The Real and Imagined of Full-Time Rving

As my husband and I embarked on our new life of full-time RVing we noticed a lot of the same assumptions are made about it.   I’m writing today to target the most often asked questions we heard and seperate what people imagine about it and what the reality is.

The image: You can’t cook in the RV like you normally would or we get asked how do we cook.

The Reality:  RV’s have a gas stove that run off of the propane tanks.   Even the smalles Class B vans and slide-on truck campers have a stove.  The vast majority also have an oven running off the same propane tanks.  That being said, you can cook the same things in your RV as you would in any kitchen.  I have not had to change any of my cooking habits since being on the road.   Most RV ovens are large enough for a 9×13 pan.  I can continue to make whatever I want and no one should be deterred because it’s a smaller area.   There is some adjustment for that but you figure out ways to make it all work.   Most models also have a microwave as well.   Some are installing a microwave/convection oven in lieu of the gas oven.   The pros to this is you gain an extra storage cabinet or draws where the oven would have been and we all know a lot of things just come out better in a convection oven.   The take-away is that the microwave/convection ovens are smaller than the gas ovens, so the size of pans you use might be more limited.

The image:  You are travelling everyday to see new sights and not a care in the world.

The Reality:  Even though we do travel, it’s not daily.   Being a full-time RVer does not mean we never have bills and are free from responsibility.   Many of us take on workcamping jobs which keep us working at a campground for their season, anywhere from 4-6 months.   This gives us a place to stay and earn an income to be able to pay any bills and afford to travel.  It also allows us plenty of time to check out the area and enjoy it on our days off.   Some are fortunate enough to be able to run their own businesses or be hired as a subcontractor while on the road.  Amazon, gate guarding and sugar beet harvest in the fall are other popular choices.  No matter how we go about it, it gives us the ability to see and do more but we do have to shut off “vacation mode”.

The image:  We’re sitting around a campfire every night.  

The Reality:  As full-time RVers, we don’t consider ourselves as camping.  Yes, while we live in a camper (RV), to us it’s our home and we’re just living and working no differently than those living in a house or apartment.  We typically are not sitting by the fire.  You will have use some of your water (if no stream nearby) or shovel dirt on it to save your water.  The smell of the fire gets everywhere.  It will find it’s way inside the RV and we don’t want our homes to smell like that.  It gets into your clothes and your hair and if you go straight to bed, you will transfer it to your bedding.   If you are staying at a campground that has showers or full-hookups and a laundry, not being able to shower or wash bedding may not be the issue.  If you are boondocking and need to make your water last as long as possible, then we tend to forego the campfires because we don’t have the opportunity to use water for extra showering or washing our bedding.   Also, when it comes to water usage, it goes into the tanks, so we’re thinking about having to go dump.  The campfires are enjoyed just once in a while, if they are.

The image:  Owning an RV is expensive and there is a lot of maintenance.

The Reality:  Owning a home or paying rent costs more than living in an RV.   Depending on whether you went with new or used when you purchased your RV and what kind of RV you chose, this cost can vary greatly.  However, with an RV your time and money spent on maintenance is reduced.  With an RV lifestyle you no longer have to spend time mowing your lawn and tending a garden.  You are not spending money on the maintenance and upkeep of mowers and/or tractors and yard tools.  You no longer have the higher water bill in the summer, in fact, you don’t have a water bill at all.  You do have to spend a small fraction of this for certain cleaners and treatments to maintain the RV roof.  You should inspect your RV roof every 6 months. Also on some lubricants to keep things in good running order (I have a previous post on this blog regarding those).  A trip to a car wash to clean the outside of the RV and to give it a good waxing as needed helps to ensure it looks good in years to come.  A thorough cleaning on the inside of the RV still takes far less time than it does cleaning a home.

The image:  Come visit me, come visit me.

The Reality:  This ties in with the previous point.  Some of us choose where we are going and then find work or some go where the work is.   Because we still have to earn a living like everyone else, we can’t just hook up and leave whenever we want.  We’ve made obligations to work.  We love to visit and appreciate the invitation, but if we visit, we are likely to see if we can find work in that area or we’ll continue to work somewhere so we can afford to trek out and spend time with you.

