Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day 4: First Camping Adventure

The Jeep in Chicago

Emily was kind enough to give us a ride from her place back to the Jeep in the morning so we could get on the road bright and early. We set out around 8am for a 10 hour trip to get to the border of South Dakota and Minnesota. I'd never been to either of those states so of course it was awesome.

What's less awesome is that I'm sick. We picked up some sudafed and vitamin c and are hoping for the best, although Brian doesn't stand a chance of avoiding my plague after spending hours every day in a car with me. But he claims he has "the immune system of an ox" so we'll see. 

At the start of the day we were already 1000 miles into the trip 
and our gas mileage had fallen to 16.2 mpg. Sad. 

We stopped in a town northwest of Chicago to stock up on groceries and buy some camping gear we still needed like a cooler, some collapsible bowls, and an awesome camp towel. We also stopped at Chick-fil-A for breakfast but we ordered lunch so we had to wait for it. After a few minutes one of the cashiers came out with a free sandwich because it was taking a few extra minutes to cook us lunch during breakfast. She also got me some water and brought it to the table. Talk about customer service. 

We finally got back on the road sometime around 10:30.

Minnesota was pretty cool. There are so many windmills! It seemed like almost everyone had installed a wind farm in their fields. Brian tried to get a good picture but it was hard at 80 mph. (Don't worry, mom; the speed limit was 75.) Speaking of fields, these were probably the biggest I'd ever seen and only got bigger. A lot of rolling hills and farmland. It was beautiful.

Driving is serious business, as you can tell. And Brian tried to claim the steering 
wheel is as big as me but it's totally not. Just for the record.

We spent ALL DAY on interstate 90. All 550 miles or whatever. I took over driving around 12:45 and drove the rest of the way to our campground at Big Sioux Recreation Area in South Dakota. We arrived around 7:30pm. Driving up to it there was nothing around but corn and farmhouses so we were a bit concerned we would be sleeping in the middle of a farmer's field. But Brian had seen a picture of the campsite when he reserved it and claimed there were trees around it. Just as we arrived, civilization popped up out of nowhere. Turns out the park was practically in a neighborhood and down the street from the local elementary school.

The campsite Brian had reserved was super cute and set back in the woods a little bit. Brian nixed the walk right away. Apparently his definition of car camping doesn't include having to walk to your campsite. So we drove around and found another site. This one with fewer mosquitos, so I was okay with the switch. We set up camp with all our awesome new gear. (Thanks for the tent and sleeping bags, Muldoons!)

Brian lighting his new lantern which is still a mystery to me

After checking in with the park ranger and buying some firewood we headed into town to find D batteries. You see, Brian had bought an air mattress and pump at Walmart when we were in Naperville, but we discovered at Emily's that the pump wasn't the electric one shown on the box. Andy bailed us out that night and let us borrow his air pump, but we'd forgotten that we didn't have a functioning pump until we went to blow up the airbed in our tent. So we set out to find batteries. 

Brian blowing up the air mattress in the tent

After the only gas station in town had only 2 (we needed 4), we headed to the Sunshine Food Store. We found batteries but on the way to the battery section we passed the rum and that got Brian to thinking. Anyone who's been to the Virgin Islands already knows where this is going. Long story short, we ended up with 4D batteries and all the ingredients for painkillers, including a gallon of water that we had to drink so we could mix the painkillers in the jug. Yeah, we thought of everything.

I would be remiss (and in trouble) to leave out the part where Brian saved the day when the good old Sunshine Food Store didn't have coconut cream. Just as we were about to walk out he had a stroke of genius and grabbed some frozen pina colada mix. Disaster averted.

Brian making painkillers. There goes all the rum.

Brian mixed up the painkillers, but we opted for a bottle of wine with mac and cheese for dinner so we haven't had them yet. I'll report back about the pina colada substitution when we do.

The Jeep looking classy at our campsite

The campground was pretty nice, though suburban. We spent the evening enjoying our campfire and relaxing after a long day in the car. The weather report predicted rain overnight and we started to feel it around 11pm so we packed things back into the Jeep and retreated to the tent.

Another good day on the road.


  1. My third comment. Where's everybody else?

    The fruit juices in the Painkillers should help your cold. Not to mention the rum.

    Fine looking campfire. Glad you enjoyed today's scenery. I've never been to SD. And I'm old.

  2. Maybe you should stop by the Toyota dealer in Rapid City and trade in for a Prius
    Hope that you make it to the Black Hills, one of our favorite spots on earth
    Brian's Grandmother is visiting the other SD with us and likes the blog Gail
    Happy trails
    Uncle Mike

  3. Pretty camp site, Sunset Magazine worthy I'd say. Painkillers and anything with coconut are Marc's favorite drinks so we are jealous!