s about what I call deliberate living: deciding what you want from life and grabbing for it with all your might. Right now that’s full-time RVing, but I realize that at some point it might not be in which case that’s why I decided not to call the blog “Becky’s RV Journey” or something like that. 😉

  2. Marvin on September 21, 2012 at 7:31 pm


    Becky ,

    Great attitude , keep things low-key and take a deep breath . RVing is about being positive and enjoying your surroundings .

    You will even learn to enjoy driving in the rain !

    The RV will always need something adjusted , repaired , cleaned , or polished .

    We subject our RVs to hurricane force weather every time we get on the road , so something should need attention .

    Make every day count , and be safe .


    • Becky on September 22, 2012 at 11:28 pm

      I will make every day count Marvin, thanks. That mention of cleaning reminds me, I really need to clean the bug splatters off the front of it too, it’s pretty bad looking…

  3. Jerryc on September 21, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Do you know that there is a valve under your curbside propane tank that can be shut to keep water from backing into the shower while the trailer is in motion? Same type a greywater valve, it resides in the front steel crossmember. Kind of aggravating to get to, but that’s what it was put there for.

    • Becky on September 22, 2012 at 11:25 pm

      My older Casita only has one propane tank and that valve is located under the trailer somewhere, thanks though.

  4. Sherry on September 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    CONGRATULATIONS for being on your way for good!! I love that you are not deterred by the bumps in the trip. Keep the big picture in mind and all will be well.

    Unless your fridge has a leak, it should keep your food cold for at least a 5 or 6 hour travel day. I believe Misty is right about the fridge being damaged if turned on when not level. But having it on in the evening and over night should keep things cold enough or does for me.
    Sherry recently posted..Short trip to the Hershey RV ShowMy Profile

    • Becky on September 22, 2012 at 11:23 pm

      Looks like there is a bit of controversy about the fridge thing, haha. One thing for your and Misty’s method though, I bet it saves on propane not running it all the time, I’d call that a plus.

      Also thanks for the well-wishes. I’m glad to hear that David is back out of the hospital! Sounds like you had a good day today, here in Missouri it definitely feels like fall with tonight’s low being 40. Up in Sioux Falls there were frost warnings.

  5. Misty on September 21, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Hey Julie! I just wanted to let you know that I had the exact same issue pop up with the valence. Is it the valence that’s broken or the wood in the wall? When it happened to me, I was able to get this putty stuff at Home Depot that you use to fill in stripped screw holes, and just rebuilt the small place that was broken, then screwed it back in. It hasn’t come loose again, so it must have worked! (You might want to be more careful to get it level than I was, though!) If it’s a piece of wood that’s broken clean through (instead of rotted out, like mine was), you could try gorilla glue, or even just plain wood glue. With gorilla glue, they say to use a clamp, but I’ve had it work before by just holding it together by hand. Boring but effective!

    The shower drain is an even easier solution. Go to the bathroom section of the Walmart hardware department, and they have flat plastic drain covers that you can use to cover any size drain. Put that down and put a weight over it, and I bet it’ll stop splashing. 🙂

    However, from what I understand, your fridge is not supposed to be turned on while you are moving. They say that any time you run it without the trailer being level, it reduces the life of the fridge. I usually leave mine on overnight and while I’m eating breakfast, turn it off as the last thing I do before hitting the road, and then turn it back on anytime I stop for a break or a meal. (I know, that’s not actually ‘level’, but sometimes you just have to compromise!) I haven’t had any of my food go bad, but I only buy very tiny amounts of food at a time.

    I had a lot of these little things pop up when I first started out. Two of the little supports for cabinets have broken, I’m still fighting leaks at the front of the trailer, the valence at the front of the trailer fell off, etc. Right now I’m fighting a gnat invasion! After awhile you get to where you can roll with whatever happens. :>

    Good luck to you in your travels! So glad to see you finally join the club! XD
    Misty recently posted..Dead batteryMy Profile

    • Misty on September 21, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      Another note: Food lasts a LOT longer unrefrigerated than people think. Also, we put a lot of things into the refrigerator that really don’t need to be in there, since we generally consume them before they would ever go bad outside the fridge. (Veggies, especially, unless you’re in the habit of buying up produce weeks before you’re going to use it…)

      Meat is the biggie. Particularly chicken can start growing some really nasty stuff surprisingly fast. (not so much eggs or milk, since we pasteurize them…) If you’re really worried about it, separate it into individual pieces and stick it in the freezer overnight before you leave. It will stay frozen in there a lot longer than you think, and I suspect it helps keep the overall temperature of the fridge colder than it would stay otherwise. 🙂
      Misty recently posted..Dead batteryMy Profile

      • Becky on September 22, 2012 at 11:07 pm

        I’ve found posts on and the escapees forum where people discussed whether they keep the fridge on in transit or not. I understand that the way the fridge cools uses gravity and if the trailer isn’t level then it doesn’t work as it should but it was my understanding that as long as it didn’t sit unlevel for hours at a time it was okay, guess I’ll have to look at that again.

        As for the valence, the wood itself is quite broke, as in pieces broken off in two places and cracked at the screw in one other. it was actually held onto the trailer by brackets screwed into the window frame on the sides and the blinds up top, it tore away at all but the right hand side, hence it didn’t fall all the way and did more damage to itself swinging around as I drove. I don’t think it’s the kind of think I can fix with Gorilla glue but I kept the pieces and will ask when I get to Coffeyville among more experienced handymen.

