RV Days , Issue #003– Great Faces, Great Places

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RV Days , Issue #003– Great Faces, Great Places
August 12, 2005
Here is this month’s issue of RV Days, where we focus on everyday living and having fun on your journey.

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August 12, 2005
Issue #3

In this Issue:

  • South Dakota Camping
  • Sioux Falls
  • Famous Corn
  • Wall pales in shadow of Badlands
  • Relive the Old West in Black Hills
  • Boondocking Tips

South Dakota Camping

When we first saw the South Dakota tourism slogan of “Great Faces, Great Places”, we thought it was very clever. Now that we have spent close to a month in the state, we can attest to also being very true.

We have totally enjoyed our travels through South Dakota. Our trip took us across the southern portion of the state from Sioux Falls to the Black Hills. One of our reasons for our trip to South Dakota was to make it our home base state. And, since we would be heading to the FMCA rally in Minot, ND, it was a good time to take in the sights of South Dakota on our way. We spent about a month visiting a lot of popular and scenic destinations as we crossed the 450 miles of southern South Dakota.
This issue of RV Days highlights some of the many destinations in the southern part of the state.

To begin, we thought we would share some of the South Dakota camping spots we used while making this trip across the state.

Sioux Falls

This was the first place in South Dakota where we spent a few days. We don’t normally tend to visiting cities, but we enjoyed some sightseeing, biking and fun events while in Sioux Falls and the surrounding area.

Famous Corn in Mitchell SD

Home of the world’s only Corn Palace and convenient from the highway. And there’s a Cabela’s in Mitchell SD. Worth a stop, especially if you go while there is an event going on in town, like the Corn Stampede Rodeo or the upcoming fall Corn Palace celebration. Read about the town where corn reigns.

Wall pales in shadow of Badlands

Sure we visited Wall Drug, but the highlight of this stop was the time spent in the fascinating National Park. Here are some suggestions for badlands/”>how to see the Badlands.

Relive Old West in Black Hills

“Somewhere in the Black Mountain Hills of Dakota, lived a young man named Rocky Raccoon…”. We were here for almost three weeks, and those Beatles lyrics kept popping into my head. Not that we have anything to say about ‘ole Rocky and we didn’t see any raccoons. But we do have quite a bit to say about the Black Hills and we saw a lot of other wildlife. This is beautiful country and there is a ton to see and do. In our time here, we barely scratched the surface, but we gave it our best shot. Read our new pages on these great places. Relive the old west in the historic town of Deadwood. Appreciate the natural beauty of the landscape in Custer State Park. Marvel at majestic Mount Rushmore. And beyond these well-known spots are a myriad of other attractions and activities in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Good book for trip planning… Most Scenic Drives In America. It has snippets on scenic parts of each state with some nice pictures – great for planning travel routes.

Boondocking Tips

Some random snippets on boondocking…or perhaps you prefer to call it dry camping. As we have traveled along, we have balanced some free dry camping with stays at cost effective campgrounds in our discount/membership programs, state and national parks.

Our coach is equipped with a generator and fresh water and holding tanks that enable us to dry camp for at least a week. But a few notes on free camping.

  • Sometimes there really “ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”. For instance, the Walmart parking lot may not charge a camping fee, but running the air conditioner off the generator for 5 hours burns about $10 worth of diesel in our motorhome. We can be pretty frugal, but in the midst of summer temps approaching 100 F, the motorhome can turn into a giant toaster oven. It is just not an option to “stick it out” for the entire night without air conditioning. Ideally, you can find a free camping spot with electrical hookups, such we found in Blue Earth, Minnesota (see our July edition of RV Days). But these are few and far between.
  • Another point to bear in mind when selecting a free camping spot is how far away it will be from the places you want to visit. Again, the high cost of fuel may be a factor. A campground closer to the places you plan to visit may, in the long run, be cheaper than a free parking place that is miles away. And as you make your choices, don’t forget about travel distances to run errands such as going into a town for groceries, internet access, laundry facilities, etc.
  • Buy plastic or paper plates, cups, utensils to minimize your use of water. In general, conserve water. When you first try dry camping, this means pay attention to every drop of water you are using. Don’t let the water run while you brush your teeth or wash up. Dishes should be wiped with a paper towel to remove food before they are washed. And so on. If you boondock for any length of time, you need to consider how much fresh water you have and where you are going to find your next supply of decent water. But you also need to consider where you are putting the water you use, and manage according to the capacity of your holding tanks.
  • Plan meals that are easy to make and clean-up. Perhaps you can live off pre-packaged meals that can just be reheated, and then the containers disposed of with no clean-up. If you are not a fan of frozen dinners or other store-bought dishes, then try to plan meals (and maybe cook things ahead of time) that can be easily reheated stovetop, or in the microwave (using the generator). Another option is to just stick to cold dishes. Or eat out. In any case, avoid using a lot of pots and dishes that will need to be washed.
  • Be discreet. If you are spending a night or two in a parking lot, you should strive to blend in. Don’t haul out the lawn chairs and put up the awnings. We just park out of the way in the lot. We come and go quietly. We usually don’t put out the slides. We might put out the bedroom slide at night, if it is facing the outside edge of the parking lot where no one is going to see it. Otherwise we keep the slides in as they would be while traveling.
  • To this point, if you have an RV with slides, you will probably make a habit of considering what things are blocked when the slides are in. If you want to dry camp, or even stop for lunch while enroute, will you have access to what you need? Pay attention to which kitchen cabinets will be blocked off with slides in. If there are things you might need (utensils, pot holders, food, spices, dishes, etc.), move them before you head out. Do the same check in bedroom, bath, living areas.
  • Save battery power. Look for hidden drains on batteries. For instance, we have a Hurricane Heater that provides instant hot water. The heater would regularly cycle on and off, which was an unnecessary drain on the house batteries (as well as using diesel). So now we leave it off until we need it or are hooked up to shore power. Please don’t assume your hot water system works the same. Read the specs for your RV to determine the appropriate ways you can conserve power. Different RVs have different operating systems, components and configurations.
  • Take advantage of some of the helpful books for finding camping spots. Check out Camping with the Corps of Engineers. Other handy references include the Rest Area Guide, National Park Service Camping Guide and the Guides to Free Campgrounds – Eastern and Western editions.

RVer’s Notebook Manage costs, keep track of where you have been and what you enjoy. Check out this handy software package to help manage all sorts of RVing things.

RV Videos can often make learning about the world of RVs more interesting and enjoyable. Great way to learn for newbies, and a handy refresher for veteran RVers.

Well, we are off to Minot, ND for the FMCA rally. Next time, we’ll let you know about our stops along the way and report back on the rally.

Until next month, hoping you Put a Smile in Every Mile!

Jose and Jill

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