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Old 08-01-2012, 07:38 PM   #1
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The Great Northern Redneck Adventure - Final Planning

Well, time is drawing near for my first transcontinental Truck Camper adventure at long last!

Time to finally add more states to my rather pathetic states map .



For a great many months I wondered if this trip was going to ever be anything more than a pipe dream, especially earlier in the year when doom forecasts of $5.00/gal gasoline was being shouted from the highest roof tops and fuel prices were in a rapid spiral up.

But, sanity eventually prevailed and the doom that was proclaimed did not occur and I ended up being wise in my planning to simply keep saving and see how things panned out.

So, now, with roughly 4.5 weeks left on my work contract, I am finally starting to come down to the departure wire and am thoroughly looking forward to my first adventure with the Redneck Express out of Oregon and further away than she's ever been before.

Over the course of the past year, I've been on and off doing a little planning to get the main route down, and this is the map I have thus far, though it does not detail a great many stops along the way that will likely occur, it does give a general mileage map of my route.

31421 NW Reeder Rd, Portland, OR 97231 to 31421 NW Reeder Rd, Portland, OR 97231 - Google Maps

I may end up needing to break the map down into multiple parts as I've actually run up against the limit of route adjustments/destinations that Google Maps can handle on a single route planner.

Main destinations
  • Lake Coeur D'Alene - Returning to visit the surrounding small towns, like Wallace, Kellogg, Smelterville, etc... and ride some more of the Coeur D'Alene Trail along the converted UP RR right-of-way as well as ride the Route of the Hiawatha Trail along the old Milwaukee Road Right-of-way.
  • Glacier National Park - Returning to visit it again on my own time and schedule. Visited here back in 2004 traveling with family, whose schedule was alot tighter than I would have liked, possibly tour the S&S Factory in Kalispell if they're allowing tours. Also plan to spend a bit more time near Flathead Lake.
  • Yellowstone National Park - First time first to this park for me, originally was planned to visit it back on the same trip that I first saw Glacier in 2004, but never happened.
  • Devil's Gateway - A side stop on the way east to see Devil's Tower, it's a large cut in a rock face that marked a major point along the Oregon Trail.
  • Devil's Tower - Ever since I saw Close Encounters of the Third Kind, I've always wanted to see this fascinating geological creation.
  • Mount Rushmore, Custer National Park, Crazy Horse Monument, The Badlands - Only ever seen photos of these places, more national parks and monuments I've wanted to visit.
  • Wall Drug - Can't truly know how tacky a tourist trap is till you've been there at least once to say, "Yeah, it was just like you said it was."
  • Minnesota & Wisconsin - I know very little of either state and don't even have a clear picture of what they'd look like in my head as I've never seen them as an adult, and their on my way to see Michigan. These are two areas where any insight into Road Side Attractions, Monuments, etc... etc... would be greatly appreciated.
  • Michigan, the UP, the Mackinaw Bridge, Detroit and all the trimmings - Getting close to my mid-way point, here. First state on the route where I have family again. Read a great many tales, some or all possible tall, from books like the Cat Who.... Mysteries and seen a grand panorama of pictures from other TCers who've been there to want to visit. Plus, there's the Ford Museum in Detroit, and any other tidbits I might find in motorcity before turning west to Grand Rapids to visit one of my Uncles.
  • Indiana, Elkhart, the RV Museum, some camper manufacturers - Some more RV related visits along the way, and of course Lafayette to be able to say I've eaten at both of the remaining XXX Root Beer Thirst Stations .
  • Kankakee, IL - The Mid way point I need to reach by September 28-29th. Dawn will be flying into Chicago on the 30th and staying till around the 11th of October to visit with family she's never met and see Chicago and the great many things Lincln. This is where I'll be spending the most time in one spot, visiting Springfield, Chicago, and way down to the south end later on to visit Darwin and his 1st gen Cummins that he did a Dually conversion on . And possibly even over to Pocohontas, IL to say that I've visited the hometown of one of the female Country Musicians I like .
  • More to come as people make suggestions!


