Stepping into the 3rd Month On the Road: An Accounting of Things and Some Tips for the Aspiring Nomad

Quarry in the Mississippi Bluffs near La Cross, WI

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As we move into our 3rd month on the road, living in a 12’ pop-up Aliner named Gerðy, we’ve found ourselves in the midwest - just outside a town called Beloit, which is both in Wisconsin and Illinois. To a Westerner such as myself, this is a weird place to be - straddling two states. It feels very liminal.

For those of you reading along just to follow this weird journey, here’s an update on where we’ve been, animal friends we’ve met, challenges we’ve had, delights we’ve discovered, and a few tips if you ever decide to hit the road in a camper, your van, or in the back of your small SUV. 

Since leaving San Antonio in late May, we’ve stayed at several Hip Camp spots, a couple Harvest Hosts places, in one National Forest, in a few RV Parks, and (currently) in one Boondockers Welcome place.  Here’s a full accounting: 

  • a goat farm in the Hill Country 

  • a winery in West Texas 

  • an RV park in Santa Fe, New Mexico

  • a driveway in Placitas, New Mexico 

  • just under a mountain in southern Colorado 

  • on an urban farmstead with 2 big, sweet friendly goats, outside of Denver, Colorado

  • on another goat farm near Cheyenne, Wyoming

  • at Vedauwoo east of Laramie, Wyoming

  • on a horse ranch in Buffalo, Wyoming

  • in an RV park in Sheridan, Wyoming

  • on a ranch outside Billings, Montana

  • next to corn, soy and flax fields in eastern Montana

  • in an RV park in Bismarck, North Dakota

  • in a sweet family’s driveway in Fergus Falls, Minnesota 

  • in an RV Park near Willow River, Minnesota

  • in an old rock quarry in the Mississippi Bluffs on the edge of Minnesota and Wisconsin

  • and here, on a farm near Beloit, Wisconsin/Illinois 

  • Tomorrow we’re leaving for a farm in Ohio.

We’ve met and even played with plenty of furred and feathered folks:

  • Goats, goats, and more goats - babies, teens, and a couple oldsters

  • Horses - wild, trained, and semi-feral try-to-eat-your-carrot-and-your-shoulder youngins

  • Cows - lots and lots of cows

  • Dogs

  • Cats

  • Wild Hooved Friends - White-tail and Mule Deer and Pronghorn Antelope

  • Assertive squirrels and brave chipmunks

  • Prairie Dogs and Ground Squirrels

  • Rabbits

  • Hummingbirds 

  • Ravens

  • Crows

  • Robbins

  • Magpies

  • Jays

  • Gulls

  • Snakes

  • And a wide variety of bug-life including a fly the size of a small Jeff Goldbloom.

We’ve had a few challenges:

  • THE HEAT! Ok, so maybe we should have been smarter, but we really were not prepared for the over-100-degree temperatures that we encountered in northern Wyoming. First of all, though Gerðy, the tiny triangle we live in DOES have AC, we were boondocking, and so we couldn’t run it. Secondly, the AC, while helpful to the cats who can stay close to the ground, stops cooling at about waist height. We discovered the wonder of long, air-conditioned drives. Fortunately, Ivar and Lou are good riders, generally curling up and sleeping through the ride.

  • The lack of reliable Wifi and cell service. If we were out here on a pure vacation, this might not be too much of an issue, but that’s not our life. We’re both out here working, and I host several group Zoom calls per month. We need to be able to connect. Connectivity issues didn’t start to hit hard until we moved into central Wyoming. Suddenly we found ourselves in dead pockets. Nothing we had, Skyroam, AT&T in the truck, or Google Fi, was doing us any good. Even in places that advertised Wifi, calls dropped, we couldn’t get our email when we wanted it (but would wake up in the morning with a full inbox), and we found ourselves generally frustrated and grumpy. 

  • Humidity. This is a recent addition, and it might be a bigger challenge for yours truly than for the rest of the house. I never hated humidity. I love what it does for skin and hair. What I don’t like is being unable to get away from it. Everything and I really mean EVERYTHING is damp. Add rain, which we have had in the last 3 days, and you have a moist moist world with a rumpled, damp, irritated Fálki. The one good thing, today anyway, is that it’s actually cool and humid, rather than hot and humid. I’m counting my blessings.

  • Cat action. When we were in southern Colorado, Ivar decided that she wanted to get out of the camper. In the middle of the night. By clawing the weather stripping around the door. She decided that weeks ago, and she hasn’t really changed her mind (though last night, the thunderstorm seems to have quelled her desire). Of note: she has NOT escaped. She HAS managed to disrupt sleep and tear up the weather stripping.