These are the common misconceptions we’ve encountered.  Feel free to comment on what you run into when talking to people about the RV life.

Flaming Gorge, WY and UT

Flaming Gorge is a reservoir that starts in the southwestern corner of Wyoming with the Green River at its northern tip spilling into the reservoir.  The gorge ends just over the Utah border with the Uinta Mountains in Utah running along the southern part inside the Ashley National Forest.  

There is a scenic drive that takes you from Rock Springs, Wyoming, on US 191, down around the southern part of the gorge and loops back up into Green River, Wyoming again. 

It’s a great place for boats with several boat launch areas along the reservoir.  Motorized boats are allowed.  There are also many areas to camp, both campgrounds and dispersed camping.

It got its name from John Wesley Powell who was exploring the area in spring of 1869.  When he and his men beheld the sight of the sun reflecting off of the red rock cliffs, he aptly gave it this name.

Antelope Flat, Flaming Gorge

The eastern side of it in Wyoming is mostly scenic and you have to drive several miles on gravel roads to reach the water and dispersed camping sites.  You want to make sure you go in with plenty of water and empty gray and black tanks as there isn’t any dump stations or potable water opportunities.  There is one campground, Firehole Campground.   This is the only campground on the eastern side in Wyoming that has a dump station and potable water.   There are no hook-ups.  It’s great for tents, slide-on truck campers, class B vans and very small campers under 20 ft. in length.   Our camper is 24 ft. and we found one we were able to squeeze into, however, it left no room to park our truck.   Each site accommodates 2 campers, so you want to be the kind that doesn’t mind neighbors.  The camp host said they rarely ever see anyone doubled up. There is also a picnic table and fire ring at the sites.  There is a place to launch your boat here.   The camp has bathrooms with flush toilets and showers.  It’s $20.00 per night and check with the camp host if there are any available discounts.  It’s first come, first serve campground.

There are much more accommodations in Utah.   The dispersed camping is always an option.  There is a US Forestry Service campground at Antelope Flat.  It is a quiet campground and doesn’t get full.  It’s for the most part a first come, first serve, however, they will take reservations.   You may camp in a reserved site providing you leave the day before the reservation date.  It’s $18.00/night and ask about discounts as they do accept certain ones. There aren’t any hook-ups.  There is a restroom with flush toilets, no showers.  There is a dump station with potable water available.  Whether you are a guest or not, it costs $6.00 to dump.  Each site has a fire ring and picnic tables.  Some have a cover over the tables and some do not.   There is a tent area at each site as well.   You can get a view of the water from just about anywhere in the campground.  The campground is nearby a boat launch and you can access the water for a swim here or meander through the sagebrush to reach a spot on the shore.  There is a parking lot just above the boat launch that has restroom facilities as well. 

From my window in my camper I’ve been able to watch the boats cruise by.  People were fishing and water skiing.   It would seem the temperatures were hottest around mid-afternoon.   After supper, we would go to the boat launch for an evening swim.   This cooled us off and we stayed refreshed the remainder of the night.  The temperatures drop down enough that with open windows, the camper cooled off perfectly for sleeping.   There is usually a nice breeze.

About 4 ½ miles from the Antelope Flat campground is a gas station/convenience store in Dutch John.  I noticed there is another RV park there.   We didn’t stay there, so I cannot report, but it looked to be a decent park if you prefer this.  If you go on-line, you will see there are many places to camp in the area that are easily accessible from the highway.

The closest store for groceries would be in Vernal, UT, which is about 40 miles from where we were at Antelope Flat.

It was quiet and the campground doesn’t get too busy, so if it’s solitude you like, this is a great option.

Surviving Without Internet

The internet is such a fundamental part of our lives. What started out as a source for information has our lives revolve around it. It’s how we conduct business, both personal and professional. For the vast majority of us, it’s also our source of entertainment.

