Epic Road Trip to Alaska - Week 1

     We are embarking on the longest road trip of our life to date! This journey will take us from Indiana to Alaska, then down through the Pacific Northwest states and then heading east from northern California back to Indiana.  We are estimating it to be about 10,000 miles over 3 months. We are super excited to go places we have never been, learning how life is for people we have never met, and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ along the way. I will be posting weekly, (Wednesday to Tuesday) documenting where we have been and what we have done along the way if you care to follow along. 

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Week 1: Jasonville, Indiana to Miles City, Montana (1398 miles)

Wednesday, May 1st - Jasonville, Indiana (0 miles)

    We have been parked at Shakamak State Park this week. We arrived Saturday night and have been enjoying full hookups and the beautiful scenery inspite of the rain.  This state park is super nice, it offers swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, and reasonably-priced camping. 

     We are at Shakamak because it is less than five minutes to Jasonville, Indiana, and we have been holding revival services at Jasonville Assembly of God Sunday-Wednesday. If you come to this campground, or live close to Jasonville, I would highly recommend checking out this church. We love coming back here, the pastor and his wife and the whole congregation are super friendly and loving and they always make us feel like familly. This is the last night of the Revival meetings and it was focused on kids and teenagers. It was a really fun night and 11 kids made the decision to follow Christ.

Thursday, May 2nd -  Jasonville, Indiana to Urbana, Illinois (120 miles)

     Matt took all the laundry to a laundromat because he is a stud and does all the laundry on the road - some laundromats are a bit shady and we figure he is more intimidating than me.  While he was there, we did our schoolwork and prepared the RV for departure.  As we left Shakamak State Park, the dogwood trees were simply beautiful and seemed to be giving us a fine Indiana farewell.

RV driving down the road

We met some sweet friends at Bogey's in Terre Haute and the kids had a blast playing games, eating pizza, and playing putt-putt. 

     We left there about 8:30 or so and drove a few hours to a Walmart in Urbana, Illinois.This Walmart allows overnight parking for RVs so that is where we went and stocked up on supplies. We have never driven to Alaska, but have heard rumors that the prices on everyday products are much higher than what we normally pay. Boondocking (or dry camping, basically parking and sleeping) not only help to keep our costs down, it is a way to save a little bit of time whlie traveling.

Friday, May 3rd - Urbana, Illinois to Clinton, Iowa (206 miles)

     Today we left our Walmart home from last night and headed north and west towards Iowa. We have friends in Clinton, Iowa (right on the Mississippi River) and we were glad that we could stop in for a short visit. We love that we have made friends since we have been on the road that we can go back and visit. It is neat to see the kids pick right back up where they left off.

     The Riverview Park in Clinton is a great stop over spot, it is very clean and well maintained, it has a great little playground, and is fairly inexpensive. It is a self-pay system and you fill out an envelope and drop your payment in the box at their restroom/laundry facilities. The only negative would be the very loud train that runs right next to the campground.

Saturday, May 4th - Clinton, Iowa to Storm Lake, Iowa (296 miles)

     Today we left Clinton Iowa and headed west. We stopped off at a propane place just outside of Clinton on Highway 30. We drove across a large portion of Iowa today and we didn't do the interstate, instead we took a smaller highway, and it was a beautiful day for driving. 

     We stopped off in Cedar Rapids to check out a local camera shop, my old camera had a problem and I was hoping they would have the solution. Unfortunately the parts are no longer made for that model.  I also had been looking at new models, something small that would be convienient to take along, and something that could shoot videos as well. We found a great little camera, but they didn't have any more in stock, so we walked next door to Best Buy and they had it. I have been LOVING my new camera, and told Matt it could be my Mother's Day/Birthday/Christmas gift:)

     We drove to Storm Lake, Iowa and parked at The Church of New Beginnings, where Matt will be preaching tomorrow.  We noticed on the drive that the sky did look bigger. I don't know if that has something to do with the altitude difference or because there is less population and more wide open spaces, but it seems like we can see much farther across the landscape than back in Indiana.

