Home Our Travels Travel Plans The Journey Continues Upriver

The Journey Continues Upriver

Since we last left you, we’ve continued to follow the Lewis & Clark Trail northward through Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. And it seems each location we arrive at is better and better.

Weston, MO

It never really stopped raining on Wednesday when we were leaving Kansas City, and we weren’t too terribly excited about staying parked in a Lowes lot for another night.  Free parking overnight is great, but we really don’t mind paying for an awesome view in a park when we find them.  After two nights in a row in parking lots, we were really quite anxious to move on and be in nature.

And besides, we had run our fresh water tank dry as we forgot to top it off before leaving Chris’ parents house.

The bluffs over the Missouri River inside the park.

The bluffs over the Missouri River inside the park.

Weston Bend State Park was only about 40 minutes north of our current location, so figured rain or not – we could make the transition. So northward we went, and found ourselves a nifty little pull through spot in the woods.  And I totally forgot to snap a picture of it, probably because it was raining most the time we were there (it has nothing to do with the vodka I’m about to talk about!)

When we went to pay for our spot, the camp host suggested that we head into the little town of Weston and check out the McCormick Country Store – which is the tasting room for the nearby distillery. Apparently, they sell tasting shots of all their vodka, whiskey and tequilas for a quarter each.  Yeah, 25 cents… a shot!

The cute town of Weston.

The cute town of Weston.

The town was super cute, and we enjoyed meandering through a couple of the local stores. And then we found the country store and plopped a couple quarters each into the jar.

Mandarin Orange & Double Chocolate vodka martinis with Mandarin Orange Guacamole! Yum!

Mandarin Orange & Double Chocolate vodka martinis with Mandarin Orange Guacamole! Yum!

We ended up bringing home a bottle each of Mandarin Orange and Double Chocolate 360 vodka… which we thought would pair quite nicely with a batch of Chris’ Mandarin Orange Chocolate Guacamole.  And it did!

Overall, we’d give Weston Bend State Park a positive review (our review on RVParking) – cute little park, and cute little town. But not much else to do there but see the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River. When the rain cleared in the morning, it was time to move on and find something more scenic.

Nebraska City, NE

Thursday we had planned to do a live video chat, which would require a solid AT&T 4G or better signal to utilize our unlimited iPad data plan, or some rockin’ WiFi. Looking ahead on our app Coverage? we saw a big missing chunk of connectivity for some miles ahead, and set our sites to get just south of Omaha to start scouting out our options.

We arrived to Nebraska City, our first taste of 4G for the day. The Walmart lot had solid 4G, so at least a back-up plan could work in this town. We then scouted out nearby Riverview Marina State Rec Area (our review), which we found little information on online as to the condition of the RV Park. It looked like we could have better signal and a waterfront view.

Our spot at Riverview Marina.

Our spot  (well, we’re actually technically taking up 3 spots) at Riverview Marina.

We went down, and had mixed feelings on the park. It was mostly empty, except for the host (who apparently has been there for 30 years), and the RV sites were seriously overgrown and rather far from the water. We also couldn’t get a stable signal, even with using all our magical boosting gear, at the RV sites due to the nearby bluffs blocking the tower. However, down by the river – the signal was rock solid as the tower was in line of sight.

Down by the river - broadcasting our livestreamed video chat!

Down by the river – broadcasting our livestreamed video chat!

We decided, what the heck – we’ll try an outdoor live stream, and paid for a spot for the night! It was a lot of fun, except for the setting sun put a definitive end time to the broadcast. If you missed any of our past chats (including last month’s where we revealed our mandarin orange chocolate guacamole recipe), you can watch the archives on our new Chat Archives page.

If the park had been crowded, we probably would not have enjoyed this stop too much – the sites are very close together and tiny. But for mid-week and having the place to ourselves, it served the purpose of a scenic backdrop with decent signal. We decided to move on in the morning and take our chances that we could find something upriver for the weekend.