I recently had a work camping job that was in the mountains at a lodge. The WiFi could only be accessed at the lodge and it was spotty when it worked. Since starting this blog is all new to me, it was frustrating that I could not readily work on it when I felt like it. That was my first realization that it’s taken for granted that this tool is available in most places.

As someone that is full-time RVing, you go into this lifestyle knowing there will be places where you won’t have internet. I put together some ways to combat the dependency our society has on it. It is also one of the reasons why we enjoy this life as you learn to connect in other ways. I’ve rediscovered many things I have not done in a long, long time.

Playing cards. I was never much of a card player, except for Solitaire on occasion. I like to play Rummy and my husband I played that and it was fun!      

Crosswords, Sudoku, etc. Head to the magazine rack and pick up some puzzle books. It’ll pass the time and keep your brain functioning.

Recall your hobbies. Was there something you used to absolutely love to do that you realized you haven’t bothered with in a while? Maybe it’s time to reclaim that. I know as an RVer, space and weight is everything. If it’s something that you know you can have room for in the RV, why not? What about something you always wanted to try and didn’t? No time like the present.

Try something new. Anything that you haven’t tried before, but always wanted to. Put yourself out there. Write the book. Try to sell that artwork.

If you’re traveling, like myself, talk to some locals or find out about the hidden gems of the area instead of the tourist traps. Take a drive and see where you end up.

Games. Whether it be the board games or yard games. It’s a good way to spend time with friends and family and can generate some laughs.

The art of conversation. With social media, texting and such, we’ve forgotten how to carry on good conversation that’s engaging. We want to be in touch with everyone, yet we are so disconnected from those around us. There’s a lot of people out there that don’t know how to genuinely take an interest in what’s important to someone else. We know people, but do we get to know them? Doing so could take you on a whole new path you wouldn’t have imagined on your own.

What I Learned From My First Work Camping Job

https://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=as_li_qf_sp_sr_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=thervemporium-20&keywords=rv accessories&index=aps&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=xm2&linkId=a5eddf7d0b59c4aca0819211f0820b1c

Part of the full-timing RV life style is finding work along the way.   We still need some source of income while on the road.  Many campgrounds will hire RVers to work.   It allows us the opportunity to earn an income while enjoying the benefits of the campgrounds as well as seeing the new locations we set out for.  Some go where the work is and some decide where they want to be and then find work.

After one month of RV living, I set out to find work for 3 -4 months to pad my account so I get spend the winter months in Arizona.  I had put my resume and applications into 3 different states for various work camping positions and the place that hired me was a lodge I was already familiar with because it was 50 miles from where I lived before starting this new life.  My husband and I had sometimes thought it would be neat to spend a summer on the mountain and now we get to do this.

Since I’ve patronized this lodge before, I knew there wasn’t any cell service there.  Remember, we are on a mountain. I also was aware of the spot where I get a signal 12 miles away.  I rarely use my phone and no one calls me anyway, so that part doesn’t bother me.

The lodge has wi-fi, however.  I went into this figuring if there’s wi-fi then I can still tap into my favorite things that keep me entertained as well as try to keep this blog going.   What I wasn’t told until I got there is that the wi-fi isn’t great but then they limit employees to 20 minutes per day.   Did your jaw just drop?  This is why I haven’t been posting.  I cannot work on this or play on-line when I want to and if I’m only allowed 20 minutes then I can check email at best.   We make a weekly 30 mile drive to the nearest town to use the wi-fi in the public library.

Employees have an area where they can do laundry and the detergent is supplied or you have the option to use your own.   It’s in the basement of the lodge and in the spring the basement floods.  There is a sump pump.  The sump pump is where the laundry is and to keep it plugged in and operating means unplugging one of the washers.  So there are 2 washers for the employees and now it’s reduced to one.   There are also 2 dryers but one of them has been out of service for months and it doesn’t look like it will be repaired or replaced anytime soon.  Not to mention the machines don’t appear to be kept clean and there’s no table for folding.   Luckily, we’ve devised a washing system out of 5 gallon buckets and they let us have a clothesline at our site.  We wash our clothes this way and it allows us to stretch the need to go to town for the laundry mat to every other week. 

