My 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.
By 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).
Sioux 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.
Supper 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 – 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.
It 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.
My 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.
The 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 – 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!
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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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