The next morning we were up at 6:00am and ready to go so we left for Pierre, South Dakota. This time we had perfect traveling weather so it was easy to pack in the miles. It was still, sunny and the temperature climbed steadily until it hit 10C (52F). We saw a herd of antelope, many pheasants, deer and a coyote. There were many flocks of Canada Geese on the still open water. Traffic was light. The roads were clear. We soon left snow behind.
However as we traveled we listened to the weather forecast and it was going to get messy. There was a big winter blast crossing Nebraska and northern Kansas. At a stop with internet, we checked the weather and discussed our options. One would be to continue on past Pierre, South Dakota and keep driving as long as possible and then get up as early as we could and drive like crazy. If we could do it, and if the weather did what was forecast, we could run ahead of the storm and let it go by to the north. Our next option would be to stick to schedule and just wing it and risk finding ourselves in a blizzard. The third option was the best option. Since we would be just north of the main weather system we could sit tight there and let the whole mess go past us to the south, give it a day for the roads to be cleared and then carry on. We talked it over and decided we are not traveling to get somewhere by the quickest route. We are migrating south and enjoying ourselves on the way. A three night stop would suit us best.
We arrived at our campground in Pierre, South Dakota by 3:00pm. There is a new and spreading fad in state parks which requires you make your reservation in advance or you have to telephone the registration system. There is no one on duty to take you money or show you around. I got someone on the telephone who was nice enough but so slow it made me grit my teeth in frustration. We eventually got registered. One of the nasty things about the system is the telephone person can’t tell you things like the washrooms are closed or where do you find potable water. Once we were registered we drove around the campground and discovered the washrooms were closed. Lesson learned. No matter what the sign says, from now on we drive in and check everything out before we call. It turned out to be all right though because the dump station was open and had potable water. Since it was well above freezing it was probably okay to dewinterize now. We just had to drain the antifreeze, flush the system, and then fill up. Since there were only four campers at the campground and no one waiting to use the dump, we did the whole procedure at the dump site. It was sunny and pleasant it was actually fun and easy in the bright sunshine.
We got our rig settled into a nice site. We were delighted to discover the park had internet. It was really slow but it worked. Misty refused to settle down. This place was too wonderful, exciting, with too many wonderful things to smell. We ended up taking her for a nice long walk in the warmth and sunshine. It was a welcome pleasure after the cold of Manitoba in November. As often happens after a long drive, I was tired out and I ended up crawling into bed at 7:30pm. It was such a relief to be stopped in safe place without worrying about driving the next day in a snowstorm. I fell asleep and slept right through the night until 7:00am, nearly twelve hours. Wow what a glorious dawn we had! It was so lovely it was breathtaking. Red sky at dawning, definitely foul weather coming.
We had two very pleasant quiet days while we watched the storm system to the south go from winter weather advisory to blizzard warning to a state of emergency in Kansas. I was so glad we did not try to rush through or wing it. Each day, we took Misty for nice long walks several times and enjoyed the peace and quiet. The lake was still open and there were geese on the lake. Each day more of the lake froze in the cold until on the last day there was just a small open area where the geese were.
Hunters were nearby and the geese were really skittish. We could hear the shots. The park itself was closed to hunters so the geese were fleeing here. One of the hunters would drive by to where the geese were resting and wave his arms and honk and the geese, not understanding the idea of a no hunting zone, took off flying right back unto the hunters range. There is definitely some bird dog in our pup from her golden retriever mom because every time a shot went off Misty got all excited and headed for the water. Fortunately, we had her on the long leash because the ice was thin and she could have gotten into big trouble out there if she broke through.
We had one interesting find. We came across a small frozen turtle. Following the rule we learned from Gulf Specimen Marine Lab about torpid turtles, it isn’t dead unless you warm it up and it starts to smell bad. We brought the turtle into our camper for the night. By morning it was obvious the turtle was indeed dead and not torpid. The shell is lovely so at some point when we are near a live ant hill, we’ll let the ants clean the flesh and keep the shell as a souvenir.
After our three night break the blizzard had moved away and we packed up and headed for Nebraska. At the dump we made an alarming discovery. Our sewer outlet had from up. ARRGG!! We forgot about that and hadn’t protected the outlet to prevent freezing. We should have remembered it since we do enough cold weather camping but we forget. Fortunately, our trailer is underweight so we could continue traveling with the grey and black water tanks partly full. Nebraska was our next stop.