Sunday, May 5th - Storm Lake, Iowa to Plankinton, South Dakota (236 miles)

     Matt preached today at The Church of New Beginnings in Storm Lake, Iowa. After church we enjoyed getting to know the pastor and his wife and kids over lunch at Pizza Ranch. It was fun to talk about ministry life, parenting, and homeschooling.

     Leaving Storm Lake, we drove north, so that we could drive through the southwest corner of Minnesota and put the Minnesota state sticker on our window map. We then hit Interstate 90 and went west towards South Dakota. 

     It had been about 14 years since we had stopped at the World's Only Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD and it was time for another visit. We arrived at about 7 or 8 so all the little tourist shops and the corn palace were closed. Even though it was windy and cold, we were able to get some fun pictures and see the Corn Palace exterior up close and personal.

corn palace

     From Mitchell we drove west to Hill's RV Park and Campground in Plankinton, South Dakota. It was a quiet, inexpensive spot right off the interstate with full hookups and a laundry room. 

Monday, May 6th - Plankinton, SD to Rapid City, SD (251 miles)

     Back on I90 heading west. Today is an exciting day, we have The Badlands, Wall Drug, and Mt. Rushmore on the itinerary! It was hard to describe the Badlands, so the kids didn't know what to expect, and the younger ones weren't so excited about a place called badlands and they didn't know why we would want to take them to a drug store. 

     So maybe we should always downplay new destinations, because the kids were all pleasantly surprised and amazed at the Badlands. I had forgotten how big of an area it is. The scenic loop through the Badlands National Park is 35 miles long, and there was something amazing to look at the entire time.  Even though it was cold and a little rainy, we loved driving through and getting out for a few photo ops.  Someday we will have to stay at the campground and hike some of the trails...

The Badlands

     We had a short visit at Wall Drug where we explored the fun western displays and picked up some magnet souveniers and postcards. We wanted to keep moving because we were determined to see Mt. Rushmore and we heard that they do a nightly lighting ceremony.

     We arrived at the Cabela in Rapid City about 5 or so, I went in and bought a much-needed rain jacket before leaving in our tow vehicle towards Keystone and up to Mt. Rushmore. Fog, crazy dense fog, covered the roads as we made our way up the mountain. We hoped that maybe it would pass over. When we got to our destination, we thought that maybe it was a bad sign that there were no parking attendants, but at least we did not have to pay $10 to see nothing. There were a few other dissapointed tourists walking to their cars in the parking lot - no views of Mt. Rushmore tonight. Back to Cabela for our overnight stay.

 

 

Tuesday, May 7th - Rapid City, SD to Miles City, Montana (289 miles)

     We woke up today to more fog and a dense fog advisory alert on our phones.  Did I mention that apparently, in May, it is still winter in South Dakota(at least by my Indiana winter standards). I think, that maybe these people in South Dakota are a bit tougher than me. 
    By the time we arrived at Mt. Rushmore at about 11, the fog was lifting and it had stopped raining. Yay! We could see it! You could almost argue that the bit of fog gave them an even more majestic look.  It was wonderful for us all to see, and the museum was interesting and educational. It is inspiring to see what people can do if they put their minds to it.  We took a scenic drive around the mountain and through some cool tunnels on our way back to Rapid City. 

Mt Rushmore collage

     We left our Cabela home and drove north into the southwest corner of North Dakota so that we could put the North Dakota state sticker on our window map.  Highway 85 north turned out to be a very lovely, scenic drive but also a bit bumpy.  We stopped at a truckstop just inside North Dakota and I made dinner in the RV and Matt bought us both a coffee from the truck stop. 

     Our last stop for this leg of our journey is Miles City, Montana. We took highway 12, going west, and even though it was cloudy and getting dark, the scenery is changing again, and we notice pine trees dotting the landscape here in Montana. We parked the RV at the Walmart in Miles City for our overnight stay.     

     Thank you for reading the first in our blog series "Epic Road Trip to Alaska". If you would like to check out our t-shirt shop, it is www.7nomads.net. If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to www.kpministry.org.

  ** A helpful app I use when planning our overnight spots is called RVParky. I would highly recommend it. It is free and it shows rest stops, truck stops, RV parks, cracker barrell, and any Walmart, Camping World, or Cabela spots. Users of the app add reviews as to whether the locations allow overnight parking.**

 

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