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Old 11-10-2012, 03:28 AM   #1
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The Road Less Traveled -- Adventures with Rooby Ohio to Glacier from DW's perspective

I was inspired by many others on this forum to share our story about our 21 day cross country trip this summer. My attention turned inward as our trip unfolded though, my posts became infrequent and my focus turned towards just absorbing the whole experience with my family. I regret not continuing the real time reflections for the duration of the trip so i encouraged my DW to try to help me capture our trip from her perspective.

I just read one of her journal entries of one of more memorable adventures and gained her permission to share it with you.

We hope you enjoy it.

"The Road Less Traveled"

We spent much of our summer traveling with our camper, Rooby, behind Babe the Big Blue Ox of a truck. We drove over 6,000 miles, the vast majority of it not on interstate highways. It was a conscious choice. We were setting off to see America.

I hadn’t expected the differences to be as dramatic as they were. We seemed so much closer to everything, not on the interstate. Crops were at our eye level. We could see farmers working and the true scale of farm machinery. We saw beehives everywhere. Boxes, usually white, but sometimes painted bright blue or yellow stacked up on the edges or between cultivated fields. We were able to see cattle crossing guards and drive between fields of towering sunflowers.

Aside from the beauty of it, there was another difference. Gas stations and restaurants are fewer and farther between than they are on the interstate. Stopping points do not come with mile-marker warnings. Not every crossroad is equipped with a service station.

We had left Theodore Roosevelt National Park on a sunny Thursday morning. We were headed west, to Montana and ultimately to Glacier National Park. Traveling from Minnesota to Teddy Roosevelt, we had come through Williston, North Dakota, with its oil-boom congestion and chaos. We’d been nearly blown off the narrow roads by a constant stream of tanker trucks. The rutted roads and overall roughness at every stop had left us with a bad taste in our mouths, which two days of sagebrush and buffaloes hadn’t quite erased.

Rather than backtrack through Williston to US Route 2, as originally planned, we decided to take a more southerly route, on state highways, hoping to avoid the crush. We started out with about a half tank of gas and figured we’d stop at the first gas station we saw. Except we didn’t see any. We didn’t see towns, or houses or other signs of human life, either. Only the occasional pickup truck on a dirt road off in the distance, which caught our eyes only because of the trail of dust it kicked up as it bumbled along on its way to somewhere we couldn’t see.

When the gas gauge dipped below E and we emptied the partially full 5 gallon gas can into the tank, the gauge barely fluttered. The gas can had been a last-minute “why not?” addition to our over-filled truck, containing only what was left from the last lawn mowing before we left.

We didn’t want to scare the kids, but we were on a two lane road in literally, the middle of nowhere. Eastern Montana boasts amber waves of grain but also miles and miles of open rangeland. Its beauty is almost painful, simply because of its scale. I knew at once how Christina felt in her famous World, in that tawny field, her house on the distant horizon, as she lay, crushed by the sky.

Time and again, a sign would tease us with a town name three or five or eleven miles ahead. Time and again, we would slow hopefully, only to find an ancient Esso or Gulf station with rusty pumps and a weedy lot. Kev and I would exchange glances. I’d look again at the map, trying to calculate how many miles to the next town. No sense trying the gps; our cell signal went the way of the traffic and was non-existent. We hadn’t passed another car for miles.

The gas gauge took to beeping, so there was no way to keep the situation a secret any longer. We quietly discussed the merits of stopping before we were completely out of gas or continuing until it ran dry. Kevin would walk with the gas can, while I stayed with the kids. Thanks to Rooby, we had plenty of food and water and even a bathroom. Just no gas.

Betsy was in a state of near panic. Anna was uncharacteristically quiet and Kevin was worried. I thought the whole situation was kind of funny. Or maybe it was just my nerves.

I saw a sign for a town 7 miles ahead. Could we make it? Would there even be a gas station there?

A few more vehicles, mostly trucks, joined us on the road to this Mecca in the wilderness. Buildings began to appear here and there on either side of the road, at first acres apart, then mere yards. Hopes rose.

At once, there we were in smack in the middle of this town. A traffic light at a crossroads; tiny post office on the right, old false facade storefronts on both sides of the cross street.

And then we saw it. An awning shadowed the grimy window and two old-fashioned pumps stood outside. A green dinosaur smiled from the Sinclair sign. Several cars and trucks already flanked the single set of pumps. A cowboy took his time filling the pick up truck in front of us.

“Shouldn’t we turn off the engine while we wait?”

“I’m afraid if we do, there won’t be enough in the tank to restart it.”

“Do you think Rooby will fit under the awning?”

“I hope so!”

Kev got out and greeted the cowboy. Explained how low our tank had gotten. I didn’t hear his reply, but I saw him point to the four gas cans in the bed of his truck, grin and nod his head. The two men laughed. The cowboy smiled and waved as he pulled off.

I turned to the back seat.

“See? There was nothing to worry about!”

I don’t think they believed me.

Kevin, Meg and DDx2
2012 Rockwood Roo 233s
2004 F150 Super Crew 5.4L 3.73 4x4
Days Camped 2012 = 42
Days Camped 2013 = 9 planned before April 1st
Local Ohio CGs - Punderson SP and West Branch SP
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Old 11-10-2012, 07:38 AM   #2
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Charles Kuralt once observed that, "Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything." It's nice to get off of them when you can and enjoy the trip as much as the destination.


Bob Byrne
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Old 11-10-2012, 08:06 AM   #3
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Nice adventure Kevin. I agree with your choice of roads, we traveled through back country Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota on our return trip from Indiana this summer and it is truly beautiful country.

John & Deb
2011 F250 Lariat FX4 Crew Cab 6.2
2011 Flagstaff V-Lite 30WRLS
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Old 11-13-2012, 02:20 PM   #4
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Sounds like a great trip? I think that it is sad about rural America, seems that everyone is moving to the cities. Not just places like ND but also in Texas as well.
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