North Dakota Bound

Sept 22, Friday

Morning is a bustle of activity, getting everything put back in the proper place in the Casita for traveling – always a longer chore after being stationary a while. It starts out warm, and is certifiably hot out by the time I’m finished, a combination of humidity and clear skies have me coated in sweat before I’m finished hitching up.

For those of you who aren’t on the road yet, you may imagine dressing halfway nice on travel days so that when you stop to get gas or supplies out in public you make a good impression.

The reality is you’re going to get dirty and sweaty packing up and later setting up camp, and if you have a trailer like me the grease you use to keep things from squeaking is almost impossible to get out of clothes. In the beginning I dressed nice on travel days, but it just isn’t practical with my limited wardrobe and desire to conserve money by being creative with laundry loads. Now I wear old clothes on travel days knowing they’re going to get gross, and I change once I’m all set up after a shower.

The drive west on I94 into Minnesota goes quickly and without incident, other than some traffic near Minneapolis which can be expected. The thermometer inside Bertha keeps creeping up: 90, 91, 92…

By the time I arrive at the KOA southwest of Minneapolis, it’s 94 out. Jeez Minnesota, talk about a fail first day of fall.

I’ve stayed at a few KOAs in my time on the road and in I’m usually not impressed by them. They tend to have a lot of amenities, but a high cost to go along with it and I prefer paying less for less – the bells and whistles don’t appeal to me. The weekend rate here for my electric and water site is $40, but it is almost in the city proper which would drive the price up.

Taken on Monday after the crowds left

The ladies at the front desk are handing out a complimentary bottle of water to everyone checking in, the place is filling rapidly and will be full tonight – mostly of people attending the Minnesota Renaissance Festival like me. This is one of the closest campgrounds, which is why I chose it despite the cost.

Setting up camp is as uncomfortable as expected, but all the tenters must have it worse, they can’t escape into the AC afterward like I can. The trees here are still full and green and from looking at a picture you wouldn’t think it’s as late in the year as it is.

I’m in site 64

Site quality is decent. The row I’m in is a bit sloped, pads are gravel, site separation is acceptable, the free WiFi actually works. The indoor pool looks nice through the windows but I don’t actually use it.

Looking toward shower and pool building

Multiple people have fires going in the evening, and the smell of grilling food permeates the Casita. One neighbor is playing The Princess Bride on an projector on the side of their RV – my kind of people. My best friend Julie arrives from Madison in the evening, we go out to eat at Patron Mexican Bar & Grill in nearby Chaska. I get a chimichanga, it’s good!

Sept 23 and 24

I like ren fests, have made it a bucket list item to visit them in the states I visit, and worked at one as a performer three years ago. If you’d like to learn more about them, you can read this post. I won’t go into detail here since I have in the past. But suffice to say, I love MNRF and have a good couple of days despite the heat wave.

I suspect the next month at the beet harvest will be very full and demanding, so this weekend is something of a treat to myself to prepare myself for the hardships ahead.

On Saturday night, Julie and I pick O’Brien’s Public House for dinner in Shakopee proper. It happens to be their Oktoberfest weekend and we arrive around 9 pm to live music and a beer tent set up outside. Despite the crowds the wait for food isn’t bad and they have a good fish and chips and a great atmosphere. Afterwards we play on the nearby playground while waiting for the alcohol to fade (we’re such adults!) so we can safely drive home, a fun evening.

Sunday evening is a pizza joint called Detello’s in Chaska. We’re so tired after two full days of fest that I can’t accurately rate it other than to say I was really hungry and it was food.

Sept 25, Monday

What a difference a day can make. Julie and I wake up to overcast skies, temps in the 60’s and intermittent rain which luckily holds off while I hitch up. I say goodbye to Julie in the morning and she heads home. I am conveniently already home, but need to keep moving north. And west.

I skirt Minneapolis and get back onto I94. It being midday on a Monday, traffic is fine this time around, a fine travel day. Lunch is had at a rest stop somewhere in the neighborhood of Sauk Centre, MN where the maple trees are beginning to show their fall finery.

