OK, I’m playing catch-up here again. Just been a busy summer. As we headed east from SE Colorado in early June, the elevation got lower & lower. People are often surprised how much of a climb going west thru western Kansas is so it was nice going down hill with a tailwind for a change. We spent the first night in Walmart’s parking lot in Lamar CO. John had never stayed at a Walmart before, choosing truck stops instead. It wasn’t bad at all. There were 5 or 6 other RVs near us by morning. And it was handy to rent a movie from Redbox right in the store & return it after watching. Of course the terrain flattened out severely after getting east of I-25 in Colorado, so the Kansas countryside just rolled by quickly.
We parked for free at Ford County State Fishing Lake, northeast of Dodge City KS for four nights. We had no trees to the west but we were parked on the slope above the cottonwood tree-lined lake with a nice big pine tree just outside the door. We rode John’s motorcycle into Dodge City one windy day to investigate the town & get a few things from Walmart. Boot Hill is inside a building & isn’t free, so we skipped that but checked out the visitor center in town. The weekend got a little crowded at the Lake but thankfully no one was too close to our location. A fierce storm blew thru Saturday night but didn’t produce much lightening & thunder nor rain too hard for too long.
Sunday morning, we continued our easterly journey to get to Chase County State Fishing Lake, west of Emporia KS. I’d camped there several times before & it’s one of my favorite spots. Unfortunately, it was a FREE FISHING weekend & the place was packed & overflowing with pickups & people fishing along the shore line. There was no way to get into the area I’d hoped to park so we ended up at the end of the road in a heavily treed loop big enough for both our rigs plus a few others. We weren’t along the main lake tho, just a small area at the end. We have a family of Canadian Geese with five babies nearby tho. And our dogs are mesmerized by the frolicking squirrels in the trees overhead.
We took a bike ride thru Cottonwood Falls to actually see the falls & then the oldest still-functioning courthouse in Kansas, then into Emporia to see the town where we stopped to eat. Then we visited the Tallgrass Prairie National Park just north of Strong City. It was a totally self-sufficient farm in the late 1800s, with most buildings constructed with large local limestone blocks, even a 3-hole stone outhouse. The house was functional & large but very efficient & beautiful. The barn was HUGE, with three stories. And yes, I enjoyed the barn smells, even sitting on one of the saddles.
We walked the dogs over to the swimming beach at the campground one seriously hot afternoon & sat on the sandy bottom in the warm (but cool) water to cool off (much like we did in Havasu City). There were trees all around & over our campsite so no satellite TV for a change. We rode his motorcycle south to view the wild horses in the sanctuary one day too.
After five nights in Kansas, we headed east again – to MO, my hometown, & my father. We stayed at a small campground south of town with full hookups. That AC was much needed as we visited during the hottest week of the year so far. We visited with my dad every day, visited several old friends of mine, & made a trip to my storage unit in Branson then visited with my girlfriend Jenni in Springfield. We took a long motorcycle ride around the countryside to try out the new better-fitting helmet I got. Wow, I was really tuckered out after that week. We left on Father’s Day after having lunch with my dad, heading north to South Dakota.
We parked in Harrah’s Casino parking lot Sunday night to visit & eat with more old friends of mine, Diana & Ward. That casino’s buffet was pretty expensive & they didn’t give any playing money to first-time members. Monday tho we drove up I-29 to south of Sioux City IA to a small casino (Winna Vegas) where John won $25 cash in a drawing then hit several good hands in the slots. For $15, we plugged in for AC at their little RV park.
Tuesday we ended up in Madison SD to renew both our driver’s licenses – but the DRV office is only open once a week & although it was the day we arrived, they close by 2:30 & we were too late. We did our mandatory one-night stay to qualify for SD residency at Lake Herman State Park west of Madison tho. Wednesday, we continued west to Mitchell SD where I renewed my driver’s license & John got his first one. Then we toured the Corn Palace before continuing west on I-90.
We drove thru the Badlands National Park & were going to camp on the west side at a free boondocking area BUT. . .the 11-mile rough, dirt road getting there was too much for John’s rig & the campground was too crowded for both our rigs even if he’d have made the journey. We scrambled around as night was quickly approaching looking for a place to park after a very long day’s journey & ended up at RV Express in Wasta SD (20 miles west of Wall on I-90) for $5/night with electricity. We liked the cost so much, we stayed for 10 days. We made several 35 mile trips into Rapid City & one trip back to Wall Drug. Fun place to investigate once but basically just for tourists.
We became acquainted with our neighbors at the park in Wasta & ended up moving to the same campground (Sacora Station Campground) where they moved in Piedmont SD (just west of Rapid City) for a month. Our South Dakota adventure continued from there.