I didn’t ask anything upon being offered the position here because I had been here before.   I made my own assumptions based on what I saw and experienced as a customer.   The cell phone thing is not a big deal and my husband and I have ordered radios to keep in touch on the premises.  But the wi-fi thing is something we now know is a must have.   It’s entertainment as well as business.  Such a fundamental piece in all lives in this day and age is something we are not willing to compromise on unless we decide to boondock somewhere.  I’m going to want to see the laundry facility and if sub-par, is there a laundry mat nearby?

In the future, I’m going to ask about the wi-fi and the laundry.  They’re really the only set-back I’ve had so far.   This experience has taught me what I’m willing to live with or without and what expectations I will have going forward.

 

Big Horn Mountains

When mentioning Wyoming as a place to visit, most think of Yellowstone National Park or the Grand Tetons.  If you like the outdoors, one place worth mentioning is the Big Horn Mountains located in the northeastern part of the state.   From the City of Sheridan, WY, you can get up top by taking I-90 West to the exit for Highway 14, Ranchester, WY.  It will take you to the town of Dayton then the highway continues up the mountain.  Another beautiful drive is Highway 16 from the town of Buffalo, WY.

The Big Horn Mountains have much to offer the outdoor enthusiast.  With hiking, fishing, camping and many trails for riding ATV’s and dirtbikes, there is something to enjoy by all.

There are a multitude of places to enjoy camping on the Big Horns.   Because it is U.S. National Forest land, you can primitive or boondock camp anywhere on the mountain for free.  The requirement is that you are at least 1/4 mile from the highway and you can stay in the same spot for 14 days.   After 14 days you must move at least 5 miles.   If your prefer campgrounds there are many U.S. Forestry Service campgrounds.  But keep in mind that these may not have any hook-ups or showers, but they do have vault toilets.  Please be respectful and follow the “leave no trace” rule.

If roughing it isn’t your thing, there are lodges located on the mountain.  If you are travelling on Highway 14 from Dayton, WY,  you will first come to Arrowhead Lodge just a little ways after passing Sibley Lake.  Taking HIghway 14A will bring you to Bear Lodge.  If you were to stay on Highway 14, you will come to Elk View Lodge.   These lodges have their own bar and restaurant on site.   In the winter months, Bear Lodge offers snowmobile rentals, while Elk View Lodge offers ATV rentals during the summer.

If you visit the Big Horn Mountains duri Cng late June – early July you will be able to view the abundant blooms of the wild flowers.   The Wyoming state flower, the Indian Paintbrush, is among these wild flowers along with vast amounts of lupines.

Continuing past Elk View Lodge down Highway 14 will take you to Shell Falls.  While there you can enjoy a few species of hummingbirds that frequent this spot.   There is a walking path with plaques that describe points of interest along the way.   From there the scenic drive continues to the town of Greybull from where you could continue to the town of Cody and onto Yellowstone National Park about 50 miles from Cody.

Backtracking to Highway 14A is a piece of history called Medicine Wheel.  This is a Native American artifact that to this day we do not know who built it.   It rests on Crow Indian homeland, however, the Crow Indians state it was already there when they came to the area.  It is one of 4 or 5 astronomical wheels located within the Rocky Mountain Region that are publically known to exist.

Continuing down 14A into the town of Lovell is another place to see.  From Highway 14, take Rt. 37 and it will take you into the Big Horn National Recreation Area.  While there, you can go to Horseshoe Bend and in the summer months they offer a boat tour on the Big Horn River that meanders through the Big Horn Canyon.   If you continue to drive down 37, you will come to Devil’s Canyon Overlook.   This offers a spectacular view of the Big Horn Canyon and the Big Horn River far below the sheer cliff walls.  Big Horn sheep can be spotted here on occasion.   Continue further up the road and you will be in the range where wild horses roam freely.   There are pull-offs that offer information about these magnificent creatures.  

