The Black Hills with Cousins

Steve’s cousin Traci often talks about her annual horseback riding trips to South Dakota’s Black Hills.

We decided to join them for a few days while passing through the area. They rode horses and we stuck to the bikes.

Basing ourselves in the beautiful Spokane Valley, just south of Keystone, we explored a few areas that we’d not visited on a previous trip. First stop: the Mickelson Trail. We took on a scenic ten mile section of this beautiful 109 mile rail trail.

The trail, its trestle bridges and tunnels, was a relatively smooth and flat path which we explored with the dogs in tow. It got a little warm towards the end and Mia was done riding in the back. So Steve carried her. Probably not the safest but…

Each evening we joined Traci and Randy for either dinner cooked outside or at a local restaurant. We did a little putt putt too! It was fun to hang out and catch up with them.

While we were in the Black Hills, the summer’s heat wave continued. That was a good excuse to hit one of the many local lakes. We took the kayaks out onto Custer State Park’s Legion Lake and enjoyed a relaxing paddle. And, we continue to receive comments and questions about our fun Bōte inflatable kayaks.

We’d explored Mt Rushmore on our last visit but missed the Crazy Horse memorial. This time we made sure to explore Crazy Horse and the accompanying museum. While they have decades of work before the memorial is finished, the site has plenty to see.

Finally, you can’t miss Custer State Park when you are in the Black Hills. We traversed the park several times and usually found ourselves in a bison jam. The large herd owns the park and when they are in the road, they have the right-of-way. We didn’t mind at all!

Now that we’ve been to South Dakota’s Black Hills several times, our list of things to do and see has grown. We’ll definitely be back for more hiking, biking, and sightseeing. Thanks to Traci and Randy for luring us this way again!

Missoula with friends

Missoula keeps drawing us back. We were there a few years ago for a marathon and drove through during last year’s explorations. It must be the mountain air and college-town vibes.

We based ourselves at the beautiful Jim and Mary’s RV park. We had heard this was a good place and it did not disappoint. With impeccable landscaping and flowers everywhere, this was an oasis.

2021 Escapade RV Rally

Have you ever been to an RV rally? Well this was our first big one, and it was a great learning experience.

Last week we attended the 60th annual Escapade, sponsored by Escapees RV club. Set in Rock Springs, WY, we gathered with over 1,400 other RVers for learning and community.

While not earth-shattering, we found the event to be informative. We learned a few new things, but mostly we clarified how to do RVing most effectively and safely. After almost 2 years on the road, we realized we knew more than we thought.

What did we learn? Steve focused on maintenance and safety topics, like RV plumbing, weight management, tires, and refrigeration. I focused on trip planning, technology, finances, and fun. I learned about the annual sugar beet harvest in Minnesota and Michigan, (and decided that kind of seasonal work is not for us), and I learned to knit (kind of).

Escapade features a marketplace and small RV show. We aren’t really in the market for anything at this point but it’s always fun to look at new rigs and shop for accessories.

One of the best things about a rally is the evening entertainment and daily happy hours hosted by sponsors. There was live music every day and free drinks were plentiful. Along the way we met a variety of people, from all walks of life.

Escapees has a great program called Smart Weigh which we took advantage of. From the process we got the official height and weight of our rig, which allows us to ensure we can safely travel down the road.

With all the learning and socializing, the week flew by. If you are thinking about getting into RVing or just enjoy learning about the lifestyle, we would definitely recommend Escapade.