Life on the road

The highways are full of recreational vehicles. It is difficult to get reservations at campgrounds. I don’t know the specifics, but it seems like sales of new RVs must be high. As we have been traveling, we’ve noticed that there is a lot of inventory on sales lots, but there are also a lot of units out on the roads. We’ve seen quite a few very large trailers, motorhomes and the like. Although we have done quite a bit of traveling and have owned our current trailer for nine years and used it quite a bit, we haven’t ever been really immersed in RV culture. We’ve used our camper a lot for visits to family where we’ve parked it in yards and used it like a mobile guest room. We have stayed in campgrounds and RV resorts a bit, but it hasn’t been our primary use of our camper. Part of this trip, however, will be a series of stays in commercial campgrounds. We made our reservations in advance and have altered our travel plans slightly around where we found available space.

We are always interested in people and have found that people watching is part of the adventure of travel. We often stop in rest areas to eat our lunch and as we do we observe others who are traveling with trailers or motor homes. We make our lunch in the camper and then eat outdoors unless the weather prevents it. Most rest areas have covered picnic tables that make it easy to enjoy a bit of outdoor space. We also walk around wherever we are parked. After riding in the pickup for a long distance we like to stretch our legs. There are campers, however, who pull into a rest area and barely emerge from their vehicles. Sometimes we will have a conversation with someone in a neighboring parking spot without even seeing them as they talk to us through a window or door.

Last night as we walked around the campground where we are parked we noticed a very large motorhome with four or five people dressed in the simple dress of those who live in religious community. I wondered if they might be Hutterite or Amish or Mennonite. The big motorhome doesn’t seem to fit with my stereotypical notion of Amish traditionalists who don’t embrace modern technologies. It would be interesting to know their story.

I had a short conversation with a gentleman who is staying in the camper parked next to ours. He began by asking where we were from. I think he had seen the license plates on the pickup, but I said we have come from Western Washington, near the Canadian border and almost to the coast. He didn’t seem too interested in where we had come from, so I didn’t give him many details. He asked what we think about South Dakota. Now that is a complex question for me. He might have unleashed a political tirade or commentary on the governor or a lot of other things I think about South Dakota. Instead, I simply said, “We love it here. We lived here in Rapid City for 25 years.” When he asked where we were headed, he seemed a bit surprised that we were taking such a long journey.

I suspect that we will have plenty more conversations in campgrounds as we travel. As we get farther and farther from home our license plates will seem more and more exotic, I guess.

This is the largest trip we have taken with a camper, but we have pulled our camper quite a bit. When we were working it wasn’t unusual for us to pull the camper a couple of thousand miles on a vacation trip. I guess I’ve been thinking that with all of the campers that we see on the road there must be a lot of people who are getting a long way from home. It could be, however, that more people are taking shorter trips.

The campground where we are staying is not full. There are a lot of campers in the pull through sites, but there are plenty of back-in sites as well. It probably was much more full over the holiday weekend and has emptied out on the eve of the first day back at work for many folks. I expect that we will mostly encounter full campgrounds on our trip.

The way we have planned this trip, our Rapid City visits are reserved for the return. We are only staying here one night while traveling this direction. We’ll take time to visit folks on our way back. We had time to visit with two families yesterday, and are putting off our visits with others until our return. Still, it feels a bit like a homecoming to be here in the hills. Even last night’s rain showers felt normal to us. We noticed a few new paint jobs on houses and a bit of new construction. The city continues to change and having been away for much of the previous year means that we notice the changes.

Driving into the city and through downtown yesterday brought back memories of other visits to Rapid City. During the time we lived in North Dakota we came to Rapid City fairly often. It was a regional shopping and medical center. We also brought youth groups to Placerville Camp. Living more on the open prairie in North Dakota, I really was attracted to the cool tree covered hills and always enjoyed our visits. Then, years later, an opportunity came to live in Rapid City. I remember especially the trip when we came to town with our children to shop for a house. We arrived on the July 4 weekend and stayed in a campground. That particular campground is not longer a campground as that area has been developed into a shopping area. But the feeling of pulling into town with a camper reminded me of our arrival on that trip. Other places we will visit on this trip won’t feel so much like coming home.

We’ve always enjoyed traveling and we are up for adventures. This one seems like it will be a good time to learn more about our country, more about other people, and more about ourselves.

The journey continues.

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