If you reach Barry’s Landing, it’s a spot where anyone can launch their boats and enjoy fishing in the river or just take their own ride.  If you head north on this river, you will arrive at Yellowtail Dam in Fort Smith, MT.   If you take your camping gear on your boat, there are some spots along the river’s edge where you can camp overnight.   There is also a primitive camp ground on the road leading to Barry’s Landing as well as a picnic area.

Head north from Barry’s Landing and you come to the Ewing Snell Historic Ranch Site.  This was a homestead established between 1896 and 1898.   Sadly, the main house caught fire and was destroyed in 2015.  The small barn can still be visited.

Whether you are in Buffalo, WY or Sheridan, WY before taking the scenic drive up the Big Horn Mountains, both towns offer some neat pieces of history.   Buffalo boasts the Occidental Hotel which is restored and does offer accommodations.  Some of their notable guests have been Theodore Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway and Calamity Jane.  Also, check out the Gatchel Museum.  Sheridan has the historic Sheridan Inn where Buffalo Bill Cody was known to frequent.  

There is much to enjoy in this area and I hope you do!

Product Review: Oxygenics Shower Head

Just about everyone that has an RV will tell you the manufacturer’s shower head leaves something to be desired.   If you are someone that will use your RV shower often, you want something that not only conserves water but has good pressure.“>

Oxygenics has the perfect solution with their Body Spa RV and Body Spa Adventure RV.  I’ve recently installed it in my shower and it has worked fabulously.   

How it works is it will mix air with the existing water pressure to compress it and give you the full water pressure you expect from a shower.  When I’m using my water pump, it still gives a great shower.   

The Oxygenics averages about 80 psi (pounds per square inch) but the water output is about 2 gpm (gallons per minute).

The installation is very simple.  It comes with it’s own hose and it fit the existing hardware in my RV’s shower.   The button on the shower head handle makes it easy to turn the water on and off while in use.   While in the off position, it will leave a trickle of water coming out so you can continue to soap up the wash cloth or rinse your razor.  I have noticed that the water does get quite cold when trickling out.   I’ve worked around that by turning my cold water to almost off and then turning the cold water back on to where I had it before turning the shower head back on.   For those of you that have the single knob for hot and cold water, I do not know if you’ll have the same issue.

There are a variety of options available for finishes so you can find one to match the current fixtures of your bath.

The shower head is reasonable priced at about $30 – $41 on Amazon.   oxygenics shower head“>oxygenics shower head

A very inexpensive way to upgrade your RV shower that will make it much more enjoyable.

RV Maintenance – Lubricants

RVs have many moving parts and to keep them functioning it’s important to keep them lubricated. I’ve compiled a list of various lubricants you want to have handy to maintain these components.

Dry Lube – Dry lube can be used in a multiple areas. It can be used for the track on your slide, the window tracks, the locks, awning tracks and the jacks. Spray it and it dries quickly and will not rinse off when it rains. It’s not messy. WD-40 has created a product for each of these items that you can purchase.

Grease and grease gun – If you are towing a 5th wheel or bumper pull, keeping the bearings greased prevents rust. Doing this simple maintenance will keep the wheel spinning freely on axle and prevent uneven tire wear and/or damage to inside the wheel hub. You also want to use grease on the ball and the coupler of the hitch. This allows the coupler to turn on the ball smoothly and prevents wear on the ball.

Rubber seal treatment – You will want to keep the rubber seals around your slide from premature deterioration and reduce excessive friction. Taking care of the integrity of the seals will prolong the life of your slide.

Rust inhibitor – A rust inhibitor can also be used on the slide to keep it moving smoothly. It is also good to use on the leaf springs and suspension as well as your battery connections.

Drain valve lubricant – Your drain valves for dumping out the tanks can get sticky over time. It will lubricate the valves without damaging the seals. It will allow for smooth flow when dumping and prevent valves from sticking. It can be used in both the black and gray water tanks.

