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Tiny Trailer Travels Part Six

September 8th, 2011

After sleeping soundly despite the risk of a big grizzly bear thinking our camper was a can of spam, we were up early once again and heading into the sunrise. Our goal was to reach the Black Hills and the parks and monuments within. We drove through Bighorn National Forest and were amazed by it’s beauty, truly one of the most beautiful things we saw throughout our trip. We were awed by it’s grandeur!

We decided that someday we’d like to go back and hike the Bench Trail through the park, we took a photo of the sign to remind ourselves.

We took the extra time to stop at Devil’s Tower. It’s such an interesting place.

Then we were off again toward the Black Hills. We actually drove south and reached Wind Cave National Park before sunset. Elk Mountain Campground was very nice, our favorite from the entire trip and quite a bargain at only $12 per night!

Once again we were up with the sun and the bugling bull elk in the morning. The sunrise was especially lovely that morning. We drove through the park and spotted all kinds of interesting wildlife, including some pronghorn which we hadn’t really seen yet until this point in the trip.

We then set off up the winding road with pigtail bridges and lots of tunnels that goes through Custer State Park toward Mt Rushmore. This trip offered tiny glimpses of Mr Rushmore between the trees and at one point it was framed at the end of a tunnel. A perfect way to head to the monument and highly recommended to anyone thinking of heading to Mt Rushmore.

We were quite disappointed with the commercialization of Mt Rushmore, so we didn’t stay very long, only about 15 minutes. Sadly all the stuff they’ve built up around it really detracts from the memorial. So we hit the road with Badlands National Park on our itinerary.

We camped that night somewhere in South Dakota and were up early for a long drive across South Dakota and Minnesota the next day. We stopped at Mitchell’s Corn Palace on our way and then drove until we reached the Maple Grove Campground in Iowa that evening.

We celebrated our last night camping with a hot dog roast (we purchased these dogs at a small butcher shop in Seattle) and we relaxed late into the evening by a fire.

The next morning we were up early for a hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon and set off to visit Seed Saver’s Exchange (more on this part this visit later).

After staying at Seed Savers until after noon, we headed off and hit the highway in an effort to reach home that evening. It was a few hours after midnight when we finally arrived home.

All in all we traveled 7500 miles, used 29 tanks of gas, traveled through 12 states, visited 9 National parks and 5 National monuments. It’s the longest trip Mr Chiots and I have taken together and good practice for future trips which will be much longer! Check my Flickr Photostream for more photos of each part of the trip, I’ll be uploading them as I have time.

What’s the longest trip you’ve ever taken?

Other posts from this trip:
Tiny Trailer Travels Part I
Tiny Trailer Travels Part II
Tiny Trailer Travels Part III
Tiny Trailer Travels Part IV
Tiny Trailer Travels Part V
Tiny Trailer Travels Part VI

26 Comments to “Tiny Trailer Travels Part Six”
  1. daisy on September 8, 2011 at 5:30 am

    Wow, what great photos! I hope you’ll post more about the camper itself and the Seed Savers part of the trip. What a treat to be able to go there!

    Reply to daisy's comment

  2. kristin @ going country on September 8, 2011 at 5:47 am

    One of my great regrets of a trip we took to Minnesota for my niece’s baptism is that we actually slept in Decorah for one night and DIDN’T go to Seed Savers Exchange to see the farm. I know! Sad. I just didn’t at the time know it was there and we had no idea we’d be in Decorah, so we hadn’t looked up what was there. We went to the Norway Fest and Norwegian American Museum there, though, and that was pretty interesting.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

    • Susy on September 8, 2011 at 8:35 am

      The Norwegian Museum is on my list of places to go someday (I think you recommended it before). We had planned on hitting Seed Savers on the way out – but didn’t have time. It is an interesting place, of course I took tons of photos and will be dedicating an entire post just for that portion of our trip probably next week when I have the time to sit down and go through the images.

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      • kristin @ going country on September 9, 2011 at 2:20 pm

        There’s a Norwegian museum in Decorah, and then there’s a Norwegian farm museum in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin. The farm museum was by far better. One of the more interesting ones I’ve been to, an actual old farm run by Norwegian settlers that’s been all preserved. You can walk through all the buildings and see all the implements and things they used. I’d recommend that one, for sure.

        to kristin @ going country's comment

  3. kristin @ going country on September 8, 2011 at 5:48 am

    Oh, right. Longest trip was a 10-day car trip around Northern Spain. Awesome.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  4. Melissa on September 8, 2011 at 8:19 am

    i think my longest trip was 10 days in Italy– it was amazing! So jealous you went to Seed Saver’s Exchange- can’t wait to hear about it!

    Reply to Melissa's comment

  5. Allison on September 8, 2011 at 8:25 am

    What a great trip! I know I’ve said this with every post, but your photographs are beautiful!!!

    I know what you mean, too, about being disappointed in the ‘commercialization’. When I visited Salem, MA, I was rather disappointed for the same reason :/

    Reply to Allison's comment

  6. Emily on September 8, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Oh my gosh! Your pictures are breathtaking! Many thanks for taking your readers along on this trip, and I look forward to hearing more about Seed Savers…

    Reply to Emily's comment

  7. Angela on September 8, 2011 at 9:54 am

    The longest trip I’ve ever taken was 10 days in Italy, and we rented a car and drove to a lot of Tuscan hillside towns…husband & I loved it! I’m really enjoying reading about your road trip, Susy. Visiting the national parks is something high on my To-Do list also.

    Reply to Angela's comment

  8. Alyse on September 8, 2011 at 10:17 am

    How wonderful for you both! Quite an amazing trip.

    I can’t wait to hear about your visit to Seed Savers!

    Reply to Alyse's comment

  9. MAYBELLINE on September 8, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Longest trip = California to Scotland
    Your 2nd photo reminds me of a story my cousin’s wife told while visiting Basin, Wyoming. Her grandfather fell from a similar cliff (Hell, that might be the cliff from which he fell.) while he was guiding a hunting party. The area was near the Powder River Pass and Ten Sleep, Wyoming. That was a fun road trip. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. Donna B. on September 8, 2011 at 11:04 am

    What a fantastic way to end the vacation posts – these places you’ve visited are not only beautiful, but fascinating! The “Devil’s Tower” is one of the more interesting features in a… plateau that I’ve seen!

    Longest trip… goodness, my parents were avid travellers, especially my mother who LOVED car trips. [We’re a military family… travelling is ALL we did!] In one summer we managed to drive from where we lived in Kentucky all the way down to Flordia, along the Gulf, and drive up through Miami, and back up the East Coast. To Maine. It was a very, very long summer. [I was, ten?]

    Reply to Donna B.'s comment

  11. blake on September 8, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Wow, thanks so much for sharing this trip so beautifully and fully! I adore your camper and am incredibly impressed that you made it yourselves. How satisfying that must have been each night. Anyway, I am itching for a road trip now… can’t wait to see where you head next.

    Reply to blake's comment

  12. Sincerely Emily on September 8, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Oh, you have seen some wonderful things! It is fun to see it all through your photos. Longest trip….3 months in Australia – went back to visit the family I lived with when I was an exchange student there. It was a great visit.

    Reply to Sincerely Emily's comment

  13. Katherine on September 8, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    I’d love to see some pictures of the inside of the trailer or of it in use. We’ve had a few glimpses, but I don’t recall your showing how it’s really set up.

    My longest trip was probably 16 days, to Greece and Turkey last summer. But not by car.

    Reply to Katherine's comment

    • Susy on September 9, 2011 at 9:21 am

      We stowed the little camper in the garage before I remember to get some photos of the inside. When we get it out to clean it I’ll make sure to post a “tour” so you can all see what the inside looks like. We still have a few finished touches to put on the galley area – we wanted to travel with it before finishing it so we could see how we used the area and what we’d end up wanting to keep back there. We also have a few things we want to add to the inside for storage.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. Lynn on September 8, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    This has been so much fun sharing your photos and the story of your trip. We have so many of the same photos. It was before we had an SLR so now I’d like to go on the trip again and get some really “good” photos, lol.

    Reply to Lynn's comment

  15. Alyssa on September 8, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    my longest trip was 3 months through europe this summer. with a backpack though, that seemed to weigh as much as a car!

    Reply to Alyssa's comment

  16. Cassandra on September 8, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Really looking forward to hearing about the Seed Savers exchange! We have a great seed store not too far away in Petaluma (CA) called The Seed Bank which is owned by Baker Creek.

    Reply to Cassandra's comment

    • Mr. Chiots on September 9, 2011 at 9:17 am

      I want to visit Petaluma someday but to visit the TwiT studios and meet Leo Laporte and hopefully John C Dvorak. :)

      Reply to Mr. Chiots's comment

  17. goatpod2 on September 8, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    I think the longest trip was to Arizona.


    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  18. Kevin on September 9, 2011 at 3:22 am

    I am missing a lot. I haven’t had a trip that amazing for a long time. You are so lucky to have scheduled your trip in such a good weather. The sky is just so blue and the scenery looks so beautiful. My wife won’t like the idea, but I know she’ll love it once we are there like always.

    Reply to Kevin's comment

    • Susy on September 9, 2011 at 9:17 am

      Yes, that is one reason to go in summer, you have the benefit of good weather. It was warm (low 80’s during the day) and cool (low 60’s or high 50’s) during the evenings for our entire trip – with a few evenings dipping down into the 40’s in the mountains. We only hit a few rain storms and both of them were while we were driving from one place to another. We were very lucky with the weather!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  19. KimH on September 9, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    I think the longest trip time-wise, we made was when I was about 12, our family & about 6 other families went down into the interior of Mexico south of Tampico on a fishing trip in the Gulf Of Mexico.
    We were down there for about 3 weeks and it was one of the best trips of my life. We’d throw out our fishing lines & a fish would be on it.. they were that plentiful.. as were the oyster beds that were everywhere.. Though we lived just off the Gulf of Mexcio just across the border in Texas from Mexico, it was a very different landscape once we got down 200 or so miles south. Great times & memories.

    Miles wise, I lived in North Texas and went on a vacation to Kentucky & Indiana. We went north one way & thru several states and came back home a different way so as to go thru different states. That one was about 10 days.

    Reply to KimH's comment

  20. kat on September 12, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    i love it! my in-laws live in custer, sd, so this is familiar territory for mister unforgivn1 and myself. nice to see his old stomping grounds through your eyes. :)

    Reply to kat's comment

  21. angie h on June 22, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    My longest trip was similar-5 weeks out west to many of the places listed in this post for geology field camp for Kent State. We spent most of the time field mapping near Deadwood and Spearfish, SD.

    Did you happen to visit WalDrug? If you didn’t I’m certain you must have seen the zillions of signs along the whole midcontinent as you drove!

    If you are ever at the Badlands again there is a neat little campground/store/motel in Interior, SD. It has to be the weirdest place I have ever camped, it was right outside of the Badlands Nat. Park. We camped there so we could have drinks (just as important to the professor as the students, imagine driving 20 or so college students across the country in 2 days time-you’d be ready for a drink too lol). It was right out of a movie in an eerie but beautiful sort of way. The little store smelled horrible of old cigar smoke but the little dinner served up the BEST sourdough pancakes! We had dinner at an old tavern down the road that hosted bull riding on the weekends. It is actually where I fell in love with the idea of a teardrop camper :)

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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