Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 5 - Dash Across the Dakotas

Camp at Aberdeen Fairgrounds
Yesterday morning, July 4, we broke camp near Bismarck and headed east, then south, then east again... and before long we found ourselves in Aberdeen SD. We'd gotten wind of a good place to camp for a night or two... at the local county fairgrounds. On the north side of town, the fairgrounds turned out to be a perfectly fine spot to park, with hundreds of electric/water sites, a few more with the full trifecta (electric, water, and sewer), and they only charge $15/night. On a hot day, staying cool is worth 15 bucks to me.

The bonus, as far as Dar was concerned, is that we were only a mile away from where the city of Aberdeen sets off it's collection of fireworks on Independence Day. So about sunset (9:39pm in these parts) we got in our seats on the lawn in front of the bus-house, an adult beverage in one hand, a mitt-full of popcorn in the other... and waited for the show to start. In the meantime, we enjoyed the shows of other nearby communities and private displays in a wide arc along the horizon.  Some of the private displays... and I'm not kidding here... almost out-did the official community displays.

Although the best word to simply describe the day was HOT, it did cool off enough for us to shut off the A/C, open the windows, and get a great night's sleep. Our plan was to spend two nights in Aberdeen and travel further east on Friday. But the weather guys were now predicting T-storms and rain for Friday... so we we called an audible and decided to make the next run a day early. By 10:30am we were rolling out of the fairgrounds (we'd give it a "fair" rating...) and aimed the bus-house toward Minnesota.

Aberdeen SD is right on old historic US-12 (notice a theme with this trip??). And today we continued along that route, also dubbed the Yellowstone Trail by some, for another 100 miles or so before reaching the Minnesota border between Big Stone City SD and Ortonville MN.

The distance between Big Stone City and Ortonville is only a little over a mile. In the middle of that mile is a bridge that goes over the Minnesota River. When we got to the bridge it was closed... totally and completely closed. Construction!  Hmmm. The driver of the bus-house, ahh... how shall I put this?... misinterpreted the big orange sign back in downtown Big Stone City as "Bridge Closed 5 Miles Ahead". What it actually read, my navigator (who was on the phone and too busy to navigate at the time!!) tells me was "Bridge Closed .5 Miles Ahead".  Do you see what happened?  For want of a dot the toad had to be disconnected.

Since toads are pulled by motorhomes in one direction only... and that direction is never backward (really bad things can happen to toad, towbar, and the driver's head). If a bus-house driver gets the rig into a position where it's necessary to backup, to go in reverse for even a very short distance, the only smart thing to do is to park, unhook the toad, perform your maneuver, re-hook the toad, and continue on your merry way.

In five years of fulltiming, we've only had to do this one time before today... and that was just a week or so ago in T Roosevelt National Park. I don't count that one as a full screw-up however, as we were close to our destination and just drove the toad and bus-house separately for the last mile.

But this one was the full-monty... unhook, maneuver, re-hook, and go.  And then we "discussed" how important it is to read all the words (even the little tiny dots) on big orange signs as I sank a little lower in my seat for a while.

To make a too long story marginally shorter, we eventually made it to Prairie View RV Park just south of Granite Falls MN where we are tonight. Associated with a casino of the same name, it's a good place to spend a few days where we can plug in (think stay cool), get some chores done (think laundry and bus-house front-end bug removal), and explore an area we've not been to before. The plan is to be here until Sunday morning when we'll head into the big city.