We have made our way back to River Falls, a few days ahead of our schedule, after spending a week in South Dakota and 10 days in the Wisconsin Dells area. It is nice we are near family and friends for a few weeks until we head South for the winter after the University fall semester start-up busyness. We had planned to stay in the Dells until Saturday, July 28th, but we really got the homesick itch and we hightailed it River Falls on Wednesday.
On Jason’s birthday we made our way from Cody, WY, over to Belvidere, SD, the home of Mr. Belvidere? Nope, different spelling. There is a KOA on exit 170 here, as well as it is indeed the location of the 1880’s Town. What it does hail to is that it is a good stopping point in the middle of the state, between Chamberlain and Wall. When we headed West we stopped at this KOA for a night and thought it was a good stopping spot for our return to the East. The Internet connectivity on Verizon is absolutely amazing, the KOA’s pool is a cool refreshing dip and it just offered a good spacer between Cody, Jackson MN and the Wisconsin Dells.
What’s next? Jason is now on a 75% telecommuting agreement (measured over annual hours) and our “winter” will begin soon. We are in River Falls until the middle of September, then we will launch out on our journey to New Orleans for Jason to attend a conference there, then we meander back up to Pigeon Forge and down to Winter Garden, Florida our “Winter” destinations.
It was beastly hot in South Dakota the week we were staged there, with temperatures above 100 degrees several days in a row. Unfortunately, we had some issues with our factory original air conditioner in the 100 degree heat, it kept blowing the fuse in the thermostat and that is really unusual. Overloading the A/C would not cause that particular fuse to blow. We had to find some spare fuses so Jason could experiment with tracking down the problem and we luckily did find Fromm’s Hardware in Kadoka, SD, was well stocked and is probably the only option for a hundred miles around. After a lot of blown fuses in trying to figure out what was wrong, Jason narrowed it down to factory original connector that had a loose wire that came out and was touching a second terminal in the A/C unit. This control box is in the path of the air flow at the back of the RV, so over time between the wind tunnel and the rough roads it probably came loose. After repairs were made the unit was back online. Most of the week the highs were pushing 100 degrees each day, so the second A/C unit the bedroom was great to have and so was the KOA’s cool (almost chilly) deep swimming pool.
We split the travel from South Dakota to Wisconsin in Jackson, MN, with a stop at the KOA there. The campground is just North of the interstate and is an easy on and off KOA Journey format. There was lots of flooding in the area when we drove downtown.
We had a specific date to be in the Wisconsin Dells because Jason had seven work related events at Madison over a two week period there. It is really great all of those aligned in such a compact schedule. Each day Jason was finding another Bucky Badger hiding somewhere on the UW-Madison Campus.
The campground we used was positioned well at the intersection of US 12 and I-94, making for a quick run to the South each day for Jason but also up to Colfax, WI, for birthday celebrations at Jason’s family church North of Colfax, WI. The original church building was built in the early 1900’s with generations of Winget family since the 1800’s in the area. To the west it was about an hour and half to Coon Valley to revisit the genealogical significant area of Coon Valley, WI, for Barb’s Brye-Aune family where the family settled in the 1800’s.
At Norskedalen Nature & Heritage Center Northeast out of Coon Valley Ray and Laura Brye-Aune both shared their historical keepsakes from Norway. Ray lived to just under 100 years and Laura just over a century. Their rich history is marked all over the museum.
We were passing through Coon Valley after visiting the Lutheran cemetery and just happened across The Stockyard Grill and Saloon. Based on the number of cars in front of the place on a Saturday for lunch, we gave it a chance. It was amazing with sandwiches made on lefse and bacon wrapped cheese curds. A great place to check out when passing through.
|Campsite||KOA: Belvidere, SD [Campendium]
1/2 mile north off I-90, Exit 170
|Nights Stayed||1: June 16, 2018 - June 17, 2018
5: July 9, 2018 - July 14, 2018
|Parking Site||June 2018: We were going to go to the Badlands boondocking, but we saw the severe weather forecast and decided to go to the KOA instead. This also gave us an opportunity to "recharge" after not having done laundry for a while. The park is now owned (as of three weeks prior) by new ownership.
July 2018: On our way West when we stopped here we thought it was a good spot for a recharge, the internet was good and the park while sparse of any big trees is really an oasis in the middle of South Dakota. This breaks up the travel segments between Cody, WY, and Wisconsin Dells, WI, well. With one more overnighter in the Jackson, MN, area.
|Restaurants||June 2018: There is a dining train car at the 1880's town, it had a good breakfast but our lunch wasn't so good. The air quality in the space is horrible. The KOA made some pretty good pizza and it is delivered to the campsite for you.
