A Travellerspoint blog

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A Nightmare

Let me tell you about a nightmare I've been having for the last few days. It all started when Dad bought the van for me. The seller, Bill, said the title for the van was still in process and hadn't gotten to them yet and that he'll send it to us when he gets it. We were so thrilled about getting the van so cheap, that we weren't gonna let a title problem stop us. Well now I find out, after about a dozen long distance calls to Mankato and Information, that a different guy sold it to Bill while his bank had the title because of an unpaid loan. Bill was not to sell the van, but did when we flashed $300 in his face. Now it seems the other guy is bankrupt or something and can't pay off the loan for awhile to get us the title.

So I'm left with a few solutions to this problem. After asking everybody I know, here is what I'm left with: Mom says if it was her she'd have brought it to the police, or at least the bank, and told them it wasn't her van, and be done with it. She says my best choice would be to sell it back to Dad and get another vehicle to travel in that's mine. Two of my buddies said to switch the ID plates with one in the junkyard and tell the first guy that I junked his van. The only trouble with this is that I could go to jail. An attorney said he could write both guys a threatening letter asking for a title in five days and then confront the bank and see if I can settle with them. But he didn't sound too confident that this would have any results (but he would bill me). Dad's advice is to just take off and he'll take care of the title or at least send me license tabs in September. He is confident that he can put "the fear of god" in these people and get some action. The trouble with this idea is that van won't be in my name and if it gets towed, somehow, I won't be able to get it back.

What would you do?


I've changed my mind many times now, but I'm going to go with Dad's (and my) idea to just take off. I'll be able to leave pretty quick and it'll feel great. As far as the potential for problems, we'll have to look ahead a few pages in this journal to see how my luck holds out.

Posted by VANagain 13:01 Comments (1)

My Adventure Begins!!

Looking for America

Have you seen it?

As a vagabond, you begin to face your fears now and then, instead of continuously sidestepping them in the name of convenience.
—Ed Buryn

The rest of this work,
The work of this play,
Is some blank verse
Written by the road
To each of you.

Nothing need be known.
Anything may be expected.
Travel is just like everything else,
Only much more so.
It's a moving experience.
—Ed Buryn, Vagabonding in the USA


July 23rd, Monday, my adventure begins!! Seemingly against all odds, I finally got on my way. There are so many more things that I could've done to the van, but the hell with it. Enough is enough. Dad said, "Well, this'll be the last time we'll be working in the garage together for a while." I had to say, "That's just as well. I could use a break." He kinda felt the same way.


So, here I sit, somewhere in South Dakota, with a whole park to myself, and a nice little fire. (No, not in the van!!) I saw a sign in a roadside park a ways back that had a list of attractions in S.D. At the bottom it said, "SOUTH DAKOTA; the Land of Infinite Variety." That's not what I've heard. Well, I'll find out. But right now I've got to roast a hot dog and get to sleep.

July 24, 1984 First morning on the road.

Posted by VANagain 05:00 Comments (11)

The Badlands


Second Morning. Wall, South Dakota, of all places.

After seeing those Wall Drug bumper stickers everywhere, I was gonna stay away from the “infamous” Wall Drug—and I end up sleeping within a few blocks of it! I’m in a campground, eating a breakfast of Tang and “Sticky Buns.” That’s what Violet calls sweet rolls. I met Violet (not her real name) yesterday in the Badlands. She’s also traveling alone and has come all the way from Georgia. I’m not sure where she’s going to, but she’s vacationing for 3 weeks. Violet is a very nice and friendly woman. We’re keeping each other company. We went for walks and climbs through the strange and beautiful formations of the Badlands.


With somebody along, I found myself doing some more enjoyable things and taking my time more than I would’ve alone. In fact, we took a little too much time. The Badlands turned out to be a lot bigger than we’d thought and we ended up getting a little lost, following each other’s vehicles in the dark when we finally made it to this campground (not nearly as nice as my camp the night before, but the showers were nice). She offered me a spot in her tent to “rough it a little.”

We stayed up late talking. We could talk pretty closely right off. She said she was 41 and divorced and mentioned some things I’d like to remember: I said I won’t go back to Minnesota unless something comes up. She said, “What would it take?” Good question... Also—very important—learn to give a good back rub. She says first and foremost it should be non-sexual.

Well, got to go. We’re off to the Black Hills.

I found the world of Pern to exist in the Badlands

Some of South Dakota's “infinite variety”

Posted by VANagain 02:23 Comments (2)

South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Wyoming

Rich, George, Thomas, Theodore, and Abraham

Rich, George, Thomas, Theodore, and Abraham

Today is the 29th of July. I haven’t found much time for writing or drawing. Too many things goin’ on!

July 25th we camped in Custer State Park in the Black Hills by a nice little lake and had a fire. Real nice.