        The shower thing sounds like a good idea, a simpler solution than having to crawl under the trailer every time I want to move it to find the silly shut off valve. Just plugging up that hole temporarily will work just as well. 🙂

        Sorry to hear about the gnats and leaks and hope you can get those taken care of. Julie is looking forward to you visiting later this year and I really hope we can meet up at the beginning of next!

    • Mark Sundstrom on September 22, 2012 at 6:17 pm

      There’s no reason not to run the fridge with the vehicle on. As I read it from my manual (for the fridge in my 2011 Casita): the fridge should not be operated when not level for more than several hours. Otherwise cooling stops and there could be damage to the cooling unit. However, if the vehicle is moving, leveling is not critical, as the vehicle motion will keep the liquid ammonia moving.

      • Becky on September 22, 2012 at 11:08 pm

        Thanks for the tip Mark, I thought I’d read somewhere that it was okay as long as it wasn’t unlevel for long periods at a time…

  6. Liz on September 21, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Becky–Do you know about closing the shower drain from underneath the Casita? Our Casita is a newer model so maybe your’s doesn’t have that piece, but it’s something to look for. One time my partner was picking me up at an airport–he drives, I fly to many of our destinations because I’m still working full-time–and he said there was some kind of problem with the fridge. Well, when we looked inside, we saw that a pickle jar had broken and swathed all the contents of the fridge in pickle juice! What a mess. So as we quickly swabbed out the juice, the glass, and the putrid food with paper towels, the airport guard kept trying to shoo us away from the pick-up spot in front of the airport. “We’ll be out of here in a minute!” we kept shouting. Anyway, we learned from that experience to never have two glass jars side by side in the fridge. Always alternate glass and plastic or glass and aluminum, etc. to avoid these unfortunate incidents. Good luck on the road!

    • Becky on September 22, 2012 at 10:46 pm

      Yes I think my Casita does have that, but it’s located underneath the body somewhere. I couldn’t get to it when I was staying at Stoney Crest because of the fire ants that lived under the trailer and I guess I’ve just never bothered to look after that. I’m traveling with the trailer dry right now (my fresh water tank and accompanying hoses need some love) but I’ll remember it next time I’m driving with contents in the gray tank.

      That’s good advice about putting glass next to glass. I’ve managed not to do that so far just by dumb luck…

      • Mary Lou on January 11, 2013 at 3:49 pm

        When I was full-timing, I looked for items that came in those mesh “sleeves” (like cherry tomatoes) and put those around the glass jars. Works perfectly! I did have the full gallon of cherry cider fall out when the fridge door opened sometime during travel. That was a real mess, but not as bad as eggs and raw chicken!

        • Becky on January 12, 2013 at 10:04 pm

          Oh no Mary Lou, it may not be as bad as eggs and raw chicken but that still had to be a pain to clean up.

          I had my first fridge spill incident on the way from Kansas to Wisconsin. I’d pulled everything out of the fridge and moved it to a cooler so I could defrost and turn the fridge off since I wasn’t going to be living in the RV while I was up north. I somehow forgot to pull my cup of crystal light out, and of course with nothing to prop it up it tipped over and spilled, smashing my tiny glass thermometer in the process. Luckily it was in a contained door shelf that was removable, so the rest of the fridge and the floor were unharmed, phew!

  7. Kim on September 21, 2012 at 11:08 am

    How exciting that you are on your way! This is going to be a great adventure – thanks for taking us along for the ride.

    I know what you mean about the learning curve. Oy! I’m going thru the same thing right now with my new-to-me camper van (although I’m taking baby steps, not your giant leap!). But I think that’s part of the fun – the challenge of learning new stuff. Everyday.

    • Becky on September 22, 2012 at 10:43 pm

      You’re very welcome Kim, I’m following along on your blog too, i just love your little Roadtrek and was so happy when you got it, I’d been following you since before the tornado…

      It certainly is a bit of a challenge, but it’s keeping me light on my toes. I have yet to settle into a real traveling routine, that’ll come with time…

  8. cozygirl on September 21, 2012 at 9:20 am

    You just moved right along :O) I always hit rain at Land Between the Lakes and Nashville…loved to have seen you drive by in Illinois. Glad safe and sound…great write up too!

    • Becky on September 21, 2012 at 10:39 am

      Yep once I got started I just wanted it over with since I really wanted to get my residency stuff taken care of before Amazon starts. Some day I’ll drive back through that area and take it slow enough to stop by and see folks, I would love to meet you guys sometime!

  9. Dave on September 21, 2012 at 9:15 am

    You never know what you’ll find when you open the RV door after a few miles travelling. Last year I had a snow globe fall out of a cabinet and smash. I knew something was up when there was glittery ooze dripping out on the ground outside the trailer. Uh oh. Not as bad as the time the fridge door opened and I found a slurry of raw chicken and broken eggs covering the floor. Luckily my little trailers have not had carpet. That would be a nightmare. Have a safe trip!

    • Becky on September 21, 2012 at 10:37 am

      Thanks Dave! Fortunately my fridge stuff has stayed put so far, I haven’t bought too much that could make a real mess while traveling just in case. I couldn’t imagine having to clean eggs and raw chicken out of carpet, you’re right. Two of my doors like to open up while traveling, but they’re the two in the small side dinette at ground level so no harm done.

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