All posts by happenstancewithizzy

Izzy and I are embarking on an adventure Westward towards Washington and Oregon. Along the way I'll be searching for a career and place to call home. Izzy and I pair well because we're short and sweet and fun to meet! Stay tuned for more!

A bit of fun on the Lake

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Izzy and I did a bit of paddling around the lake this evening.
The job I was sure I had emailed a denial letter this morning. Been a bummer day, but I applied to six other jobs so here’s hoping something will pay off!
Chin up! It was a beautiful day today!

Goodnight, lovelies!

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O Captain, my Captain

As you all, I’m sure, have heard, Robin Williams, multifaceted, face of so many beloved characters, genie of our hearts, and leading funnyman, has chosen to end his own life. There are those who will judge the action, but it was depression that took his life.p>I’m just sad.

I’m upset in the moment. I’ve been hearing of far too many suicides this past year. Robin Williams, the son of my dear friend’s dear friend (and in the wake of his sister’s marriage), in June I learned a good friend of mine from childhood took her life in 2012 when it was thought she was a most happy person. The list goes on – friend of friend, mentor, teacher, father, people who were very much so loved and needed in this world. I am fortunate that no one so close to me has chosen to end his or her own life, but I question why am I hearing of so many making this drastic, horrific, and sadly unnecessary path out of this great world?

I understand sadness. I understand the immeasurable, overwhelming feeling of great loss. I understand feeling like you’re drowning in grief from failure, debt, misfortune, mistakes, but I also know, even in the darkest of hours, even when I feel like I have nowhere to turn, no one to turn to, that I have made so many mistakes and don’t want to take the heat for the irresponsibility I have made, there are those who will still love me and still help me no matter how great the evils I have cast.

It’s too much. There’s been too many self-serving deaths recently. It’s the final mistake. The point of no return. You can’t fix this one. Can’t change your mind. End. And for what? No good comes from that decision. For anyone. They say things like, “well at least he’s not in pain anymore,” but that’s just something to say! There’s no comfort in that! These individuals could have ended their pain by facing it – facing the sadness, the demons, drugs, lies, whatever it may be. Pinpointing what it is that makes them feel they want to extinguish their lives. Telling themselves “this is upsetting me now, but the sun is still shining and warm on my face, I know people that will answer their phone if I need someone to talk to, there are community services I can go to no matter my income, and I know, in a little while, after doing something I enjoy doing and maybe a good night’s rest, I’ll be better.” Because tomorrow is another day! Seeking help. Setting aside pride and the idea that “normal people don’t feel this way so I don’t want to talk to anyone about it because I don’t want them to think I’m weird and I can just carry this on my own” however hard that is to do (trust me, I understand how hard it is!). Being verbal about how they’re feeling and telling it out loud to their spouses, friends, family, anyone just so someone knows, hey, he’s not happy today and we need to remind him of all the greatness there is in this life and all the love he is given. There is always, I repeat ALWAYS light at the end of the tunnel; you just have to allow yourself to see it!

While I may be met with despicable comments about this post, and that’s okay, you’re entitled to your opinions as I am entitled to mine, suicide is a wholly selfish act. The only outcome to ending your moment of misery is hurting those around you. The people I knew who have committed suicide had children, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, siblings, neighbors, friends, coworkers, people who were greatly, heavily affected by their act. One even chose to also take her life because they couldn’t cope with the loss of her loved one…who had taken his life…thus causing a domino effect of grief. And now this wave of people have to spend the rest of their lives not fully pieced together, wondering what they could have done to help, feeling guilty they weren’t closer, didn’t call more often, didn’t reply to that text that one night, wishing they could see this one person again. To hold, to kiss, to say “I love you and you’re a great importance in my life.”

Because in suicide, you’ve fated yourself to an eternity in Hell. Yes, that is what I believe. Yes, it’s okay for you to disagree and believe something else.

And no, I am not being a judgmental prick on a sensitive subject casting my opinions blindly.

