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STOP #217

Finally a travel day that went exactly as planned. We even took the time to stop and fill up with gasoline along the way, something we hardly ever do!

We arrived at Hankinson Hills Campground, also in the Sheyenne National Grasslands, around 10:00AM and out of the 15 campsites here, we had 15 to choose from.

Granted 6 of the campsites are for the equestrian campers, but the other 9 of them are off limits to them. The two different groups of sites here are in separate loops in the campground, not interspersed together like Jorgen's Hollow Campground was.

We did a complete lap around the campground to make sure we selected the best site for our tastes. Campsite #2 was the winner, tucked away in the corner, mostly to ourselves and the gate for the hiking trail is right in our backyard.

Tucked safely away in our little corner of the campground.

We also have a very shaded picnic table and fire pit.

We've got the whole campground loop to ourselves.

It was Tricia's turn to walk the payment envelope back up to the campground entrance after I had it all filled out. On the way there she decided to check out the large picnic pavillion, something Jorgen's Hollow Campground didn't have.

There were four picnic tables under the pavillion and room for more if needed, also there was a pile of bird poop on the concrete floor towards the center.

We all know what that means now! Look up and you'll find another swallow nest, this one however seems to be vacant for the moment.

MONDAY - In case you couldn't tell from the title of this post, know this...


Other than the obvious, being Tricia no longer has deadlines to meet with work, it also means we no longer have to consider whether there is cell signal available when choosing where to camp.

Although there won't be any extra money coming in to boost our savings account, we have been preparing for this exact scenario since choosing to hit the road.

The rest of our camping for this year is already reserved and paid for. This August we will be making another sizable investment into our solar power capabilities. This investment is not to save money, it is a lifestyle investment, we'll never recover the money in saved camping fees. It will however allow us the choice to camp in more remote locations and most likely for FREE.

To date we have 116 nights of FREE camping under our belts, but 80 of those were spent in four of Tricia's families backyards and driveways due to park campground closures during the initial COVID pandemic. While we were very grateful for those opportunities to visit with family, it also meant Tricia didn't miss one single day of work throughout the entire ordeal.

Next year we will start spending more time in the half price campgrounds of the National Park Service, United States Forest Service and Army Corp of Engineers parks in order to save money. Our goal has always been to live off of my Social Security check and only withdraw from our savings for things like tires, repairs, medical expenses and Big Ticket Experiences like visiting Alaska and Hawaii.

We've been a little lazy with paying attention to our expenses in the last three years, but we've still managed to put away a good amount of Trica's earnings and our only withdrawal has been to pay for our first solar upgrade back in February of 2020.

So with only one more paycheck coming from Tricia's employer wish us luck and good fortune as we transition into yet another phase of this fulltime lifestyle on the road.

WEDNESDAY - This is the second campsite in a row where we didn't move the truck once after we unhooked and got setup.

We've got everything we need right here on our campsite, including hiking trails for sightseeing and a daily "cow parade" for our viewing pleasure.

This morning these two pair of cows and calves came right up to the fence behind our site.

Normally the herd passes back and forth farther out in the large field behind our site.

We've seen as many as 18-20 cows and calves pass by at a time.

We are still munching on the the $200 worth of groceries we bought back on July 6th, although we are now out of cereal, bread and deli meats, our typical breakfast and lunch selections. Don't worry we won't go hungry, we still have plenty of oatmeal and soups. We also still have 25% of our 39 gallons of fresh water that we filled back on July 8th.

We haven't been plugged in to electricity for a week now and even with the two shaded sites we've been on our batteries are currently at 78%. We can safely draw our lithium batteries down to 20% without any concern for damage. Also by filling up our gas tank between sites we have plenty of fuel to make it the 140 miles to our next stop.

The point I'm trying to make is we are getting better at this whole boondocking scheme, much better than our first few attempts back on the National Seashores of North Carolina and Maryland in August of 2018. Our long term plans are to be able to survive (no wait, make that enjoy) two weeks without any further provisions.

As with most boondocking situations, water is usually the limiting factor. Fresh water, drinking water and waste water all come into play, but with strategic conservation efforts two weeks should be obtainable.

Almost forgot, we did have a couple of other visitors to our campsite while we were here. The first one got away without having their picture taken. The second one, not so lucky!

The first one I as able to tenatively identify as a Plains Gartersnake, I'm finding the second snake is not as easy to identify. There is no need to worry about our encounter with either of these snakes, because the only venomous snake found in North Dakota is the Prairie Rattlesnake. Neither snake we saw had a rattle on their tail and the rattlers are only found in the Central and Western Regions of the state. We are now in the southeastern corner of the state.



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