RV Podcast Episode 201: Boondocking and the Different Stages of the RV Lifestyle

Are you an RV newbie? Maybe you travel with young kids. Or grandkids. How far do you drive each day? Do you like state parks? Commercial campgrounds? Or are you interested in boondocking and camping off the grid? Then, perhaps you’re a seasoned RVer entering those golden years and not able to be quite as physically active as you once were. In this episode of the podcast, we talk about the different stages of the RV Lifestyle and the opportunities and challenges each stage presents along the way.

I think you’ll really enjoy – and perhaps learn a few things – in this picnic table campsite conversation we had with a fellow RVer coming up in our interview of the week segment a little later in the program.

Also in this Episode. Lots of RV news, RV tips , technology ideas and a wonderful off the beaten path report from the Burketts.

Click the player below to Listen Now or scroll down through the show note details. When you see a time code hyperlink, you can click it to jump directly to that segment of the podcast.

Show Notes for Episode #201 July 18, 2018 of Roadtreking – The RV Podcast 

WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK [2:25]

Mike, Jen and Bo at Bingeman's Camping Resort in Kitchener, Ontario Canada

MIKE

As this 201st episode of the RV Podcast is released, it finds us in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, staying in Bingeman’s Campground Resort along the Grand River, just a couple miles from the Roadtrek Motorhomes factory. We’re up here this week to present a seminar at the Owner’s Academy organized by the Erwin Hymer Group of North America.

We brought Bo with us and he has been a really good boy and has greatly enjoyed meeting his many “fans.” The folks at the Hymer factory are very dog friendly and Bo is very happy with all the attention.

JENNIFER

We have been very busy. We came here fresh from a wonderful week in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, at another one of our Roadtreking Gatherings. This was the fifth gathering of the year and one of the most active ones we have ever had. We did white water rafting, tubing down a river, took a train excursion in the Nantahala River gorge and Mike is still pumped about an exhilarating zip line mountaintop to mountaintop adventure he took part in.

MIKE

Exhilarating is right. That zip line had us traveling 1.5 miles across the mountains at speeds of up to 55 miles an hour and 350 feet above the ground. It was a blast.

JENNIFER

 We’ll have a video coming out about the week there but if you are looking for lots of outdoor adventure, the area around Bryson City, NC is a perfect place to go. But now we’re off on another trip, this one to Canada. We’ll finish our seminar and immediately hit the road again, making a beeline south to the Memphis, TN area, where we’ll be for another week. I’ll tell you, no grass is ground under our tires this summer. We have been criss-crossing North America pretty much on stop since May!

MIKE

Besides the traveling and exploring, we’ve been shooting videos every day and have a whole bunch of them to edit. Besides that, we’ve been working on a special book, a guide to RV Traveling with a dog. It has lots of tips and helpful advice, learned first hand by us with our dog Bo and shared by many of you who have been gracious enough to share your K9 wisdom. How much will it cost? Nothing. We will be giving it away. It should be done over the next couple of weeks.

JENNIFER

What about our Merch store? How is that coming along? People are asking all the time about our RV hats and T-shirts and the like.

MIKE

That, too, will soon be ready. We’ll start with a few items and then expand it. The best way for people to know about these things is through our RV Lifestyle newsletter. We’ll notify subscribers there first. The newsletter is free. They can sign up from our RV Lifestyle travel Blog at Roadtreking.com

JENNIFER

Here’s something I want to make people aware of…. This has been a really, really bad year for ticks. They are everywhere this year. Every area of the country that we have visited has reported serious tick infestations.  Tick bites can transmit Lyme disease and public health officials nationwide are urging people to wear long pants and long sleeved shirts when hiking in tick country and to carefully check themselves each day. Same with pets. Our friend Yan Seiner shared on our Facebook Group that he had to pull off six ticks after our Roadtreking gathering in the Smoky Mountains last week. One, he said, was hiding in a hat he wore. We’ll link in the show notes to a story we did on the blog about how to safely remove ticks from people and pets.

