• sparkfireswan

A&A End of Week 12 Life Updates

Updated: Jan 13

End of Week #12


Grandma’s House, Wall SD > Belle Fourche River Campground, Devils Tower National Monument WY > Ten Sleep RV, Ten Sleep WY


Miles traveled since last week’s post = 366


Welcome to Wyoming! Another state has been officially conquered and we are over a new border this week. I’m writing this intro on Monday morning, as we prepare to travel all afternoon today, and I know I will be pressed for time. We are heading for the Big Horn Mountains, staying on the south side in the town of Ten Sleep, WY. I’m not going to lie, I am pretty damn excited for full hookups again! After just 2 nights away from my Grandparents house I already miss running water, showers, and a full battery charge on my cell phone. I know the spoiled Bengal cats would say they miss their drinking water fountain too!


Boondocking is super great and all, and I really do love roughing it – but at the same time I also fully enjoy the comforts of water and electricity. Thankfully we are in a National Park now and right next to a nice restroom facility so we don’t load up our black tank before traveling again. They also had a little room you could go in and do your dishes – score!


The weather was just beautiful this past weekend, despite some gusty winds, and we did a great 4 mile hike around Devils Tower yesterday! Did you know it was the first official US National Monument? More to come about our experience with Devils Tower next week, but you can check out some fun facts I wrote about the monument today on Instagram, here.


Leaving South Dakota


Our last week in South Dakota went quick, as to be expected. We were parked in the Badlands, in my Grandparents front yard – across from my Aunt & Uncle’s house, for about 2 and a half weeks. To say we got comfortable would be an understatement. We were comfortable with the sounds and smells of ranch life, waking up to the moos and grunts of the farm animals, comfortable with Grandmas cooking and baking, and having constant social interaction with so many family members. In fact, we have had so much family interaction the last 3 months that it’s really hard to swallow that we are completely on our own now. We are out here yo! No more planned family stops for quite some time to come, and who knows when our first visitor will be!


We did our best to make the most out of the end of our time on the ranch, going hiking one last time, and making any last orders or changes to the RV. Laundry loads were completed, some more things were thrown out or given away, and the trailer was cleaned!


Bear Butte State Park


The last hike we did was at “Bear Mountain”, the Lakota name given to the geological formation of igneous rock intrusions located just near Sturgis, SD. American Indian tribes find this mountain very sacred and a place for religious practises. It is said that the creator himself will communicate with American Indians through visions and prayers at this mountain.


The mountain and trail were near a large lake and a lot of flat plains, just off the edge of the rolling forest of the Black Hills. The trail to the summit was about 3.5 miles roundtrip, and a bit strenuous at times as you incline. We weaved back and forth to the mountaintop and fought huge gusts of winds straightlining us from the plains to our north. It was a nice hike, with awesome views of the area and a lot of informational history marked at the top.


Bear Butte was created when a great surge of molten rock pushed itself upward – forming The Black Hills. At Bear Butte the molten basically failed to break the surface and eventually cooled to form what is called a laccolith. 

I do have to say, the most interesting encounter happened on the decent down from Bear Butt, when I almost stepped right on a huge bull snake in the middle of the trail! (I’ll spare you the photo and video, but if you’re my friend on Snapchat or Instagram you already saw it!) I didn’t see him right away, as I was intently staring at the ground to safely put one foot in front of the other, and when I did see him I absolutely screamed bloody murder and backed up into Adam. Needless to say, the snake went on with his life and we waited for him to go before continuing on the trail.


The final ‘see you later’


Leaving South Dakota was not easy for me, not that leaving Minnesota was either, but my gosh – to think that was our last stop with family is quite daunting and unfamiliar! That goes without even mentioning that we were pretty comfortable on the ranch, and could probably easily have seen ourselves camping out there for weeks to come (despite all the disgusting severe weather we had to go through!)


It meant so much to me to spend so much time with my Grandparents and Aunt, Uncle and cousins, as that was by far the most time I’ve ever spent with that side of my family. I will hold these memories close for years to come and cherish every second we had with them.

As I’ve said before, I don’t do goodbyes, and the ‘see you laters’ have been exceptionally hard lately too, but I’m doing my best to get through it. It’s not easy to look your loved ones in the eyes and tell them you don’t know exactly when you will see them again next, but we also can’t place our dreams in life on hold out of fear of the unknown. Instead we have to burst free from our comfort zones and live a life of adventure, passion, and joy – in whatever way that means for us all.


Towing process

I feel like, slowly but surely, we are starting to get into a groove with the towing process of loading up the trailer, traveling with the cats (that blog post coming ASAP), and setting up in a new location. Don’t get me wrong, I still completely stress out each time, but we are still figuring it all out. Our typical groove seems to be between 150-250 miles in one day (about 4-6 hours), taking up most of the afternoon. Right now our process is usually to leave about 12 PM and be completely set up by 7 PM, but we may start to adjust our leave time as the days become shorter. Adam has been doing all the driving, and I have been doing all the cat sitting, and each one of those things is a monster all on its own. There is no one I would better trust to drive us than Adam, and I think he is starting to understand all the sensations of towing like a million pounds, with each new mile that we put on. When going to a new destination, sometimes we take the road less traveled, the longer route, the county highways, and so on. But at least by doing that we feel more comfortable with our expected driving speeds, and all the bumps and shakes that come along the way. [While driving to Ten Sleep today we also had our first ever experience driving through the mountains, and doing switchbacks too!]