These are well worn shoes I too have been in. And these are words I have seldom uttered. It is a bold thing to talk about your own death…

A decade ago I sought out to take my own life. I had quietly suffered for years with depression. Primarily, it was a chemical imbalance which could have easily been remedied early on. I grew up in a family where we didn’t talk about their feelings. My parents tended to dismiss the notion when I said I was sad and I thought it was unusual I was sad all the time even in moments when I shouldn’t have been. My mother would used the excuse “every teenager goes through that.”
I felt bad enough when I told my dad I couldn’t drink milk anymore and asked him to buy soy milk for me – he heaved a heavy sigh, as he always does when he hears something ridiculous, and I felt I was greatly inconveniencing him by having to add another item on the grocery list. His actions made me feel like I was inadequate and broken, not normal, so I felt I couldn’t turn to him when this sadness I had been feeling was becoming worse. I felt defective.

I didn’t open up about it to friends because I thought I would sound stupid for feeling like this. It’s not like I had a bad life – big house, public education, lots of family, Christian family, a few friends, after school activities, I didn’t come from a bad situation. I never had a lot of friends though and have spent a large part of my time alone.

Up until more recently I had virtually no relationship with my five siblings. The four oldest are so much older than myself, between 10 and 15 years, so when I was younger our conversations were a lot of, “when I was your age…” They had their own lives, lived far away – east coast, west coast, Rocky Mountains, had their own family and friends, there’s not a lot of time for baby sisters and teenage feelings so I didn’t call often. Again, I didn’t want to burden them with my stupid feelings. My little brother, like all little brothers, was a smelly boy intent on picking on his sister and embarrassing her in front of school-crushes.

A chemical imbalance. Fueled by loneliness and feeling a bit forgotten. At 17, during the summer before my senior year in high school, I lost my best of friends in a car accident. I mentioned this in a previous post. She burned to death. I was in San Francisco staying with my sister. I felt so helpless and so stuck. Megan and her boyfriend Chris, who also perished in the accident, was the sweet and shiny glue to our group of friends and with their deaths came losing them all. I spent a year not sleeping, spending most my nights sitting on the roof, looking at the stars, drinking mountain dew, and listening to a Michael W. Smith CD I had stolen from Chris’s room over and over. I began dating a boy who put me down every chance he got, blamed me when things went wrong, told me I embarrassed him, and made me feel guilty I wouldn’t sleep with him. We were together for nearly two years; into college. 

I had been given these little burdens to bear, a weight slowly increasing upon my shoulders over the years, while staying giggly and smiley to the rest of the world, until one day it was just too heavy. It was a normal day sometime in spring or just before fall, I don’t remember – bright and sunny. I don’t even remember the reason why I had gotten into such a deep sadness, but I remember I had been talking with an old friend earlier online. It was that last straw, as they say. I was unable to see out of the negative thoughts I pounded down on me. I had convinced myself I wasn’t good enough and had no purpose in this world. Next thing I knew I was standing in my parents’ kitchen (I lived at home at the time), which is in a part of the house that didn’t get a lot of sunlight, and had a knife in my wrist. It was so painful. I never thought for once it was going to hurt a great deal, but a knife-cut feels like burning. I sat for a bit listening to the silence and my breathing, watching the blood congeal to my skin, and decided I didn’t like the silence. I wanted to hear a voice so I picked up the phone and called my other most dearest of friends, Cathy. If anyone knows Cathy they know she never picks up her phone. Never. I told myself, if Cathy doesn’t answer then I’m going to go through with this, I’m going to finish the cut.

I was gobsmacked when I heard her voice on the other end. I didn’t expect it whatsoever, I had planned to say goodbye on her voicemail, and chose to believe my guardian angel was watching out for me that day. I never told her my plans, only stuttered out that I’ve been really wanting to hop in the car and go on a road trip. I said I didn’t know to where or for how long, just that I was thinking about driving away. She told me not to go, that she had class in a half hour and to come over and see her. Campus in Green Bay, Wisconsin (where I lived then…sorry, should have mentioned that earlier) was 35 minutes away from my house. I made it there in 10. I wore a long sleeve shirt so she wouldn’t see the small damage I had done to myself and I remember Cathy smiling, she has such a bright and beautiful smile, and being so kind to me. My eyes were a bit bloodshot from crying. She could see it, but didn’t bring it up. Instead she heated me up some soup-in-a-cup, asked me to promise her I wasn’t going to go on a road trip, gave me a signature big Cathy hug and told me she loved me. I broke my promise, of course, I went to Whitefish Dunes State Park and spend the day buried in the sand, half in Lake Michigan, and stared up at the clouds. It took making a phone call, getting out of the house, immersing myself in traffic, talking with a friend even though it wasn’t on the subject itself, but talking with a friend, and feeling the warm sun to finally bring this sadness to a bearable weight. It took a day and a night for me to see that, even though I have emotionally unavailable parents, siblings that are much older and further away, and few friends, I would put them through even more pain if I chose to commit suicide. I was able to dig myself out of such depression, of feeling sorry for myself, I was able to see that light, and see what the outcomes of my actions would be. I saw the selfishness of suicide.