July 2018: Well, there really isn't much to choose from around here. We went North to Midland only to find the one "restaurant" on Main St. was closed on a Friday night.
|Attractions||1880's Town is just outside the KOA gates, we did not go through the attraction as we did that in our previous trip here. Otherwise, there are miles and miles and miles of farm fields to enjoy.|
|Remember for Next Time||Good laundry, nice pool.
There are automatic gates out at the end of the driveway that close at 10PM. You need to call ahead to get the gate code if you are going to arrive late.
|Verizon Coverage||Amazing, some of the best connectivity in the country on Verizon. Ping speeds 30-80 ms, downloads up to 80 Mbps and uploads nearly 40 Mbps|
|AT&T Coverage||Good with boosting|
|Cable Television||The KOA offers a decent channel lineup, analog service and is a decent amenity|
|WiFi Coverage||Camp WiFi is the usual spotty coming and going service, it is free|
2035 Highway 71 North
Jackson, MN 56143
|Nights Stayed||1: July 14, 2018|
|Parking Site||W/E 30-amp, they do have 50-amp service as well but at a pretty high cost|
|Restaurants||The first Pizza Ranch we ever visited, downtown|
|Remember for Next Time||There is a speedway just about a mile away and is very loud when they are running racings, which fortunately this time they were not.
The fuel station on the S/W side of the interstate intersection does not have diesel, the fuel on the N/W side does have fuel.
|Verizon Coverage||Download speeds were under 1Mbps and uploads about 2Mbps, low latency --- it was an evening weekend|
|Anytime Fitness||A really well remodeled older downtown building on "Main Street" at 508 2nd St, Jackson, MN 56143|
Wisconsin Dells, WI
Don’t try to “live” in Wisconsin Dells. The area is very geared to tourism and that is the focus only. The families there are all sunburned and grumpy at Walmart and Walgreens when you are trying to run errands. Large hoards of families wander up and down the aisles of Walmart fighting over which box of cereal the group of eight are going to share at their timeshare. At Walgreens there was over 50 people waiting to check with their first aid cream and bright red lobster burns.
We used two more weeks of our Thousand Trails membership at Arrowhead RV Campground Northwest of Wisconsin Dells downtown area out on US Highway 12 past Rocky Arbor State Park on the Westside of I-94. It is about an hour or less drive to Madison. The Thousand Trails Collection package “reduced” our costs to $20/night, which the campground was not worth the up charge. The campground is well worth the stay, but it is not worth the up charge when the campground is completely dead during the weekdays. We won’t return just because of that.
|Campground||Arrowhead RV Campground
W 1530 Arrowhead Rd
Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965
$20/night up charge from the Encore "Trails Collection" package with the Thousand Trails. This up charge was a complete waist, maybe it was OK as a premium for a weekend night but the week nights it was pointless. This campground is extremely seasonal heavy and there are some transient spots.
|Nights Stayed||10: July 15-24, 2018|
|Parking Site||Site 175
W/E/S 30-amp, they do not have 50-amp service
|Restaurants||The Stockyard Grill and Saloon on "main street" in Coon Valley, WI - excellent bacon wrapped cheese curds served on a skewer with beer batter and chicken sandwiches wrapped in soft lefse with a side of house made oozy mac and cheese
Hot Dog Avenue on Wisconsin Dells Parkway - yuck, the quality was not that good, but the service was quick.
|Attractions||Norskedalen Nature & Heritage Center, Inc. at Coon Valley, WI|
|WELS Churches||We were able to participate via Facebook Live on the road between Jackson, MN, and Wisconsin Dells. Then we visited St. John's Lutheran Church a Popple Creek, North of Colfax, WI, Jason's family church and celebrated birthdays with the family after.|
|Remember for Next Time||Wisconsin Dells sucks to "live in" and is OK to visit. Walmart and Walgreens were overwhelmed by hoards of groups of families and friends shopping together. Jason was road raged on like no other in the Walgreens parking lot.|
|Verizon Coverage||Very good, low latency and 45 down and 22 up|
|Anytime Fitness||Across from Walmart in Wisconsin Dells (Lake Delton) area at 69 Commerce St, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965 - machines were not very good, at least one thing wrong with each of them.|