Sew Loving Life

My adventures in "making" – mostly sewing & quilting – and in traveling.

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Our Wall Drug Story

Thursday, June 15 (continued)

This post is a bit of “catch up” from the early part of the trip. The scenic route through the Badlands has its western outlet in the town of Wall. Anyone who has traveled any distance through South Dakota on interstate 90 knows about Wall Drug, because there are billboards advertising it for 100 miles in either direction. We had to stop to take a look. Here’s a picture of Owen at Wall Drug, holding Ralph. More on Ralph later.

Ralph at Wall, SD

Wall, SD.

Wall Drug is about 1 part Drug store and 5 parts 3-ring circus. They have all kinds of departments there, including a cafeteria, an ice cream shop, leather goods, hats, T-shirts and curios. I can’t begin to describe everything. I don’t have any photos because it was too darn crowded. The place was swarming with tourists just like us.

But it isn’t Wall Drug and the crowds that are most memorable to us about Wall, SD. What we remember most is the lunch we had. Crowds not being our favorite experience (see my July 10 post about the sort of campground Larry prefers) we decided to have lunch at the trailer, in the RV parking lot for Wall Drug.

There was lots of room in the lot, so we opened our kitchen slide out and the awning over the kitchen. I went into the camper to make sandwiches for everyone. I handed out some sandwich plates with chips for the guys, along with some ice teas from the fridge.  Then I made my sandwich and sat on the steps to eat it. The guys finished their lunch first, of course. Owen got back in the truck so he could play his video game, and Larry walked his dog so she would be happy on the drive to Rapid City. I finished my lunch and made sure everything was put away where it wouldn’t bounce and slide around as we traveled. Then I slid the kitchen back into the trailer, folded up the steps, locked the trailer door, and joined the guys who were already in the truck. We started off for I90, carefully weaving our way between the other RVs in the lot.

Suddenly a bunch of tourists started waving their arms at us and yelling.
Have you spotted the cause of their excitement? It was that awning, still fully deployed. Unfortunately, the excited tourists got our attention just as the awning hit the ladder mounted on the side of a class A RV (that’s the big tour bus type).

Larry stopped and backed up, but the damage was done. There was a tear in our awning fabric and the forward extension arms were bent and the mounting bracket was twisted and slightly pulled away from the side of the trailer. No way were we going to roll the awning back in now. The good news was that the other RV didn’t sustain any damage except for some threads of our awning fabric caught in their ladder rung.

It took Owen and Larry about an hour to take the awning apart and throw away the deformed extension arms; all with the help of a wonderful Canadian gentleman who kept reminding us that it could have been worse. Well, Larry knew that, but it didn’t make him feel any less frustrated and angry. I, of course, felt horribly stupid and careless. Looking back at it now, it is just another example of how what we see is never all that is there – vision is very selective, based on expectations. I didn’t see the awning overhead as I locked up and hurried to join the guys; Larry didn’t see the awning flapping in his rear view mirror as he tried to thread his way between the parked RVs; but it was there, plain as day.

We kept the awning fabric and the mounting brackets, but trashed the rest. We will replace the awning at some point in the future, when we can stay in one place long enough for the parts to come in. I don’t have pictures of this part of our visit to Wall either, because I couldn’t see the humor in it then. But hey, no one was injured, only minimal damage done, really, and only an hour’s delay in our trip. We’ve heard a few stories of similar stories of near misses and minor disasters from other campers since then, and realize our helpful Canadian was right: it could have been much worse. Now, the running joke when we do a final “take off” inspection is “Did you remember to take the awning in?”


Chilkoot Lake Camp

Larry has a great preference for state or provincial parks as camping places. He wants to be surrounded by nature, and far away from busy thoroughfares. This hasn’t always been possible this trip, but here outside of Haines, Alaska there was no problem. Chilkoot Lake Campground is right on the lake. There are no services here, except for pit toilets and one potable water pump near the boat launch. Perhaps it isn’t surprising that the park is only half full, even in July. A pity, too, as the scenery is idyllic. Hopefully, the following pics of our campsite will reflect this. 

