RV Life – Traveling the North of North America

Let me start by saying that an RV holiday isn’t quite my idea of relaxing. I don’t camp, never have, and I have a love / hate relationship with the outdoors. Sunshine, water and fresh air good. Sunburn, mosquitos, bug spray and allergies bad!

My husband and I have a plan of seeing all 50 states before one day moving back to the wonderful land down under and at the start of this trip had reached 31.

The logic for the RV trip was simple, a summer getaway from New York to refresh and recharge the batteries. I was pitching for a 2 week Mediterranean cruise, waking up on the shores of a new exotic country every day. Hubby was down to RV the top of the USA. The RV won out because I am currently pregnant and let’s face it, it idea of an RV with a baby is not so appealing! Ships at least have child care and accommodation you don’t have to pack up and move every day so that one can wait until next year and it also meant we could bring our beloved dog Franklin.

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a planner so the research began with finding a reliable vehicle. Camp America and Apollo are 2 main national companies that offer these services, however, upon reading the numerous horrendous reviews (it’s hard to stay off yelp!) including the failure of many features including bathrooms and engines, I ended up finding a little one-man band operation out of New Jersey that has the latest models and amazing 5 star reviews. The guys at 84 RV have been amazing and although they are 2 hours in a Dial 7 Car away, it was so worth it. Check them out at  http://www.84rv.com

Then came mapping out the adventure. We have already completed most of the more exciting states shall we call them along the west, south and east coasts. This left us with the north and middle of the USA. With nearly 3 weeks on the road, we decided that Mount Rushmore, South Dakota should be our aim, travelling north along the lakes and back through the Midwest.

3 weeks ago, hubby, myself, baby belly and our beloved Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Franklin set off!

After a night in a park in PA to get better acquainted with our vehicle, we headed to Lake Michigan. This place is absolutely stunning. At least the east side of it. One uneasy night in what I can only refer to as a proper trailer park on the west side is enough for this lifetime! Boating on the lake, on water so crystal clear you can see the bottom was amazing. Although, they breed them tough in Michigan, the water wasn’t quite warm enough for our Aussie blood for swimming! Maybe if you are from SA, VIC or TAS you might do better than me! Traverse City is the home of the Cherry in the United States. Roadside cherries picked that morning and homemade cherry pie. The Cherry pie is incidentally the 1st time I felt our baby kick so you know it was good! A few various stops along the lake was a perfect intro into RV life. If you only have a week, I would highly recommend flying into Traverse City and hiring one from there and cruising around the lake. https://www.traversecity.com

Pic – Cooking in the RV in my new Cherry apron from a road stop in Traverse City. 

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Another spot we stopped on the lake was a 5 star RV resort at Petosky. A couple of days of swimming, mini golf, pickle ball (a sort of tennis / squash crossover – http://www.usapa.org/what-is-pickleball/ was a great recharge.

Wisconsin for me was hugely disappointing, we only stopped for a day at Green Bay, thinking that because it’s on the lake as well wasn’t quite enough to save it. Wisconsin has biting flies the size of small birds!!! Enough to keep me well inside the vehicle!

The top of Minnesota is the Itasca National Park – home to the state of the Mississippi River. http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/itasca/index.html

State Parks in the USA are much friendlier than the National Parks of Aus. You can camp, RV, have fires, bring pets, boat, fish, etc and the scenery at this one is spectacular.

Pic – Dipping our toes in the start of the Mississippi River

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A great female in American history to read about is Mary Gibbs. The 1st Female Superintendant of a State Park. She was a BADASS and took on gun toting lumber companies to protect the park. You can read more about her here. http://www.toledoblade.com/frontpage/2001/05/06/Headwaters-heroine-Mary-Gibbs-faced-down-armed-loggers-to-protect-Mississippi-River.html

After making our way across North Dakota (yes unfortunately there really isn’t much there) we made our way down the Enchanted Highway to Mount Rushmore. The Enchanted Highway was and is still being created by Gary Greff who saw that his small town was dying so he decided to quit his job as a school teacher and create giant metal sculptures to bring people to the town. The largest sculpture Geese In Flight holds the current World Record for the largest metal sculpture in the world. Gary runs the gift shop in town and is only to happy to have a chat and post for a picture! http://www.ndtourism.com/best-places/7-ways-be-awed-enchanted-highway

Mount Rushmore is a great place for a family holiday! The mountain with the faces is really cool to see but the town South Dakota has tons of entertaining little towns surrounding it. Sturgis is the home of the annual motorcycle rally and whilst it wasn’t on while we were there, the pubs, shops and streets are dedicated to motorcycle fans.

Keystone is a quaint town that has a bygone era feel with cute shops and eateries.

For family fun, there is a bear park, putt putt courses, interactive museums, ziplines and skyways and so much more. https://www.travelsouthdakota.com I highly recommend this one as a place to visit for a 4 day break.

Pic – Franklin as one of the faces of Mount Rushmore. 

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After South Dakota we started making our way back to New Jersey. Sioux Falls is pretty, Des Moines Iowa, Michigan and PA and we are home again.

At the start I said I wasn’t a fan of RV’ing but it turned out to be so fun! We have now ticked off  Michigan, Minnestoa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa. I am happy to report we are now at 38 states completed! I am not sure how or when we will get to places like Idaho but that’s what makes this task so interesting.

It is awesome to take a break from the complexity and intensity of NYC, washing the dishes in an RV or 6hrs driving and seeing nothing, can be the muse to spark that original thought that wasn’t coming to you in the concrete jungle of Manhattan.  It also gives you a lot of non-distracted time with your loved ones (no TV channels) or Wifi in most places!

Better than expected;

  • Connecting sewer is clean (relatively speaking)
  • You will see a lot of randomness, turtle racing and prairie dogs and sculptures of the world’s biggest bison.
  • Seeing a lot of how this country was formed, the gold rush, wild west, Sioux tribe, Mississippi and why a lot of these cities were formed. You read about a lot of this but seeing it is very different.

Was unaware of;

  • Terrible fuel consumption! A $100 per day, thankfully fuel is only $2 a gallon. 8mpg vs a standard car at 28-30mpg.
  • You can get booked for speeding in an RV in North Dakota! Not me!

18 days, 7 states, 4000 miles, a self-contained RV, pregnant, a dog and a husband and absolutely would do it again!