A Trip Down Memory Lane

Last night I slept overnight in my van at a Walmart parking lot near Rockford, Illinois. This morning I had to negotiate the crazy traffic in the Chicago area. I left really early in the morning before rush-hour and traffic was already bad and then at 7:30 am traffic was hardly moving. Since I didn’t have to be anywhere at a certain time I just got off at the next exit to park somewhere and hang out in my van to wait until rush hour was over. After I got off the exit I saw a sign welcoming me to the city I was born in. Of all the suburbs in Chicago I happened to get off at the exit to the one I was born in. I pulled out my birth certificate and went to the hospital that was on it but found out it’s not the original hospital because the old one was torn down and at a different location. I then went to the address on my birth certificate that my parents lived at when I was born and knocked on the door (I am bold like that). A young man answered. I showed him my birth certificate and explained to him that his home was my first home. He was nice enough to let me walk around and take pictures. The first four pictures below are of the house and the playground I played at. I also told him I was traveling throughout the U.S. in my van. He was very interested in that so I showed him my van. He asked me a lot of questions about living in the van. His little brother also came out to see my van. I always like to show people my home and answer questions about living on the road. Hopefully I planted a seed in them to one day to do the same thing because I’m having an awesome time doing it. I then hit the road and had to deal with more bad traffic even though it wasn’t rush-hour anymore. I went to my great aunt’s house in Indiana. I haven’t seen her in at least two decades so it was nice to see her. She will be 92 in two weeks. She has a sharp mind and looks a lot younger than her age. I am hoping I inherited that gene. I then went to my second cousin’s house in Michigan. I also haven’t seen her in at least two decades. She lives in a beautiful house within walking distance to Lake Michigan. She was a lot of fun to hang out with, so was her boyfriend. We hung out on the back deck most of the day catching up with each other on whats been going on with our lives and showing each other family pictures on our phones. She told me I could stay here as long as I want so I’m going to stay at least a week. She has two spare rooms in her house that she said I could sleep in but I told her I like to sleep in my van bed. I will take advantage of the shower in the house though. Even though the neighborhood has million-dollar homes in it she told me about this homeless guy Otis that has lived in the nearby swamp for many years that sometimes comes to the house if he thinks there’s a party going on (they have lots of parties), which made me a little nervous. I am looking forward to checking out Lake Michigan tomorrow after I get a lot of work done 🌻

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Wisconsin Dells and Devil’s Lake

Yesterday I hung out at the Mississippi River that separates Minnesota and Wisconsin and then stayed overnight at a truck stop. Today I went to Wisconsin Dells which is a cute tourist town with lots of theme parks and water parks which I’m not really into but I did enjoy walking along the nice riverfront. I then headed to Devils’s Lake State Park on the recommendation of my brother-in-law that use to live in Wisconsin. It is a beautiful lake. I took a hike up the east trail of the lake where they have these cool rock formations with beautiful views of the lake. Although I didn’t stay at the park’s campground I took a shower there because I needed to wash my hair. I figured paying the out-of-state entrance fee to the park entitled me to shower at the campground, not sure if I was allowed to though. Since in Wisconsin I had to buy some Wisconsin cheese because it is supposed to be the best and it was the best, yum! 🧀

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Badlands

Yesterday I went to Badlands National Park in South Dakota and then camped for free on Buffalo Gap National Grasslands just a few minutes outside the park entrance. I found the site on one of my favorite websites freecampsites.net. I had a nice view of the park from all of my van windows. I parked about 15 feet from the edge of the cliff and was totally fine with it. I guess the beauty that is always around me is finally overcoming my fear of heights. Headed East tomorrow and that’s all I know, still deciding what places I want to stop at on my way to meet up with my son in New Jersey at one of the ports that the cruiseship he works on docks at. I am then planning on heading to Vermont, Maine and all the other states in that area, but of course my plans are always open to changing🌺

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Midget Wrestling, Motorcycle Ride and Awesome Freakin’ Music!

I stayed another night at the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis, South Dakota. The night before last I heard for the first time this band called Blackberry Smoke. They are now one of my favorite bands. The Buffalo Chip is so huge that I put on my hiking shoes to walk around. It’s like it’s own little city set up just for the motorcycle rally. They have a church, outdoor gym, barbershop, swimming hole, laundrymat, gas station, grocery store, restaurants, bars, bike wash, lots of strip clubs (bikers love strippers) and more. My neighbors camping next to me gave me a ride on one of their motorcycles. I loved the feeling of the wind on my face going down the highway. We rode to the Full Throttle Saloon. I use to watch the reality show for the Full Throttle when I lived in a home with no wheels and had TV so it was kind of cool to actually see the place in person. They had midget wrestling there. A midget pimp was wrestling a midget cowboy. I wasn’t sure how to feel about that but then I figured they probably have groupies so they probably like it a lot. I stayed another night at the Buffalo Chip because Ozzy Osbourne played last night. It was $85 for the night which included the concert which was so so worth it. Ozzy was absolutely amazing! The last time I saw him in concert his voice was giving out and he was a little incoherent talking on stage but last night I felt like I was back when I was a teenager and saw him in concert for the first time. The whole crowd was so into it. I just loved feeling the energy of the crowd while watching the show. Afterwards I went to a dance club on the property with someone I met and danced my butt off for about an hour and didn’t go to sleep till 2:30 in the morning, which is very late for me. There is a stereotype that bikers drink a lot and get into fights. I did see a lot of drunk people, especially at 2:30 in the morning. However, although there were thousands of people there I didn’t see one fight and everybody was really nice to to each other and cool. It was the best atmosphere. I will definitely attend the rally again one year. This year was the 77th year having it. It is the biggest motorcycle rally in the world from what I’m told. I wouldn’t want to be here on the last day of the rally at the end of this coming weekend though because I’m sure the roads are going to be packed (I heard there is about a half million people attending the rally) so I hit the road again today 🚐