Not long before sunset I cross into North Dakota, and actually manage to get a picture of the sign. It surprises me by being above the road instead of alongside it.

Who else tries to capture pictures of welcome signs for the states they visit?

I park overnight at the Flying J travel center on I29 not far off I94 in Fargo. I frequently choose truck stops as overnight stops on my way from point A to B and have never had any safety concerns, just check with the front desk first to make sure they allow RVs. I pull into the truck parking area and pick a back-in spot away from the building. It just seems courteous to give the semis the prime spots as these areas are meant for them and they don’t have a toilet on board like I do.

Some people are bothered by the noise of idling engines in truck stops, not me. I fall asleep quickly and sleep soundly.

Sept 26, Tuesday

Yesterday was a 250 mile day, about the maximum distance that I like to drive. Today’s only half that. Which is probably just as well because it’s raining harder than yesterday and driving in the rain takes more focus and energy.

I’m out of Flying J and back on I29 before 10 am. And….I just keep driving.

The forests of Minnesota have been left behind, it’s all open farm land around here. In several fields I see standing puddles from the heavy rains and wonder if that’ll affect the beets and other crops.

Around 12:30 I pull into my home for the next month or so while I work the beet harvest – Leistikow Park Campground.

It’s still raining heavily, making for one of the least comfortable unhitchings I’ve ever had to do. But more on that next post!

Paddles would have been handy for getting in my site…

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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. sarah shillinger on September 29, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Hello Becky
    I hope you are happy to be traveling again. I found this post both entertaining and useful.However, I am curious, you mentioned that you tend to get greasy when traveling. What are you using the grease for. What needs lubricating that regularly? I am considering buying a travel trailer and tryng to gain as much information as possible. Sarah

    • Becky on September 29, 2017 at 12:59 pm


      I grease the ball of my hitch and the heads of my sway bars. They don’t need it per-say, but it cuts down on the noise a lot! If you’re going to grease a sway bar though, you do NOT want to grease the tail that slides over the friction pad, that defeats the purpose of them.

  2. Brian on September 27, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Your current site reminds of the site you had in Boyd Texas (:surrounded by water:). Glad you had a safe trip. Enjoy the beet harvest.

    • Becky on September 29, 2017 at 12:55 pm

      Two years ago you mean? At least it wasn’t five inches here! Man, that was a miserable holiday weekend…

  3. Jodee Gravel on September 27, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Love your hot set up day selfie – speaks volumes! We’ve managed to miss the Ren Faires in every area the last couple of years, and I really must remedy that as I love to spend a day or two.

    Hope you don’t get much more rain in that lakefront site! Of course being is SD I’d be more concerned about snow.
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Sheep Loop to Antelope Herd, and More Natural Beauty In BetweenMy Profile

    • Becky on September 29, 2017 at 12:54 pm

      Snow is possible during the harvest, but I’m really hoping it won’t be an issue. 😉

      It can be hard hitting fest grounds at the right time, I’ve missed a few too.

  4. Brian Poirier on September 27, 2017 at 10:41 am

    Glad you could squeeze in some fun before the harvest. Hope to see you at the potluck in Drayton.

    • Becky on September 29, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      I had to drive back to Grafton after the safety orientation (misplaced my card and needed gas) and didn’t feel like making a third trip out that day so I didn’t go. Hope it was good though!

  5. Jim on September 27, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Excellent story. Funny how I tend to like RV stories about foul weather. That’s a pretty nasty spot the park gave you. I would have gone back to the office to try to negotiate a better spot.

    Re: Parking in a traditional truckers lot…along with finding a spot far away from the building as a courtesy, I always leave the nose of my rig poked out a bit in my parking space so I’m easily visible to any late arriving trucker trying to find a space in the dark. Makes it easier for a tired trucker to see my rig from a distance even when there’s a rig on either side of me so they don’t drive over to where I am expecting an empty slot. Tends to anger some of them.
    Jim recently posted..Capt’n Jacks Stronghold…My Profile

    • Becky on September 27, 2017 at 9:59 am

      Yep I pull up to the front of the spot too, just common courtesy!

