Day 1: Denver to Hot Springs, SD

Today is the day. I’m headed out for South Dakota as my first stop and I have a reservation at the Hot Springs, SD KOA. I decided on a more established campground for my first spot in case I needed access to services and electrical to fix anything in the bus that might need tweaking.

I set out at about 7:30, said goodbye to my roomie, said goodbye to my Starbucks Baristas (I love them) and hit the road! I headed out I-76 toward Sterling CO. Wow. Northeastern Colorado smells bad! Anyway, Sterling was my first pit stop for diesel (I only had a half tank after the raft trip last weekend).

Next up was the Gold Rush Scenic Byway north along the western edge of Nebraska. I like to make fun of Nebraska for being flat and boring and the whole reason for the invention of driverless cars (so people can sleep through it). But I have to say, western Nebraska is beautiful and green, and filled with rolling hills. I’m so glad I decided on this route.

My first “Oddball” Roadside Attraction was Carhenge. This was a spot I’d heard about for years and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s just outside a cute little town of Alliance, NE and is comprised of a number of vehicles stacked to look like Stonehenge. It’s amusing and best of all was free! And a great spot to pop out of the bus and stretch our legs. And they are super dog friendly and have water and shade for the dogs.

I arrived in Hot Springs, SD around 3:30 and stopped at a little grocery store for some provisions (wish I’d had time to stock up before leaving). I then made my way to the KOA. I’ve never stayed at a private campground before and I’ve heard from other people online that they don’t take kindly to Skoolies (school bus conversions). Well, the Hot Springs KOA couldn’t have been more welcoming. They directed me to my site, helped me back in, and then came back to check on me about an hour later. I settled in and after relaxing for about an hour I started organizing the bus and putting away the things I had just thrown in last minute. Its amazing how much stuff you need (or think you’ll need) for a two month adventure in three separate climates.

After organizing the bus I ate the rest of my burrito from lunch (not braving cooking just yet), took Pepper for a walk, grabbed a quick shower in the campground shower and then headed to bed. My head hit the pillow at 9:30! I was exhausted and I think all the stress and anticipation of getting on the road got the best of me.

One side Note: My Aunt Penny had told me that when she travelled in an RV she was amazed at how many people pull up, plug in their rigs, fire up the A/C and watch TV. I was surprised, but sure enough on both sides of my last night were people who did exactly that.