One family, seven days, and a 31-foot motor home -- come along for the ride.
By Richard Laliberte
Stiff headwinds across South Dakota drop our gas mileage to half the 10 to 12 mpg we expected. Eventually, I realize the 55-gallon tank also empties fast because I wasn't filling it all the way to begin with. Some gas pumps turn off at $70, so fueling up completely takes two transactions. Another challenge: "Tail swing" when turning an RV can easily take out a pump, so I stick to outside spots for more maneuvering room.
After five hours we roll into a clean, quiet campground just across from Devils Tower National Monument, familiar from the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind (which the camp screens nightly in a makeshift outdoor theater). I hook up a hose for water and a cable for power. At the push of a button, one wall slides sideways several feet, expanding the central cabin that serves as our living, dining, and bedroom. Another button sends metal supports whirring down from the RV's bottom, jacking up the slightly tilting side and leveling the floor. Finally situated, we sit at a picnic table admiring the magnificent view.