MIKE

THAT tick removal tool IS CALLED The Tick Key, $15.95 for a set of three on Amazon. It makes tick removal quick and easy. I keep one on my key chain.

Meanwhile, here is the RV news this week.

JENNIFER

Banff closes section of park after bear stomps tent to get wine
Parks Canada closed a section of Banff National Park last week to protect the public from a bear. It will remained closed for up to three weeks, and the section closed, along the Lake EDIT

Minnewanka trails, includes six campgrounds. What happened was a couple, camping in a tent, went away from their tent to prepare a meal and eat at the designated eating area. When they returned to their tent they found bear bites and scratches on their tent and belongings, and realized they had accidentally left a glass of wine inside. Park officials said bears are very curious, likely smelled the wine, and went into the tent to drink it. Now, for everyone's safety, people need to remain out of the area for the next few weeks. Violators could face a $25,000 fine. To learn more, click here.

MIKE
Texas RV Museum celebrates history of motorized campers
If you're traveling anywhere near Amarillo, Texas, and have an interest in historical RVs, be sure to swing by the Jack Sisemore Traveland RV Museum. The free museum draws up to 150 people daily, according to a story out last week, and features restored historical RVs. It is believed to be one of two RV museums in the country, and features a 1915 motorhome built on a Model T Ford (apparently Henry Ford was a camper), a 1937 Kozy Kamp which was one of the first tent trailers, and a 1937 Airstream. To read more about the interesting collection and man behind it, click here.

JENNIFER

Wolves surround woman at Washington campground, she climbs tree to escaped and is  rescued by helicopter

Officials at Tiffany Spring Campground in northern Washington are trying to determine whether it is safe for the public to visit the area after a helicopter had to rescue a woman there after a pack of wolves surrounded her. The woman, a research student, found the pack closing in on her. She climbed a tree to escape and called for help. A helicopter was sent to rescue her. While the wolves were still there when it arrived, rescuers were able to land and take the researcher away. To learn more, click here.

MIKE
Kentucky State Park campgrounds offering two-for-one sale in September
Planning to camp in Kentucky this September? If yes, you want to listen to this. Kentucky State Parks is offering a special two-for-one camping price at campgrounds throughout the month of September. To qualify you would need to stay on a Sunday-Thursday night, and give a special coupon code. You would then pay for one night, with the second night free. To learn more click here.

JENNIFER

Need to smile? Watch Katmai's live bearcams this July
Stuck inside and need a reason to smile? Try watching the BearCam. Katmai National Park in Alaska has ther bear cams are up and operating and July is prime bear watching. The cameras stream live footage from throughout the park to literally thousands from around the world. One of the most popular live cameras is at Brooks Falls, where views can watch salmon jumping up the stream to bears trying to catch them. To watch for yourself, and learn more about Katmai's bears, click here or here.

This part of the program is brought to you by AllStays Pro, the best tool for RVers looking for places to camp, boondock or stay free overnight. Go to https://roadtreking.com/allstays for more info.

 JENNIFER'S RV TIP OF THE WEEK [18:11]

We RVers are always looking for ways to save space. Here’s one that I have heard from several different people that is worth passing on to you.

We all pack our refrigerators with condiments. Catsup, mustard, relish, perhaps steak sauce or mayonnaise.

Next time you eat out in a restaurant, look for those little individual sized condiment packages that so many places offer instead of having big bottle of catsup or mustard or whatever on the table.

Now don’t be greedy or obnoxious about it but take a couple of them with you for the RV. After a while, you’ll have a nice assortment. They store easily in a drawer, or, better yet, a small plastic container.

Because the individual packets don’t need to be refrigerated, they can be stored anywhere. Thus, you save valuable space in the refrigerator for food that does need to be kept cold.

That’s just a simple tip. But often simple is the best, right?