So, now, that you know the route and what I've got on my plate so far, it's time for all of youins to offer up what I'm missing, the Diners, Drive Ins, Dives, Tourist Traps, Corny Road Side Attractions, and so on.

I won't be able to make this trip again, at least not for a few years and I want to see everything I can.

I'd love to go further east, and I may yet, depending on fuel prices and how much money has been spent by the time I reach the mid-way point.

I dream of going all the way to the other side to reach the other ocean that only exists as words in my mind, but I can only save so much money up in the time I have left, and there's still so much that the truck and camper need done to get them ready to handle a 6000 mile adventure such as this.

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Old 08-01-2012, 08:01 PM   #2
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My only suggestion is don't do it too fast! We did a trip a couple years ago 9000 mi, and didn't take the time to stop and enjoy some of the places. Have a great journey, and keep us posted.
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Old 08-01-2012, 08:11 PM   #3
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We're at Devils Tower right now. The KOA right outside the gates shows Close Encounters in the restaurant every night at 7pm. You can just walk in, sit down and watch it. No need to buy anything. Kinda weird watching the movie and looking out the window to see the real thing!
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Old 08-01-2012, 08:13 PM   #4
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"Wall Drug - Can't truly know how tacky a tourist trap is till you've been there at least once to say, "Yeah, it was just like you said it was."

Yes, it is truly tacky, but I believe South of the Border on I95 holds the all time tackiness record.

"Mount Rushmore, Custer National Park, Crazy Horse Monument, The Badlands - Only ever seen photos of these places, more national parks and monuments I've wanted to visit."

Did them all in the last couple of weeks. We found no need to go in to Mt Rushmore and pay $11 for parking. Drive the Needles Highway and there are some great photo spots, better than close up. Crazy Horse is a commercial development, very tourist trap. Good photo ops from pullouts on US385.

Custer State (not National) Park is worth spending a lot of time if you are into nature and wildlife. We drove the Wildlife drive twice a day, early morning and late afternoon. Drive it counter clockwise in the morning, clockwise in the evening so the sun is always behind you.
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Old 08-01-2012, 08:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdickson View Post
"Wall Drug - Can't truly know how tacky a tourist trap is till you've been there at least once to say, "Yeah, it was just like you said it was."

Yes, it is truly tacky, but I believe South of the Border on I95 holds the all time tackiness record.

+1 on South of the Border

Hey, Redneck, if you make it farther east, come to NC and give me a holler. I'll show you what the east coast version of "Redneck" is. You can camp free on the farm and we'll burn up some meat on the grill. If my mule takes a liking to you, he might let you ride him. YeeeHaww!
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Old 08-01-2012, 08:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slickest1 View Post
My only suggestion is don't do it too fast! We did a trip a couple years ago 9000 mi, and didn't take the time to stop and enjoy some of the places. Have a great journey, and keep us posted.
Gonna be spending 2 months on the road, roughly. Hope to leave sometime between the 6th and 10th of September.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bdickson View Post
We're at Devils Tower right now. The KOA right outside the gates shows Close Encounters in the restaurant every night at 7pm. You can just walk in, sit down and watch it. No need to buy anything. Kinda weird watching the movie and looking out the window to see the real thing!
That might actually be worth checking out, what's their nightly rates like?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bdickson View Post
"Wall Drug - Can't truly know how tacky a tourist trap is till you've been there at least once to say, "Yeah, it was just like you said it was."

Yes, it is truly tacky, but I believe South of the Border on I95 holds the all time tackiness record.

"Mount Rushmore, Custer National Park, Crazy Horse Monument, The Badlands - Only ever seen photos of these places, more national parks and monuments I've wanted to visit."

Did them all in the last couple of weeks. We found no need to go in to Mt Rushmore and pay $11 for parking. Drive the Needles Highway and there are some great photo spots, better than close up. Crazy Horse is a commercial development, very tourist trap. Good photo ops from pullouts on US385.

Custer State (not National) Park is worth spending a lot of time if you are into nature and wildlife. We drove the Wildlife drive twice a day, early morning and late afternoon. Drive it counter clockwise in the morning, clockwise in the evening so the sun is always behind you.
Alot of those are "Likely only going to see it once in my life" stops, as I doubt I will be visiting them again, so, I may spend the money just to spend a bit of extra time.

