Last week First Reader and I took our new camper out for a test-camp. We took advantage of an offer to stay four days and three nights at an RV resort in the Black Hills. Now, we ride motorcycles to the region almost every year for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally®, but we’ve never really been there during the off-season. This time, the scenery was familiar but different.
To start, we drove up instead of riding up.
Then, we got a late start and knew that would mean a late arrival. Story of our lives.
By the time we reached the Hills, it was dark. And the weather had set in. That meant not just a late arrival but setting up in the rain. Oh, joy. But not our first rodeo.
We felt our way through a mostly empty campground and got our rig set up, everything plugged in and went to turn everything on. The lights worked, the outlets didn’t. That meant the heater unit wouldn’t work. Neither would the electric mattresses (they came with the camper). And the temperatures were expected to drop into the mid to upper thirties overnight. More joy. Again—not our first rodeo.
Because we were anticipating cold weather, after all, it is early October, we made sure to bring extra blankets. They weren’t sufficient. We barely stayed warm enough to catch a few hours of poor sleep.
The next day we went in search of RV stores and information—and an extra comforter (as if we need more blankets). We never did get the heater to work, but we figured out the problem with the outlets. One of the breakers was off.
The second night was much better for sleeping. The outside temps dropped into the mid-twenties. And I really dislike waking up and seeing my breath. We’re used to sleeping in a chilly room and occasionally spend a night or two at a very rustic cabin up on the Wyoming border, but that second morning it was freezing.
Driving around Rapid City and the surrounding area in a car is much different than riding around the same region on a motorcycle. Fortunately, we’ve been in the city enough that we can find our way around the main arteries without getting (too) lost. We even have some favorite places.
We can’t visit the Black Hills without stopping for breakfast at the Morningside Café. And we might have found a new favorite for supper in Rockerville, The Gaslight. Two days isn’t much time to sightsee, what with our time-limited to troubleshooting the electrical issue and shopping for necessaries for the new rig.
Now, as we all know, anything “free” usually comes with a string (or three) attached. This excursion was no different, and we expected as much. Our stay included a sales pitch to buy into this exclusive resort. We went into the presentation practicing a lukewarm “no.” (The selling point for us—the tiny homes scattered around the site that they advertise as “cabins.”)
When we travel, we prefer to “cabin camp.” This is particularly true when on the bikes, and most especially for the Rally. Hotels are convenient and all, but there’s something about a campground that makes people a little friendlier than staying in a motel. Of course, we don’t have to carry our gear as far, bonus. And the bikes are much closer. (My Precious.)
The trip home was beautiful. The weather cleared up the afternoon before we left (of course), and the drive home revealed the sights that were shrouded from us on the way in.
When I ride, I stay focused on the road. Riding a motorcycle is dangerous enough without my attention wandering from the task at hand. Driving mostly the same routes on which we usually ride to the Black Hills, we saw sights that we only just discovered—and they have likely been there for years. To be fair, though, we did take a slightly different route this time, so it’s not much of a surprise that we missed this one.
Camping season in the northern states is pretty much done for the year—unless you are into winter camping, then you’re on your own. We talked about touring the southern states with our new camper in the winter months, but that won’t happen this year. The thing with having a family and a job is that you plan in advance. This year is already planned out.
The end of this year is all about different perspectives. With Kid Two and family having moved to my area, my reasons for traveling east are dwindling. The grandkids are getting older and are graduating high school one by one. By next summer, I will have two reasons to go east. But I will go so long as I have one reason to do so.
One of these days, we’ll travel that direction with the new camper, but maybe not this year.