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Lovin’ the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

When I started getting closer to the rally in Sturgis, South Dakota there were massive amounts of motorcyclists on the highway from the rally. It made my eyes water with happiness that all these people were here enjoying themselves doing what they love just like I am doing what I love. I have been on the back of a motorcycle many times and loved it but I don’t ride them much anymore because too dangerous if you get in an accident. The last time I was on the back of a motorcycle was in Colombia this past year which was fun. Sometimes I take risks if it involves adventure. I am staying at this huge place called Buffalo Chip. I paid $70 for tonight. It includes camping and lots of really awesome bands and entertainment. I hung out with my neighbors who drove here from Canada and met some other cool people. Saw a stunt show and fire dancers. Lynyrd Skynyrd canceled because one of the members had a heart attack 😌 The replacement is country star Gary Allan. Just heard a great band called Stolen Rhodes and looking forward to seing Blackberry Smoke up next 🏍 🎼

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Waterfalls, Canyons and Wildlife

I explored more of Yellowstone National Park today. I saw a beautiful waterfall in a canyon and hiked down to the river at the bottom of the canyon where I could see another waterfall in the distance. I drove around the park and pulled off to the side of the road to see elk and bison which were pretty close to the road. Everyone else was doing the same thing. The animals weren’t even phased by all of the tourists taking pictures of them. I guess growing up in Yellowstone you get use to the tourists. I stopped at a fishing bridge hoping to see some bears since I heard you can see them there sometimes, but no such luck. I bought a can of bear spray for $40 which I thought was a little pricey but if I had an encounter with a bear while hiking the $40 would’ve been well worth it. It is good that I have it though because I’m always going to be in national parks and destinations that have bears and other wild life that could be dangerous. On my way out of the park I pulled off to the side of the road next to Yellowstone Lake to enjoy the view with my van doors open listening to the relaxing sounds of the water lapping the shore. I am now camped out at a Walmart for the night not far from the park. I loved my adventure today. I read a quote recently that stated “Do it now! Sometimes ‘later’ becomes ‘never’ “. So glad I am doing this now because tomorrow is never guaranteed. I hope everyone reading this explores destinations they have always wanted to go to now rather than ‘later’ 🌻IMG_9328IMG_9339IMG_9322IMG_9363IMG_9357IMG_9352IMG_9372IMG_9391

I stealth parked in Yellowstone National Park

It was a beautiful drive from Grand Teton National Park to Yellowstone National Park. There is an area between the two parks that I was planning on camping at overnight that wasn’t available so I headed into Yellowstone and pulled into a parking spot at a lodge and slept there for the night with no problem. You are not supposed to sleep overnight in your vehicle in the park except in the campgrounds which were full anyway so I put my reflectix in the windows and used my smaller light inside so no one knew I was in there. Even if the hotel was free I would’ve still slept in my van. The last time I paid for a hotel room I ended up in my van anyway at 1 AM because I missed my van bed. Today I enjoyed walking the boardwalks around the geysers in the park. Some were such a beautiful blue I wanted to jump into them and swim. I saw an elk, no bear yet. I had cell service in some parts of the park but it wasn’t good enough to use the hot spot on my phone to do work uploading documents, etc. so I had to exit the park at West Yellowstone in Montana where I am at now to get better cell service. There are too many tourists in the park using the cell towers there. It was crazy crowded. I asked a police officer in the town I am at about overnight parking in town and he said they don’t allow it although I saw RVs all over town. I made sure he didn’t know what vehicle I was in because I thought about stealth parking there anyway. However, he told me about an area just a mile away off of the road that I could park at. I decided to be legal tonight so I am parked there, which is actually a nice quiet spot. I am going to spend all day tomorrow getting work done so that I can head back into the park soon 🏞

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Hiking Around Jackson Lake

We hiked some more trails around Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park. The lake is so huge that there are many areas of it to explore. We have been going into the park about every other day and then just hanging out at our beautiful homestead in the forest the rest of the time. There are also lots of hiking trails near our homestead that we have been exploring. There are some ranches nearby and a lot of the trails are used by people going horseback riding so we have to sometimes dodge the horse manure but that is fine with us since the trails are nice 🐴

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