UPDATED – Tentative US Travel Route


Through fall 2020


Originally, we really had a whole different route in mind than what we are likely going to pursue now. It’s so hard to judge that kind of thing before really knowing how long you are going to stay in each place and what the weather will be like and everything! I think our original plans were a bit ambitious, assuming we could zig zag from the top of the west to the bottom, before the snow flies. I think that would make us so rushed and not allow us the opportunity to see all that we really want to see – and at the end of the day that would defeat the whole point of all of this too.


Rough sketch of original planned route.


We have since made adjustments to our tentative planned route, and tried to use estimated timelines to help understand where we will be when. There is still a strong goal in mind – to attend the away MN Vikings game in Kansas City on November 3rd, and I wholeheartedly am using this date as a guideline to plan my route ideas. Thankfully, and like I’ve said all along, we really don’t have our heart set on particular routes to take on this journey, and are remaining as open minded about it all as we possibly can! If things change and we don’t think we can make it to Kansas by 11/3 anymore, than we will absolutely adjust route again.


But as for now, here is a nice scribble of what we are thinking:


Did you notice that this new route shows us stopping back through MN!? DUDE. We are thinking that we might be able to stop back through around next Fall 2020! Hell, maybe we will even be able to throw a huge wedding reception when we do – that would be the ultimate halfway point celebration!


Wedding Planning


I suppose that is a good segway into the next section of updates – wedding planning! Typical to the way we already don’t take the conventional route in life, our wedding process will be much the same. In fact, I pretty much have my heart set on eloping, and getting married somewhere in the beautiful mountains with our closest friends and family there to witness. But I most definitely also have my heart set on a party, a big reception with everyone we love, and I know that we will have to be in MN in order to make that happen. We aren’t pursuing anything fancy or extreme, and I’m going to look into the ideas of making something like that happen. At this point, who really knows how it will all play out, but basically the point of this update is to say that I don’t think we are necessarily just going to wait until we are done with this journey (especially considering we don’t really know when this journey will end or where it will take us!)


Budget & Finances


It would only make sense to talk about money next, and thankfully the month of August has been good to us thus far. Squatting in my family’s front yard really helped to pinch pennies these past few weeks, and the main thing we spent money on was last minute orders from Amazon and last loose end bills from our previous life.


With a grand total of about $1,099.99 spent on food, supplies, bills, gas, propane, and a few overindulgent items (such as fast food, Sturgis, and a few new items for in the RV, cats, and van), still puts August a bit higher than planned, but all things considered it isn’t too bad. The month is not even over yet and doesn’t include any amount of money we will be spending on campgrounds these last few weeks, but that is OK! We will be OK, and we won’t always be spending the same amount each month either. If we can get to a point of spending $1,000 or less each month on everything, then I think we will be absolutely GOLDEN. We knew going into this that it would still cost money to maintain living in a comfortable way, and with what we have grossed on our house we should still last close to a year without including any income made. 


*Additional details about our finances will be included in our monthly Nomadic Newsletter. Sign up for it here!*


Devils Tower – Here is a link to my recent Instagram post with 5 fun facts about this FIRST National Monument.


Income


To be completely transparent, it hasn’t been a big month – in fact we really haven’t made anything at all compared to our previous 2 months on the road. I had several weeks with my CBD oil business where I did not receive any paycheck, and we did not have any cash jobs either. But that’s OK too, and there are a handful of new digital opportunities to make money that we are currently looking into, and we are deciding what will be the next best step for us to pursue. In total, we grossed $127 so far in August, and are still utilizing some of the cash reserves we earned in July when Adam worked at the Chit-Chat.


Everything will work out in the end, and we have been living by limited means as much as possible. We still have our nest egg of money from the sale of our house and are rationing and budgeting to try to get into a groove of what makes the most sense for the long term!


“There are decades when nothing happens. There are weeks when decades happen.”

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NEXT WEEK:


The 13th week of this adventure will likely bring updates on hiking in Wyoming – through Devils Tower, the Bighorn Mountains, and getting into Yellowstone and Grand Teton. (Hopefully we will be to the west end of Wyoming by next Monday!) I might also talk about the best things we never knew we would need on this journey, and all the things I thought I would miss, but don’t. Also, finally look for that update on traveling with the Bengal cats – I know I owe you guys that one!


Become A Patron, Support Our Journey!


We plan to launch our Nomadic Newsletter THIS MONTH – end of August 2019. Sign up now! Subscribe to our Nomadic Newsletter through our Patreon page and in turn support our cause! By making a monthly contribution you will gain special inside access to photos, tips, tricks, and detailed updates on our progress, scheduled to begin soon! Here is the link to subscribe: A&A Destination Unknown


If you want to make a one time contribution, we also have a Go Fund Me page! Check it out here: Help us see the United States!


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For more reviews, content, and other adventures, be sure to follow me on Instagram at Spark Fire Swan.

xoxo





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About Me

Hi, I’m Amanda. Thanks for visiting my page!

I was born & raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. I lived there for 30 years of my life, and always dreamed of warmer winters, mountains & palm trees, and life outside of what I always knew. 

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