We headed west out of Mankato, MN early hoping to get a good day of driving in and reach the Black Hills of South Dakota by nightfall. We were cruising along on I-90, happy to be headed back to Utah to pick up our beloved Berry and continue on to Lake Tahoe. We were singing our lungs out to the only radio station that was available in rural South Dakota when it happened. We were only half of a mile from exit 334 heading into Mitchell, South Dakota when our truck sounded like it had struck a large rock going 80 mph. Our stomachs dropped as we got to the side of the road as quickly as possible. Ross peered under the truck, as a wisp of smoke rolled through the fist-sized hole in the transfer case. We didn’t know what the problem was for sure, but we knew it couldn’t be anything good.
The tow truck dropped us off at Dales A-1 Transmissions and we phoned our good friends Chad and Kelsey who live in Brookings, SD, a place we called home for nearly 10 years, to come and rescue us. Essentially taking us back to where this whole journey started. As we waited for the truck to be fixed we were pretty down in the dumps. We couldn’t believe our luck. As soon as we were feeling good about our trip, something always seemed to go south. Poor us. Believe us when we say, it was quite a pity party. Do you want some French cries with that WAAAmburger!?
We believe that things happen for a reason, and Tara was quicker to point that out than Ross was at accepting it. It’s the truth however, and a lot of good came out of our two-day layover. We got the chance to see a lot of friends in Brookings, and many other friends and followers reached out to us to offer their help and support. We were offered spare vehicles, a friends empty house, meals, coffee, beer, and most importantly, encouragement. It really put into perspective that many of you really care about us and want us to be able to continue on this path. The truck was fixed by Tuesday and we loaded up that night after a ride from the wonderful Andrew Litz, our friend, and owner of Westbound Coffee. We drove until our eyelids dropped and finally found a secluded spot in the Black Hills National Forest were we could throw up our tent, Herman the Half Dome, Berry’s much older but smaller brother.
We thought it would be a shame to be in the Black Hills and not hike since it’s a place that has meant so much to us over the last 10 years. We set out on the short three-mile walk that climbs the hill overlooking Stockade Lake. From the top you have a nice view of Cathedral Spires and can even see Black Elk Peak. The raspberries were ripe and we gorged ourselves as we breathed in the sweet piney smell that keeps bringing us back to the great outdoors. We climbed in the truck after quickly changing out of hiking clothes and yet again continued West in hopes of reaching Echo, Utah, where Berry was waiting for us. After many hours in the car we pulled up the driveway of our new friend, Vick, who had graciously offered to store our camper at his house. With Berry now following along we headed to Park City, UT to spend the night in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Wal-Mart is a business that allows people to car camp in the parking lot for up to three days, its not glorious, but certainty useful in a pinch.
After the unexpected layover in South Dakota we made the decision to skip the Great Salt Lake and push a cross Nevada for Lake Tahoe. It turned out to be a good decision as the temperature peaked at nearly 100 degrees as we drove through the open desert toward California. We stopped at South Fork Recreation Area for the night, one of two state parks along I-80 in Nevada. We needed the electric to recharge the camper battery and water to fill tanks before we headed to the forest south of Lake Tahoe. The park wasn’t anything too special but the sunset that night was. Nearly every color imaginable reflected off the lake’s surface and back into the sky. Moments like those are the ones that keep us going. We believe we are doing something worthwhile and we continue to be excited to share these stories with you.
Over the next few weeks we will be working with several new, up and coming brands that we think are worth sharing with you. We will be doing Instagram promotions as well as a few reflections in our blog as we use these cool new products on the road. Be sure to follow along on Instagram as we will be doing some giveaways and collaborating with some really cool brands and people!