The first leg of our trip.
We made a short pitstop in Reno to see my old buddy Steve. He works in an awesome place with trails right behind his office, so we took a short hike and saw a scary huge spider!
Our first scheduled night of camping was in Wendover, Nevada. This place had the worst reviews of all the places I looked at for our whole trip. Had I arrived during the day, I might not have stayed there as it has a trailer park behind it that looks all Mad Max Post Apocalyptic, and not the Mad Max like our cool friends hanging out at the Thunder Dome Dirt Rave in the desert!
I forgot about the time change and arrived in the dark, not only breaking my rule of driving at night, but watching the temperature read out on my car drop from 75 to 43 degrees! It was 46 degrees when I set up camp, 14 degrees colder than the projected weather. Luckily I had some heavy fingerless gloves in my car by chance.
Tent set up was easy with the budget $8 head lamp I got, which gets a lot brighter if you accidentally take the light lense housing off! It was windy and tricky to get the rain fly on, but I devised a system of hooking it to the top of the new coleman tent spikes, which have a rectangular head with a small hole, and then moving it to the lower rings. It would’ve been a super pain in the ass if I had just used the stakes that came with the tent. Glad I got the Coleman kit, also because the ground was dusty and hard, the mallet was awesome! This place was a dustbowl! It was too cold to write that night.
It’s just a stop over KOA, but the people were nice, the bathrooms were clean, and the showers had a full lockable door, which makes it easy to bring your dog in. The site, though dusty, had a picnic table on one side of the parking spot, and a pretty big tenting area.
Tho it is work to break down in the morning, I liked making coffee and then breaking camp, it woke me up for the drive. I kinda burnt myself lighting the stove cuz the flame was colorless lol
Tent held up great over night despite the crazy wind, our budget Coleman Green Valley Sleeping bag kept us warm, and Chico just knew what to do, he handled it like a pro, knew to move so I could reach the zipper, and the climb right back in, etcBLeaving Wendover at 8 AM was surreal, all the little casino parking lots had loud speakers playing Beyoncé and TLC.
This is where things start to get a little wonky for me. The first leg of the trip I planned to stop in cities and take photos of signs, but also get in an hour hike every day until I got to Michigan. I made a couple stops, but as I got near the next KOA in Laramie Wyoming, I think my transmission started to slip because it was overheating.( I made the other 1200 miles with no problems, but I drove slower just in case, which meant less time for stopping.) This of course happened Labor Day weekend, on Sunday night. I couldn’t get my car looked at even if I wanted to. So, I traveled on. A couple years ago a friend talked me into getting the top tier AAA Road Service,in which you can get your car towed 200 miles, and I have used the regular service when traveling before, and I feel confident in it.
We got a Kamping Kabin at the Laramie KOA. It was cute! It was still daylight when we got there, and I took him to the doggy play area, and it had some agility equipment ! The Kabin locked so I left Chico in there and took a shower. These showers had 3/4 doors that locked. The staff was really cool and nice and let me bring him in the store:)
We watched a lightning storm from the porch swing before going to bed. Next morning I went to Reilly’s Auto parts for some antifreeze just in case I had some kind of leak and the car had overheated the day before despite no warning lights and my gauges being normal, and it wasn’t the transmission that over heated. I should’ve bought this a ahead of time, as I had to buy universal antifreeze, they didn’t have the BMW blue juice. Also saw some awesome signs!
The exact moment we crossed the border into Nebraska ‘Carry on My Wayward Son’ came on the radio, it was a Sam and Dean moment, as in the Supernatural show they spend a lot of time in Nebraska fighting demons, and they are originally from Kansas, and this is the epic arch song of the show. I wondered about what kind of gas mileage they get in Dean’s 1967 Impala, and if it is more practical than my car for a road trip. I also decide that I would love to take a Supernatural tour of the Midwest!
Well, the lightning storm should’ve been a hint! A heavy down pour started near
the end of our Monday drive and I decided to stay in Omaha instead of Des Moines. Wow, that was some crazy driving!
I didn’t feel like putting up my tent in the rain, so I chickened out and got another Kamping Kabin, this one was really nice, had air conditioning and a TV, was nestled in shady trees–which made me nervous about the storm
knocking them over on us lol. They also had a really nice dog area with some agility equipment. This KOA charged me $10 extra to have a dog in a Kabin, but, it was worth it for the dog play area. We fell asleep to crickets and cicadas. I didn’t get to stop in Lincoln, Nebraska like I wanted, but, I guess that’s another trip:)
My conclusion at the end of this leg was that as a solo traveler, a woman traveling alone with a dog, I like KOAS even though they are more expensive than standard campground because of all their resort type things which I don’t use. They are usually right off the freeway which is good if maybe you are like me and might have car trouble, as well as I feel safe as you don’t have to interact with many people if you don’t want to since you don’t have to drive through a whole town, and down long 2 lane highways where you can be seen–I could be comp0letely wrong about this, but I suppose it’s hard for me as a city gal to wrap my head around staying alone at a National Park where you might be one of the only campers. being from high crime rate cities, I am still amazed that you can leave your tent, and it will be there when you get back!
At KOAs If you get there late they tape your info to the office window, or have a late registration box if you didn’t reserve in advance. The stuff at their stores have been fairly priced so far. They seem to be everywhere too which is great if you have an emergency.