The Great California Escape – Weeks Three & Four

The Great California Escape – Weeks Three & Four

The Great California Escape – Week Three and Four

When we decided that we couldn’t be in California another day and started out on our trek, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally never crossed my mind. We had business to take care of in Box Elder, South Dakota, next to Rapid City. The entire area is inundated with bikers in the first half of August. As the owner of a famous biker bar for over twenty-two years, I appreciate them more than I can say. However, my honey was not excited about sharing the highway with thousands of them while driving a motorhome. Finding an RV park to stay in anywhere in the area was also impossible, so we decided to putt around North Dakota for a bit.

Our first stop at the Camp on the Heart in Dickenson, North Dakota, wasn’t much of an RV park, but for a two-night stay, it worked. We had full hookups, and it was only $30.00 a night. The nice fella who runs the park works another full-time job, but he promptly answers his cell phone and is very accommodating. He told us to pick a spot when we arrived and that when he got home from work, he’d collect the funds for our stay. The weather was finally cool enough to sit outside, and Paddy was thrilled to be in his playhouse. I took a walk and met up with a couple of horses that had a blast sniffing my hair. I love the way I seem to be meeting up with horses and cows on my walks.

Our next North Dakota stay was at the Bismarck KOA. I requested that we have a site that would afford us satellite service, and it wound up being a mistake. The beautiful wooded sites were further from the highway and much nicer. The new full hookup sites have no problem with satellite reception because they are basically in a gravel parking lot. They are right next to the road. It was a nice park, and I used the laundry to wash sheets and towels. I’d chosen Bismarck because they were supposed to have the largest RV dealership in North Dakota. Their website listed nine motorhomes for sale there. That turned out to be a complete misrepresentation. We used Lyft to get there, and it was a complete waste of our time and money.

We are just being looky-loos at this juncture, but there was nothing to look at. The two motorhomes on the lot were nothing special. There weren’t any restaurants within walking distance, so we had to call for another Lyft. The good news was that Lyft was available. Many cities that used to have Uber and Lyft drivers lost them to COVID. It’s unfortunate. So many jobs gone that will never come back. Anyway, for those of you thinking about visiting North Dakota, Bismarck is a pretty large city with lots of shopping and restaurants, and there is plenty to do in the area. Without the luxury of a car to drive around, a four-night stay was plenty, and we headed to South Dakota.

The South Whitlock Resort in Gettysburg, South Dakota, was our next stop, and it was a nice one. There isn’t much to do in the area unless you like to fish and hunt. It was unseasonably hot like just about every place we’ve been. The park was relatively empty. The sweet gal in the store where you check-in told us that it had been so hot that the fisherman gave up fishing. She said the fish go so deep to get to cooler water that they are dead by the time they are reeled in. The store was loaded with fishing gear. They had every lure you could imagine. They also had many necessities available, which is good because it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere. It’s a pretty park with easy access from the highway. Surprisingly, there was a great little restaurant right across the parking lot. We enjoyed visiting with the locals and ate there twice. I had a great place to walk. I walked down to the lake every day that we were there, and the walk back up the hill was torture. It was great, though. I love to feel the burn from a walk. However, after a few days of it, getting out of my chair was a challenge. I would gladly stay there again. Full hookups were only $27.00 a night. A little more extended stay would be great if we had a vehicle and could explore the area. Maybe next time.

Presho, SD, was our next stop, and the New Frontier RV Park was lovely. It, too, had a bar and grill within walking distance. Are you seeing a theme here? We love visiting with locals and enjoying good food and beverages. If I have a good place to walk, it is the icing on the cake. Our stay there was pleasant, and we almost stopped there again when we left Box Elder. We are changing our domicile to South Dakota, as I told you in my earlier post. A prerequisite to doing that is staying at least one night in Pennington County. America’s Campground in Box Elder has seen a lot of folks from California. America’s Mailbox does a lot of business there as well as the Escapees, which we belong to. While I was waiting to get checked in, I chatted with a man that not only had escaped California but had once lived in Shingletown. What are the odds of meeting someone in South Dakota from our tiny town?

