Day 6: Native American Scenic Byway

Just after Pepper and I settled in for bed last night a huge thunderstorm rolled in with massive thunder and lightning. She was not thrilled about being in the bus during the storm. A couple of those lightning strikes seemed really close. Especially since we were in a field of grass and nothing taller than the bus anywhere. Skoolie life is always an adventure, even when you are parked!

I made coffee this morning and took my first shower in the bus (I’d been able to shower in campgrounds up to this point) and while I can’t say it was the best shower, it was the best shower I’ve ever had in a school bus!

After the shower came the moment of truth. Would the bus start? After yesterday’s issues I was nervous, but hopeful. Luckily she fired right up! We headed off to Pierre to check out the capitol city of South Dakota, and of course the capitol building.

​​After a quick walk around the capitol (which was more for Pepper than anything) we piled back in the bus and headed out for our 250 mile trek to the Bismarck, ND area. We don’t have firm plans but I’ve heard that Fort Abraham Lincoln is a beautiful state park on the banks of the Missouri River. If they have space, that’s where I’ll spend the night.

I topped off the diesel in Pierre just to make sure we’d have plenty of fuel for the trip. A lot of people ask me how the gas mileage is in the school bus. Well let me tell you, I didn’t buy a school bus for the fuel economy. I get about 6 miles to a gallon of diesel. That means I can go about 250-275 miles on a tank. But gas stations are usually much closer together than that. Usually.

After filling up we headed off on the scenic route to Bismarck via the Native American Scenic Byway which runs up from Nebraska, but I’ll be taking the part from Pierre to the North Dakota border. It’s a wandering route through the lands of the Yankton, Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux Tribes. What I didn’t realize when I started the trip is that there aren’t ANY gas stations along the route. I went 250 miles without seeing any type of store. The route is very rural and I’m lucky I filled up before leaving or I would have run out of fuel. I also didn’t realize that 30 miles of the trip are on dirt roads. Well maintained dirt roads, but still bone shaking in a bus. All that being said, it was absolutely worth the drive for the views alone.

I crossed the border into North Dakota unceremoniously (there isn’t even a sign) and made my way to Fort Abraham Lincoln state park, a place I’d ready about somewhere during my trip planning, but I’d kinda forgotten about it until I arrived. It’s an old Cavalry fort along the banks of the Missouri River just outside Bismarck, ND. The campground is nicely shaded and there was a lovely breeze coming off the river to cool things down. I’m looking forward to cooking dinner and relaxing in the shade. Maybe even string up my hammock. Pepper seems to like that she can just chill in the shade and cool grass too.

UPDATE: Dinner was a complete success! Grilled chicken, broccoli slaw, and pickled asparagus from a truck stop I passed by. Seriously. And tasty! Paired with a Brush Creek Blonde from Bonfire Brewing in Colorado for a taste of home.

After dinner the wind calmed down so I decided to go for a paddle! I can now add the Missouri River to the bodies of water I've paddleboarded in! And let me tell you a swiftly moving river is a different paddling experience! Luckily I decided to go up stream first.