A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

A Sudden Change of Plan


I thought we would stay in Gunderson Park three days.  Locals drove through but no campers ever came to stay except for one couple in a tent.  It rained that night.  In the morning we got a knock on the door.   The police. I opened the door and of course Beans is right there.  “No! Get back.”  She did.  The nice policeman was just letting us know that there was to be a car show tomorrow “if the weather permits”.   I said we were planning on leaving tomorrow.  I asked if the car show was going to create a problem driving through town.  

“Oh no, its going to be here.”  Egads!  I thanked him for the warning.
“Sure thing.  You and Beans have a nice day.”
I was cold. I wasn’t going to enjoy the day.  I didn’t want to try to beat the car show in the morning.
It was only twenty-five miles to our next site.  I could run the heater.
And so we left Centerville a day early.

The Vermillion River behind the park took out this huge tree long ago.

Vermillion South Dakota (pop. 11, 695)

When we got within sight of the campground “Oh. I remember this place!”  It was June of last year.  Now no disrespect to the homeless but it looked like a homeless encampment.  Vehicles of questionable road worthiness, cheap tents with blue tarps and sketchy looking individuals milling about.  We drove on to another town.  This time it looked better.  Only one beat-up old camper van was of any interest.  The grubby guy sat outside in the cold, talking to himself waving his hands about.  It appeared he wasn’t wearing any pants.  Not sure.

As I looped around thinking, this other guy came walking over across the grass to cut us off.  “Great!  What does he want?”  Nice guy in a big RV (in that vacant spot below) wanted to let me know he was leaving in thirty minutes and we could have his spot.  I thanked him for his offer.  I told him I think we will park down there on the grass.  “But this has electricity.”  
“We have solar so don’t need it.  Thanks again.”  He shrugged his shoulders and walked away.  I didn’t go into the other reasons why we were going to park on the grass.  You folks know.  Anyway, let someone else who needs it have the electricity.

This was parked in spot number one.  I have never seen one of these before. 
 It looks like out of the sixties.  Pretty cool.

Beans spent the longest time up on the dash watching the comings and goings of people and cars.  She uses the GPS screen as a back rest.  There is a main thoroughfare across the way over there but it isn’t that noisy.  I think we’ll stay throughout the weekend here as long as the neighborhood doesn’t deteriorate. 

That first afternoon the sun came out, I got warm and was once again enjoying myself.
Meanwhile I was getting warnings of eminent rain back in Centerville 25 miles away.

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“What are all those skulls on your dashboard?”  They are coyote, bobcat, raccoon, turkey vulture, a duck and assorted rodents.
“How do you keep them from sliding off onto the floor?”  I drive slow.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Good Day For A Long Drive


We would have stayed longer in Arlington except for three reasons.  One and foremost was a 25 degree drop in temperature overnight coming.  Also I was growing tired of the traffic noise and lastly, the next day had predicted wind coming from the northwest.  We’d take advantage of that.

Before leaving I took a better picture of this in Maxwell Park.  How could someone possibly back their RV into a spot with enough force to take out the electrical connection standard?

(this was sent to me off the internet)
Keep in mind, they drive among us.

After a stop at the service station to clean the windshield, and their little market in town to pick up some milk and fill a water jug with purified water we were on our way.
This was a first for me.  A stop sign at a bridge.  The only reason I could think of was they wanted cars and trucks going slow over the bridge.  It had a ten ton weight limit.

Centerville, South Dakota (pop. 918)

We put in ninety-seven miles that day.  Really, there were no places to stay over that distance.  The few small towns we passed through offered nothing.  The wind-aided drive netted us a 21.1 mile per gallon average. Nice.  And it was five degrees warmer in Centerville.  I’ll take that.

This park was about a mile out of town.  It was free and you could stay for fourteen days.  
There was no water or electricity or restrooms.  Not even a trash can.

I was careful passing through the narrow gateway.  
It was made to 1929 standards.
Good thing though it might keep out big RVs and fifth-wheel trailer people.

There are bolts sticking up from these pillars so at one time this had a roof over it.

Next to it was this fireplace, open on both sides.
I like the stonework.

Our first night there was magical.  The silence was deafening.  
I had forgotten how quiet the world could be.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Walking Arlington

 Arlington, South Dakota.

Well the lady at the service station was right.  The train roared through at 4:50 a.m.  The engineer laid on the horn the entire way as none of the crossings in town have crossing arms.  I was able to go back to sleep after all the commotion.