South Sioux City, NE

Chris did a bit of poking around the RV review sites and our various RV iPad apps, and spotted an interesting sounding location near Sioux City. Snagging an ideal spot last minute over a weekend can sometimes be a challenge, especially in parks that take online reservations.

After a few hours of driving, some historic marker stops along the Lewis & Clark Trail and a wrong turn requiring a quick unhitching of the MINI when we arrived to the gates of a nuclear power plant –  we arrived to Sioux City.

Our awesome spot on the water!

Our awesome spot on the water!

We found our way to Scenic City Campground (our review), and crossed our fingers there were sites available. The hostess was super friendly, and said she thought she had just the site for us. She looked out her window, and came back with a smile.  She asked if we wanted to walk down and see it first – but we figured we would be happy with anything we could snag for the weekend.

Anxious to be stopped for at least 2 nights after several days in a row of being in motion – we happily paid $40 for two nights for an electric/water/WiFi/cable site (very reasonable).

It was immediate love – our site was water front with a view of the fake steamboat and lighthouse casino across the river. And, we had lots of open space around us – giving most our window views of things other than RVs.  We just love parks that keep some prime sites non-reservable to accommodate us enroute travelers!

The hike and bike trail

The hike and bike trail

And to top off our bliss, there’s a bike & hike path that goes right through the park – so we got to enjoy some long walks exploring the city. And we seriously enjoyed keeping our windows open at night with a sweeping glow of the lighthouse over us.

Toasting a beautiful sunset!

Toasting a beautiful sunset!

Saturday mostly rained, so we were happy to not be out on the roads and concentrated on getting ahead on some projects. We contemplated if we wanted to extend our stay in our primo site for another day or two, but decided we were ready to move onward. It’s always tough to balance the pace of a cross country repositioning.

Platte, SD

After the rainstorms cleared, Sunday was driving the backcountry of Nebraska’s rolling hills into South Dakota. Our first thought at seeing SD license plates on all the cars was ‘Wow! There sure are a lot of full timer’s out today!’

 

On the road in Nebraska!

On the road in Nebraska!

It’s ironic to be entering South Dakota, after we just went through the process of legally moving our domicile to Florida because we weren’t sure if we’d be able to return to SD this year to renew our driver’s license. Even so, moving to Florida is still the right choice for us given our many other factors.

Our water surrounded campsite!

Our water surrounded bluff campsite!

Chris again had his eye on a waterfront park, Snake Creek Recreation Area (our review) just outside Platte, SD. We arrived to some confusion at the gate – as the ranger’s station computer wasn’t able to confirm our preferred spot. Thankfully I could hop online in the bus and make & pay for the reservation myself and got to pay an extra $7.70 for the ‘convenience’.

But that’s ok – it was worth it to snag a glorious water front spot with panoramic views of Missouri River, with a trail down to a totally private beach. (Sadly, our private beach did not have a cabana boy serving drinks and massages. We survived the hardship.)

Pulled in forward in a back-in spot.

Pulled in forward in a back-in spot.

Of course, to get the panoramic view we had to pull forward into our back-in space – which means using our 20 amp extension cord for power. So score one for our wonderful boosting inverter that allows us to use our lithium battery bank to supplement any higher power draws.

I’ll leave you with some shots of this amazing spot, which easily ranks as one of our all time favorites.

Parked on the bluff.

Parked on the bluff.

How technomads enjoy the outdoors - the glow of iPads!

How technomads enjoy the outdoors at night – the glow of iPads!

A view.. and rockin' LTE!

A view.. and rockin’ LTE!

Did we mention solid Verizon LTE and AT&T 4G?  Technomad, score. If we weren’t on a schedule to get to Oregon, we could be tempted to just stay put here for a while.

Oh, and yes – we did go swimming on our little beach. It was.. refreshing.

Up Next

From here, we’ll actually be leaving our friends Lewis and Clark, after following them for around 700 miles these past few days. Perhaps we’ll encounter them again out west.

Making a dorky tribute to doing the 'Lewis & Clark' pose along our little private Missouri River beach.

A dorky ‘Lewis & Clark pose’ along our little private Missouri River beach.

