After we left the Indian Fort Fish Access site we headed east to Billings, Montana. We didn’t plan to spend more than a night so we opted to boondock (camp overnight without hook-ups) in the Cabela’s parking lot.
Cabela’s is awesome in that most locations have trailer parking (read: big, long spots) along the side or in the back of the parking lot. You can park overnight for FREE in Cabela’s parking lots as long as you’re just staying a night. You don’t put up the awnings, pull out the lawn chairs and set up shop, you just use it as a stop gap between locations. We don’t even feel comfortable unhitching the trailer – although some people do.
Due to limited space – it was a popular place – we ended up parking right next to the horse stalls (yes, they have “parking” for horses, too), which meant our spot was a bit more fragrant than most. It was hot and humid – and when you’re not plugged into electricity you can’t use your air conditioner.
We spent some time browsing in Cabelas (air conditioning and a cool aquarium!) and we bought some fudge. If you buy something inside Cabela’s you get a secret code to use the dump and water station – without the $5 fee. I’d rather buy fudge than pay the dumping fee. 🙂
At one point, we walked to a nearby neighborhood park to get some wiggles out. The kids loved this merry go round – I haven’t seen these on a playground in ages! We all hopped on and got the dizzy giggles.
But that’s as exciting as it got in Billings.
We woke up early the next morning ready to head to an awesome dry camping spot in Wyoming. We filled up our water tank, dumped our grey and black tanks, and hit the road.
About 30 minutes into our drive, we opted to stop at a rest stop for a quick break. When we did a walk around on the trailer (which we do at every stop) we discovered a constant stream of water coming from our fresh water tank. That’s not normal. It was NOT coming from the drain valve.
So we spent the next couple hours at the rest stop trying to diagnose the problem before heading too much farther from Billings – figuring if we needed to turn around, we’d rather do it earlier than later. I’m grateful to my handsome husband for climbing under the trailer, laying in the cold, dripping water, trying to pull off the panel to look at the fresh water tank. Although we couldn’t see it 100%, we concluded that the water tank had a hairline crack near a plug that had likely been tightened too much during the construction of the trailer. The fresh water tank is where you store clean water for when you aren’t hooked up, via a hose, to a water source. This fresh water tank allows you to go to a dry campground and be able to flush a toilet, wash the dishes or even take a shower – without a hose hook-up. We would need to get it fixed.
The closest Airstream authorized repair shops were – Missoula (Montana) and Minneapolis (Minnesota). While at the rest stop, I called these shops and both were booked out 2.5 weeks, with the earliest appointments on August 5. We made an appointment for the Minneapolis Airstream dealer (we wanted to keep heading East) on August 5 and changed our immediate camping reservations from dry campsites to private campgrounds with water hook-ups.
Then we hopped back on the freeway and continued our journey south to Wyoming. On our way south we had planned to stop at Little Bighorn National Monument. Due to the two hour delay at the rest stop we hit the Little Bighorn National Monument right after lunch and the parking lot was jam-packed. There wasn’t one trailer spot left in the whole place, so we pulled into the parking lot and pulled right back out. 🙁
The last 24 hours had been frustrating. Sleeping in a humid and hot trailer, near a horse stall in a parking lot, dealing with a broken water tank and all the logistics required to keep us on the road, and then having to skip a spot we were looking forward to visiting. . .it hadn’t gone as planned.
But we just kept on trucking. We knew we’d have frustrations like this on the road. We expected it. And we knew that the water tank – although frustrating and inconvenient, was a minor repair (under warranty) that would eventually be fixed. We knew that if we were still living in a house – we’d still have repairs, frustrating days and things that don’t go as planned. It’s all about perspective folks, and finding the blessings and blue skies, in between the road bumps.
So we just kept on trucking and going with the flow. We stayed at a KOA in Buffalo, Wyoming that night – we all went for a long swim in the pool and slept hard, waking up refreshed and ready to start a new day.
The next day we drove to Sundance, Wyoming where we stayed another night at an RV park. Although initially we had planned to spend more time exploring in Wyoming, we just wanted to keep heading east – toward Minneapolis, so we could be there in time for the repair.
After only two nights in Wyoming we headed into Spearfish, South Dakota. . . .