If we are friends on social media, you have problem seen pictures from our recent spring break vacation where we rented an RV and drove to South Dakota and Colorado to visit several National Parks. People keep asking questions and wanting to know more, so here’s a little update starting with what it was like to drive an RV.
First, driving an RV feels complicated… not so much the “driving” part but everything else you need to know about it. Our introduction to the RV by the owners took an hour. I still had questions but hoped Jeff was paying attention. Ours was 32 feet long and 11 feet tall, which meant we were too big to drive through some of the tunnels and mountainous roads near Mt Rushmore. Thankfully we knew this BEFORE we tried to drive there. Driving an RV takes focus and planning. It is a huge vehicle!
Second, driving an RV is slow… slower than cars or trucks. We had read online, and the owners recommended, that we stay around 60-65 miles per hour. Not a problem for the first hour that I was getting used to driving. But once I realized that we were going to barely – if at all – make it to my niece’s wedding (Stop #1), I started to push the speed. Driving to Wisconsin for my niece’s wedding was a normal drive that I’ve done hundreds of times. It usually takes around three hours – in a car. However, we left about 5 hours early just to be sure we had plenty of time to change into my dress and the guys’ suits when we got there.
We successfully made our first stop at a gas station and then grabbed McDonalds for lunch. Eating while driving seemed challenging, so I ate quickly and then hopped back in the driver’s seat. As we were getting closer, and the time of the wedding was approaching, Jeff decided he’d put his suit on so he was ready to help the boys. Thankfully we made it in time, parking in the street near the church. Driving on highways is no big deal. Driving through towns is much more challenging. You have to remember to take turns extra wide, watch the rear to not hit curbs, give other cars extra space, and hope that there’s somewhat of a decent place to park when you arrive.
After the wedding, we changed into comfortable clothes, put the boys to sleep in the bunk beds, and headed west. The plan was to drive until I was tired and then find a truck stop to sleep for a few hours. Jeff decided he’d try to sleep while I was driving so he would be able to sleep later. There was a bedroom in the back with a queen size bed, just past the boys’ bunk beds and the bathroom. In front of that was a small kitchen, table & benches where we ate meals, and opposite that was a couch. Of course above the “cab” (driver’s seat) was also a bed and tv which was a fun place to hang out.
Those first few hours of driving were difficult. It was dark, raining, sleeting, snowing, and icy. I made it about 4 hours before finding a truck stop in Minnesota to park and sleep. We parked from 12:30am to 3:30am when Jeff got up and drove us into Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Sleeping while the RV was moving was challenging. It wasn’t quite the same as the movement that puts babies to sleep in cars. More like trying to sleep through an earthquake and feeling like you’re going to fall out of bed. In fact, after that first night, neither child wanted to sleep in the top bunk if the RV was moving. I woke up at 7:30 in South Dakota and took over the driving while Jeff slept. After hours and hours of flat South Dakota, we finally arrived at the Badlands National Park.
What were the boys – ages 8 and 5 – doing during this time? Mostly watching movies and playing games on their Kindle Fires. They are good travelers and didn’t mind all the hours driving. It was definitely more fun in an RV!
More to come! Next up: exploring the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Wind Cave, The Mammoth Site, Custer State Park, climbing a mountain, and Garden of the Gods.