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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!’
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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: