Our issues with the RAM’s DEF pump and the fifth wheel’s hydraulic system had knocked out about three weeks from our original travel itinerary for the summer. When we finally got the green light to get back on the road on August 17th, we needed to decide where to reconnect with the plan. Phil considered various options and decided we should plan to rejoin the plan in Custer, SD on August 25th. Although we had to cancel the first three days of our 10-day reservation in Custer, Phil developed a doable itinerary that would take us more than 1,600 miles over eight days.
We left RVs for Less in Knoxville, TN the morning of Tuesday, August 17th. We drove 235 miles to Clarksville, TN where we spent the night at Clarksville RV Park. The first 100 miles were driven through the rainy remnants of Hurricane Fred but the second half of the drive was dry and much easier. With our early departure and the hour gained with the time zone change, we arrived at the campground around 1:30 pm. After getting set up, we did some exploring in Clarksville. Both Jason and Jarrod had graduated from Austin Peay University in Clarksville more than a decade ago so we were curious to see how things had changed. We drove through the campus and past the apartment buildings where they had lived for a few years.
On Wednesday, we got another early start and drove 277 miles to Shelbyville, IL where we spent two nights at Robin Hoods Woods. Again, the drive was uneventful but, given the back-to-back travel days and the longer-than-usual drive, it was rather exhausting.
We spent part of Thursday exploring the town of Shelbyville. We drove to Lake Shelbyville and viewed the dam. We also drove through downtown Shelbyville and took pictures of the courthouse and sculptures of the Lincoln – Thornton debate on August 9, 1856. Abraham Lincoln and Judge Anthony Thornton had met on the steps of the old courthouse to debate the expansion of slavery into new Federal territories.
On Friday, we drove 277 miles to West Liberty, IA where we stayed two nights at Little Bear Campground. We spent much of Saturday, August 21st, visiting the Herbert Hoover Historic Site in nearby West Branch, IA.
Herbert Hoover was born in 1874 in a two-room cottage in West Branch. His Quaker family had helped settle the town. His father, a blacksmith and, later, a farm implement dealer, died when Herbert was six. His mother, a Quaker minister, died four years later. Herbert was split up from his two siblings and moved to Oregon to live with his uncle. He later earned a degree in geology in the first class of Stanford University. He then went to work in the California gold mines and, later, joined a British mining firm and became a mining engineer in Australia. In 1899, he married Lou Henry, who he had met at Stanford. They immediately moved to China where Hoover continued his career. He earned a reputation as a “doctor of sick mines” and circled the globe several times with his wife and two sons. By age 40, he was a millionaire.
Hoover gave up his mining career and, instead, focused on humanitarian efforts to feed starving Europeans during and after World War I. He then served as Secretary of Commerce under Presidents Harding and Coolidge. Hoover easily won the presidency in 1928. Unfortunately, the Great Depression began after he had been in office for eight months and, by 1932, unemployment had reached 23%. Although he introduced a number of reforms that paved the way for later New Deal measures, his popularity evaporated and he lost the 1932 election to FDR. Polls of historians and political scientists have generally ranked Hoover in the bottom third of presidents. However, Hoover’s reputation recovered in his later years due to his humanitarian efforts.
After touring the Hoover Presidential Museum and Library, we watched a video at the Visitor’s Center and visited Hoover’s 14-by-20 foot birthplace cottage, the Friends Meetinghouse, a blacksmith shop similar to his father’s, the one-room schoolhouse and the gravesite of Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover.
We then drove to downtown West Liberty, IA and did some grocery shopping.
On Sunday, we drove 289 miles to Onawa, IA where we spent two nights at On-Ur-Wa RV Park. Although the drive was largely uneventful, it was rather disconcerting to drive all that distance and still be in the same state.
On Monday, we drove into downtown Onawa and saw what is claimed to be the widest main street in the U.S.
We then visited the Lewis and Clark State Park. We explored a replica of a keelboat that was used by the Lewis and Clark expedition.
On Tuesday, August 24th, we drove 235 miles to White Lake, SD where we overnighted at Circle K Motel and Campground. The campground was nothing special but it was close to I-90 and had large, big-rig-friendly sites.
On Wednesday, we completed our 1,600-mile in eight day trek to get caught up with our summer travel itinerary. We had intended to drive 285 miles to our campground in Custer, SD. However, when we reached the Badlands, we took a 20-mile detour along the scenic drive through Badlands National Park. Phil got in for free because he had his Senior Access Pass. By sheer coincidence, Jan was also able to get in for free, saving the $30 regular admission price, because it was National Park Founders Day. We drove the full loop and stopped a couple of times to enjoy the viewpoints. The road was very winding but, fortunately, traffic was light so Phil had no trouble keeping our fifth-wheel on the road. Jan took quite a number of pictures as she drove along, as well as when we stopped for lunch at one of the viewpoints.