“>

Silicone spray – these are recommended for use twice a year on the RV antennas. Silicone will not damage the rubber o-ring that prevents leaks. Silicone spray can be used on both metal and non-metal surfaces to waterproof and protect. It will also act as a lubricant for those items mentioned in the Dry Lube paragraph.

Penetrating oil – If you have to loosen a bolt or fitting that got rusted on, penetrating oil can loosen this.

Review: DeLonghi Electric Heater

While RVs have a furnace that runs off propane for a heat source, it’s always good to have something else available to provide heat. Anyone who travels with an RV will have a some sort of portable heater handy. I travel with both a gas powered one that runs on the little green propane bottles and an electric one. This is in case the furnace breaks down or if you are boondocking. Additionally, electric heaters are nice to have when you have full hook-ups. They allow you to save on propane usage because the furnace doesn’t need to run as often.

“>

I wanted to give a review with my experience on the heater I use in my RV. It’s the DeLonghi Mica HMP1500. It’s thin and sleek. It comes with the option of being on casters to be rolled around where you want it. It can also be mounted to a wall. When the heater is on, it doesn’t get hot, so you can touch it anywhere without the danger of being burned.  Thus, making it safe around children and pets. It can heat up to 300 square feet of space. The heater is thermostatically controlled and has an auto shut off in the event it gets too hot. The DeLonghi Mica is user-friendly and easy to set up. Once you have the casters attached or mounted to the wall, just plug it in and turn the knobs. The top knob turns the heater on with either Min or Max setting. The bottom knob is numbered for how high a heat you want. It also has a 1-year warranty.


I found it to be a perfect fit in the RV for the following reasons.

  • Slim and lightweight – Its slim design allows me to tuck it away under the dinette or behind the recliners when not in use. When it is out and being used, it’s easy to have it in a spot that is not in the way. That’s important when you are in a small space. Weighing at 10 pounds makes it ideal when you want to be conscious of how much weight you put into your RV.
  • It heats up quickly. You will not feel cold for very long and at times I’ve had to turn it down because I was getting too warm. I found I can keep it at the minimum 2 setting and be quite comfortable.
  • No noise. I’ve not heard any noises when it’s running.
  • The heater comes with an internal feature that if tipped over or becomes unstable, it will automatically shut off.

The DeLonghi heater is affordable, too.

I use this heater in my RV all the time. It has met all of my expectations and I honestly don’t have anything negative to say about it.

If you are interested in purchasing one for yourself, it’s a click away!

“>

Prepping for Full-Time RV Living

“>

There’s some preparation to do when you decide to take the plunge to live and travel in an RV full time. Below are some tips to start prepping for the life style.

Down-sizing, donating and selling your stuff

This one seems pretty obvious. You’re not going to be able to fit everything you currently have in your house or apartment inside an RV. This is when you have to really think about what do you use daily that you will continue to use in an RV. If you plan to be self-employed (or perhaps you already are) or pick up work camping, you may not need so many dress clothes. Small appliances may have to be parted with. What pots and pans are used all the time vs. the ones that are rarely used. Same for cooking and eating utensils. All the furniture and decorative items must go.

If you are sentimental, you want to be careful how much of that you decided to keep. Some full-timers will have a relative willing to store those things for them. I gave some of mine away to a relative that I knew would appreciate it. I went through all of my photo albums and scanned the pictures onto a thumb drive. That takes up a lot of less room than photo albums and isn’t a weight factor.

For dishes, I’d recommend plastic or metal mixing/prep bowls and get melamine dinnerware. Melamine looks great, but won’t break. Get ready to use paper a lot also because if you’re boondocking, you’ll want the paper plates and bowls to save on your water consumption.

The whole thing is very daunting. I didn’t think I’d ever get all my stuff gone in time to move into my RV. I had started the process of eliminating my possessions a year before hitting the road. Have the yard sales, donate to the local charities, give it away to friends. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time. None of us realize how much we’ve accumulated until we have to empty a house.