It took a great deal of arguing after that point to get my parents to listen that, no, this isn’t just a teenage feeling, that I needed help. While I knew I would never put my life in my own hands like that again, I also knew to seek help to rid myself of such a depression. I saw a psychiatrist for a time who told me I needed to be rebalanced. While I relied on a doctor for a bit of medicine, I found within myself the ability to put aside these feelings of inadequacy. It was hardest to say to myself, “No, what you’re feeling isn’t stupid and no you don’t have to carry it alone.” I began building stronger relationships with my siblings, with my parents, and made a better attempt at making friends. My sisters became the best therapists I could ever ask for and helped me to see I have great purpose and importance in this world. A couple years later there came a day I didn’t need medication any longer and was able to tackle the toughest situations with great strength.

I had built strength. I had found confidence. I had been shown love. I persevered.

I ask anyone who reads this to pass it on because I’m asking you a favor. Take time today, this week, this month, this year, to be kind to one another. Hold the door for the person behind you. Smile at a stranger as they pass by. Help a mother who has her hands full with the kids carry out the groceries to her car. Tell each one of your staff members they’re doing a good job, that you appreciate the work they do, and give specifics as to why. Call that friend you haven’t talked to in a while – maybe invite them out for a drink. Turn to your husband, your wife, your life partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, look them straight in the eyes and tell them why it is you love them so profoundly. Call your mom and tell her you love her. Take time for someone else and not yourself.

Be kind. It isn’t hard to do. It’s free, it doesn’t take time away from your day, it’s completely painless. And remember, kindness always comes back.

Because, while we all walk different paths, we’ve all been given different lives, no matter who you are, no matter how rough it is, you can get through what ails you. Dawn always comes after the dark. To those who are in a situation, whether it be depression, drug addiction, corruption, bullying, sexual orientation whatever your reason, if you’re considering taking your own life, please stop. Take a step back. Look up, look out, look at the clouds and ask yourself, “Who will I be hurting by hurting myself.” Tell yourself over and over until you finally believe it there is help, there is help, there is help, and that you will be okay.

Because you will be okay. And if that’s not enough, then come here. Come to me. I live in Northern Minnesota and I will heat you up some soup and give you a very big and very warm hug.

 

 

1-800-273-8255

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Home is a Warm Bed

I made it back to Minnesota and to my parent’s house safe and sound. I’m positive Izzy is happy about not being on the road anymore. The water pump is threatening to give out and Thelma leaks coolant when she is moved. It is sad woe, but I’ve decided to sell her. She’s cost me all of my money and I don’t want to be stuck with no way to support myself. Actually, if I could magically get a pretty penny for her I would go back out and finish my journey in my car and just camp. I hadn’t intended on sleeping in a tent this whole climb, but I’ve become more at peace with it.

When I was on the road I missed home terribly…and when I say home, I just mean Minnesota. I don’t have a home. That’s a reality that’s been a hard swallow. I wish I could just find a job – a career, a place that wants me. It is an odd and lonely feeling, not being wanted. Not having a purpose. I am lost in the fog and unnoticed by anyone. I hate it. I don’t know if any the decisions I’m making are the right one, if any of the positions I apply for are the right one, if any of the places I visit are the right one. I wish I could be a travel writer, a real one, professional, with business cards and an income…not just keeping a blog that some people read sometimes.

But I am only a fair writer. Another fact I must face. And, while this bout of sadness will pass, it is a reason that has put me on a roller coaster of emotions – facing that I am only just okay. Average. With no real specialties. A Master of English with nothing to show for it, but a small mound of debt.

I can fool myself, though. If I can get my losses back I tell myself I will go East instead of West, to the New England states. …And then I tell myself I will finish my adventure. Skip the filler and just get to Oregon…my father and I talked for many hours last night of the places he has lived and where his family has gone. My father lived in Astoria, OR when he was very young and had an aunt and uncle there as well. The uncle is long-resting peacefully in Saint Cloud, MN (the hub of our family’s existence) and the aunt is far away from her love in Astoria. Buried by a second husband who didn’t care enough to give her a marker. Her name was Theresa, a name I’ve been whispered should have been mine, and it would be nice to pay a visit to a woman, I have been told, was very kind, humble, and beautiful.