      I thought about asking, but liked how close this spot is to the shower house and it backs up on the park so has a good view.

  6. Roger Fell on September 27, 2017 at 7:41 am

    Re: Getting dirty and ruining clothes hooking up. Get a set of coveralls, you don’t need to wear anything under them when it’s hot out. Saves transferring grease and dirt to the interior of the truck. Just roll up in a garbage bag when done, and most laundromats have a machine for greasy clothes when they get to gross. Mechanics gloves blue or black nitrile throw aways, also good for sewer dumping.
    If you’re anything like me, I tend to wipe my hands on my bum or pant legs, not good for the truck interior. Used coveralls can be sometimes be found at thrift stores.

    • Becky on September 27, 2017 at 9:56 am

      Coveralls are not recommended for women due to the porta-pottie situation at the piles. Otherwise it’d be a great idea Roger.

      • Roger Fell on September 27, 2017 at 12:15 pm

        I’ve worked with female apprentices, didn’t seem to be a problem with them?

  7. Phyllis on September 27, 2017 at 6:34 am

    My husband had a workamper job that we traveled around for and we stayed at the campground. It was a last minute thing that we had to go there for 1 week and it was Nov and they had already turned the water off for the season. We were grateful that the 1 shower they had was decent. We ate at the same restaurant all week. It is a cute little town and if the weather had been better it would have been nice to explore. I do remember the sites weren’t the best. Good luck with the beet harvest. That is something we always thought about trying.

    • Becky on September 27, 2017 at 9:54 am

      Interesting Phyllis! I was wondering how long they kept the water on, would be hard to have a year-round campground this far north. Which restaurant did you eat at?

  8. Rob on September 27, 2017 at 6:29 am

    Welcome to North Dakota!
    We’re at the Drayton campground & are working at the Kennedy site so we may not run into each other. Lot’s of good people here & just remember we can only unload one truck at a time!
    Have fun & be safe.

    • Becky on September 27, 2017 at 9:53 am

      Thanks Rob! Now people aren’t sure if I’ll be at the Drayton site or Grafton, but I’m not going to be at Kennedy for sure. Are you attending the pot luck for work-campers at Drayton campground tonight?

      • Rob on September 27, 2017 at 3:27 pm

        Maybe later, they have a foreman’s meeting at the same time.

  9. Dave on September 27, 2017 at 6:01 am

    Nothing worse than an uncomfortable unhitching! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and observations on the Beetnik life.

    • Becky on September 27, 2017 at 9:51 am

      I’ve been fortunate to only have to hitch/unhitch in the rain once or twice before.

  10. Bette on September 27, 2017 at 2:35 am

    Enjoy your posts! Good luck with the beets!

    • Becky on September 27, 2017 at 9:50 am

      Thanks Bette!

  11. James on September 26, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    You are an excellent writer. Thanks for sharing.

    • Becky on September 27, 2017 at 9:50 am

      Thanks and you’re welcome James.

  12. Judith on September 26, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    I’m happy the weather has changed for you! The hunting has been null here the Sierras. My husband has seen many bear droppings and my BIL met on on his hike today! We think the deer have moved to a different location. We move back to Jackson Meadows on Thursday and a drop in elevation for a little warmer climate. Glad you are back on the road! I look forward to your Beet pictures!

    • Becky on September 27, 2017 at 9:49 am

      Too bad Judith, hopefully he gets one before you leave! Enjoy Jackson Meadows, pretty area.

  13. GKLott on September 26, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    As I read your tale, I can hear Willie singing “Back on the road again…” We like to attend Celtic festivals as we travel. Thanks for the post.

    • Becky on September 27, 2017 at 9:47 am

      You’re welcome GK!

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