Wild, Wild West – planning

We bought our Tiffin with the intention of exploring places we’ve never visited and being able to take longer trips. In summer 2017 we started looking at where and when to go; we actually attended a Tiffin Rally in West Virginia for a week in June 2017. Huckleberry Tiffin was a lot more complex than our previous motorhome and we found this to be an invaluable “vacation”. Roy handled all of the technical forums and super fun things, like how to keep our coach from smelling by sanitizing the black tank correctly. Thank goodness he was interested in those topics. I learned several things about planning trips and organizing the coach. Naturally, when we returned home, I began planning our first of hopefully many trips out West.

We decided that we did not want a long trek across the country and back trying to see everything west of the Mississippi River at once. Since we own our coach, we wanted to take several different trips over the course of multiple years and leave time on each to explore places we didn’t even know about. In July, 2017 we decided to head first to South Dakota and part of Wyoming. This would be a good trip to see how much we wanted to travel per day on our way out, not venture across the Rocky Mountains in the coach and there is a LOT to do in the locations we were planning to stay.

We planned 3 different “stops” for multiple nights of camping: Wall, SD (close vicinity to the Badlands), Custer, SD (close vicinity to Custer State Park/Mt Rushmore/Wind Cave/a day drive in the toad to visit Devil’s Tower) and Sheridan, WY (close access to the interstate heading home, day drive to Yellowstone and a cute, small town to explore for our half day in town when we arrived). We stayed 3 nights in Wall, 4 nights in Custer and 2 nights in Sheridan. I will just tell you right now, we had no idea what we were doing by “visiting” Yellowstone for a day. More on that later, but there is SOOOO much to do in that National Park. It’s already on our repeat travel list and you could easily spend 2 weeks there alone. Our day in Yellowstone was a beautiful day and we saw a lot. It was actually good to spend that day in the park to know what we need to plan for next time. Also, we stuck with our guns on not driving Huckleberry Tiffin into the mountains on this trip and are aware of how to plan for our return trip to Yellowstone and Tetons in the future.

The purpose of this blog is not to get kick-backs or promote products to financially benefit from them. However, everyone has their own opinion of what apps, trip planning tools, technology devices, etc. work best. So any “promotion” in this blog is simply my opinion and I have not received any money from anyone.

We found the following tools very helpful in planning this trip and will continue to utilize them:

  • Allstays App – this is not a free app, but have you ever heard “you get what you pay for?” So true for this one. You can filter campgrounds by locations or just narrow a search in the map feature to see how close campgrounds are to your desired location. User reviews are pretty well up to date. Allstays also provides the following, which are REALLY helpful when you are driving a 38′ vehicle: low clearance warnings, Wal-Mart and rest area restrictions, Pilot/Flying J/other gas station locations that include information about RV lanes (our MH is a gaser, so we have to scout out stops a little differently than those who drive diesel pushers), campground types (if you prefer COE, state or local parks, etc you can filter for that).
  • Good Old Mapquest – I use Mapquest as a starting point to plan our routes. I would plot our trips, determine the amount of time between key cities for gas stops, meal stops, grocery/Costco stops, overnight stays, etc. then use the Allstays App or our RV Garmin to validate if the trip was doable. This was really only necessary in the areas that we would deviate from an Interstate route. We had a few on this trip and I just wanted to make sure we didn’t encounter a low clearance bridge or something equally offensive to our MH.
  • In dash Garmin – we did not order Huckleberry Tiffin from the plant. My husband found the floorplan was best for our family and was strategic in finding exactly what he wanted, on a lot. I may or may not post about that at a later date, but we are very happy with our coach, have SOOOOOOO many bells and whistles and honestly, we probably wouldn’t have ordered everything we have if we had ordered our coach trying to save money here and there on features. The best thing about the Garmin in the coach is that it is built for truckers so it can validate or provide a better route that I scouted on Mapquest. Funny (not funny) story: When we drove our coach home, we input the height, width, into Garmin. Apparently, my husband was guessing because the height he input was 14′ and our journey home from Niagra Falls to Kentucky wanted us to detour at every exit. He couldn’t figure that out, until he realized he accidentally had the incorrect height and Garmin didn’t think we could clear any overpasses. It was interesting and I’m sure there were some choice words spoken at some point on that journey. So, if you set up the in dash Garmin correctly, it can be an invaluable tool on your journey.

 

I will post about the campgrounds we chose in each post about our journey, but all of them were chosen from the Allstays App. We stay in rest areas or Wal-Marts en route, simply because we just never know how far we will make it. As my first post on our Wild West adventures points out, if we stopped on our second day driving to South Dakota in the general area that I had planned, it would have been about 2pm CT. My husband didn’t like that idea, so we forged on. If we had booked a campground we would have either been stuck there or have lost our money, so this is why we choose to dry camp overnight. I will say we plan to join Harvest Host before our next big trip. We have friends who have recently gone to full-timing and have found some wonderful spots to boondock in between their key stops with the Harvest Host membership. The scenery and ability to visit places we otherwise wouldn’t have is very desirable. As a reminder, the Sturgills are not full-time. However, if you are interested in our lovely friends full-time adventures check them out at Turning on Life.

If you have any questions about our tools our how we planned this trip, don’t hesitate to email me. We are always happy to help another camper out.

‘Til next time!

 

 

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