Our Lazy Daze Motorhome

Our Lazy Daze Motorhome
2009 Lake Louise

Friday, June 4, 2010

Alaska 2010 - Part I - Birmingham, AL to Great Falls, MT

May 29 to June 4, 2010

Day 1, Saturday, May 29 – Hoover, AL to Marion, IL

We left Hoover, AL on May 29th in the rain at 7:30 am. Our mileage was 37,569.6. We took I-65 N toward Nashville. The rain stopped about Huntsville. The sun came out and it was beautiful. Today we drove through four states (AL, TN, KY, IL) and drove 382.3 miles. We arrived at the Marion Campground and RV Park in Marion, IL at 3:00 pm. It was just off I-57 at ext 53. We had full hook-ups, pull through, WiFi, cable. It was a good campground with nice clean bath and laundry facilities.

Day 2, Sunday, May 30 – Marion, IL to St. Joseph, MO

We departed our campground at 7:20 am. We didn’t realize that there are oil wells in Illinois. Lots of farming in IL. This is Memorial Day week-end and there are lots of police pulling cars over so we are not exceeding the speed limit!! As we drove through St. Louis we crossed the Mississippi River and then one the other side we crossed the Missouri River. Missouri has lots of rolling hills. The funniest thing we saw today was the gas station/grocery store/fireworks stand/adult book store… one stop shopping!! After driving 442 miles in 8 hours, we camped at the Beacon RV Park, ext 46b off I-29 in St. Joseph, MO. The campground had WiFi and cable and nice clean showers. We heard from friends that the Jesse James museum would be good to tour. After checking, we found that the Pony Express started here in St. Joseph in 1861. So we decided to tour the downtown historic area tomorrow, at least for the morning.

Day 3, Monday, May 31 – St. Joseph, MO to Tea, SD

We found out that our cable splitter wasn’t working, so we made an early purchase at Lowe’s to replace the old one. Then we made some calls to see if the museums would be open on Memorial Day and we hit the jackpot. We spent the morning visiting the Pony Express stables, the headquarters at the Patee House Museum, and reliving the life and death of Jesse James in 1882. We toured the house where he died and got a lot of info about how it happened from the docent there. It was very interesting. Who knew his own gang member shot and killed him for the $10,000 ransom!! But didn’t get it because he was an outlaw as well!! Someone ended up shooting and killing Jesse’s killer!! Hmm. I think I like being raised in the 20th century!! We left St. Joe around noon, thankful for the opportunity to visit such an interesting little town. (Obviously MO did not receive enough funding to correct the potholes in I-29 just north of St. Joe. It was some of the roughest road we have traveled.)

Two things happened today that was really cool! As we drove through Souix City, IA., we stopped at a rest stop and found three Veterans offering refreshments as they were fund raising for their VFW. We heard some of their stories and got a little better understanding of what they went through in the armed forces. One guy was in WWII and also Korea. The other two were in Vietnam. I shared with them the story of my dad. He was in the Navy on an ammunition ship in the Pacific and was asked to attend the signing of the peace treaty on the USS Missouri at the end of the war. Funny, he doesn’t talk about it at all. He's 82 and I only found this out about three years ago.

Secondly, we drove through a variety of terrains in MO and IA and into SD. As we drove through the small towns in the heartland, past acres and acres of freshly plowed farmland, that this is really what it’s all about, what America is all about. Farms have been pasted down from forever ago, sometimes three generations working one farm, working from dawn to dusk just to supply this country with the food we eat! God and Country…what a memorable Memorial Day!

By 5:30 pm, and after driving 316 miles, we stopped in at the Red Barn RV Park in Tea, SD at ext 71 off I-29. We did not have WiFi, cable, nor did the digital cable box pick up any channels, and it there were too many trees for our satellite to get a signal. So we probably will not stay here again, but one can’t be choosey on Memorial Day!! Scarlet, our GPS, tells us we have driven 1147 miles in three days.

