Our Midwest Trip – the Voyage Home
OK, so when you're a full-tire RVer with no sticks and bricks house, there really is no such thing as a “voyage home”, but we're heading back to Georgia where our kids and grandsons live, so that's about a close to home as anything can be.
One thing we've noticed in our time traveling the Midwest is the use of ATV's on public roads. No plates, so no registration apparently needed. Seems to be a great alternative to getting from one place to another, especially if your neighbor owns a farm like yours with a couple of miles of frontage.
Weird thing about gas in South Dakota and Nebraska; we're used to three grades of gas in the Eastern half the country – Regular at 87 octane, Plus at 91 and Premium at 93. In South Dakota and Nebraska their Plus gas is 87 octane (priced like our Regular gas), and Premium is at 91 octane. Then they have an ethanol-free gas at 85 octane which they call Regular gas, and it's about 15 cents more expensive per gallon that the 87 octane Plus gas. Don't know how many cars they have that can run efficiently on ethanol-free gas or why they've determined they need that 85 octane version, but it's a bit weird.
One really nice thing is that there seems to be many more local gas stations in SD, NE and IA who place signs on their overhangs telling you their height. Makes this RVer much happier knowing if I'm going to clear that roof if I find some good gas price or easy access in and out of a station.
Our drive from Rapid City took us south on state roads, working our way towards the great state of Nebraska. We had only hit the northeast corner of Nebraska last year on our trip to South Dakota to register our Mini, so this was essentially our first trip to the state. We'd always thought Nebraska was a fairly flat state - much like Iowa - but we found out very early that there is a western part of the state that has some impressive elevations, and an eastern part which is much more level.
Our first stop was at the end of a short ride; Alliance, Nebraska. Why did we head to Alliance, Nebraska you ask?
One word: Carhenge.
This is one of those weird, wonderful, quirky attractions we love to find on the road. Carhenge is an EXACT replica of rock creation of Stonehenge all the way over in England. There really is no “Why?” behind the creation of Carhenge. It's just – because! Or “Why not”? Either way, it's a very entertaining ½ hour stroll through the property to view it, and other strange metallic sculptures by local artists.
Carhenge is certainly not a destination all by itself, but we stopped here because it was going to be our jumping off point to our next driving segment.
The Sand Hills of Nebraska is a 275 mile drive across the heart of the state, and is reputed to be one of the most beautiful drives across any Midwest state. Many people run the route from Grand Island on the east, ending up in Alliance to the west. Because of our departure from South Dakota, we ended up doing the Sand Hills drive in reverse.
The Sand Hills have been touted as one of the most scenic drives in America, and it's – nice. But I wouldn't go so far as to state that it's one of the most scenic drives I've even been on. The eastern end of the drive is just more Nebraska corn country. The western half has a charm and quality of it's own, and you can readily imagine Conestoga wagons making their way through the hills filled with families heading for a new life. You can also imagine just how remote and lonely any trip taken through this area would have been on a horse or prairie schooner. The stretch we covered took us just under 4 hours; a wagon train back in the 1800's would have taken 20 days!
The great part about taking state routes like Rt 2 in Nebraska is that you get to see some very interesting and different country than you do traveling the interstates. The not-so-great part is that there are few (if any) places to pull over and rest, and towns so tiny that their businesses' parking lots are so small you can't pull into them and expect to get back out again if you're driving a motor home. So you'd better make sure you fill that gas tank before crossing the Sand Hills; if there is a station on the way the access into and out of it is very tight, and the gas prices are hideously expensive even if you could pull in.
Golf in Nebraska was accomplished at Sky View Golf Course in Alliance. Very manageable course, and an easy walk if you're not 63 and out of shape. I'm both (and also stupid), so I still insisted on walking the course. Didn't affect my game, but played havoc with my legs for the next couple of days. Note to self: rent a cart next time.
A quick trip to the Air Force Strategic Command Air and Aerospace Museum finished off our Nebraska segment.
Next it was on to Riverside, Iowa. This was our destination for one specific reason – it's the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise. Like most small Midwest towns, Riverside doesn't have a lot of life left to it, but this quirky bit of future history helps to keep Riverside on the map. There's a life-sized bronze statue of James T. Kirk (complete with COVID-19 inspired social distancing mask - which we removed for the picture),
a Voyage Home Museum where Trekkies and Trekkers can find all sorts of items to gawk at or buy,
and of course the “official” birthplace of James T. Kirk behind a small shop just off the main drag.
BTW, the difference between a Trekkie and a Trekker is that a Trekker actually has a life.
Riverside, Iowa in our rear facing camera, we head south to Missouri. Not for any particular reason, just because we hadn't visited there before and it's on the way home. Stayed at the Lazy Day Campground in Danville, Missouri about 90 miles west of St. Louis. Hoped to get in some golf, but the only local course was closed on the day I had available, so we took in a local country store and rested and recharged for a couple of days. Very, very nice campground with very friendly owners. Level, gravel sites with grass in between, and plenty of length and width. Also, very quiet at night even though it's just a short drive off the interstate. We'd stay there again in a heartbeat. There's a lot to do in Missouri, and it's on our list of return places to go when we have a bit more time.
Next up – a visit to the King and Graceland!
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We're Dave and Barbara Richard, and we're living the ultimate retirement experience - traveling the U.S. and Canada in style in a Tiffin Open Road 36LA Class A motor home, playing golf and stopping at every weird and wacky roadside attraction we can find.