I feel a bit of a love story coming on. Today, you see, is our anniversary. The anniversary of when I met this beautiful man 21 years ago today on an online dating site. I tried online dating because with my job being remote and with small children at home I wasn’t sure how I would find a partner. I have lived with my partner for 21 years! That is more than 1/3 of my life. That is longer than I lived with my nuclear family. Definitely longer than the middle years, with my first marriage, babies, starting my career, and all that… If our relationship was a child… he’d be old enough to drink today! Ugh I hope he’s ready, I hope I’m ready. And this week we are on the road in the transition into yet another phase of my life; RV Inspection.
Texas or Bust
We are in the middle of our journey South. We left Polson on October 1. First stop was for two nights in Drummond, Montana (half way between Missoula and Butte) for the fishing. Then on to Butte for 2 nights to check in on Mike’s son, Dan again.
From Butte, we stopped in Columbia, same campground as on our way to Polson.. A free beautiful spot, and the trees were gorgeous. The fishing wasn’t great again, and we were getting itchy feet to get out of Montana, so we changed our plans, stayed one night there, then one night in Billings, in the Cabela’s parking lot so we could stock up with a trip to Costco.
Next we hit the road for North Dakota because it was one state the RV hasn’t been before… Our scratch off map had a itch to scratch!
On the road through North Dakota
Because this was our goal, (to spend a night in ND) and because Mike is getting worried about winter showing up, we only poked in about 30 miles to Bowman, stayed one night and then headed south. True North Dakotans are a bit disappointed that our impression of North Dakota is solely dependent on Bowman (and have told us so this week).
Spearfish, South Dakota
The next week we spent in Spearfish, SD. We were at a very nice RV park, played pickleball a couple of times with a very active group in town, and took a beautiful bike ride on the rails-to-trails Mickelson Trail through the Black Hills. The trail runs 109 miles from Deadwood to Edgemont, but we only wanted to ride about 20 miles (10 miles each direction) so I did a little research to find “the BEST 10 miles”. I think I was successful, although Mike was baffled while we drove 40 miles on the road parallel to the trail we were going to ride. The section I chose had 3 tunnels on it and a bunch of trestle bridges. I would definitely recommend this trail, and perhaps I’ll get back to do it end to end sometime.
And then the snow showed up!
The day after the bike ride a snow storm came in and we were homebound the rest of the week! We couldn’t have been on the road even if we wanted to. Luckily we had breathing room and could extend our stay a couple of days to assure dry roads and snow removal. Yep, need to keep on the road moving South.
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Our next stop was the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. This hadn’t been a destination on our radar, but just happened to be on the road. We stopped two nights at a free boondocking spot that was really great, overlooking badlands! We visiting the park one direction on the first evening and drove the length of it the other direction the next day. Very interesting geography and saw a lot of animals too.
The stay at the Badlands was long enough to let us make a stop at the iconic Wall Drugstore. The city of Wall, South Dakota is home to 800 year-round residents and, thanks to Wall Drug, one of the most popular attractions in the state, drawing in more than 2 million visitors each year. We had to stop at Wall Drug and see what the excitement is all about. It is a curiosity to be sure, but sadly.. we are still wondering. The story of it’s beginnings is amazing though! Read that here. I’m glad we stopped.
Mike chatting up an old timer at Wall Drug
On the road in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and finally Texas
Tonight will be our second night in the Badlands Boondocking area. Tomorrow we head on out and will be looking forward to the next 6 nights at Harvest Host locations… (If you didn’t catch my video on what is Harvest Hosts, find that here.) We will be staying at a Buffalo Ranch in South Dakota, three small farms in Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma, and a winery in Oklahoma (Two nights in Oklahoma City so we can go to the OK City Bombing museum).
Then next Saturday we arrive in our next destination, Athens, Texas, where the RV Inspector School is. Although Saturday night we will be at another Harvest Host (a winery) in Athens, Sunday we check into out next long term spot at the Texan RV Park.
And on the road to that better life I mentioned.
We are heading to Athens because I have decided to become an RV Inspector. This post is already long enough, so I’ll fill you in on those details next week, but it is something we have been considering for quite a while. Now the stars have aligned, and I’m going to do it, become certified! Mike has decided he can play a better role by supporting me. It’s not really a better life, because life is pretty darn good as it is, but it will be certainly different.
When I think about being nearly 60 and just starting something new, especially when I see the 20 year blocks that have been my “phases” of life”. I feel old. Maybe too old to be crawling on roofs and learning something so physical. 20 years from now I’ll be 80. Maybe then I’ll be done with this physical job…. Will I even make it that long? (Are you waiting for the blog next year that says I’m completely shifting gears again 😜 ever searching!)
So although Mike is not going to be going to school with me, and becoming certified as I am, he is fully onboard. He told me that HE would climb the ladders and check the roof. Of course I have to be able to do that as well, but it gives me great comfort to know that he has my back on that. THAT is love! He is my true partner in every since of the word. When I reflect upon the road we’ve travelled and the highlights as well as the potholes. I know that they are all a part of the journey, and I wouldn’t trade it for the perfect partner…. because well. He’s pretty darn close.