Now… be sure to send me your tips and suggestions for the RV lifestyle. You can use the “Leave Voicemail” link at Roadtreking.com. Just click it and then use the built-in microphone on your computer or mobile devise to record a message to me. You can do it over as many times as you want, until you are satisfied. And then you just click a button and it comes right to my email inbox.

I love hearing from you!

Jennifer's tip of the week is brought to you by RadPower Bikes ,an electric bike manufacturer offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping

LISTENER RV QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK [22:29]

Mark and Nancy lost their Serpentine belt and is stranded on the road without a spare.

The serpentine belt is called that because it has many twists and turns as it wraps around pulleys and such in the engine handing things like the vehicle’s air conditioning and, in the case of your RV, the battery charging system.  Most any RV or auto repair facility can change it…it’s too involved to describe that process verbally. But the more challenging task is to find the right sized belt. The model we have for our V-6 Sprinter Roadtrek is from NAPA and a Micro-V, model number NBH 25060523HD. The HD is for Heavy Duty as it considered a truck version and is colored  green, not black like most automotive belts. It costs $33. You can order at most any auto parts store and it's aways good to have a spare. Call 1-888-ROADTREK to double check the correct size belt and part number.

Another listener named Nancy has a broken water pump.

To clean the water pump strainer make sure the water pump and any water supply going to the RV is turned off. Open a faucet in the RV to relieve the water pressure. Disconnect the water line going to the strainer. On most water pumps you simply grasp the front section of the strainer, push in slightly and turn counter clockwise. It will separate from the section of the strainer that is screwed into the pump. Note: You do not need to unscrew the entire strainer assembly from the pump. Now you can remove and clean the strainer screen. When the strainer is clean reassemble in the opposite order. Make sure there is water in the fresh water holding tank, turn the pump on to pressurize the system and check for leaks.

And a listener named Lynn has an older Class A. She’s worried about taking it out on the open road far from home.

This part of the podcast is sponsored by Steinbring Motorcoach, Roadtrek’s newest dealer and a third generation family business in Minnesota’s beautiful Chain of Lakes region built on quality motorhomes and excellent pricing and service.

RV LIFESTYLE INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK [39:46]

Are you an RV newbie? Maybe you travel with young kids. Or grandkids. How far do you drive each day? Do you like state parks? Commercial campgrounds? Or are you interested in boondocking and camping off the grid?

Then again, perhaps you’re a seasoned RVer entering those golden years and not able to be quite as physically active as you once were. In this episode of the podcast, we talk about the different stages of the RV Lifestyle and the opportunities and challenges each stage presents along the way.

I think you’ll really enjoy – and perhaps learn a few things – in this picnic table campsite conversation we had with a fellow RVer named Jim Blair.

Here’s a video version of the conversation.

And here’s a full word-for-word transcript.

Jennifer:          The RV lifestyle has many stages: being newbies, traveling with kids, grandkids, those golden years.

Mike:               And learning about different things on the way like boondocking and not driving too far. All of those pose different opportunities and different challenges. Recently, Jennifer and I sat down around a picnic table with a friend of ours named Jim Blair. Jim's been an RVer for about three years. We talked about many of those different stages, and we thought it was so interesting, we made it our interview of the week.

We were talking about the different stages of camping. Jennifer and I started talking about serendipity style, but you mentioned a good point. That's kind of scary for newbies.

Jim Blair:          When we got our Class B RV three years ago and started camping, it was very new. We had done a lot of tent camping and things like that, and we had that all figured out from our childhood and growing up with our parents and everything. But as we launched out in our road truck, it was a little intimidating. I mean you've got a whole traveling house, all the electronics and everything that goes with it that you're kind of concerned about, and until you get comfortable with that, you're trying to figure out where to camp that's easy, yet easy but beautiful. So you end up in independent campgrounds and state parks, but you're got a vehicle, we've got a vehicle that it's self-contained, and we can boondock for four or five days. We were so afraid to do that initially because we weren't sure about how everything would work. We were kind of drawn back to going to the campgrounds.