We’ve found things to delight in:

  • Art Co-ops

  • The sky in southeastern Wyoming

  • Bighorn National Forest

  • The best Ice cream (in Ten Sleep, Wyoming)


  • Kind folks who have really tried to help us meet our Wifi needs

  • Fergus Falls, Minnesota

  • Lake Superior

  • Mississippi Bluffs (and particularly the rock quarry there)

  • The best coffee (in a couple places)

  • A place called Töast (Fergus Falls, MN)

  • Wild Rice calzone (in Moose Lake, MN)

  • A couple great disc golf spots (Onalaska, WI and Fergus Falls, MN)

  • Art inspiration - especially in Colorado and Wyoming

  • Lots of flowers (the rose garden at Leif Erikson Park in Duluth was beautiful)

  • Helpful trailer-backing experts

  • Delicious local and regional sodas

And here are some tips (in no real order) we’ve picked up along the way. Some of these are specifically pet-related, while most are pretty general:

  • If you require internet access, be sure to double and triple-check access at places. Use cellular coverage maps, and if you’re going to a place that says that they have Wifi, ask more questions and be clear about your needs. If you do find yourself in a tricky connectivity spot, take a drive. You might find more bars a few miles down the road.

  • Be as clear as you can be about temperatures and weather and be honest about what you can tolerate. You might have a dream of boondocking, but if you can’t stand heat (or if you have pets), an RV park or a HipCamp with hookups might be a better option. 

  • If you are boondocking, take the time to find RV parks or even pet-friendly motels in the area just in case, and don’t be too attached to staying in one place if it’s making you sick or miserable. It’s ok to move to a different spot.

  • Carry some Reflectix. You can use it to cover windows in the heat.

  • Get or make an awning or find a camper that has an awning built-in. We’re still looking for one, and it becomes more and more apparent that we need it.

  • Pack enough towels for you AND for your wet camper floor.

  • If you’re traveling with cats, be sure to bring scratch pads or posts or SOMETHING, so that your fee-friends have something to do with those claws. Otherwise, they will use your house.

  • Ask your vet to help you put together an emergency kit. Ivar has skin issues, among other things, and Lou has ear issues. Our Dr. Tim sent along steroids, antifungals, alternate food recommendations, and a few other things with instructions, and of course we have him on speed dial.

  • Make sure you have enough water. Get a Berkey if you can afford to. That way, if your spot has water, even if it’s not potable, you can filter and drink away.

  • If it’s too hot in your “house” but you want to stay at that spot, take a long day-trip if you can afford to. Joy-riding is a great way to cool off and see interesting places. If you're stuck for any reason and there's space, get under the camper (I'm not joking! I did this with the cats in Cheyenne).

  • Download movies, books, and podcasts at Walmart or other spots that have Wifi when you pass through towns or go to grab gas or groceries.

  • Don’t overload yourself with stuff. You really can find things on the road. Most small and medium cities have thrift stores, WalMart, and Dollar General or Family Dollar.

  • Pack clothes that are easy to store and also easy to hand wash and dry while on the road. If you can’t hit an RV park or a laundromat, it’s nice to have this option. We wear quite a bit of wool because it doesn’t smell, airs out easily, and is easy to hand wash and dry. *Be eco-conscious and pack soaps that are eco-friendly. We use Dr. Brommers and white vinegar for everything.

  • White vinegar is your friend. Fill a spray bottle with half vinegar and half water, and use it to wash dishes when your water supply is tight. It’s also great for counter cleaning and lightly misting on wrinkly clothes.

  • Shower whenever you can because you will want to when you can’t. Wipes, especially those formulated for “intimate” spots are good for PTA baths and wipedowns. You can also find fairly inexpensive outdoor shower options. We have one that we use with a collapsible bucket.

  • Sometimes you just might need a bucket. For a toilet. Get a 5-gallon paint bucket from Home Depot or Lowes and a seat/lid from a sports store, add some toilet bags, a squirt bottle (portable bidet) for cleansing your nethers, some toilet paper, and you’re good to go. Pick up compostable bags for when you camp out in nature and need to bury your waste. Chemical bags are a better option if you’re going to have to dispose of it in trash cans (this is a new lesson for us - we’ve been using compostable bags, and it’s just…well…gross).

  • About bears. Read up on camping in bear country and take some precautions BEFORE you get there. We didn't, and we had some serious improv-ing to do so that we could stay safely.

I think that’s enough for now.  I hope this not-so-little post finds you all well and happy in your lives. Stay tuned for more in a month or so, and if you want a little entertainment, Harold and Ethel have been vlogging the trip on the Ramen on Sunday YouTube channel!


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