The campground is pretty much a parking lot. We had full hookups, and Lyft was available to take us to the Pennington County Treasurers Office, where we switched our California plates to South Dakota ones. Our motorhome registration was $1000.00 less in S.D. When we find a tow vehicle, I’m sure that it cost a lot less for that too. Crazy Cali will tax you to death. We met a lot of people that were changing their domiciles. Our next-door neighbor was switching from Delaware. We met the sweetest folks from San Diego, and they were very helpful because they had already gone through the process. That is one of the best things about living on the road. You meet the nicest people from all over the place.

We are SO happy not to be in California and to be enjoying our trek across the country. We’ve experienced a variety of RV parks, and most have been good. We covered over 20 states staying in many places for only one or two nights on our first cross-country trip. We don’t roll that way anymore. We prefer to keep our miles down to 200 a day and spend at least two nights at our destinations. We’ve been amazed by how many campgrounds look empty on our arrival and then fill up, some people pulling in as late as 7:00 p.m. We try to be settled wherever we stay before 3:00. The next day those same people are gone by 10:00 a.m. We are so blessed to be taking our time. We’re flying by the seat of our pants in many ways. Sometimes I don’t make our reservation until the day before we leave. So far, that’s working just fine.

Thanks for tuning in and taking this voyage with us. I’m excited to bring you along. It’s easier to post all of my pictures on our Facebook RV Road Trip with Tom, Cat, and Paddy page, so if you want to see them all, be sure to check it out.

God bless you. Keep on praying and believing. God’s not done with us yet.

A Little Too close For Comfort

A Little Too close For Comfort

With fires raging all over California, living in a forest is a bit scary. When a blaze started only a couple of miles away from our house two days ago, it was way too close for comfort for Tommy and me. We have owned our Shingletown, California property for over seven years but only recently moved into our finished home on it. We have friends who have lived here for more than ten years, and they have been evacuated due to fire only once. That contributed to my sense of optimism about living in a wooded area and remaining safe from fires: that, and daily prayer.

Our friends, the Frisbee’s, are part of a fire watch team and are notified immediately about any local threats. When Dave called us on Tuesday afternoon, we assumed it was just to chat. Instead, he informed Tommy that there was a car fire on Shingletown Ridge Road and that five acres had already burned because of it. Our home is on Shingletown Ridge Road, so this was a bit disconcerting. I was working on my computer when Tommy jumped into the ATV to take a drive and see how far away the fire was and how bad it looked. If I’m honest, I wasn’t in a panic at all. I was typing away on my computer when Tommy came blowing through the door and said, “Pack a bag! We’re leaving!”

My calm demeanor went right out the window with that statement. My natural instinct was to ask my husband what he meant, which was a stupid question in retrospect. He’d gone down our road far enough to see lots of firetrucks when he stopped to talk to a man in a truck headed the other way. The man told him that the blaze was enormous. Tommy turned around and headed home. While Tommy was battening down the hatches outside, I wandered around the house in a bit of a stupor. Since the Frisbee’s hadn’t said that we should evacuate, I wondered if Tommy was overreacting.

I had thrown a couple of changes of clothes and some toiletries into a bag when Dave called again and told me that the fire had jumped to a hundred acres. Now I was in full-on freakout mode, chastising myself for not having a plan in place for this very occasion. I was frantically running around the house, trying to decide what to throw into my car when Dave called again and said that someone had shared information about the wrong fire. Our fire was at 15 acres, and they seemed to be getting a handle on it. Linda Frisbee called back shortly afterward and told me that an evacuation had been ordered and that we should come to their house, which is further up Highway 44. She said I could put our cat, Paddy, in her office and hang out with them until it was okay to return home.