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Originally Posted by Ramblin View Post
+1 on South of the Border

Hey, Redneck, if you make it farther east, come to NC and give me a holler. I'll show you what the east coast version of "Redneck" is. You can camp free on the farm and we'll burn up some meat on the grill. If my mule takes a liking to you, he might let you ride him. YeeeHaww!
NC will only be one of the stops, as my Godmother lives in SC .
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Old 08-01-2012, 08:47 PM   #7
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You are planning on taking a boatload of pictures to poat, aren't you?
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Old 08-01-2012, 08:57 PM   #8
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That might actually be worth checking out, what's their nightly rates like?
They're not cheap. We're paying $59 a night for 30 amp full hookup. However, its close to Sturgis and next week is the rally, so prices are probably jacked up. There is a campground inside the Monument grounds. Don't know what facilities they have, but we see RV's in there as we drive by. Like I said, you don't need to be staying at the KOA to watch the movie. It's a big restaurant with a "Tour buses welcome" sign outside.
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Old 08-01-2012, 10:16 PM   #9
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We're in Custer SD now. We paid the $11.00 to park for Mt. Rushmore and thought it was worth it. I commented on how small the heads looked as we were driving to them. Once we parked, walked in, and were close to them, they were suddenly big!!
This whole area is amazing. The drive through Custer SP is a must, also. Deadwood SD was a disappointment, but you don't know until you go. If you don't want water or sewer hookups, Custer SP is somewhere around $20.00-25.00 a night with a $15.00 park entry fee for 7 days, which you'll pay anyway to drive through. Enjoy your trip. It looks great!!
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Old 08-02-2012, 10:11 PM   #10
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We're in Custer SD now. We paid the $11.00 to park for Mt. Rushmore and thought it was worth it.
I just couldn't get my head around a multi story parking garage at a National Monument!
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Old 08-02-2012, 10:13 PM   #11
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, Custer SP is somewhere around $20.00-25.00 a night with a $15.00 park entry fee for 7 days, which you'll pay anyway to drive through. Enjoy your trip. It looks great!!
We were there for more than 7 days, and they traded our 7 day pass for an annual pass for just the difference in cost: $13. Cheaper than a second 7 day pass. You have to do it before the 7 day pass expires.
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Old 08-02-2012, 10:16 PM   #12
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Mackinaw City and the Michigan's UP are wonderful places. We just spent a week in that area. In the UP, there is a small zoo, and from there we went to White Fish Point on Lake Superior. We are ready to go back.
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Old 08-02-2012, 10:34 PM   #13
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I may end up needing to break the map down into multiple parts as I've actually run up against the limit of route adjustments/destinations that Google Maps can handle on a single route planner.
Hope you're allowing for changes in your route- in my experience, it's the Side Trips that yield the most memorable experiences. Don't spend more time fretting about keeping to an itinerary than you do enjoying the trip!
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Old 08-03-2012, 01:15 PM   #14
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Quote:
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You are planning on taking a boatload of pictures to poat, aren't you?
I will be running a hopefully real-time series on my blog and reposting it to a number of forums as I go. The blog will always be the first place a post gets made, as I can do them offline and then upload a bunch all at once when I hit an internet stop .

Quote:
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They're not cheap. We're paying $59 a night for 30 amp full hookup. However, its close to Sturgis and next week is the rally, so prices are probably jacked up. There is a campground inside the Monument grounds. Don't know what facilities they have, but we see RV's in there as we drive by. Like I said, you don't need to be staying at the KOA to watch the movie. It's a big restaurant with a "Tour buses welcome" sign outside.
I'll have to keep an eye on it, though, KOA's tend to be pricey just about anywhere ya go .

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Hope you're allowing for changes in your route- in my experience, it's the Side Trips that yield the most memorable experiences. Don't spend more time fretting about keeping to an itinerary than you do enjoying the trip!
Always, the map is just my general route through an area meant to help give people a picture of where I'm going and about where I plan to pass through the state .
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