Well, after the first year or two of mostly campgrounds, then it became about half and half. We would do campgrounds, and then we'd find a spot where we could boondock. We've boondocked in church parking lots. We've boondocked in restaurant parking lots. We've boondocked in Bureau of Land Management places. But not all at once. We were afraid to do too much of that because we weren't there yet with our traveling lifestyle in our RV.

But as we've progressed after three years, we're now doing as much boondocking as we are hooking up somewhere. We love getting out and boondocking out where there's trees and rivers and streams and nature, but we also like going into town and finding a restaurant, having dinner, and asking permission to boondock in their back corner.

Jennifer:          I think people don't realize that a lot of restaurants will let you boondock in the parking lot if you ask because you've spent some money, you've patronized them, and you want to see their town and their city, and you're right, because it's so, it's just safe to go into that KOA or the state campground. That's what we did. We always went to the safe places, and then pretty soon, you venture out a little bit, and you try those boondocking sites, and you realize sometimes, you like them better than the … quite often better than the regular campground.

Mike:               The other thing that's kind of neat is how we get so in a mindset that we have to go long distances to go someplace, and that's just crazy because it's about the lifestyle, not the distance.

Jim Blair:          When we first started, I started to keep a log, not a blog but a log, and my goal was 1,000 nights. If I could have 1,000 nights in our RV, that was wonderful, and I was going to kind of keep track of that. Well, we're well into that 1,000. But it's not the miles. We can drive 50 miles to a state park. We can drive 50 miles to a farm or a vineyard, and there are other associations you can join to do those types of things, and you don't have to go far.

For us, it's been the number of nights in our RV because that to me is what helps me justify it. If you travel 5,000 miles, my gosh. Hopefully, you've spent a lot of time doing that and you've stopped along the way and you've seen things. It's not the miles for us. It's really the number of nights.

Jennifer:          It's kind of like bragging rights because people come up and say, “How many miles do you have on yours? How many miles have you gone this year?” It's like they think that the value is in how many miles you traveled, not the quality of time that you spent here and there and what you've missed along the way because you had to get from Point A to Point B, and maybe they … A danger is we get this bucket list. We want to do our bucket list instead of maybe going to that one place on the list and then scoping it out more, checking it out to find out what's in the area.

Jim Blair:          As we've progressed, now, we're discovering that every state has so many phenomenal, cool, neat little places. Most of them, you can camp in. Most of them, you can boondock. If you can't boondock, there's probably a state park close by. You don't have to venture off and see all of the national park system. That may be the bucket list, but the bucket list takes a lot of miles, and you tend to go very fast. But when you find those little out of the way places, and they can be very close to home, they can be 1,000 miles away.

Mike:               We're in Montana, and you can hear the thunder from the mountains. We came out from Michigan, which is about a 2,000-mile ride. Normally, we'd come out in two, three days. We took our time. It took us 10 days to get out here. It was so free in the sense that we had the ability to stop, explore, stay a few extra days. I think, don't you think that so many RVers get so competitive with, “Hey, I did 500 miles this time, and I can do 600 tomorrow?”

Jennifer:          Isn't it kind of our mentality in this country like how many touchdowns, how many points, how high you scored on a test? It's always that high. I think that it's just kind of been bred in us that we want the big numbers.

Jim Blair:          I think a lot of that comes from when you're working, you've got dates and times and deadlines and energy and stress, etc. When you can put that behind you and jump in your RV for a weekend, a week, or a month, if you can put that speed and competition behind you and just say, “Where are we going to be? Where are we going to go?” Well, if you're going to go and meet people and then travel around, fabulous. All those little stops along the way are wonderful. We haven't quite got to the point where we're doing the serendipitous travel as we get to a place. We tend to try and get there, and then do our wandering around once we get there.

Jennifer:          There are all these different stages in camping where it's just the two of you, and then you have the kids, and then you get the grandkids, and how you can use your camping to go visit everybody.