Making a living

Some full-timers were already entrepreneurs before going on the road and they continue. Some become entrepreneurs when they hit the road. Some get lucky and their place of employment realizes they can still do their job while on the road and their employer has accommodated for it. There are also tons of work camper opportunities out there.

Here are some more popular ways people earn an income while on the road:

  • Traveling nurse – many RNs take to the lifestyle and work where ever additional nurses are needed.
  • Blogging – many bloggers get monetized from affiliate links on their blogs
  • Work camper – A work camper is someone that works at a campground in exchange for a full hook-up site. Some campgrounds offer the site with pay, some are with pay and a discount on the campsite. This allows you to visit places you want to see and use your days off for sightseeing. Most work campers work around 4 months during the summer, but in warmer climates of the south, you could work the winter months also.
  • Amazon – There’s opportunity to work for Amazon at any of their distribution centers. Amazon will pay for your full hook-up campsite as well as give you a paycheck. Most are hired from October – December when it’s their busiest time. Amazon also gives you a bonus if you work until the end of December. They are known to hire back a lot of the same work campers.
  • Sugar beet harvest – In the northern states like N. Dakota, Minnesota and Montana, sugar beets are grown and the harvest season is in October. It usually lasts about 2 weeks, maybe longer, due to inclimate weather. Long shifts but quick money.
  • Gate guard – many oil companies in Texas need people to gate guard. You can do it for 8 weeks or any amount of months. Basically you are checking the trucks that go in and out to the wells. They provide your campsite and pays decent.
  • Artisans and craftsmen make and sell their items on the road or on-line. I had met a couple that made jewelry and went to events all over the US selling the jewelry.

Have a domicile

The government does require everyone to have an address. When you choose to be nomadic, you have to be domiciled somewhere with a permanent address. There are 3 states that are very friendly with this life style. They are S. Dakota, Texas and Florida. Some are more cost effective that others, so do your research. Do they require vehicle inspections or not? What would it cost to register and insure your vehicles and RV? Do you have to live there for any length of time to establish residency before hitting road?

Mail call

How do we get our mail is one of the most common questions that is asked. In the 3 states I mentioned in the previous paragraph, there are mail forwarding services. You pay for a membership and put money into your account that they use to send your mail to you where ever you tell them to send it. You can establish the frequency they send it to you and what date you want it sent. They can scan and email you important items you may need more urgently. Say goodbye to junk mail, too, because they’ll remove that for you.

Escapees is one of the biggest and popular used for this service. They have other benefits as well. For more info or to join Escapees, click here: Join Escapees“>Escapees

Are you ready?

When you decide to make this change to your way of life, there will be times it gets overwhelming and stressful. Hang in there. Once you have a handle on things and have a sense of what to do, you’ll find it’s worth it for the final result.

Rapid City, SD

Rapid City is located in the Black Hills area of western S. Dakota. With a population of about 68,000 it offers many amenities and is located close enough the main attractions that you could easily make into a day trip if you were staying in the city.

The Black Hills

The Black Hills National Forest is not only home to Mt. Rushmore, the area’s main attraction, but has several parks and campgrounds. The National Forest area allows for boon docking, or dispersed camping (not in any campground, no hook-ups for electric, sewer or water), so long as you are not next to a campground or other lodging businesses. You can pick up a map that shows where the dispersed camping is allowed at the US Forestry Service located on Highway 16, east of the Black Hills. This is a good option for someone that wants to take in scenic views and be away from all the tourist activity.

A popular place within The Black Hills is Custer State Park. There are campgrounds to choose from here. If camping is not your thing, the Custer State Park Resort offers lodges and cabins. This park offers much for hiking, fishing and biking. You could take a drive on the Wildlife Loop Road, enjoy a day at any of the lakes such as Sylvan Lake or Bismark Lake. If you’d prefer a challenging hike, Black Elk Peak is the highest summit in S. Dakota that offers magnificent views from the top. There you will find the stone fire lookout tower.