This is a long rant on being lost in the world, and I do apologize, but I wish I could see it all. Tickets go on sale for ‘Hamlet’ at the Barbican in London’s West Side next week. My favorite actor, Benedict Cumberbatch is playing as Hamlet and I was going to use that play as an excuse to visit London and visit an entirely new country for the first time. It performs from August-October 2015. Truthfully, I wanted to be in London for my 30th birthday – February 1st. Six months from now I’ll be 30. I suppose that’s been another reason for my sadness. At 30 the expectations I have had for myself have not been met. I’m not living my happily ever after. I haven’t found my Mister Darcey, I don’t have a home, a career, any children. I’m not spending my summers on the French Riviera and winters skiing the mountains…I’ve never skied…I do have two degrees, I am healthy, I have lots of family who love me and are supportive, I have much to stay positive about, but it doesn’t change I haven’t accomplished what I set out to accomplish by the time I was 30. I did leave my horrid job and move away from that wretched town I spent so many years in. I am glad for that. I just expected to have stayed far away, heh. It will come though, it will come, I just have a hard time being patient.

Until that day I will keep applying for jobs and keep studying my atlas preparing for when the time comes I can be on the road again.

Chin up!

Sheridan, WY, three days and still here…

Peter D was a kind, generous, old man hard of hearing with a great big fondness for dogs. He came over often with treats for Izzy and thoughts of what Thelma’s problem could be. Monday morning I was up early and he had already been running around town trying to find a place to bring the van. I had called the dealership who could work on her Tuesday, which would have been fine…I guess, but Peter D said Matt down at Midas could get her in today. I remembered Ted’s Towing telling me NOT to go to Midas – they’re expensive – but I really wanted to get back on the road so agreed. Wasn’t able to get a shower in and Adam was already there to pick me up. We went to Midas and there I sat all morning waiting for me to come back and tell me Thelma……

…….

……………had no gas. The gauge had become even more incorrect, probably with the climb and the load I was carrying. I had to give them $100 to tell me that, yup. I told them that should have just been a courtesy and gotten me on my way. I left, angry, and suddenly Thelma magically did drive right. She had a nasty vibration that was like going over really deep rumble strips and it wasn’t correcting itself. I called Midas back and asked them what they did. Matt was defensive and said they didn’t touch anything that could effect that. I turned around and came back to his shop in hopes it would be a quick fix.

That was Monday. It’s now Wednesday and apparently my driveline is bad. Now that the joints have been replaced, I made a special trip to Billings for Matt to have it looked at by a driveline specialist, he’s called Ford, the top tranny guy in town, and a metallurgic man, they all THINK the problem is the shaft in the yolk is bent, how it got bent is beyond me because the yolk itself, nor any part of the line shows signs of damage. Fingers crossed they’ll finally have her done today. I have sat in Midas from open to close for two days, we’ll be going on the third. This shouldn’t have been this complicated. They’ve already gotten $100 from me, the current bill for this repair is at $274, but I know it’s gone up because the drive shaft is being straightened. For every $100 is a week of staying places along my trip. He’s already taken over 3 1/2 weeks away from me. The rest of my money was being saved for a place to move to; I don’t want to be dipping into that. It’s time to cut my losses, turn around, and go home.

Home. I don’t have a home. Turn around and stay with my parents.

I was so looking forward to Washington and Oregon. Sleeping on the beach, watching the whales, trying new foods, seeing new faces, being by the ocean. I love the ocean so. I miss it when I’m away. That was where all of my hunting and this blog was really going to take off. The drive there was just supposed to be a few days of fun-filler. I couldn’t even get to the main reason of this trip. I have $500 left, not enough to get to Oregon and stay, so it’s time to go home.

Time to go home.

I’ve been missing Minnesota, but I really did want to try living somewhere I’ve never been. I didn’t hardly make it anywhere. I could have been on the coast by now if everything would have worked as planned. I guess nothing ever goes according to plan – especially mine.

Switchback Mountains, Well, What Now?