Above is a shot of the trail from our campsite to the lake. 

Here you see the almost clearing where the table and fireplace are. 

Another shot of the clearing, taken from just outside the trailer. 

And just for completeness, a shot of the trailer, taken from the head of the trail to the lake. 

We are camping here while visiting Haines, AK. We arrived on Sunday, and most of the town was closed, but we got a look at some great murals, shown below. 

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The saga continues 

I’ll get around to filling in the past days of the trip later. Right now, I’ll use the handy dandy iPhone app for WordPress to post as we go. As long as we have cell service, I can get at least short posts and some unedited pictures up. 

We came back to Skagway yesterday (Saturday, July 8) from Juneau. We spent a week in Juneau visiting my 2nd sister. Owen flew home from there, while Larry and I continue our trip. Today we are ferrying to Haines. 

This is the view from the ferry dock in Skagway. Yes, that’s snow on the mountains, although it is hard to see it through the clouds. It is 54 degrees and raining at the dock. This is fairly typical weather for this section of Alaska in the summer – the world’s largest temperate rainforest is along this coastline. 

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More photos from the trip…

My last post left off in Nashville, TN, visiting one of my sisters. This post will continue from there, with a few photos from some of the places we’ve seen.

Sunday, June 11:

Nashville, TN to Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park, IL via Paducah, KY

We had a brief stop over in Paducah because I wanted to visit the National Quilt Museum there.

Outside National Quilt Museum, Paducah, KY

Horse & carriage in downtown Paducah, KY.

They prohibit all forms of photo and video recording there, so the best I can do is to give the link to their website, which has a lot of good information and some photos as well. If you are into fabric or art at all, it is well worth clicking through to see what you can. Meanwhile, a photo from downtown Paducah, KY.



Monday, June 12:

Wayne Fitzgerrell SP, IL to Pershing State Park, MO via St. Louis

The idea was to stop at the Gateway Arch, and to visit the Budweiser Barns (yes, the barns) on our way through St. Louis. Regrettably, no matter how hard we tried (and we tried at least 3 times) we couldn’t find a way to the park that would accommodate our rig. Larry went a bit nuts trying to find his way through downtown St. Louis with a GMS Yukon and a 25′ trailer. Even our special “RV Aware” GPS from Garmin failed us in this situation. Given the amount of road construction underway in the area we traversed, perhaps it is not surprising that the GPS kept telling us to turn down a road that seemed to no longer exist.

Finally, we gave up, found our way to the Budweiser buildings, and had lunch. Larry and Owen went on the free tour as far as the horse barns, while I went to the car to keep Sophie (our dog) and Geppetto (Owen’s cat) company. The food was good, and the horse barns unusual (they are brick & they have a chandelier). The big horses, which is what the guys really wanted to see, were not much in evidence. We don’t recommend trying to take RVs, especially not travel trailers, through downtown St. Louis. Still, it was a good lunch.

No pictures here. I tend not to take pictures while deep in problem solving our navigation. Larry may have photos from the barns, but I haven’t accessed any of them yet.

Tuesday, June 13:

Pershing State Park, MO to Brown’s Lake State Park, IA via Hamilton, MO

Hamilton, MO is another one of those stops just for me. It is the home of the Missouri Star Quilt Company, which is a quilt shop on steroids! They have something like 5 different shops, each with its own theme – a fabric lover’s paradise! Hamilton is also the birthplace of the J.C. Penny company, and one of the quilt shops is in his original store. The folks at MSQC are pretty proud of their hometown, and it shows in what they have done to the “main drag”:

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We did have a bit of excitement at the Brown’s Lake State Park. It is a lovely, small park with only about 20 RV sites, and one big concrete block restroom and shower building. The restrooms have a very large “entry hall”, you might say. In truth, it is the campgrounds tornado shelter, and we did have occasion to use it as a large thunderstorm with high winds was kicking up tornados in the area. In the end, none of the tornados came our way, but it is nice to know these events are planned for, even in campgrounds.

