‘Run where they ain’t’

Three-and-a-half days of sightseeing gave way to a Sunday of rest and prepping to get back on the road in the morning. Looking back at where all we’ve been since landing on this idyllic prairie campsite five days ago — 1880 Town, Swett, Minuteman, Wall Drug, The Badlands — brings assurance that we’re doing exactly what we set out to do.

Tomorrow’s drive will cover about the same distance as the trip here from Mitchell. It’ll take us into some different terrain, which will pose a wee challenge at day’s end.

It may be obvious to some of you, especially the motorcycle-savvy, that for the last ten days we’ve been waiting out Sturgis. The Black Hills (and its many campgrounds) are dominated by visiting bikers during the massive event, offering few options for an extended stay within 100 miles of Sturgis until the rally ends. And that, officially and at last, is today.

Don’t get me wrong — we have nothing against the Sturgis crowd. I’ve attended the rally myself, having logged a half-million miles on various motorcycles. Our avoiding the Black Hills ’til tomorrow is purely a practical matter.

We practice this sort of “marching in place” for a variety of reasons, notably weather, seasons, events and holiday weekends. Soon we’ll be taking roads less traveled and camping in places less popular while waiting out the annual Labor Day crush.

Like a good running back, we try to “run where they ain’t.”

Last week I got to wondering about how far we’ve pushed the compass in each direction. I pulled out the map and checked, surprised to learn that (at that point) Lubbock, Texas was our western extreme.

(Badlands National Park, photograph by Deb)

Since then, two of those high-water marks have changed. Here’s where they are today.

  • East: Dogwood Crossing Travel Center in Carroll, Ohio, a few miles from Second Chance Ranch.
  • South: The intersection of Loop 1604 and State Highway 16 in San Antonio, Texas.
  • West: South Dakota Highway 240, between Badlands National Park and Wall (during yesterday’s road trip).
  • North: Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota (on Friday).

Our western and northern extremes will change tomorrow — the latter while we’re on the move and the former when we land at the campground. And it’s likely that we’ll push both marks even farther on day trips next week.

How we set up our campsite depends on many things — the weather and how long we’re staying, for example. When we’re stopped only for one night we might not even pull out our camp chairs or deploy all three slides. Our month-long stay in Arkansas practically required a building permit.

We’ve kept it simple here. The constant prairie wind has meant that our canopy, awnings and flag remained stowed. The parking spot is hard-packed dirt and gravel, so we didn’t put down jack pads. Even the doormat stayed packed — it’s been dry and there’s virtually no track-in debris on the site.

Two camp chairs. That’s it. For five days we’ve moved them around our “yard,” which is huge here, to follow the shade or get a better view of the sunset.

In every possible way, this has been an extraordinarily good stay — the setting, the site, the weather, the sunsets, the staff and the service have all been great. We couldn’t’ve asked for better.

Tomorrow we move on.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

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