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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Day 9: A suspenseful night at the Kennebec KOA

Day 9 on my Michigan or Bust road trip I drove 517 miles in 8.5 hours from New Lisbon, WI to Kennebec, South Dakota. I'd planned to stay in the Sioux Falls area and only drive a short day but it was so early by the time I reached Sioux Falls I decided to drive a few more hours and make it halfway across the state staying at the Kennebec KOA Kampgrounds which offers rv spaces, small cabins, and tent sites.

That afternoon I called ahead to make sure they'd have space for The Glampette. They said they would so Kennebec it was. Their signs says that Kennebec is "The nicest little town in South Dakota" and I'd have to agree. The staff here was extremely friendly and pleasant and the grounds very clean and well maintained.

When I pulled up to the KOA office to register I found out there was another tiny trailer spending the night! Cool. I also found out there was a storm warning for the area. The night before I'd already made it through the loudest thunderstorm I'd ever heard or felt so I thought to myself it would be no big deal.

I parked on Pheasant lane. It felt great to be done driving for the day and situated in such a park like setting.

Kitai was happy to be on terra firma. He's been doing OK on the trip. He doesn't love being in the car but I'm certain he's happier with me on the road than sitting at home with the cat while hubby's at work.

Before Kitai could even stretch his legs we'd met our neighbors for the evening. The office was kind enough to send us to the rv slot beside the other tiny trailer. As soon as they saw The Glampette pulling in they had to come over to say hello.

It was a beautiful Camp-Inn teardrop and it was as new as The Glampette! It's owners asked me where I was from. When I said the Bay Area they looked surprised. One thing led to another, they gave me the grand tour of their teardrop and we eventually realized that I used to shop in a store they owned about a decade ago! Talk about a small world. We chatted a bit that evening but then the mosquitos came out and everyone fled to the safety of their trailers and motorhomes.

Before parting ways for the evening we chatted about the storm warning. It had grown more severe since my arrival and had become a tornado watch that held the possibility of dropping large hail. Gulp. As if a tornado wasn't scary enough I'd read stories online about aluminum skinned trailers being damaged/dented by large hail because the aluminum skin is so thin. As the evening wore on the smaller of two storms was tracking to make a direct hit on Kennebec. It wasn't the more worrisome red or pink colors that meant hail/ice but I knew a weather system can change in a moment so until it passed us it was hard to relax.

First I called Fred and asked him what I should do. Would it help if I went and bought a tarp somewhere to cover the top of the trailer? He said no, if the hail got to larger than marble-sized and the wind was strong enough they could dent the trailer skin on the top and sides.

He advised me to look for a sturdy bridge I could park under if it looked like large hail was going to make a direct hit. I found one less than a half mile away and waited to see what would happen. If the real time weather map showed ice I would leave ahead of the storm and park under the overpass to wait it out.

Unless it looked like a tornado was coming. Then you don't want to park beneath overpasses. I also had to weigh in my mind how safe/dangerous would it be to park on the shoulder of the road beneath the overpass. With virtually no traffic in the area that late at night I reasoned the risk of being hit by a passing car (with my flashers on) was minimal.

Fred said worst case to just stay safe and if the trailer got damaged that's why I had insurance and I could bring it back and he'd re-skin it for me. He also said he'd put me to work planting a garden for him if I came back. LOL. Fair enough.

I called my mom and we sat together on the phone for a couple of hours watching the real time satellite weather map forecast until the storm blew north, barely dropping any rain on us at 12:30 AM.

At the same time the Sioux Falls area I had first planned to stay at that evening was taking a huge direct hit from the larger of the two storm fronts. The light green, dark green, and yellow meant rain. The red and pink were hail. I was so glad I'd kept driving those extra hours to land just between the two storm systems both because I avoided the worse storm and I'd made two new friends reconnecting with the shop keepers from my past.

Through all of the drama Kitai slept like a log. That's his tongue hanging out of his mouth on the lower right side of the fuzzy blob.

It was raining a bit and really windy so I left my vent fan closed that evening.

In the morning when I woke up the windows were coated with a thin layer of condensation on the inside because the trailer was warmer on the inside than the outside. This isn't good for the trailer so I decided in the future I'd do my best to at least keep the vent/fan cracked even if the fan wasn't running.

When I stepped outside there was a beautiful blue sky awaiting me. I chatted with my neighbors a bit more, we expressed our relief at the near miss that had occurred the night before, then I took Kitai for walk to see the rest of the property.

One thing I love about the KOA's I've stayed at is they have a small store for supplies, laundry facilities, clean bathrooms, showers, picnic areas, and other assorted amenities that vary by location.

Once on the road Kitai and I saw more of the sights that reminded me of postcards and travel brochures. I was still enjoying the drive despite the scare we'd had the night before.

I tried to stop at Wall Drug but couldn't find any parking in the shade and it was too hot to leave Kitai in the car or trailer (even with the vent fan running) parked in the sun so I had to skip it.

Most of the morning looked like this. Just me and the open road. By early afternoon I was amazed at how few cars and trucks were heading west on I-90.

Little did I know that in just a half hour I would see these ominous clouds before me. Talk about dark and foreboding. My perfect trip was about to take a less than perfect turn.

To be continued.

To follow my Michigan or Bust road reports here they are:

Days 1-3: Picking up my tiny travel trailer: 2364 miles to happiness :)
Day 4: Be still my glamping heart: The cutest vintage grill ever!
Days 4-8: Meeting Fred and The Glampette for the first time
Welcome to The Glampette: A peek inside
Day 8 Part 2: Around the lake and on to Wisconsin Wine Country
Day 9: A suspenseful night at the Kennebec KOA
Day 10: It could have been worse
Day 10 continued:  Overnight at a Walmart, a traveler's rite of passage
Day 11: Montana to Washington car don't fail me now!
And my favorite RV Park was: Hi-Way Haven in Sutherlin, OR
4974 miles later our adventure comes to an end

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