Of all of the times to have the motorhome in for repairs and warranty work, this was very inconvenient. Paddy is very comfortable in the RV, and packing him and necessities up in the motorhome would have been much easier and less stressful. I threw our laptops and other items that I thought were important into the back of my car, and Tommy put some of his guns in his truck. He got Paddy into his carrier, which is something that he always leaves for me to do. This was serious!

I’m sure our poor cat was feeling our tension. Paddy screamed at the top of his lungs all the way to the Frisbee’s house. This made an already difficult situation even more distressing. Once I was situated in Linda’s office with Paddy and a much-needed cocktail, I started to calm down a little. Apparently, my emotions hadn’t told my face. Linda kept asking me if I was okay and assuring me that the first time something like this happens is the scariest. Damn skippy, it is.

Paddy calmed down and was busy checking out the new surroundings and enjoying some food that Linda provided. However, I insisted that I was more worried about him than anything else. She rolled her eyes a little when she told me that he was handling the situation much better than I was. I hate to admit that she was right.

I’m thrilled to tell you that Cal Fire and the Shingletown Volunteer Fire Department were fantastic. Within an hour of arriving at the Frisbee’s, we were informed by the Shingletown Emergency Defense Radio Service that Highway 44 and been reopened, and the evacuation notice had been lifted. I declined Linda’s kind offer to stay longer. I just wanted to be in my own house with my cat. Tommy stayed a little while and visited with Dave.

This scare brought to light the fact that we had no plan in place for evacuation. I’d been reading many posts on Facebook from people who were either in harm’s way and scared or evacuated. A friend who survived the Paradise fire but lost everything had posted an excellent readiness list, sharing from her own experience. And yet, I had done nothing. I was so sure that we are protected because of prayer that I failed to use wisdom. God promises his protection, but he also advises us to use sound judgment. Being prepared in case of an emergency is the wise thing to do. I’m now working on a better plan. I’ll have to look for my friend’s list again.

We dodged a catastrophe, and I am so grateful. I’ve walked The Ridge, which I refer to as “the hill” every other day since we got settled on our property six months ago. I’d walked it the morning of the fire, and I did again today. Seeing the burnt-out area up close and personal made me even more grateful. Firefighters were hosing down the area to make sure there were no hotspots left. The car that had started the blaze was sitting where it landed, wedged up against the tree that stopped its descent. I checked it out from every angle and wondered how the heck it got into that position. A huge boulder and another tree were enveloping it. It just didn’t make any sense to me.

I continued my walk farther down the hill, and on my return, I stopped to talk to a firefighter that was inspecting the area close to the car. I told him about my confusion as to how the car got there. He said that the car died while driving up the road, and without its power brakes, the driver couldn’t stop it from sliding back down the hill. The driver made it out okay, but apparently, the car caught on fire. As of the last report, the reason that car burned is still unknown. The whole thing is a bit odd to me. I’m looking forward to hearing more about how it happened.

As you can see from the pictures, the firefighters stopped what could have easily escalated into a huge disaster. Beyond every burnt area is dry brush and trees. There is a house within 100 yards of where the car landed. I thanked the firefighter profusely before continuing my trek up the hill. I said, “God bless you and keep you safe.” He was so unassuming and humble. “Just doing our job as best we can,” he replied. I can not begin to express how grateful I am for our public servants. So many of them are being treated horribly. Our dictator, governor Newscum, had the audacity to cut our firefighters’ wages by 7.5%. Meanwhile, he failed to take the 10% payout that he promised he would. He is the highest-paid governor in the United States. And look at the mess we are in.

I don’t want to make this a political post, but if you haven’t signed the Recall Newsom Petition, you should do it as soon as possible. This man needs to go, and we need to take back the state that we were once all so proud of. I’m praying for a Red Wave in California. I hope you all get out and vote.

Copyright © 2020 Charisse Tyson