Saturday, August 18, 2012


Just ‘cause we full time in a travel trailer DOESN’T mean we can’t go on a real vacation. I needed to get to Sioux Falls, SD for a new driver’s license in my new married name so I can actually prove who I am. So we headed north out of Branson on Monday morning. It only took us two hours to get it all together enough to move. I had to unlock the trailer & go back in to secure forgotten things TWICE before we finally got going. And I didn’t grab TK before starting to pack, so she quickly hid under the bed instead of going into her crate in the truck for the trip to KC. This is the first time we’ve hitched up the Casita to our new-to-us Toyota Tundra pickup too. The truck did great pulling our 4,000 lbs. Unfortunately we had a good head wind getting to Kansas City that first day, so mpg wasn’t as good as we’d hoped for.

We had a great visit with Jeff’s daughter, 4-yr old grandson, & SIL, as well as a long-time friend whose driveway we parked in for the night. We even managed to reactivate our DirecTV satellite dish & get it working while sitting on top of the Casita in Diana’s driveway. Oh wow, I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed that DVR, but I had to re-learn using the remote control! LOL  Unfortunately, Jeff discovered exposed bands in the Casita's 4-year-old tires that we were planning to replace with 15” ones in October. They were both just too worn to trust on our trip, so we got new 14” tires at NTW Tuesday morning before heading off to Sioux Falls. Thankfully the store got us in & out quickly. It’s comforting tho to know our home has good shoes on it for this trip tho. And TK got put in her crate for the long day’s ride instead of suffering thru earthquakes while riding in the trailer.

Although Jeff still needs a nearly daily driving fix, the long trip from Kansas City to Sioux Falls in one day was hard on him. Guess he’s out of shape! But we got to Sioux Falls in time to pick up our mail from Your Best Address, our mail forwarding & residency address. Then I FINALLY got my new South Dakota driver’s license — ugly photo, but correct name! The application asked if I was a veteran (yes) & noticed the license has a gold star in the upper corner. How kewl is that?

While taking Kira for a walk/potty break at a fuel stop, I noticed how long she stops to smell various areas. We always have smelling excursions! Since I’ve always heard animals get lots of “information” from urine spots, I wondered if she smelled something like this?

A 7-yr old female red miniature poodle came by here Aug 1st at 2:37pm. She had kibble for breakfast with a little fresh scrambled eggs mixed in. She lives with a 5-yr old, overweight black Lab who doesn’t like her, but her human thinks she can do no wrong.

Then we could finally decompress & relax, so we went east of town to Brandon, SD to the Big Sioux Recreation Area. It was VERY peaceful, quiet, & COOL. Although the fee for electric only was $18, the SD State Park System also charges a daily pass fee of an additional $6 for the two of us. It was still SOOO worth the downtime after the heat & hassle to get to that point. AND we even got a space away from the trees to hook up the DirecTV satellite too!

Tuesday we packed up quickly (I’m getting faster at it by now), including TK in her crate, & headed east to Wisconsin. When Jeff drove for Roehl Transport out of Marshfield, WI years ago, he’d bring home baby Swiss & REAL brats from Wisconsin. YES, there’s a difference! We were just close enough to make a run for the border. Jeff even let me drive the pickup too — pulling the Casita even!! I barely get to drive the new truck anytime, & don’t remember the last time I pulled the trailer. It was uneventful except for realizing we were getting low on gas & pulling off the interstate into a tiny little local gas station where the owner actually came outside & PUMPED the gas for us. Boy, our Casita follows so well you could about forget she’s there. He had to remind me of the extra stopping time that might be needed.

I used my new Droid RAZR smart phone to locate a local cheese shop in La Crosse WI where we were headed. I’d never been anywhere in MN before & was totally unprepared for the MOUNTAINS along the Mississippi River separating MN & WI. OMG, I couldn’t grab my camera fast enough! It was a fantastic sight dropping off the plains into that river valley.

While we got numerous WI cheeses from the Le Coulee Cheese Castle in West Salem just east from La Crosse, they didn’t have brats so they sent us to a local grocery store. Found our brats & a few other things there & learned about a small local campground at the Veteran’s Park just down the road. We had thought we’d just head south to somewhere in MN, but checked out the campground anyway. It turned out to be around a hill, behind the park, next to a small river — popular but clean & quiet. We even parked on grass, backed up to the river! Both Kira & Boots got to graze on fresh greens.

We liked the park so well that we paid for two nights so we’d actually have a DOWN DAY on Thursday, which happened to be Kira’s birthday too. She turned 5 in Wisconsin.

We went into La Cross on Thursday & found an awesome view from Grandad’s Overlook, east of town on top of one of the huge surrounding bluffs.

While looking at the view of the town, this hawk or eagle or something big flew by.







The weather was COOL & comfortable, with just a hint of Fall in the air. Friday morning was in fact in the low 50s & required long pants! Wow, I’d forgotten how much I love Fall. We haven’t eaten out any during this trip cause Jeff still can’t have solid food with his new denture. But I ate all my cheese curds & put a big dent in the brats we got.

Friday morning we headed south on the WI side of the Mississippi toward Iowa. . .reluctantly since this vacation has not been too restful yet & we probably won’t bring these cool temps back to Branson with us.

Next stop — a Corps of Engineer lake in southern Iowa.


  1. The Mississippi is always something to behold and LaCrosse is a great place to see it. That bird could have been a hawk but also may have been a bald eagle, there are many of them that call that area home. We are South Dakotans by way of Iowa, have fun in Iowa, are you headed to Red Rock? There are quite a few great COE parks in Iowa.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I actually 'felt' it was an eagle - either a young Bald eagle without the white head yet or a golden eagle.

  2. So GLAD you two are getting a vacation! Enjoyed the pictures and still hope to see you next month.

    What brand of tires did you get? I am ordering some soon.

    1. We sort of had to take what tires they had on hand at NTB. These are their 'house brand', called Commodore. They'll do for a few years, but we'd planned on getting Kumho. No one has them in stock tho so they'd have to be ordered first.


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