Sure, we’ve been on the road for 2 years, but somehow a weekend of hotel stays felt more like roughing it than any night we’ve ever spent in an RV. Suddenly, it was possible to forget a toothbrush or beloved baby doll. We were taking the truck and leaving our home behind.
For Will’s birthday, we decided to change things up and take a little side trip. There were a few places we wanted to see but they weren’t necessarily destinations that would be worth more than a night stay. And sometimes you just have to know when to say that something will be too much. Hauling the fifth wheel would have been way too much.
After a demanding and exhausting week of work, I was able to duck out for most of the day on Friday. This allowed us a leisurely start to the day and a relaxing (albeit incredibly boring) drive to Dickinson, North Dakota. We were able to enjoy the day, stop at a park, and get checked in and settled with time for some relaxing before dinner.
Obviously, we do not do hotels very often, and it had been almost 2 full years since the four of us had stayed in a hotel together, so a lot of thought and planning went into where we would stay and how we would be most comfortable without completely breaking the bank.
Traveling with a dog automatically limits the options, and we also wanted to have the ability to prepare most of our meals and have a living area separate from the sleeping area. If we’re not staying in the fifth wheel, we’re at least going to be comfy and do our best to get us all a decent night’s sleep. We were lucky enough to find three hotels that more or less fit the bill at each of the three locations we wanted to visit.
We got up on Saturday morning with Theodore Roosevelt National Park in our sights. Of course, it was rainy and chilly and incredibly overcast, but no matter how much you plan, you can never plan the weather. So off we went.
Visiting National Parks and Monuments with a dog in tow adds its own layer of complexity. Since Daisy wasn’t allowed on any of the trails, we had tentatively selected a couple of potential hikes outside the park. However, the rain changed our plans and we opted for the scenic drive instead. Bird and I did get out for about a mile hike, but Will and Daisy had to stay behind in the truck (and stay warm).
We saw tons of bison and were really surprised at the pops of fall colors throughout the park. We only visited the southern unit, but honestly feel satisfied with what we saw. Is it worth the $30 entrance fee? Probably not just to do half of the park. However, with our interagency annual pass, it was a no-brainer. I can’t say I’d purposefully return just to visit the park, but if I ever accidentally find myself in North Dakota again, at least I know a beautiful place that makes up for everything else.
From there, we made our way to Hardin, Montana. This was definitely a long drive to do after already spending a lot of time in the park, but the weather wasn’t conducive to doing much outside, so we took our time.
This hotel was the only one that didn’t have a mostly full kitchen, so we ordered pizza and Bird had so much fun dancing in the large living area.
On Sunday morning, we again woke up to chilly temps and overcast skies. We made a quick stop at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (where Daisy wasn’t even allowed outside of the truck), then decided to head to the Bighorn mountains.
The Bighorns have always had a special place in my heart, and Will was excited to visit another part of them, so it just made sense.
Even though we’d been having lots of fun, the mood of the weekend shifted as we drove up the mountain and finally got above the clouds to see blue skies and sunshine for the first time since we’d left home.
Our plans for a hike didn’t pan out when the directions to the trailhead were incorrect, but we ventured down a forest service road and forged our own path. We really do thrive on being outdoors, and giving the girls an opportunity to run off some energy was truly the key to making the long days in the truck bearable.
We arrived at our hotel in Sheridan, Wyoming, in the late afternoon and made the decision to have a relaxing night in. Bird beat us in a couple of games of Candy Land, and we just enjoyed having a little more space than usual for the final night. One of the true highlights of a hotel room is having a bathtub, and Bird and I both capitalized on that opportunity.
Even though we had a blast luxuriating in the hotel life for a few days, we were all more than ready to get back home, settle in, and not get back in the truck for a few days.