Escaping the Eclipse

In keeping with our bad timing theme, we were leaving the South Dakota Black Hills and trying to get to the Oregon coast, then down the coast to South San Francisco. This requires us to pass through Wyoming and Idaho before Oregon. I knew the eclipse was coming, we purchased glasses somewhere in Texas in case we were near, and I knew that our path was going to take us REALLY close to it. I had also heard horror stories about crowds, traffic, lack of supplies, etc. along the eclipse path! I was determined to get to the coast before it happened!

But first, we thought we would head to one of our favorite places, the Grand Tetons. This required traversing the state of Wyoming from east to west and some of the dryest parts of Wyoming also! Our first stop was Douglas, WY where the city allows RV’ers to stay overnight in their park (thanks, Drivin and Vibin!). They also have free hot showers in the restrooms there. They also had a dump station that was ‘closed’ due to the State Fair going on across the street. I think I could have used it if I wanted. It was an OK place to park, it was on gravel, next to a fenced off central grassy location. It was, however, on the North Fork of the Platte River and you can get a great view of it by moving your chairs a bit:

The next day was another haul of just driving, with a WalMart shopping stop thrown in. Roxie also got to get an iced tea from Sonic as we had not seen a Sonic for a LONG time. We hauled off to Lander, WY. A drive through some very desolate locations but here, again, the city had a park for RV’s and tents. There were a LOT of people there. We found a spot next to the creek that we could hear all night.

The city here DID have an operational dump and water fill that we availed ourselves of. Then we started the trek to the Tetons.

We headed north and climbed quite a bit. We knew that many boondockers have certain spots that are in the National Forest but have a great view of the Tetons. We headed to one site. When we got there we dropped the trailer in a parking spot at the bottom of the hill, I took the truck up the hill to assess the road and see if there was space. The first location had very little space where I saw 1 Airstream and 1 Argosy. I drove on up further and really found no better locations. I came back and the Argosy was gone! It appears they found a different space where they could run their generator and let their goat have more freedom. Great! A spot for us!

I went back down the hill and started hooking up. At that time another Airstream showed up and it looked familiar but by that time we were ready to go and we stopped to talk. It was the family from “Less Junk, More Journey” on Youtube. They were heading up there also. I told them that we were going to get one spot but there may be more. We headed up the hill and got the spot. They came up later and grabbed one by some other motorhomes, they later moved back closer to the Airstreams. The other Airstream was “Aluminum Dreams“.

This was the view from our front door and a shot that Roxie took a bit down the road:

We also ‘enjoyed’ our first hail storm in the Airstream!

The next day we drove around, took pictures, had some Thai in Jackson, filled up on diesel.

We drove back to the trailer in a downpour and decided to head on that evening, keeping in line with escaping the eclipse. Most others on the hill were waiting there specifically FOR the eclipse. We said our goodbyes and got back on the road. Leaving Jackson we headed up the Teton pass! This grade can reach 10% in places. We were doing it in the cool of the early evening but it was still major! I was able to do about 40mph up the hill, except on the 20mph corners. My engine temperature climbed to about 215 but the fan kicked in and cooled it right down. The transmission peaked at 235 degrees but no higher. The truck did admirably up the hill and the engine braking kept to slow on the downhill. We made it to Idaho Falls and stayed at the Cabela’s there.

We had previously called Cabela’s and received clearance to stay one night. When we go there there were temporary signs at each exit saying No Overnight Parking. We called again and were told those are there to keep the eclipse crowd away and one night is good.

The next morning during prep to leave I found a broken screw on the trailer step. It made the step unusable as one side of it was not securely latched. Idaho as a state does have an Airstream dealer, 300 miles away just past Boise. I called them and they had one screw left. I asked them to hold it and we headed further west. This time it was on I84 and fighting a headwind all the way. We got there just after 5 so I could not get the part that night, we used a combination of the step Roxie uses to get in the truck and an old ice chest to get in and out of the trailer. The nice thing is that Airstream NW of Idaho has 6 overnight spots that have full hookups for its’ customers to use.

The next morning I got the part and fixed the step. We also got to thinking. We could just stay here for the eclipse and stop running! After all, it was free, they would be closed Sunday and Monday, we could get some laundry done, see a movie and my sister and brother-in-law happened to be 15 miles away for the eclipse! We are done running!

My sister told us that about 12 of them were having a fish fry at the KOA and we should come visit and eat. We took our steaks, as I don’t eat fish, and pulled out our Weber from the truck and did our steak as they did their fish. It was a nice evening:

Monday was eclipse day. Most people were trying to get into the zone of totality. We were in a 99.7% coverage zone. To avoid all the traffic I opted that we stay where we were at. We should have gone to totality. It was interesting to watch where we were but I was unable to get any good pictures, even with solar glasses taped to my iPhone and GoPro. So you will have to settle for these:

The next one is in 2024 and we will make sure we are in the totality this time!

Tuesday came and it was time to head on. I felt pretty good about this as we were now headed into locations where people were vacating now!

The first 100 days!

As with new presidents, there is always an update about their first 100 days. I thought I would give a 100-day update on our trip.

We achieved our 100th day at Rafter J-Bar ranch in Hill City, SD on 8/9/17. Here are some statistics:

  • Average nightly cost for RV parks and others: $22.14
  • Nights of free camping: 32
  • Most expensive: $70/night for a week at Cherry Hill, MD (Washington DC area)
  • Total trailer mileage: 6809
  • Total truck mileage: 11931
  • Average MPG for truck: 12.64
  • Best/Worst tank MPG: 17.24/10.26
  • Gallons of fuel used: 952
  • Average diesel cost: 2.45
  • Best/Worst diesel cost per gallon: 2.089/2.954
  • Number of new states in the trailer: 16


  • Cracker Barrel: 1
  • Cabela’s: 2
  • Free camping: 21
  • Government: 8
  • Independent┬áRV park: 62
  • KOA: 2
  • Municipality: 4
  • WalMart: 9

Roxie and I have not killed each other on this trip either. I feel we are definitely learning about each other and what makes us tick. Roxie has not had an easy time of being with me 24/7 after numerous years of me going to work and giving her some ‘No Roger time’. She is to be commended.

Roxie is also getting much better with her mapping skills and finding our next stop.

We will be winding down this leg soon to get some downtime and make some repairs and changes to the trailer. But we will be back at it soon after that.

I have been very happy with the performance of the truck and trailer. No major problems on either as we start on the next 100 days.