Jim Blair:          Yeah, that's exactly right. We travel to see our grandkids, and we travel in our RV, It's so nice to have all of our stuff and not have to be moving it all around. It takes us two or three days to get there sometimes because we're wandering around. We see the grandkids, and we take them around. I took my granddaughter to a movie. We took our RV, and she had more fun in the RV than she did at the movie.

Mike:               That stage with kids is pretty neat. We started off with a little travel trailer and then a population-up camper, then we went to a tents as the kids all moved on, and then we into our motor home, and now we got grandkids in there. Now, it's more often than not, just the two of us and the dog, but I guess when you look at these different stages, we put them together, we're talking about an RV lifestyle that lasts a lifetime.

Jim Blair:          Absolutely.

Mike:               Another thing that so many newbies I think get, if not disappointed in, they get surprised by. When you're shopping for an RV, you go to a show, you see a program about RVs, you look at a magazine, you go to even the dealers websites or the manufacturer's websites, and they show these beautiful idyllic scenes of nature, all by yourself, and then the reality that so many newbies find out is that you're in what I call tinaminiums, you know? You've been there, right?

Jim Blair:          Yeah.

Mike:               Those great big condominium-type RVs next door, huge skyscraper Class As, and you're squeezed in. They say, “This isn't camping. This is like a ghetto, an RV ghetto.” They listen to us talk about the joys of boondocking, but maybe you could help them realize that they can take control of this too. Those great spots really are out there. You just have to slowly learn how to find them.

Jim Blair:          One thing that we found, if you like these state parks, 9 out of 10 times when you pull into a state park, if it's full, they've got an overflow spot for you where you can boondock for the night.

Jennifer:          We just stayed in Munising, Michigan in an overflow area. Actually, I think it was better than the other sites. I mean it was only, it was $30 instead of $36. We had an electric hookup and water. We just didn't have a picnic table and a fire pit, but we didn't need those two things. It was great.

Mike:               Yeah, that's another thing. When people are going somewhere, they think they got to stay in a campground at $30, $40, $50 a night, and you don't. You pull the drapes at night, and it's just as if you were in the most beautiful place of all. You mentioned restaurants and church parking lots. If you ask, people … Haven't you found that people are pretty welcoming and say, “Yeah, you can stay there.” It's just when you set up stuff and set up a campfire in a parking lot, that doesn't go over too well, but when you're just going someplace, you don't have to have and spend all this money.

Jim Blair:          If I want to sit outside and watch a lot of nature, I can do that actually in my backyard. What I like about traveling in our RV is getting off the path and doing the hikes, getting off the path and finding the little museums, getting off the path and finding the little homespun restaurants. We don't go to chain restaurants. I want to see something that just says, “Café.” All of those little places are so nice, and 9 out of 10 of them, you can say, “You know, we're kind of tired for the evening. Would it be okay if we parked in the corner of your lot for the night?” They almost always say yes.

Jennifer:          We seldom get reservations because we don't know exactly where we're going to be, and like you say, there's a lot of spots that aren't listed that you find when you go to those communities.

Mike:               We talked about newbies, and we talked about the stage of moving into boondocking, but there's another stage. It's just kind of as many people probably been RVing for a long time, they start to slow down. Talk about that stage. You have looked at 1,000 nights you say as your goal. I don't know how close you are to that, Jim, but what are you going to do after you hit those [crosstalk [00:10:46]-

Jim Blair:          Well, I think the 1,000 nights came from just something, a target. I've thrown out that target now. I was keeping track. We have spent probably 450 plus nights in our RV in three years. We travel about 120-140 nights a year. We're both retired, so we have the ability to do that. That's one big thing is when you get into retirement and have the time, your type of RV lifestyle starts to change because you've got more time on your time and you've left behind that busyness, that schedule of the office and things, for the most part. That's what has helped us become more flexible in our travel.

