That next morning we crawled and creeped through the Badlands. A magical land of giant clay globs in red, grey and yellow. Bison lumbering on grassy knolls. Chunky bighorn sheep watching from ridge lines, chewing, staring.
Kurt drove us north, over the border, into North Dakota for the night to avoid a storm system, camping next to a beaver’s treeless pond on the plains.
I realized we could be home in twelve hours. If we traveled like people with a destination. Watching the hill swells divided into farmed grids pulled me down to drowsiness. I dived into the backseat to nap with Billy Ghost and woke up hours later after we crossed into Minnesota.
Somewhere around six pm Kurt stopped to walk the dog and found the frame of the camper bent. The (expletive) frame cracked on the camper. (It could be worse). (It totally looks fixable). (Glad it happened here and not somewhere completely desolate… Death Valley anyone?) Kurt dived straight into shutting down for a few minutes. I cocked my head and thought of course. Why not. Now we’re on a new adventure.
On the better side of luck there was a campground close in the nearby town and they were open enough for us.
Day 1 Hill City, Minnesota:
A greyscale drizzly day. We could be in Minnesota, northern Wisconsin or home (Upper Michigan), the place had that familiar feel down to the bones. Maybe that was just the dampness making the joints ache.
Billy Ghost was was zooming the camper demanding fetch with a paper ball. I spaced out on him and he dropped it in my coffee and looked at me with big ferocious gold eyes; throw it for me now? I wondered how long we’d be in this holding pattern. A day? Two? A week?
Today is a day for phone calls. The faceless voices behind the campground phone number gave Kurt permission to stay as long as we needed without paying. Midwest nice. Kindness from the least expected corner of our situation. The initial calls with the dealership and the manufacturer went well. A call to a towing company went well. I remembered my phone conversations with short tempered Texan women trying to adopt a rescue cat and shuddered, thankful to be doing this here.
Day 2 Hill City, Minnesota
Oh Billy Ghost! