Welcome to week 11 of the Burhos’ Adventures in Bertha! This week we drove…a lot! So buckle up and we’ll take you along with us on the drive 🙂
When we last left you, we were still in Jackson awaiting Bertha’s final repairs. We were also headed out to meet up with another couple who live full-time in their Airstream. We met them at the Snake River Brewery in downtown Jackson Hole and had a really awesome time sharing tips and stories about full timing. They have been on the road for about a year now, living in their ’78 Airstream that they completely built out from scratch. They’re a 30 year old married couple who decided a few years ago that they wanted to leave Texas for a while and do some travelling. They had initially toyed with the idea of moving to St. George but after some time and research, decided that living in an Airstream would be a fun way to see the States. The entire process from that decision on took about 3 years to find and remodel an old Airstream (they found one for $4,000 and now it appraises for about $80k!). They were super cool and full of good tips for us, it’s pretty crazy how much this lifestyle has kind of become a community with people meeting up from Instagram all over the country. They went to an RV’ers New Years party last year in the desert with 100 other RV’s!
The next morning, we thought we’d be released from the auto yard at some point, but alas, they weren’t able to get everything done. We hadn’t taken a proper sightseeing trip out to the Grand Tetons yet so we decided it was time! We jumped on the motorcycle and headed north. We decided to get to a nice viewing area and, since it was later in the day than we would have liked, we chose Jenny Lake because it’s close to the road and easy to get to. We were not prepared for the the beauty of the Tetons and as soon as we walked into the park, we were kicking ourselves for not having spent the entire week here swimming, hiking, biking, and paddleboarding! It was seriously just unbelievable how gorgeous the Tetons are, there’s no way our pictures can do it justice. So we just sat by the lake for about two hours admiring the beauty and recording a time lapse of the sun setting behind the Tetons with the GoPro.
Wednesday afternoon we were finally released with all the repairs done! Bertha has essentially a brand new front end and we were pretty excited to hit the road with her, so we headed out immediately and starting driving east. We had some ground to makeup since we weren’t expecting to be in Jackson for so long, we were looking at driving 1,400 miles over the next 4 days…let’s do this! Wednesday we drove almost the entire length of Wyoming, we started in Jackson and ended right at the border of South Dakota…it was somewhere around 450 miles that day, our throats were dry from all the roadtrip singing!
Thursday we awoke and started the drive into South Dakota. Today was a big day as we also drove nearly the entire length of South Dakota while getting some good touristing done too (also, when we say “we” drove, that really means Jim drove, he’s a beast!). Our first stop was Mount Rushmore, we felt like we were doing the cliche American Family Road Trip getting to stop and see such an iconic place, but it really was pretty cool to see in person. And to learn that they made Rushmore by creating plaster faces that the builders had to replicate just by seeing and feeling, and then blowing them out of dynamite, was pretty crazy! P.S. it was sooooo hot and sweaty the entire time we were in South Dakota, it was kind of disgusting and we couldn’t wait to get through the state haha. After Rushmore, we continued east through miles and miles of flat prairies and grasslands. We stopped for lunch in Rapid City (not a great place in our opinion) and then a quick sight-see in Wall Drug, SD, apparently it’s a tourist must-do but it was really just a lot of shops with cheesy tourist stuff. Wall Drug was just north of Badlands National Park too so of course, we had to make a stop and check another National Park off the list. It was pretty awesome, though again, crazy hot and humid so we didn’t do a lot of walking or hiking. Jim did run ahead of Bertha a couple of times to get some aerial shots of her driving through the Badlands. The Badlands make you feel a little like you’re on the moon, which is a strange contrast to the flat grasslands all around.
Thursday got even longer as we pressed on from The Badlands toward Minnesota. We had pushed Bertha pretty hard driving in the heat all day (we covered about 350 miles today) and around midnight, she had had enough. That would have been fine except that we were kind of the the middle of nowhere when she decided she was done. So we had to unload the motorcycle on the side of the highway, in the middle of the night, and go in search of more transmission fluid. There was a gas station about two miles up the road that had two quarts of what we needed, but sadly that wasn’t enough, which meant we had to go another 20 miles to search out more. We stopped at two other 24 hour gas stations and 24 hour Walmart but no one had the right kind of transmission fluid. So we drove Bertha to the station that was two miles away (very, very slowly) on the two quarts we did have, and settled in there for the night, finally getting to bed around 4am.
The next morning, we drove back to Mitchell, SD (the city 20 miles away) to get more transmission fluid from Auto Zone. We were back on the road but figured we should take it easier on Bertha today, so we stopped in Sioux Falls for a couple of hours to have lunch and do some work in the library while we waited for the sun to dip down a little. Sioux Falls seemed like a nice place, though we we didn’t really spend enough time there to explore it thoroughly. We hit the road again around 6pm and drove through to Makato, MN, bringing the total for the day to around 225 miles. We chose a Walmart parking lot to sleep in that evening for the convenience, it was pouring rain as we pulled in that evening and all through the next day…we even had a flood warning text for the entire area. It was like one extreme to the other with the hot humidity followed by the chilly torrential downpour!
Saturday morning we woke up, did our grocery shopping in that Walmart, and then continued on through Minneapolis toward Chisago City, where we had a Sprint Triathlon scheduled for the next morning (part of the reason we were on such a time crunch to get to Minnesota). We arrived in the early evening and found an awesome parking spot just a half mile away from the starting line. We settled in, went for a little run, had a hearty dinner, and called it an early night.
Sunday morning we awoke at 5:30am (ick, we’re never up that early anymore) and started preparing for the race. We got down to the starting area at 6:30, picked up our packets and set up our transition areas before the race started at 7:00. It was a sprint, so it’s actually the shortest race Heather has done yet – a quarter mile swim, a 22 mile bike ride, and a 5k run. It was a truly beautiful course through green fields and trees, we got lucky with the weather as it was sunny and warm, it cleared up nicely from yesterday’s downpour (Heather has only had one race without the threat of rain the day before). Somehow, neither of us read the race briefing as well as we should have…we both thought the bike ride was only 12 miles and didn’t learn that it was actually 22 until we were at about mile 15! But it was still very manageable and a really, really fun race – Heather only came in six minutes behind Jim! We both had a good race (Heather was 4th in her age group and Jim was 5th) and more importantly, really enjoyed it. We took a nice little nap afterward and then started the journey north toward Jim’s parent’s cabin in Cotton (the other reason we were on a bit of a time crunch). We had told them we’d be up around 4 or 5pm but Bertha decided to act up again and by the time we handled her transmission issues (again), we finally arrived around 9:00. We were all so excited to be there, we had a nice late dinner and enjoyed Jim Sr’s sauna before retiring to bed pretty late.
Monday was our first full day of just over two weeks that we’ll be up here. Their cabin is just beautiful, it’s right on the lake with a pontoon boat to take leisurely sunset cruises. We’re all set up with shore power and unlimited water and couldn’t be more thrilled to be able to spend time with Jim’s family. We spent Monday mostly catching up, enjoying the views, flying the quadcopter and airplanes, and teaching Heather to play marbles. The evening of game playing and scotch drinking led to a pretty late Monday night, but it was a lot of fun (minus the hangover the next day)!
That’s all for this week, we know we’re super late getting this one out and will actually probably be early with the next one (that’s the goal anyway) as we’re headed out on a 5 day canoeing/camping trip next week and will be completely offline. As always, thanks for reading!
Total RV Trip Miles: 5,691 (1,377 more than last week)