3 long months.
We are now well past my time limit for staying in one place, and with COVID-19 restrictions finally being lifted across America, we think it's safe to resume traveling again. Safe, and more importantly, places have now opened so that we can stay in different states along our planned route.
Our ultimate destination for our first trip is Box Elder, South Dakota – our home base situated in Pennington County which encompasses the Rapid City area in western South Dakota. We're headed here because we need to apply for our passports in order to travel to Alaska in 2021, and we'll need to cross into Canada to make that happen. I've never had one, and Barbara's passport expired decades ago. One quirk is that you have to apply in your home county, which would be easy if you actually lived there. But since we just maintain a Personal Mail Box as a residenc, we have to travel a great distance in order to apply for ours.
But hey, it's a good reason for our first trip following lock down, so we'll take it!
Since it's sorta-kinda on our way, we decide to stop at Pigeon Forge, TN to see a friend of mine I used to work for when I worked at Jockey, Jack Simmons. Three days are planned for this portion; one to decompress from the first drive and show off our 36LA to Jack, a visit to Jockey for some new clothes, then a day for some fun and food at local eateries.
But first we have to get there.
Plugging in our destination into our trusty Co-Pilot RV GPS program, the first planned route takes us through some very twisty roads, including one complete circle at one point!
Nope. Not gonna do that one. Alternative two doesn't look so bad and is a shorter distance than Alternative 3, so I decide to take that.
Not as good of a decision as I thought it would be. The video below shows the beginning and end of our first drive in months. It has been sped up 2.5 times it's normal speed so that it won't put you to sleep, so don't think I drive this fast normally; especially in mountains and tight turns. Needless to say, it was a rude surprise!
Fortunately, my driving skills hadn't eroded in the last 3 months, and we arrived at our destination – Up The Creek RV Campground – in a bit over 4 hours. It's a very nice small park with wide, tree-covered spaces. Very level lots with concrete pads to the side with tables and chairs. Some sites even have raised fire pits instead of sitting low on the ground. It's surrounded by a small quiet creek (hence the name), but it does lack the usual amenities some people might like in a park.
While there, two other Tiffins set up shop across from us; a 2012 Breeze – Tiffin's smallest diesel model – and a 2019 Open Road 32SA – a fellow gasser. Had nice talks with both folks and shared some upgrades and hacks they might want to try. All-in-all, it was nice to visit with fellow Tiffin owners, something we hadn't done in quite a while.
Our visit with Jack was great, and after shopping we played a round of miniature golf at a course right next door to the Tanger Mall. It's not the most interesting nor challenging course out there, but it had one hole that called out to Barbara and me. Flying pigs have always been a favorite of ours, due to a line Barbara once said about the possibility of us getting married early in our courtship, and used by our best man during his toast at our wedding. Basically, when asked when we would get married (about halfway through our dating time) Barbara's answer was, “When pigs fly”. So finding a golf course with a hole that contained flying pigs was a natural for us.
Our trip to Pigeon Forge was too short to really appreciate the area, but there are lots of things we'd like to get done when return someday. And return we will. Sure, it's the definition of a tourist trap, but there are some very interesting and different attractions there that are probably not found anywhere else.
A quick breakdown at our site at Up The Creek, and it's time for a 4-day speed run to South Dakota, avoiding every city we can during this time of unrest.
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.