A popular scenic drive is the Needles Highway. It’s known for the narrow tunnels that spiral through, called the pig tails. The highway is open during summer months and is closed in winter. It offers amazing views with a glimpse of the Catherdral Spires in the distance that can be reached from a hiking trail along this highway.

If you’re a history buff or just enjoy historical sites, there are a couple of those within the park. Badger Hole Historic Site is the location of the cabin for one of S. Dakota’s most beloved citizens. The Gordon Stockade is a replica of a log fort built on the original site of the fort that was built during the 1874 gold rush. It was built to protect against Lakota Sioux attacks. This site is open from June to August. Also in the town of Custer, you can check out the 1881 Courthouse Museum.

There is something for everyone in Custer State Park and with all the trails sites and scenic drives, there is too much to cover in this blog. Whatever it is you decide to do, it will entice you to go back for more.

On the Way to Mt. Rushmore

When heading west on Highway 16 from Rapid City, there are a few places to stop at along the way.

At Fort Hayes Old West Town you can start the day off with $.99 all you can eat pancakes. For an extra charge, you can also have bacon, sausage or biscuits and gravy with them. There you can see the buildings from Kevin Costner’s movie “Dances With Wolves.” There are craftsmen shops to visit such as a blacksmith, tin shop and sawmill to name a few where you can see their hand-made wares. Fort Hayes is where you can pick up a bus tour of Mt. Rushmore and leave the driving to someone else. End the day with their Chuckwagon Supper and Show.

Reptile Gardens exhibits, you guessed it, reptiles! It is known for it’s glass dome that houses a beautiful collection of orchids and some go just for the orchids.

Americas Founding Father’s Exhibit is right next door to Reptile Gardens. Scroll down to the Museums heading for a description.

Bear Country, USA is a self-guided tour where you drive through the park and view various animals. The most they have are black bears, but you can view reindeer, big horn sheep, mountain lion, bison and others along the way. Drive slowly as the animals roam freely through this park and will cross the road in front of your vehicle at any given time.

Deadwood

The historic town of Deadwood is 41.5 miles north and west of Rapid City. This gold mining town is known for being home to the likes of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. Both are buried in the Mt. Moriah Cemetery and you can visit their graves as well as other figures that make up part of Deadwood’s history. You can have a drink at the #10 Saloon, where it’s said to be the place that Wild Bill was shot and they claim to have the chair he was sitting in on display. You can try your luck at any of the casinos. The Days of ’76 museum is another area attraction.

Museums

There are a variety of museums. Here is a list of just a few within Rapid City.

The Journey Museum and Learning Center has 4 collections with interactive displays and exhibits. It’s a museum of humanity’s journey through time from creation to present day.

Dinosaur Museum is exactly that. It boasts 50+ life-size dinosaurs on display and an actual dinosaur bone that can be touched. While at the museum, you can take a walk through the Mirror Maze and have a round of mini golf!

Museum of Geology is located on the grounds of South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and is free to the public. The displays of fossils from dinosaurs, mammals, marine, reptiles and fish that once roamed S. Dakota. There is also a collection of minerals from all over the world.

America’s Founding Fathers Exhibit is about the 56 men that signed the Declaration of Independence and tells the story of how America was founded. You can ring the replica of the LIberty Bell and shoot an actual musket.

Art

For some culture, there is a variety of art galleries in the city. Bonzeye Studio, LLC, Dahl Arts Center, Suzie Cappa Arts Center and Shaviq Boutique and Art Gallery to name just a few.

Wines and Brews

Firehouse Wine Cellars and Firehouse Brewing Company are next door to each other, located in a former firehouse. Pub-style food and live entertainment.

Zymurcracy Beer Company is owned by veterans. Show them some support and visit their tap room.

A ride to Hill City, SD will offer Prairie Berry Winery and they serve light lunches and sandwich fare from 11 to 7:30. Next door will take you to Miner Brewing Company. You can order food from Prairie Berry Winery’s menu. Check their website for dates when they have live music.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of what there is to do in Rapid City and surrounding area. There’s much more to it than Mt. Rushmore.