Camper Quest Part 6: First Road Trip

The last time I wrote about our upcoming trip I said we would be packing my TRAK folding kayak into the rear storage compartment of our new-to-us Winnebago View motorhome. However, days before our departure a friend offered use of a Yakima trailer for our trip. I jumped at his generous offer because it meant we could carry not only my folding TRAK but also Mary’s rigid sea kayak AND two mountain bikes to boot.

Our rig. 2011 Winnebago View Profile and Yakima trailer.

So off we went across Wisconsin and Iowa, stopping for two nights at my mother’s home in western Iowa. The trailer performed flawlessly behind the RV. If not for our rear-view camera I wouldn’t have known it was back there. We pushed on to South Dakota for a week of sightseeing, hiking, kayaking and biking. Or so we planned. But as it turned out, we didn’t use the kayaks at all. Two reasons…

First of all, when I reserved our campsite at Sylvan Lake Campground in Custer State Park, I somehow had the notion, based on my fuzzy childhood memories, that it would be next to the lake or at least close. Upon arrival we discovered the campground is about half a mile from the lake. If we wanted to kayak, we could  unhook the trailer and use it like a handcart to walk the kayaks to the lake (not a good option because the road from the campground to the lake is narrow and the hiking trail is narrow and rugged). Our other option was to drive the RV to the parking lot near the lake — also not ideal because it meant breaking camp and taking a chance on finding RV parking in the busy lot.

Our camp site near Sylvan Lake

The second reason we decided not to kayak was weather. The sky threatened rain, and the wind whipped whitecaps across the beautiful but relatively tiny lake. Rather than paddling on a small lake in crappy conditions, we decided hiking was our better option.

Even though we left the toys on the trailer, pulling it to South Dakota and back was not a wasted effort. I consider it a useful “proof of concept” exercise. It taught us how easy it would be to bring kayaks — folding or rigid — if we plan a future trip that’s more kayak-centric. And I like the Yakima trailer for its light-weight but sturdy design.

When I take delivery of my new TRAK 2.0 kayak in a few months, I’ll be eager to see if its smaller packing size makes it easier to stow and transport. Will it fit more easily inside our Winnebago? Or should we get our own trailer? Or do both? Time will tell.

Big horn sheep, Badlands National Park

Trail head, Badlands National Park

Sundown over the Badlands

Our 2011 Winnebago View Profile parked near the Castle Trail trail head.

Sundown over the Badlands

We were glad to return to the trailhead before it got completely dark.

Badlands National Park

Sunday Gulch trail, Custer State Park

Sunday Gulch trail, Custer State Park

Sunday Gulch trail, Custer State Park

Sylvan Lake. One of my Dad’s favorite spots from our 1960’s family vacations.

 

 

 

 

Driving the “easy” segment of South Dakota’s Needles Highway in the Black Hills north of Sylvan Lake. Dashcam footage from our 24-1/2-ft Winnebago View 24G, which is 7’6″ wide and 10’6″ tall. Hood Tunnel is advertised as 10’6″ wide and 9’10” tall but obviously it is taller than that.

This is part of the “easier” section of Needles Highway north of Sylvan Lake. We didn’t attempt to take our RV on the tighter section east of Sylvan Lake.

Iconic Mount Rushmore, Black Hills, SD.

Crazy Horse model in the foreground and actual massive sculpture which has been under construction since 1947.

Wildlife loop in Custer State Park

On our way back to Wisconsin, sunrise at the Hill’s RV Campground in Plankington, SD. Nothing fancy but a good spot for an overnight stay with full RV hookups.

Hill’s RV Campground, Plankington, SD

Chamberlain, SD view of the Missouri River

Chamberlain, SD rest stop on the east side of the Missouri River. The 50-foot-tall statue depicting a young Native American woman with a star quilt is made entirely of stainless steel. It was created by Black Hills artist Dale Lamphere, who says the statue represents “the pride and strength and durability of the native cultures.”

Winniwissa Falls at Pipestone National Monument, near Pipestone, MN

Trail hike at Pipestone National Monument

 

 

 

 

 

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