Our arrival to Oregon is looking like we will need to be there a few days earlier than planned, so thus it just doesn’t make sense to divert so far north into North Dakota. Besides, thanks to Lewis & Clark already mapping it out, we know the Missouri River won’t take us to the Pacific Ocean.

Instead, we’ll be heading west from here to the Badlands, where we have plans to meet up with Becky of Interstellar Orchard later today.  And then after that passing through Sturgis and hopefully rendezvousing with Jim & Chris of Geeks of on Tour later in the week.

From there, our path will probably looking something like this:

Our upcoming route?

Our upcoming route?

 

 

25 COMMENTS

Your comments bring us happiness.. please help spread joy and comment away...

  1. Loved the post, pics and travel tips. We’ve been in Rapid City, SD since Thursday (13th), leaving here for Gillette, WY (FMCA) on Monday (17th). We came across US-24 (OK), I-39 (OK), I-80 (OK), I-29 (nice), and I-90 (OK to nice). Not as senic as your route, but we had to make time due to a late start. Stopped at Wall Drug (of course). The Badlands are neat, and the Black Hills are wonderful, especial Custer State Park. The grasslands around here are very green and beautiful; worth a detour if you are in the area. You mentioned meeting up with the Geeks, so wondering if you are, in fact, in the area, as I’m sure they are headed to Gillette for FMCA as well. BTW: a little bit of serendipity today. Just about the time we needed lunch, the Spokane Grill (Custer State Park area) appeared. A great veggie pizza with no cheese (which is not easy to do). Safe travels.

    • Hey guys.. we were indeed in Sturgis just two days ago, hanging with the Geeks on their way to Gillette. We left them yesterday and headed into Montana.. where we overheated and broke down in the middle of nowhere, 28 or so hours later – and we’re finally in Billings at a diesel shop. Enjoy the rally!

      • We didn’t buy tickets this year either so we could spend the money on other travel. Makes us sad, but you never know if something happens to change that. Hope you get to the playa!

      • Exactly. We didn’t buy them because when they went on sale, we didn’t know how long my dad would be alive – thus didn’t know what coast we’d be able to be on. If we’re meant to go, tickets will present themselves.

  2. Here in Mt Hood National Forest most campgrounds have 20% non-reservable sites. Last year in Still Creek CG two of the nicest sites were non-reservable, but durring July-August you needed to show up by Thursday noon to get a spot for the weeend. At Frog Lake, I think at least one of the lakefront sites is non-reservable.

  3. You know when I saw your pics on the river I turned to Paul and said “I wonder if they ended up in Platte”. We were there almost 3 years ago and loved the place, although it was so hot our jacks melted into the asphalt…ooops!

    Love, Love, Love the Lewis & Clark shadow shot. Genius!!

    Nina

  4. Check out the app “Glympse”, great for meeting up with your party on the road, or letting Grandma know how far out you are for dinner…….

  5. Your comments on finding great sites at the last minute have made me think — see if you can follow this. Savvy RV resort owners should try to do that. Because most online ratings are written by people who are TRAVELING, not by people who are there with reservations from months ahead of time.

    So you should give the TRAVELERS the nicest spots, so they’ll write WONDERFUL reviews, which will impact your bottom line the most.

    Works for me. I’m a traveler.

    • Agreed… keeping nice sites open at places where you know you’ll get drive-in customers just makes sense. It’s mostly the state parks that we have the biggest problems getting last minute sites at during the season. RV ‘resorts’ are rarely full up.

  6. When we make our journey up North in July, we will for stop at Weston to check McCormick Country Store. Vodka shots for .25, I am there! It our travel map for July is looking a bit like yours. I am glad you are posting reviews of the parks you are staying!

  7. If it’s not too late, stop in at the Murdo Drive-In in Murdo, SD. Amazing little drive-in with great food and fun people. We’ve passed that way twice and love stopping there. It’s on the way to Badlands. Oh, and if they have them . . . their rhubarb milkshakes are to die for. Enjoy!

Add your comment now!