The trip that we're on right now, we're going to be going up into the Canadian Rockies. Because it's summertime and it's in the Canadian Rockies, it's very busy. We got reservations but only for the weekends. During the week, everybody's gone off. We're going to be able to find boondocking sites probably during the week, but I needed a reservation because it's so busy. We're going to hit some of the things on our bucket list, but during the week, we're going to wander around. We may find a place that we just decide, “Let's stay here for the next four days.” There's plenty to do, or there's plenty of nothing to do.

Mike:               There's probably not a week that goes by that Jennifer and I don't get an email or a message on our voicemail from somebody who has reached that stage where their health precludes them from hiking and doing a lot of stuff. It's very sad. They keep thinking, “Do I have to give up RVing?” And then slowly, many of them realize no, you don't. You just don't have to be quite as active, and that's the beauty of this. I would say that's probably another stage, the end stage for a lot of people is how long can you keep doing this?

I know from our experience, we see people well into their 80s. I met a 90-year-old woman who traveled solo across the country. She's still going strong. She says she can't take those long hikes anymore like she used to, but she still is out there. I wonder if you have thought about when the end comes. When do you know it's time to stop RVing, or do you see this as something that you can do right until you're too old to do anything else?

Jim Blair:          My wife and I really see it as we're going to be traveling in our RV a good portion of the time until we are physically unfit to be able to drive and travel. Even at the later stages of our life, if we can't get out and hike, if we can't get out and spend much time in the museum, we can do so much from our RV and see so many wonderful things. We think it's going to go on a long time.

Jennifer:          That is what we have decided. We're going to keep doing this until we can't do it anymore because you don't have to climb to the top of the highest mountain. A hill. Maybe a hill. As long as we could-

Jim Blair:          The mountain becomes the hill.

Jennifer:          Yeah. That's true. We're just going to keep going as long as we can because we truly do love this. We love the people that we meet. It is great fun.

Mike:               Well, they might take my driver's license away, but I'm going to keep driving, or if we have to, we'll hire somebody because this is our lifestyle. I know it is Jim Blair's too. Jim, thank you so much for sitting down around our picnic in a Montana afternoon with the thunderstorms going over the mountains. This is the lifestyle, isn't it?

Jennifer:          [crosstalk [00:14:17]

Jim Blair:          It's been a blessing. We are so blessed to be able to do this in the United States and have that kind of freedom. Thanks for letting me chat with you today.

The interview of the week is brought to you by SunshinestateRVs.com, where every new or used Roadtrek motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country

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Every RV they sell has been through a very thorough 172-point inspection in which the ensure that all the mechanical and manual systems are in top condition. Every RV is road tested to make sure it runs and drives the way that it should. They go over the interior components just as entirely as the outside, and every component is turned on and tested to make sure it works. All of their used RVs are thoroughly cleaned and detailed inside and out, and they even check the roof for cracks and replace any silicone caulking.

TRAVELING RV TECH TIP [57:11]

Steve Van Dinter

By Steve Van Dinter
Verizon Wireless

Growing up in Wisconsin, we’d have a family reunion every July. But I had no idea that July was actually recognized as Family Reunion Month!

So as you’re traveling around the country, you and others are likely making a point to stop and visit relatives. Or maybe you’re looking to host a larger gathering of your own? Which is why today I wanted to talk about the tech to help make your own family reunion a success.

First, what’s a reunion without reminiscing? Consider making a photo collage board that attendees can look at. While many of our photos are digital today, apps like Free Prints Now, make it easy to print them out. In fact, with Free Prints you can order up to 85 free 4 x 6 inch photos a month – all you pay is shipping.

Next, set up your own selfie station at the reunion. Simply mount a Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9+ and launch the camera in selfie mode. Now all guests have to do is position themselves in front of the camera and then hold up a palm when ready. The phone will start a two second timer and automatically take the picture!

You can then print those selfies on the spot with the Lifeprint Photo Printer. This portable, battery powered printer requires no ink – it uses special paper and heat to print photos sent to it via Bluetooth. And it gets better. The paper itself is sticky backed. Just peel off the protective film and stick the photos wherever you’d like.

