Go slow. There’s no hurry. Drive no more than 200 miles then stay no less than 2 nights. We hold these truths of RVing to be self evident.
But yet we still try to push our limits sometimes.
After a month long slow roll through northern Michigan balancing exploring new gorgeous areas and writing The Mobile Internet Handbook, we knew we’d have to book it to get across country to make up the time.
Not only do we have a lighthouse waiting for us on September 1 in Oregon, our engine’s rebuild warranty is up in mid-August. And we really want to have it fully inspected and serviced before that date rolls around at our shop in Billings, Montana. Add to that, my birthday is this coming Monday, and I’d really prefer not to spend it in a diesel shop.
To make sure we had plenty of time to take care of the annual service and get out of the shop by the weekend – we put aims to make it to Billings by Wednesday evening. That would be nearly 1200 miles in a week – which could either be spread into a couple really really long driving days, or broken up into daily drives of 150-200 mile. We opted for the later.
We set off from Marquette, Michigan after our time hanging with Nikki & Jason and started to hopscotch across the country on a series of 1-night stands in new cities.
After a delightful evening of soaking at the Ojibwa Casino & Hotel in Baraga, we left out with our eye towards a first come first serve city park along Lake Superior in Ashland, Wisconsin.
We had contemplated making it as far as Duluth and checking that city out, but after so many recommendations for it – we figured that would be a location better saved for when we’d have more time.
Ashland was a beautiful and easy 137 mile drive and we arrived mid-afternoon to snag one of the last spots at Kreher RV Park (our review).
We loved this little town, and immediately hit the hike & bike trail that runs through the city along the water covering nearly 5 miles on foot.
Scouting out for options ahead, we spotted a Harvest Hosts location in Laporte, Minnesota that looked nicely along our route. We called Forestedge Winery and they energetically invited us to stop in.
A bit longer of a driving day covering 211 miles, we arrived just before closing at 5pm.
We were surprised to find a Wanderlodge parked, and at first assumed it was perhaps another Harvest Host visitor. Turns out, the owner of the winery, Paul, is a fellow bus nut! He’s owned a lot of Flxible conversions in the past, and recently acquired the Wanderlodge as his winter escape to the south.
It was so much fun to geek out over wine and buses! We purchased a couple bottles of their delicious fruit wines (a rhubarb and white cranberry) and retired for the evening to rest up for another long driving day ahead.
And of course, all the while managing putting finishing touches on our soon to be launched RV Mobile Internet Resource Center to go along with the book.
When we woke up in the morning, we had no specific target in mind and just hit the road westward along Highway 200. We love avoiding major interstates, and this route has served us very well. Little traffic, scenic views and well paved.
We knew that many towns in North Dakota have city campgrounds and figured we’d find one along the way the suited us.
Today’s drive would be a pretty momentous occasion for us too – our first time in a LONG while crossing into a brand new state for both of us. North Dakota.
Or Nordakota, as the locals call it.
We pulled over after traveling about 140 miles for a little break, and used the Allstays app to check to see what camping options might be ahead. The closest just happened to be around the corner – Willowood RV Park run by the city of Mayville.
We pulled in and were immediately charmed. A little river snakes around it, and there’s a beautiful community garden at the entrance. There was a site available with a water view, so we made it home for the evening.
It was absolutely delightful to wander through the gardens, sniffing flowers, tasting herbs, relaxing in their hammock and wandering through the labyrinth.
Lake Sakagewewa State Park
Chris had spotted the Oscar-Zero Minuteman Missile Launch Facility Historical Site along our route today, so we made a stop in for a tour. It was fascinating to go underground and see a command center for the Cold War. And mind boggling too.
The tour lasted a bit longer than we anticipated and we still had many miles to make to keep on track.
After 239 miles, we pulled into Lake Sakakawea State Park around 7pm, and wandered into the first-come first-serve section of the campground and took the very first site available. It just happened to be waterfront with an amazing view, and fabulous LTE signal for both Verizon and AT&T.
Which was perfect, because we had scheduled a live video chat on RVing as a Couple for 8pm! We rushed to get some food in us, and did our best to perk up. Despite our exhaustion, the chat actually came out pretty darn great – the archive is available in our Live Chat Center if you’d like to take a peak.
We got some work done, and were plum exhausted.
We left the windows open so we could see the sunrise over the lake.. and it was gorgeous. We watched it curled up in bed. I said to Chris ‘I can’t move another mile today’. He tried to feign energy to get in the driver’s seat and make it to Theodore Roosevelt National Park today. But it just wasn’t happening.
We searched the App Store to see if there were any apps that would insert extra days into the month, with no luck.
So we did what RVers are best at – we adapted to our reality. We’re not cut out for back-to-back driving days. We just can’t do it and balance life and launching a new book/service too.
We reassessed our reason for reaching Billings in two more day’s time, which was now a daunting 430 miles away. Just when did our warranty expire? If I wanted to be somewhere pretty for my birthday, why not just arrive to Billings right after instead of rushing to get out of there before?
We checked in with our friends who we wanted to meet up with in Glacier next week, and they were relieved we would not be pushing to make it. They could detect our exhaustion from miles away, and made promise we could rendezvous down the road.
With a sigh of relief we cuddled up with the cat and got another hour or two of sleep… and then renewed our glorious perfect spot for 3 more nights.
Ever since, we’ve been working on getting an overdue update out to our Coverage? app and the manuscript to our book has arrived back from the editor (she gave us gold stars!). And we’ve been enjoying being still for a bit with opportunities to hike and play around with some of our new solar panels.
What’s Next: Rested up, we’ll head on to Theodore Roosevelt National Park today in hopes of snagging a spot for the weekend. We’ve got some of our sample solar panels hooked up to give us a little power while not plugged in. We look forward to actually having time to get out and explore while we continue on with getting the book published! Our aim is to pull into Billings on Tuesday for the engine service. And we have no clue what our plans will be afterwards – all we know is… west!