Wednesday, June 14:

Brown’s Lake State Park, IA to Chamberlain, SD

This was just one long slog, with the objective of being well place to tour the Badlands National Park. Therefore, moving on:

Thursday, June 15:

Chamberlain, SD to Rapid City, SD via Badlands National Park and Wall, SD

The Badlands are just plain big, and a bit scary, really. One could so easily get lost walking about down in the Badlands. But they are awe-inspiring to look at. My photography can’t do it justice, but I’ll share what I have anyway.

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A Map of Our Trip

I’m still struggling to get adequate access to the internet to post pictures of our trip as we go along. I have such access right now, so I thought I’d start by adding a map of our trip so far. This is a shared Google MyMaps map, which should be easy enough to update even on limited internet access.

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Our “North to Alaska” Trek

… the Early Days

So here we are 18 days into our great “trip to Alaska” adventure, and here I am putting up my first blog post. That was not the plan. As with everything else in life, there are a number of different factors that have contributed to this delay, but the primary factor was lack of internet access.

Yes, it is true: even in these modern days, even at the most commercial, amenity-packed RV parks, internet access sufficient for uploading text and photos in less than two hours is most notable by its absence. It is clear that spending my entire working life in educational settings has spoiled me. Nevertheless, I am persisting in the writing and search for adequate public access, and will add posts as frequently as I can.

Right now, we are at Triple G’s Hideaway RV Park in Fort Nelson, British Columbia. What follows is the beginning of our timeline thus far, with a few illustrative photos. My next post will continue the timeline.

Monday, June 5, 2017: Left Rome, NY; arrived at Manassas, VA

We started the trip heading south, for Douglas, Ga, to be precise, because that is where our camper had been stored for the winter. Larry’s sister had space for it at her greenhouse location. We stopped in Manassa to spend the evening with some old friends, and went to lunch at a nice little sandwich shop in downtown Manassas.

June 6, 2017: Lunch, Manassas, VA

Our friends, Jill and Carl, with Larry and Owen, on the sandwich shop deck.

The real Owen

The “real” Owen: He uses that phone for everything, from reading books to chatting with friends.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017: Left Manassas, VA; arrived at Dillon, SC

This was just a quick stop on our way to Douglas, GA. We got in a bit late, due to our afternoon start, and just grabbed a quick bite to eat at a nearby chain “chicken” fast food vendor. Arguably the worst chicken and fries we have ever eaten, Ah well…

Wednesday, June 7, 2017: Left Dillon, SC; arrived at Douglas, GA

A little bit of history here: We left Rome at the end of a cold and rainy week, in the midst of more rain. There was nice sunshine in Manassas, but as we drove south, it began to be overcast, again. Larry was sure we were going to drive out of it as we proceeded further south and west to Douglas. He was right, we did drive out of it, and then right back into it. Thus, we arrived Wednesday evening in Douglas, GA in a steady drizzle, which apparently was the first rain they had seen in days.

Thursday, June 8, 2017: Left Douglas, GA; arrived Fort Mountain State Park, GA

I arranged a stay at this location because: 1) Larry much, much prefers camping in national and state parks. He likes the ambiance – I like electricity and hot showers; usually this works out. And 2) because every other state park along our route was already booked up. The park is a bit off the beaten path, but is worth the effort (and the showers are just fine, in case you care ;-). The park gets its name from the mysterious rock wall that has been built across the summit. No one has yet determined who built it or why. That alone makes it worth a look.

The Fort Mountain Wall, June 2017

A view along part of the 835 feet of piled rock wall

It is hard to tell in the above photo, but the wall is about 5 feet wide at the base, and about 4 feet high overall.This is just one curve along the length. Archeologists, historians and other specialists have been investigating the wall, but no one has figured out who put it here, or why.

Friday, June 9, 2017: Left Fort Mountain State Park, GA; arrived in Nashville, TN

We stayed in a “Jellystone” RV park here, partly because it was the only park we could get into. Our intent was to spend a day with my sister Melody, but we had overlooked the Country Music Awards and another music festival were both happening this same weekend. Oops-oh! This was also our first experience with RV park “high speed” wifi – we couldn’t even get on the network!

Stay tuned… More to come, hopefully sooner than the next 18 days!