Lastly,  if you haven’t decided on a date, no need to try and figure it out for yourself. Instead put some tech to work. With the site, Doodle, you choose the date and time options and send your attendees a link. They click the dates/times that work for them and you see the options that work best for the most people. Easy as that!

This part of the podcast is brought to you by Verizon, which operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with more than 112 million retail connections nationwide.

OFF THE BEATEN RV PATH REPORT –  Mobridge, South Dakota [1:00:14]

Patti and Tom Burkett

By Tom and Patti Burkett

The Standing Rock reservation of the Lakota and Dakota peoples has had a lot of attention over the past couple of years, mostly due to the pipeline demonstrations that occurred there. Like everywhere else, though, it's mostly a country inhabited by ordinary and not so ordinary folks going about their daily lives. We were passing through the area when Patti decided she would be much happier if she had a haircut. Though we'd just passed Konnie's Kountry Kut ‘n' Kurl, she was particular about the haircut she wanted (“Not just any old lady cut,” she said) so she looked ahead and found a suitable shop in the town of Mobridge, South Dakota.

As we drove through the town to familiarize ourselves a bit, we passed a large brick building. The sign above the doors reads “Scherr-Howe Arena” and on the glass below is lettered “maintained by the US Department of the Interior. Intrigued, we nosed into a parking spot and found that the front anteroom of the building houses the local chamber of commerce. The building was constructed in the 1930s by the WPA. It’s essentially a basketball court with a stage on one side. You’ve seen them in hundreds of schools. What you haven’t seen are the murals. Filling the walls around the interior are ten large murals illustrating events in the history of the town and region.

Oscar Howe was born into the Crow Creek Sioux tribe in 1915. Originally from Minnesota, the tribe was forcibly relocated west following the Sioux Uprising of 1862, even though the tribe had not participated in the uprising. Fluent in his birth language, Howe began early on to express in art his understanding of tribal and family lore and the Dakota landscape around him. The murals in the arena are among his earliest works, painted in 1942. He was inducted into the Army before they were complete, but was given a furlough to finish them before reporting for service in Europe.

One ofOscar Howe's murals

Down the street at the library they happily provided internet access in exchange for our email addresses, and we chatted on for some minutes about town history. “Did you see the gravesite on your way in?” they wanted to know. “Sitting Bull’s gravesite?” I allowed that we had not yet made the pilgrimage, and asked about the feud between Mobridge and the town of Fort Yates, North Dakota. “Oh, we’ve got the bones all right,” she asserted, “and when the boys brought ‘em back for the last time we cemented ‘em in so they wouldn’t be going anywhere.” Not so, say the residents of Fort Yates, who assert the bones captured in a stealthy early morning backhoe raid on April 8, 1953 are either horse bones or the bones of some random white man put on top of the actual grave to serve as bait.

I didn't want to stir up their civic ire, so I asked (as we always do) for a lunch recommendation. The two of them looked at each other and agreed the Great Plains Diner was the place to go. “Well,” said the one, “there is Rick’s, down at the other end of town. . .”
The other looked a bit startled, then pensive, and they discussed it as if I weren’t there.

“He might not be open. He’s only there when he feels like it.”
“Yeah, but his buffalo chili is so good. He’s won like a gazillion contests.”
“And he’s such a grouch. It’s like he doesn’t care whether you come in or not”
“That’s true, but have you eaten that roast beef sandwich he makes? And I saw cars there when I was coming in, too. I’ll bet he’s open.”
“Well, it is good, and (aside to me) the Great Plains is all German food. If you want more South Dakota food, I guess it couldn’t hurt.”
“Rick’s then?”

They both looked at me, as if I hadn’t been sitting there the whole time. “Rick’s would be good,” said the one. “Yeah,” said the other, try Rick’s—if he’s open.”

There's more to be told about Mobridge, the town where we stopped for a haircut and ended up getting an education. We'll tell you about it next week. Meanwhile, if you yourself have stopped for a haircut, look around for us, Patti and Tom Burkett, out there off the beaten path.

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