Now most of these towns in the midwest like to exercise their emergency sirens every day at noon.  Arlington has taken this practice to a whole new level.  At 10 p.m. the tornado siren went off.  What the heck? Just a short blast.  Good grief!  I thought a tornado was on its way.  After I went back to sleep from being woken by the four-fifty rolling through town that morning the siren went off at 7 a.m.  Good Lord!  “Everyone up.  Rise and shine.  You kids start getting ready for school.”  Obviously no one is allowed to go to sleep before ten in the evening or sleep in past seven in the morning in Arlington.

I thought I would take a walk around town and see what other oddities Arlington held in store.

I’ll visit their museum.

Main Street.
Sorry to who it was that asked why I never get people in my town photos.  Like all the rest of the Main Streets everywhere we’ve been no one was out walking about in Arlington.
Maybe they were all in that bar on the corner for enough cars were parked there.

As usual, the museum was closed.  I didn’t take a photo of it as an extremely elderly lady was out front pulling weeds.  I was afraid she might ask me to join her in the fun.
I snuck on by and kept walking.

I only include this photo as I was impressed that a Nobel Prize winner was from here.
Still, that tiny little town in Kansas somewhere having a Miss America come from it beats all for me.

Like many other towns on our journey, their pool was out of order.
There is never anyone to ask why?

My walk took me to Nordland Island.
You can see the campers on the other shoreline.

It was what could be a calm peaceful place to sit and enjoy the flowers and pond.

Unfortunately with the intersection of two main highways right there 
the traffic noise ruined the experience.  Grain hauling trucks are in abundance this time of the year.

Each and every town we have been in this year I always try to imagine how it is during the winter.
  Unimaginably unbearable. 

I passed this school house leaving the park.  Of course it was closed.  But you get the key at the museum along with a tour brochure to see inside.  Ah, but the museum was closed for weed picking remember.  Really, it was only open on Saturdays and Sundays for a few hours.  Anyway, I wasn’t disappointed.  I’ve seen enough school houses and none will out do the one we visited in Alkabo.

I did a load of laundry later that day.  $1.25 a load and 25 cents for nine minutes in the dryer.
This is about as cheap as I have ever seen.
Dad!  I don’t like this place.  I want out!!  (Notice fluffed out tail)
“It’s okay sweetie.  This isn’t the vets office.”

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David mentioned an “oil train”.  I see trains pulling the black tanker cars all the time.  But here in Arlington for the first time I saw black tanker cars with Soybean something written on the side.  So not all tankers carry petroleum products.  Some evidently carry food grade oils. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

A Choice of Two Parks

We spent a second day and night in Watertown.  I just didn’t want to drive.  I wanted to stay put and rest.  The next morning we then drove forty miles to

Arlington, South Dakota (pop. 915)

 I had a place lined up to stay at Nordland Island Park in town.  As soon as we entered town I saw this off to the right after crossing the railroad tracks.  Notice the bottom line.  Let’s check this out Beans.

Oh my goodness!  A laundromat right here!


The only drawbacks were the railroad tracks and grain elevator right there next to the camp area.

We continued on for two blocks to Nordland Island.  Well this was lovely but it wasn’t for us.  

We went back to what was called Maxwell Park.  It was free (if we didn’t plug-in to electricity), I didn’t have to hunt down the municipal building and it was unlikely some big RV or fifth wheel trailer would try to maneuver into a space here.  Plus there was that laundromat too don’t forget. 

I stopped at the service station across the street from Nordland Island Park to inquire about how much train traffic this town got in a day.  The lady looked at me kind of odd but finally said usually one.  “It comes after I start my shift at 4:30 a.m.”  Well I can handle one train.  Incidentally the Nordland Island camp would be subjected to the train noise too as a crossing was right across the street from it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

A Brand New Day!


Watertown, South Dakota (pop. 22,655)

I needed rest and rewards.

Watertown had two book stores.  I needed that, even if I didn’t find a book of my desires.

But this heaven didn’t have what was on my list.
I was okay with that.  I had another “store” to visit.

The other store turned out to be...

...one of those indoor flea markets.

Any other time I would have wandered about among all the vendor’s booths they rent out but I wasn’t fully recovered from the previous day’s ordeal.  I was on a mission.  
Check for books and then find a quiet place in town.
The Book Zealot was in the corner of the building and had a huge inventory of somewhat organized books.  I found one but forgot about taking a picture of the mess of books.
I was running out of steam.  Hungry.

The quiet place turned out to be a large parking lot 
of some equally large out of business abandoned retail stores.  
Those were storage sheds for sale next to us.

Within walking distance was an Arby’s.  Glory be!  This one was not closed down, had a full staff and thus an open dining area with service counter.

I got my long awaited Reuben - corned beef on rye sandwich, my reward for persevering. 

This was my third attempt with Arby’s.  What does the Arby’s on down the road hold in store for me?  Not having high expectations I went back at dinner time for a French Dip sandwich.
Who knows when I will once again find a full functioning Arby’s.