The drive to Wyoming was BEAUTIFUL! The grass, blue. The mountains, bluer. I could see snow atop them! I could see snow! In July! I was excited to get to the top and walk in snow with sandals and shorts knowing it was 98 degrees below. I think I said a lower temperature in the video, but later learned it was 98 degrees. …you’re the sunshine after the rain, you’re the cure against my fear and my pain, ’cause I’m losing my mind when you’re not around, it’s all, it’s all, it’s all because of you… ahem, flash back to the 90s, 98 Degrees song…whatever happened to them anyway?

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We got off hwy 90 and onto 14 to get to Bighorn National Forest – where I was to spend the night. I didn’t know I was going to have to climb any mountains to get there; everything I read about Bighorn said it was at the foothills of the mountains. I guess they meant on the other side? According to the gauge (which is broken, by the way) I had a half tank of gas. We slowly ascended into the Switchback Mountains, winding, climbing, at 35mph in a two lane road with barely a shoulder. It was hot, there was no shade, and Thelma was feeling it. Passed one overlook, passed another, must climb more, but she’s losing power, then, nothing. I coasted as far over to a shoulder as I could before she stopped dead. Turned the key, she struggled to start, but started nonetheless, a few feet more, aaaaaaaand…..nothing. Dead. Thelma wouldn’t start again. Mid-mountain, steep hill, two lane road, coming up to a curve where cars couldn’t see oncoming cars. I didn’t know what to do! I was in a dangerous spot, it was so hot I could have cooked an egg on the van…actually, I had eggs, I should have, Izzy was looking lethargic, and I couldn’t get Thelma to budge. I just wanted her to start up enough so I could pull her around and coast back down the mountain. I didn’t understand what happened to cause her to do that. She didn’t overheat, I had gas, oil, she was doing fine.

I called AAA and asked for a tow. For a second time Thelma was to be towed to safety. While on the phone a Subaru pulled over and out popped a man and woman asking if I needed help. So many people had passed me, but they opted to stop and help. The man said he could go home, get his truck, and pull me off the mountain. I thought that was amazing! We were ten or more miles away from the nearest town and he was willing to delay wherever he was going to help me. In the end we decided I would just wait for the tow truck. It would take the same amount of time to get here, AAA was paying for it, and this guy didn’t have to delay his trip any further. He helped me get Thelma down to one of the overlooks and out of harms way and was off. He wouldn’t give me his name, but he was my greatest hero that day. He said, “That’s what we do in Wyoming!” and talked about all the vehicles he had pulled off the mountains.

An hour later a man named Adam from Ted’s Towing camp up with his flat bed. THAT even struggled up the mountain, but it at least made it. He was also very kind and I did whatever I could to help make lifting Thelma easier.

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He was nice about letting Izzy ride with and gave me peace of mind by giving me the name of these mountains, the Switchbacks, and explaining they were the third steepest, at a 10 grade, in the Rockies. Should have just stayed on I-90 and went to Billings instead. The mountain there is at a grade 6.

Now, keep in mind, it’s Sunday, which means there’s no auto shops open. It was nearing evening too. We stopped at Firestone, the only place open, and the man said, while he could have it worked on tomorrow, he didn’t feel comfortable doing it. In the end, after Adam had driven Izzy, Thelma, and I all over, in his truck with no A/C, we agreed to drop me off at the local RV park – Peter D’s – for the night. Adam said he would pick me up in the morning and bring me to a repair shop.

http://www.wyomingrvpark.com/

When You Find Your Dream RV Park

The Badlands really was a bust for me. I know it’s a beautiful place, truly unique, but for me it was a hot, dead, wasteland…and maybe mostly that’s because I wasn’t able to use the generator…or make coffee in the morning. I WAS excited for the RV park/campground outside Keystone, SD. Spokane Creek Cabins and Campground. The drive there was pretty intense – winding, hilly roads through the Black Hills. I see why so many motorcyclists were on this road! The downside to Spokane Creek was no reception and poor internet, but the splendor of the area, friendliness of the staff and other guests far outweighed lacking reception. The park is located in sort of a valley of the Black Hills. There’s plenty of rocky areas to climb for the beginner and advanced hikers, a lovely creek the kids were splashing around in and racing little boats down, a pool, mini golf, a small gas station, and restaurant/convenience store/gift shop that has surprisingly very good pizza. Actually, I didn’t so much mind being able to completely relax without the distraction of texting and Facebook. I heard plenty of parents cheer not having the internet because their kids were outside playing with the other kids. I intended on staying there only a night, but extended it to two. It was just so, peaceful. In comparison to my night in the Badlands, this was a complete 180 in enjoyment and comfort.