The view out the tent at Custer State Park, ND

The view out the tent at Custer State Park, ND


The next day we drove thru more of the Black Hills.
Violet and Rich in the Black Hills National Forest

Violet and Rich in the Black Hills National Forest

Then on over into Wyoming to Devil’s Tower. We walked around the tower and then made the mistake of going to the camp at Bighorn Canyon National Park. We had gone into Montana to see the Custer Battlefield Monument where Custer made his last stand. Neat, but real hot. It was actually the first real hot weather I’d hit yet. So we had to decide between going to Billings or Bighorn Canyon. The Canyon looked more attractive on the map but turned out to be quite a disappointment. We just turned around and tried to make towards Yellowstone, going on some directions from a Ranger at Bighorn Canyon.

Old Blue heading for Devil's Tower

Old Blue heading for Devil's Tower

Devil's Tower

Devil's Tower

We ended up in an Indian Reservation almost out of gas on a pretty but very rocky mountain back road, and I had a blowout! Fortunately we were following an older man who was going to Billings. He had come down from this rocky road, but he had a 4-wheel drive. I used his jack because I discovered I didn’t have one! Then we got to a gas station on the reservation that had only unleaded gas and a toothless family running it who could hardly count. Violet filled up and had an uncomfortable conversation with a strange Indian while I transferred (regular) gas from my spare can to my van.

We were quite relieved to be on our way, only after the Indian asked for money for the directions he gave us. Violet ended up treating me to a steak dinner in Billings and we went dancing afterwards and then stayed in a campground there.

Yesterday afternoon we made our way down 212 from Billings on a very pretty (breathtaking is the word), maintained road towards the northwest entrance to Yellowstone. Saw a nice rainbow in the Rockies.

Now we’re in Yellowstone; got here last night and camped in one of the last spots in Pebble Creek. We stayed in the van last night after cooking a great dinner of pork chops and German fried potatoes on the handy stove that I'd borrowed from my Dad's neighbor Mark. Really roughin’ it ya know!! We ended up sleepin’ in the van due to a combination of wet ground, the look of rain in the sky, and I think Violet is more than a little scared of bears. And sure enough, in the middle of the night, it did start raining (Violet said it was a real “gully-washer”). And when the rain leaked in past the skylight to where she was sleeping on the floor, we put the bed to the real test to see if it would comfortably sleep two people. It did.

Violet’s guidelines for life:
1. Accept today.
2. Always ask for what you need. Be prepared for a no or a yes. More often yes.
3. Love unconditionally.

Situation (7/29): Rich driving ahead of Violet through Yellowstone to the next campsite. Rich passes 3 female backpackers hitch-hiking and thinks, "Yup, if I were alone I’d pick them up. There are definitely times to pick up hitch-hikers..." In 30 seconds he regrets not picking them up.

Question: Why didn’t Rich pick them up?

Later, Violet said that after I’d passed the girls she could hear me thinking from where she was following me! I resolved to work on my split-second thinking.

Posted by VANagain 08:41 Comments (3)


Rich in Yellowstone

Rich in Yellowstone

Yellowstone is the Park of all Parks, they say. And after staying in it for 3 or 4 days among all the natural beauty, you notice a harsh contrasting factor: all these huge Winnebagos! It seems half the country has one of these second homes in which they transport themselves, their kids, the dog, the kitchen—even their cars are strapped to the back!—all over God’s creation. They pull up to dock at the campgrounds, plug in the life-support systems, and after that you may never see the owners again. It’s like Ed Buryn said, if you want all the comforts of home, you should stay home; it’s cheaper!
Old Faithful geyser

Old Faithful geyser

Anyhow, it seems that I breathe a little easier when I’m away from the tourist attractions, and can rough-it in the great outdoors without the shadows of the camper-buses.

Another thing about Yellowstone: when camping in the park, conversations with the other camper-folks is very easy and often interesting—even with folks traveling in Winnebagos, if you can catch them outside of it. Most everybody is on the same level because of the camping. Start by asking about their state and hear new views and stories.

Madison Junction in Yellowstone National Park

Madison Junction in Yellowstone National Park

We spent our last evening in Yellowstone talking with Pia and Peter, a couple from the Netherlands. I invited them over to our fire at about sunset, to share the popcorn Violet had just made. We had a very interesting and intellectual conversation that lasted ‘til way past dark. The language was a bit of a problem, but not too bad for she was an English teacher and he traveled to the U.S. often. It made me realize how poorly I spoke our language. I told her that she spoke better than most people I know. I found myself searching for correct words to convey my meaning, instead of just “talkin’.”

They spoke of how America is both advanced and behind in things. They said we were very wasteful and simple. She said Reagan was so simple he was dangerous. When I told them about my trip and how I didn’t like the “system,” they commended me and Pia said I was of “higher thinking,” although I don’t think those were quite the words she was looking for. And when I offered Peter a beer he said he would drink his own because of my money situation of traveling.

They said that Holland was 7 square hours big. It takes 2 hours to travel it east to west and 3.5 hours to go north to south! They agreed more with the Socialist government than ours. It was refreshing and enlightening for both Violet and me to have talked with them.

Having some normal food after leaving Yellowstone

Having some normal food after leaving Yellowstone

Posted by VANagain 12:19 Comments (1)

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