Arizona to Wisconsin

Sent on August 21, 2015

Hi all!

I cannot believe it’s been so long since I have updated everyone. Am I missing an email in my sent box? I’ll be struggling with this one, as so very much has happened. I hope you all aren’t bored to tears by these. Maybe some of you were thinking they’d finally stop! Well. Tough. 🙂

I’ll see if I can make this a bit shorter and stick to highlights (and perhaps lowlights as well).

Lake Havasu – lovely, but so very very hot. While there, at the fine old age of 42, I confirmed that yes, dry heat is a lot more tolerable to me than humid. I think it may come from growing up in California summers where it would often hit 100 degrees F, and we would spend days on end in pools, or run around barefoot on the blacktop like ragamuffins. Humidity, on the other hand, makes me feel sick if I’m out in it too long. Even so, we took every opportunity to swim at my dad’s. We enjoyed he and D’s (my stepmom for most of my life, really) beautiful home, and swam with his two great Golden Retrievers, and yes. Yes. We taught Milo not to fear the water quite so much by making him swim. It took some work! Both of us were quite often covered in scratches during the first few days of this. DH or I would pick him up, walk down the steps into the pool and just hold him in the water, where he would relax as long as he felt supported. Then we would have him swim back and forth to us, but it was the catching of him that left us battered – he would worry, and try to get better purchase with all four legs, and there were a few times he almost climbed on top of my head. I followed my dad’s sage advice, most of the time, and did not laugh at him. Dogs know, my dad says, and I think Milo would. So I stifled the giggles, and tried to be calm and patient. Toward the end he was not quite so scared when we picked him up, but his favorite activity, I think, was climbing up on a floaty ring with my dad and cuddling while they floated around the pool. Lake Havasu was all good as far as we went – Youngest swam every day, and my middle son, J, drove out and spent about a week with us, so I almost had all my boys together (Oldest couldn’t get the time off work), and my folks, and DH and Milo, and it was wonderful to be around so much family.

The lowlights, so to speak? A vibration, from the drive shaft of the RV, persisted after the big blow out of Flagstaff, Arizona. So while we stayed in the lap of luxury, our poor old RV sat at a workshop, where our amazing insurance paid to have the drive shaft fixed. It was hard to leave my folks, and I may have cried a bit when J left, but soon enough (too soon) we got back on the road for Wisconsin.

The tire (or tyre, as DH would write) blow-out was the gift that kept on giving, though! We left Lake Havasu on July 28th, and on the way to our first stop in Las Vegas, noticed the vibration was still present. So we checked in to the Duck Creek RV park in Las Vegas and then headed for yet another repair shop in the morning, where we found two of our wheels were bent. Of course they didn’t have them in stock, so we planned to order them in Wisconsin, and just live with the vibration til then.

See, now the tale gets a bit harder to keep short. I’m sitting here thinking of all the things we saw on the way to Wisconsin, and really, there is so much to tell about all of it. But again, I’ll do my best to stick to the interesting bits. It was a fast trip, but we packed an awful lot into it!

The drive from Las Vegas to our next stop in Fillmore, Utah, started with desert that gradually morphed into jagged rocky cliffs around us, and windy roads, and climbs where DH had to put on the hazards to warn people, since our RV can’t quite pick up the speed like those fast little cars zooming past us. Then as we hit Utah it started moving into smaller mountains, farmland, and when we got to our next park in Fillmore, it had some penned in goats at one end of it, with farmland all around them. But it was nice and quiet, and it was there we managed some maintenance on our fridge, which had started to quit after Lake Havasu. I suspect the heat and the loneliness just made it give up, but to that, DH would say, “Stop anthropomorphizing!” And I would say, “No, you!” And he would say, “That makes no sense!” And I would laugh.

The fridge runs on propane when there is no electric, and on the outside of the RV is a cabinet, within which lives the propane burner and what I would term, “the guts of the thing.” Apparently a lot of issues (or so we found online) with these can be resolved by cleaning the burner out, so we tackled that in Fillmore. We took enough ash out of the burner that I wondered if a small volcano had erupted in there. I stood by in the supporting role, handing over tools, helping to clean out the ash, while DH used tools and muttered and mumbled to himself. It was together time! Quality family fun! Hee. No, really, it was fun to do it, it was satisfying to see it clean. I even sacrificed a makeup brush (not much of a sacrifice, since I haven’t touched makeup in 3 months) to clean out the small holes in the metal burner tube.

After that the fridge seemed better, but it was hard to say, since it ran fine on electric – it was only when it had to run on propane that it struggled. So we purchased a couple thermometers – one for the freezer, one for the fridge, and we ate out for a few days while we waited to see how it would do.