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http://www.spokanecreekresort.com/

Spokane Creek is the perfect place to stay for a family vacation. There were several families in their big fancy RVs and campers (okay, okay, there were popups and tenters too. I was the only van… -_-). What I thought was especially cute was the kids on the playground – complete strangers to one another, but they were planning games together for later and inviting one another over to their sites for bonfires and s’mores. It was funny, this girl was planning whatever game with two kids swinging and when she went running back to her site she turned around suddenly and yelled back, “by the way, my name is” so-and-so. It made me think of Megan and camping with her family in Park Falls, Wisconsin. Megan was my childhood friend, next door neighbor, and someone that, for a very long time, I thought of as a sister. She was my best friend and I took care of her.

Megan died when she was sixteen in a messy car accident. Her sister and boyfriend, also a good friend of mine, were in the car with her and didn’t survive either. This was twelve years ago and even though so much time has passed I find myself still missing her. The year before her death she invited me to camp with her and her family – RV and popup camping, that is. Nothing rugged here. Had to bathe in the lake, though. I met her grandparents (coolest grandparents ever! So much junk food, mmm), cousins, aunts, and uncles. We played tag and hide and seek with her little cousins, swam, and hiked solely to find bars on her phone (yes, in 2001, at age 15, Megan had a cell phone…I didn’t get a cell phone until I moved out of my parents house at age 20…) to call Chris, her boyfriend, and ask him if so-and-so liked me back. I tried pigs feet for the first time there (grandparents brought them, not bad actually), and learned how to make a dessert pie with sandwich bread, fruit filling, and a camp fire. My parents never took the kids camping and the only kind I ever did up until this summer is tent in the backyard with the neighbor friends. This was Megan’s family’s summer tradition and they were kind enough to include me. I felt fully part of the family after that. So now, although I don’t think of Megan so much anymore, when I’m in these RV park/campgrounds, this memory returns and returns with a humbled smile. 

The first night at Spokane Creek there was a pretty crazy storm. Thunder, lightening, hail, and a nervous Izzy. Needless to say, we didn’t sleep much that night – Izzy was so scared I knew I was going to be staying up some time comforting her so turned the light on and watched The Little Mermaid. Oh yeah, on my trip I have brought many-a-Disney movies to watch. Even at twenty-nine a gal still needs to have her princesses with her! As the storm roared on I poked my head outside – I was across the creek from the tenters – and called out to see if anyone was getting rained out. Although it’s just a van I’m in it’s dry and there was still room. No one seemed to need the help and the next morning I didn’t hear of anyone sustaining any damage. It was a good conversation piece, especially with the owner, Darrell, whom I was able to meet while moving spots (had to go from site 24 to 29). I offered him some of the coffee I just made, but he wasn’t a fan of the flavored stuff. Why is it no one likes flavored coffee? I don’t like PLAIN coffee! Heehee!

I was lucky to stay another night because I met a really great family from Des Moines, Iowa – Kerri, her daughter, daughter’s friend, mother, and sister. I was getting ready in the bathroom when Kerri and the girls came in to take a shower. We talked and got to know one another while she showered (:P) and I was putting on makeup. When she got out of the shower she invited me up to their site later that night for s’mores. I’ve never been good at making friends – I’m shy so don’t often take advantage of opportunities to meet other people, but I wanted to join her and her family. I had already broken my first rule of not talking to strangers on this trip in the Badlands so might as well keep going! I spent the afternoon exploring Keystone, Custer, Mount Rushmore, and Crazy Horse. $11 to get into Rushmore and Crazy Horse! Eleven dollar pictures, is all!

The boys at Mount Rushmore
The boys at Mount Rushmore

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I didn’t want to show up to Kerri’s camper empty-handed so I stopped and picked up soda and watermelon to pass. That’s a good thing to have ’round a campfire, right? I thought so. No one had any because they had just finished eating, but there were beers, chocolate, and marshmallows to pass – which turned out to be my dinner. Kerri’s family was amazing. The girls were hilarious! They showed me videos they took of terrorizing their gramma when they went to the bear exhibit near Rapid City. I felt like I was part of the family – I too like terrorizing my mom for a chuckle with things like spiders and walking out on the ice. Her mother, sister, and I also talked about our travels – they come from South Carolina and are also putzing around the country. They offered good advice and information about Work and Stays – finding RV parks or National Parks that were looking for campers to work for a week or more in exchange for staying for free and possibly a few extra bucks. In fact, the park we were at was doing that with a few RVs. I inquired about it on my way out the next day and asked for them to call if they wanted extra help. I would definitely go back to that place!

