Changing Course and Shifting Gears: We're Heading East
Look out east coast and Canada, we're coming at you! We've been making serious progress across the country and expect to make landfall in Batavia tomorrow for a brief stopover on our way to Cincinnati for a wedding and then onto the northeast. We are excited to see Ma and Pa LaBoube, take showers, launder our clothing, and try out our new solar panel!
For the most part we have been cruising through the midsection of our nation, but made brief stops at Devil's Tower National Monument in Wyoming and Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Devil's Tower is beautiful and sacred, and of course a must see for enthusiasts of the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. We camped there one night and met two really neat couples, one from Canada and one from the greater Chicago region (hello!). Both were interested in our rig (we continue to be a bit of a spectacle wherever we go) and we're always happy to meet new people and talk about our setup and our journey. Plus, we always get such fantastic pro tips from RV'ers.
The night at Devil's Tower was followed by a short drive through the Black Hills to Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Our intention was to tour the park and stay the evening, but the weather had other ideas. After unhitching and setting up camp (where we spotted our first T@b of the trip!), we set out to explore the park.
As we were nearing the end of the park, the air had a pre-storm feel to it. Ryan checked the radar, as Ryan does, and there were some storms popping up to our south. We forged ahead to Wall (of Wall Drug fame) for some dinner fixings. Ryan continued to monitor the radar and noticed that the storms were only getting bigger, they were all producing hail, and that two of them had funnel clouds. We were now under a tornado watch.
As I raced us back to camp, we hemmed and hawed over what to do. Do we pack up and go or do we weather the storm? We decided that it was better to forgo our $18 camping fee if it meant we saved ourselves from a tornado, or at the very least, thousands of dollars worth of hail damage to the car and camper.
We only had moments to spare if we were to make it out ahead of the storm and we packed up camp in record time. We headed east and out of the line of storms. We were aiming for a Walmart parking lot about two hours from Badlands. About 30 minutes out we noticed a lot of lightning. It turns out we were headed directly into another severe storm and tornado watch area!
We made it to our parking lot camp in Mitchell (sadly, we didn't see the Corn Palace), at the very edge of the tornado watch box. Without exaggeration, we were within pixels of a tornado watch. After prayers to the weather gods and Tom Skilling, the line of storms gave us one small burst of rain, but we were otherwise unscathed. I have never been so thankful for a weather nerd husband.
Today was driving. Lots and lots of driving, mostly through South Dakota and Iowa. Once again we find ourselves in a Walmart parking lot, tonight is Des Moines, but we have set ourselves up nicely for a short jaunt to Batavia tomorrow.