Day 4, Tuesday, June 1 – Tea, SD to Black Hills (Near Keystone), SD

We left the Red Barn RV Park about 8:15 am headed across the state of South Dakota on I-90W. We stopped in Mitchell at the Cabella’s, Ed’s second favorite store (#1 is Costco)!! From the eastern side of the state, we experienced lots of farmland, but as we drove west, we encountered prairie and lots of cattle. There was a huge hail storm this morning. It was expected to hang in all day, which is unusual for SD. As we continued west the terrain began changing, not so much farmland. There were knolls jutting up that turned larger with vegetation, still some farming with piles and piles of hay rolls. We got all excited that we spotted several antelope, which is our favorite four-legged friend. We saw the exit to Wall Drugs and the Badlands, which we did last year, and didn’t want to do again. As we approached Rapid City, it became very hilly. We turned south toward Mt. Rushmore. That is where we got into the mountains. We drove about 45 minutes from I-90 to get to Black Hills National Forrest. We camped in the Hell Canyon district at the Horsethief Lake Campground (no services, including no cell service), but does include concrete pad, firepit and picnic table. No facilities, no flush toilets. We love the Golden Age Passport. In National Parks the old timers (us) get 50% off camping fees so we only paid $11.50 for our site. One more good thing about getting old!! We drove 388 miles today from Tea, SD to Black Hills National Forest, near Keystone, SD. (We split the driving so no one gets overly tired.)

Day 5, Wednesday, June 2 – Mt. Rushmore, SD to Devil’s Tower, WY

We got up early and hiked around the lake at the campground, took pictures and left the campground around 10:00 headed to Mt. Rushmore. Since we just came off Memorial Day, it was a pleasure to visit Mt. Rushmore. It was very patriotic to see our forefathers carved into the granite of Mt Rushmore. We left Mt. Rushmore at 1:30 pm. John and Linda from Prescott AZ left a note on our Lazy Daze telling us that they also had a Lazy Daze and told us where they were staying. We then drove on to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming to the Devil’s Tower Belle Fourche Campground. The site next to us was taken by the American Conservation Experience out of Flagstaff, AZ. These are young people from Europe that come here to volunteer at our National Parks. We thanked them for their service to our country.

Day 6, Thursday, June 3 – Devil’s Tower to Billings, MT

The Devil’s Tower is the first National Historic Monument in the US. We left our campground around 9:15 am and drove to the Visitor’s Center. We took the Park Tour around the base of Devil’s Tower, 1,267 ft above the river. The Tower Hike is 1.3 miles around. It was 1-1/2 hours and very informative. We saw climbers, free climbing and climbing with ropes. We thought they were nuts!!! The Native Americans consider the tower holy and hand “prayer bundles” on trees. We think these are herbs wrapped in pieces of cloth. We left at 12:00 and arrived in Billings, MT at 5:30 pm. Not before we visited the Little Big Horn to have our National Parks book stamped!! We stopped in at the Cummins Onan dealer to pick up an air filter for our generator. We stayed the night at the Travel Village RV Park in downtown Billings. It had full hook-ups,Wifi, and cable. The bathrooms and laundry were clean and updated.

Day 7, Friday, June 4 – Billings, MT to Great Falls, MT

We left the campground at around 8:00 am MT, went to AAA to get maps. We went to LP Anderson’s Tires on Montana Avenue to have our brakes checked and get the tires rotated. We bought tires last year before we left for Alaska, but the tech noticed that there was wear on some of the tires, more than others so he rotated the front tires to the right rear and moved those to the front. Who knew the right rear tires got the most wear?? We drove to Albertsons/Osco for groceries and left Billings at 11:30 am. We drove to Sam’s in Great Falls for beef tenderloin. From experience we know we will NOT get any in Canada. We paid ours and parent’s bills from the Sam’s parking lot and drove on to the Dick’s RV Park and arrived at 6:30 pm MT. Dick’s has full hook-ups, WiFi and cable. We are blessed!! Tomorrow we will cross over into Canada where we will be staying at the provincial parks, no hook up and no discounts!!
So far, we have driven 2,225 miles!! ...no marital disputes yet!!!

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