Kerri came by the next morning to say goodbye and remind me about asking about working and staying. We exchanged contact information and I look forward to seeing her on Facebook soon. I wanted to stay at Spokane Creek longer, but I was excited for my next stop, Bighorn National Forest and to see Wyoming for the first time!

A Bit of the Bad Lands

Yes, Bad. Time had come to move on West. Typical drive across South Dakota. Made a quickie in Mitchell to see the Corn Palace. A place I have seen as a child, but don’t possess the memories for. To my surprise this is what I found:

The Corn Palace as of July 2014. Nothing but a big ol' gymnasium!
The Corn Palace as of July 2014. Nothing but a big ol’ gymnasium!

Well, what a bust, but no matter, it wasn’t the focal point of today’s trip. I enjoyed so much driving across South Dakota. I enjoyed being part of the other RVs and campers, popups, A, B, C class. I felt like I was part of the group. But really, I wasn’t. I have an old van. It doesn’t have a sink, bathroom, a stove, or rear A/C. You can’t even stand in it. I felt like how motorcyclists feel when they see another motorcyclist – they do that subtle downward wave to acknowledge one another when passing. I wish RVs had that. That would be cool. I want that. Can we start doing that? What would the gesture be? One day I hope to be a REAL RVer, For now, to everyone else I am just another vehicle, but today I smiled and waved at every RV that came my way.

The Badlands are AMAZING! But so HOT! I’ve never seen a desert, but I felt like I was in one.

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Thelma was not enjoying herself and I took too much time stopping and taking pictures. It was 4pm when I got there and next thing I knew it was nearing 8 and I still hadn’t hunkered down in a spot. The free site to camp in the Badlands is Sage Creek. IT IS IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE! I had fumes for gas, and trudging down a windy dirt road. I saw a sign saying Wall, SD was 10 miles away so I raced into town to fill my tank. I definitely didn’t want to be stranded in the Bad Lands. 

Wall is a funny town and filled with tourists. Thing about traveling with a dog is you can’t visit many shops. I raced through Wall Drug, got my gas and Izzy and I were back on the road.

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The heat made me discouraged about sleeping in the Badlands. I sought places to stay in town, but couldn’t get myself to spend the money. I wanted to be in the Badlands because I read Sage Creek boasts spectacular views of the stars and the possibility of sleeping among the bison. This particular night it had none of that. I felt uncomfortable being so off the grid…and grateful for a pit toilet.

I bought a generator specifically to use for this night. It didn’t work!! Ahhhh, so hot!!! There were two RVs in Sage Creek. While I was apprehensive about talking to strangers, can’t trust anyone on the road they say, I walked up to the biggest RV there. I figure, RV owners must know a thing or two about generators. This idea was given to me by my good friend and pseudo mother, Karen. “Just go ask for help,” she said. So I did. I didn’t get his name, but he and his wife were from Missouri, had the best accent, great sense of humor, and were true characters. Maybe in their 50s or 60s, they hit the road to get away from the stresses of family, and wound up in the Badlands. What luck! The silliest thing about meeting them, and silly for me because this is something I rarely have been around, the man said, before agreeing to come over and fix my generator, he “Need me a weeeeed,” and he and his wife took a hit off a joint. I didn’t understand at first so started walking away and he said, “Now just a minute, Ma, pass it to her.” I politely declined. They chuckled, and we left to my site. This guy was awesome. A tinkerer and possibly part of the biker variety what with his cut off sleeves, bandana, chops, and mopy hair. He had no sensor for swear words and had a thing or two to say about Menards, where I bought the generator. With a magic touch it worked and Thelma was finally able to cool down.

It was met several minutes later with disgruntled campers…of course. So I turned her off and soon learned why they wanted the silence – you could hear the coyotes in the distance. 

I didn’t see any Bison.

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Saw a goat. Didn’t sleep; too warm. And happy to be out of the wilderness and headed to an RV park and campground with SHOWERS for the next night. The Badlands were amazing, but great just for visiting a few hours. I’m just not wildman enough to spend another night there. 😛