He finally got the call. After three months at home and a obvious oilfield drought, we were headed for North Dakota. It was the day we had prayed for. It was the day we needed. Now, to say everything went smoothly after “the call” would be a total fabrication of the truth. The following days would feel like they were unraveling in slow motion as we tiredly pushed forward and tried to stay afloat. Any time you mix a short deadline in with travel it seems inevitable. I’ve almost come immune to it. Totally kidding. Threes years in and every hiccup still feels like a kick in the gut. The only things I’m better at now than I was then is a little bit of patience and a whole lot of positive perspective.
For the first time in… ever we didn’t just starting running around like mad when the welder got the call. It was Monday evening and I knew that if I started I wouldn’t stop and would be exhausted, so I constructed a rough plan and went to bed. Tuesday morning came fast and we hit the ground running. Laundry, eye doctor, pick up cleaning, packing and more packing, pick up the house, mouse bait, trickle chargers, trailer hitch locks, the list goes on. In the early afternoon, I was feeling pretty confident. For the first time we could have been done at a good time and in bed at a decent hour. We headed over to move our RV from storage to an electric hookup so we could cool down the fridge, dewinterize, and add water to the fresh water tank. Five minutes into hooking on we got that “kick in the gut” feeling. Our camper jacks wouldn’t raise themselves, so we began the long process of trying to get the camper high enough to hitch onto the truck. Two hours, 2 jack stands, a tractor, a half ton truck bed, and a bunch of wood blocks later we were hitched on and staying hitched until we got to North Dakota. We finished the moving in process with our half ton truck and got done just right before a storm hit. I finished up in the house and Austin began fixing the jack. I helped my aunt design my cousin’s graduation announcement over FaceTime, because my computer bit the dust Monday morning and it was at the Apple store in Tulsa. We ended the evening by saying a couple goodbyes and finally crawled into bed after midnight.
TRAVEL DAY 1
Wednesday morning we loaded up Austin’s truck cab to the brim (#singlecabprobs) with my camera gear, our toiletries, the guitar, Paisley and Austin. I rode on the bed because his truck was that full. We traveled the short distance to our rig and loaded all of the stuff into my truck (remember it is the one stuck to the camper now). We said “hello” to y’all, Austin installed the jack, and we hit the road around 8 a.m.
Our goal on Wednesday was to make it to Fargo, North Dakota. Fargo from Cushing is 860 miles and calls for 12.5 hours of drive time. I figured it would take us about 15 hours because… bad fuel consumption. We are pulling a 40 ft. rig and drive the speed limit. This results in us stopping every 2-3 hours. Our trip was going well until we stopped for a late lunch just before Council Bluffs, IA. We got fuel at the cheapest station around and then I ran over to Subway to grab us lunch. When Austin was diagnosed with diabetes I knew I would need to prepare more for travel days, but I just didn’t get it all done. He had diabetic friendly snacks galore, but I didn’t have the time to make meals ahead. A salad it was. As I was ordering our lunch I realized people were running outside to take pictures. I commented to the lady who was making Austin’s salad and she said “oh ya, there is a tornado on the ground about 10 miles east.” Insert wide eyed emoji here. I responded with a cool “oh cool, glad we happened to stop for lunch late.” Ha! At this point Austin has ventured over and I meet him outside with the news.
We chatted with others in the parking lot and all decided to hang out for a little bit. As I was eating lunch with the truck door open a cute couple on their way to Washington from Tennessee approached me. He is in the military and was moving to a different base. I loved talking to them about their trip and giving suggestion of places they should stop on their way through South Dakota. I felt like a totally travel geek and was giving myself major props for knowing highways, directions, and all the touristy stops. I still wish I would have got their social media information to keep up with them. Fail.
After we had wasted an hour and probably saved our asses from a huge hail storm we decided to hit the road. No more than 10 minutes down the road they issued a tornado warning for Omaha, NE. Guess where we were? 20 miles from Omaha. Insert sarcastic smiley face. Yup. We were headed into the storm. I couldn’t tell if we were awesome adventure seekers or total idiots as we passed overpass after overpass full of cars hiding from the wind and rain. We took it slow and the warning was lifted just before we got into city limits. The storm turned into night as we drove north through South Dakota and finally made it to a Fargo, ND Walmart a little after midnight.
DAY 1 | FARM REPORT
One of the things that was consistent all day was flooding. I couldn’t believe all of the standing water we saw from Kansas to North Dakota. They had a big storm come through the day before and many of the fields along the road and near rivers were a quarter to three-quarters full of water. My heart broke as I drove by and wondered if those crops were already in the ground. I was too curious and had to put a call into my grandpa to see if he would know.
I saw a lot of drain off happening already so my hope is that the corn crop will survive or by some chance hadn’t been planted yet. If the crop is a total loss I hope those farmers can use those fields for a different crop this year. I was glad to learn they could recover a couple different ways.
TRAVEL DAY 2
We woke up happy (tired) campers in the WalMart parking lot. I will say it was a bit odd opening the door to see a supercenter, but proved to be really freaking convenient. Because of the mishaps on packing day and the long drive the day before we didn’t get our fresh water tank filled, so there were no showers during this overnight stay. After getting dressed we ran inside to pick up a couple things we needed and to also say “thank you.” Then we were off. We had a five and a half hour drive ahead of us and were excited to get there and relax. We did end up having to pull onto an off ramp twice during our trip. The first time was because I heard a squeaking noise in Austin’s truck. False alarm, it ended up being a heater issue. The second pull off was because some of the “side paneling” on the camper was flapping in the wind. We think when we had to use the support for the jack on packing day it cracked the paneling and the wind loosed it up. Nothing a little duck tape couldn’t fix. With two maintenance stops and two stops for fuel it didn’t take us much longer than six hours but to be honest I don’t remember what time we rolled into town. Probably because the first thing we did was roll down a dead end road and had to back the camper into a driveway to turn around. Welcome? Oh and I forgot to mention that the highway into town had a construction zone that turned into a dirt road. Hilarious? Ridiculous? Or a little big of both? You can hear my reaction in the video. Lets just say I’m glad we made this part of the drive in the daylight!
Our Garmin couldn’t find the campground and the campground owner wasn’t answering, so we got ourselves back to the main highway and parked the camper at a gas station. We got into one vehicle and went to scout out the area. Thankfully I’m decent with a map (thanks dad) and was able to find the campground we had called ahead about, because the other two weren’t anything we wanted to stay at. After I finally heard back from the campground owner we went back for the camper and thought the end was near. Nope. The spot we picked needed more gravel, but luckily the owners had some available. Getting closer. We backed in (without too many marital problems) and started to bring the jacks down. Only one was moving. The one Austin had fixed. Sooooo…. Austin began disassembling our other front jack and fixing it. It ended up being the exact same problem. Three hours and two curious (no helping) campers later it was installed and we were finally able to unhook from the truck and set up. The welder saved the day. We got into our extremely unorganized home around nine, warmed up left overs we brought all the way from Oklahoma and hit the hay. Austin’s test the next morning at 7a.m. We were pooped.