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Yep, I am of victim of my own doing.  I don’t do well with bureaucratic silliness.  My lifestyle these past several years had led me to become a “hermit on the road”.  But I am happy.  That is important. 

Monday, September 19, 2022

Oh What a Day!!


Webster, South Dakota

I cannot say it went well, but it did in the end.  

The needed paper work to get a South Dakota driver’s license included: current driver’s license (to be surrendered),  birth certificate,  another form of ID like a passport,  that receipt for the overnight stay,  two pieces of mail with your current mailing address and lastly your social security card which I do not have with me.  That was the stickler.  That was what I was concerned about.  

When I changed the title on the RV to get South Dakota plates a photocopy of the social security card was accepted.  Getting a driver’s license is a whole different kettle of fish.  I showed my VA card and Medicare card both having my SS number on it.  Nope, won’t do.  I showed a photo of my SS card.  Nope, must be the card itself or...a W2 form or a 1099 form from your taxes with your SS number clearly printed on it.  I left the office dejected.  I went back out to the RV throughly...I can’t say disappointed for I expected something like this.  I resolved myself to my fate.  What to do?  

Out of desperation I went through nearly 7000 trashed emails in my Gmail account searching for an email with a attachment showing some tax forms.  I finally found attachments with 1099 forms from investment earnings.  I went back inside with my iPad.  I showed nice lady Michelle.  She said that would work.  I was able to email it to her where she was able to make a copy.

Now there was a whole lot more drama to this story than what I have written here.  Believe me.  Suffice to say the whole ordeal lasted over two hours.  Now to be fair I am to blame for my experience.  The South Dakota driver’s license process is easy if you have your act together.  It can be done in little as fifteen minutes, nothing like the misery inflicted upon you with the California DMV.  Plus you get your new license handed to you right then and there, not mailed to you weeks later like in California.

Also when it comes time to renew the license (five years) all I will need to do is fill out the application and bring two pieces of mail, even if junk mail.  AND I can just walk into any office without having to make an appointment.  I could have walked in at Sisseton.

When I returned to the RV I was drained, totally without emotion.  Beans was happy to see me.  I fixed lunch, fed her and we left Webster driving south in a daze for Watertown an hour away.  There I had the choice of places to stay: Walmart parking lot in the busy town or the Dakota Sioux Tribal Casino...

...in the middle of the South Dakota cornfields.  Tough choice.

It was very peaceful and quiet, just what I needed.  
It wasn’t until late that afternoon I started feeling better and could realize the fact its done. 
I got the license. I can move on now with my life and quit agonizing over this license thing.

Indian casinos most generally have very good food.  I would have treated myself to a breakfast but I cannot handle the stench inside from the cigarette smoke.

Beans liked it here.

Jumping Beans.  
I would have jumped for joy but I just didn’t have it in me.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Bugs and Grasshopper Guts


Webster, South Dakota (pop. 1728)

Okay, we were here in Webster four years ago.  Its marked on my map.  I have no memory of it.  I had left a snippy review on the free camping app that led us here.  I wasn’t happy at the time.

After a long day's drive I pull into a handicapped access parking lot the coordinates took me to. "I don't think so!" I found my way around the streets to the other side of the park at the aquatic center. “Nope, not here either.” A bit peeved and wishing I could throttle the person who submitted this free camp area I left east to Waubay and stayed there. 

I looked up on the blog for a post I may have made.  There was none, but there was for Waubay.  The photos I posted then were NOT where we were on the previous post here.  I have no idea where that is today.  I never saw it.  Anyway, after a stop in the grocery store in town we proceeded to the reported camp area in Webster.  Once I made the turn onto the street OH I REMEMBER THIS PLACE!!!  I wound up driving the same route as I did four years ago finding nothing.  Now on the free camping site app, four people had left reviews since I did.  They found it.  They included pictures.  Where the hell did they go?

We were led up this street to turn left at the yellow sign at the end which leads to the “handicap parking and aquatic center” I mentioned in my scathing review.  I came back around and turned this way past the row of long term people on the right that I had referred to as “squatters”.  

And then I saw it!  Just a bit further down and across from squatters row.  The GPS coordinates are still wrong on the camping app so I cannot blame myself too much for having missed it twice.

We’ve been slaughtering grasshoppers on the roadway for weeks now.  This place had water nearby so I decided to clean up the outside of our home some.  Get my mind off of tomorrow.

The trick is using BOUNCE dryer sheets.  Get one wet, wipe over the bug guts, let it set a half a minute and then go over it again with a bit of elbow grease for the stuck-on-real-good-parts and rinse off with a wet rag.

Tomorrow is the driver’s license ordeal.  I am in high anxiety mode now.