On July 30th we landed in Rawlins, Wyoming, which was a new state for all of us. It met my expectations, I have to say. Miles and miles of plains with farms and cattle everywhere. On the way, we stopped to give Milo a chance to mark yet more territory, and managed to pull ourselves into a rest stop that adjoined to the historic Independence Rock site. Independence Rock is either a very large rock or a very small mountain – either way, it’s made of granite. We wandered up the trail with Milo and read the signs dutifully, and nodded respectfully, and I’d say it was a bit impressive. The rock got its name due to it being directly on the Emigrant Trail – so emigrant wagons bound for Oregon or California, would try and reach the rock by July 4th (Independence Day), in order to reach their destinations before the first snowfalls. Travelers would carve their names into it, as they passed by (in the 1840’s or so), but there were several stern signs prohibiting anyone from doing the same now. DH posited – “Wouldn’t carving our names now match the spirit of the rock?” Which I thought was a valid point, but even so, since neither of us were young, stupid or rebellious, we left it alone.

In Rawlins we stayed at an RV park that was, essentially, a large dusty gravel lot right off the highway. Nothing fancy, but it served. We did not partake in the miniature golf they offered, nor did we visit the clubhouse or play a round of pool. We did sleep, and sit around, and relax a bit, and we planned more of our travels.

July 31st was a very, very busy day. A packed day. That was the day we started into South Dakota. We knew very little about South Dakota and it was a new state for all of us. My sister lived near Sioux Falls off and on for years (she moves around a lot), and from her I knew the winters were harsh. We knew Mount Rushmore was there, and I knew (from my younger days) that one of the biggest biker rallies took place in Sturgis, South Dakota, every summer.

We didn’t know that South Dakota was beautiful country. We entered the state right in the Black Hills National Forest, which is stunning, so our first view of the state was of the forest. We drove up to Custer, where we stopped, briefly, to see the Crazy Horse Memorial, which has been in progress (and is still not done) since 1948. We planned to see it, but admission was pricy, so we skipped that one. We did, however, manage to catch a view of Crazy Horse’s head at the top of the mountain from the parking lot. I’d always heard about Custer’s last stand, and had a vague idea who Crazy Horse was, but DH asked, so I looked it up to refresh my memory. He was a Lakota Native American Warrior chief, who fought the US government’s encroachment. Custer was the idiot who decided to try and keep fighting back. America, historically, has done horrible things to Native Americans – this was a spectacular example of us being wrong. So native americans asked to have Crazy Horse memorialized out of Thunderhead Mountain, a mountain considered sacred by the Native Americans, and when it is completed, the planned statue will be 195 meters wide and 172 meters high.  What they have done since 1948? Blasted quite a lot, and well. The head. Which is significantly larger than the any of the heads at Mt Rushmore. I was glad we saw it. It touched me. Part of the reason the work is so slow is that they keep refusing help or funding from the US government. They work only on donations.

We started noticing an unusually excessive amount of motorcycles passing us somewhere along the way into South Dakota, so I looked it up. We arrived in the state on July 31, and the Sturgis rally started a few days later. What timing, eh?

From Crazy Horse we moved on to Mt Rushmore. I know this will sound strange, but it was so clean, so well done, with a nice walkway leading to the view, lined with columns that held state flags – with plaques announcing when those states joined the union. It was stark, and a bit heartless (which maybe makes me unpatriotic), and all about love for the country. Ok, yes, it was impressive. But Crazy Horse – that had heart. That was being built out of love for a hero. The president heads at Mt Rushmore – yes, while they all did quite a lot – they were…presidents. I don’t know. Maybe that makes no sense. Maybe I’m rambling.

So. Back to it. We stayed in Hermosa, South Dakota, at an RV park with a restaurant in the parking lot. The restaurant had decent burgers but a bit of a fly problem. We ate there anyway. Oddly enough, in front of the RV park were three large president busts. John F Kennedy, Reagan, and George Bush Sr. They were, at 15 ft high, only impressive in that someone must have, somewhere, at some point, been *paid* to create a sculpture of George W Bush. Baffling!

Wrapping up our South Dakota adventure, and rushing now, in light of how rambly I have been, we also managed to see Wall Drug, in Wall, South Dakota, which is a labyrinthian tourist stop that started out as a simple pharmacy offering ice water for free to travelers. Now it’s taxidermied buffalos, tourist shops, a few restaurants, ice cream shops, fudge and candy shops, etc etc. It was swarming with bikers. Then it was off to see the “World’s Only Corn Palace” in Mitchell, SD, which is a monument to…yes. Corn. Every year they decorate the inside and outside walls with murals made of South Dakota grown corn. Strange and impressive, and they invited us to bring Milo in, which made them awesome in my book. Then, as we walked back to the RV, we passed several tough looking bikers taking a selfie in front of a statue of corn, which my research has shown is named, aptly, “Cornelius.” Corny, right? HAHAHA. Sorry.

What else can I say? The fridge is all on the mend, now, and I think its forgiven us. Minnesota was pretty but unremarkable. We stayed in a weird place with no cell reception or wireless, and in spite of the electricity, felt a bit uncivilized. Then we hit Wisconsin. There, I will stop (although we’re in Missouri now, my own fault for not updating you all more often) for now. I will pick this up in a day or two and carry on.

We are all fine – I hope this finds you all healthy and well. We’ve hit a cold here and there, and had our wheels replaced (paid for by insurance again, my gosh) in Wisconsin, in a city called Sheboygan. So all is well.

Sending love and best wishes to all of you. And just think, when I pick this up again, I can tell you all about what Wisconsin is known for! CHEESE!


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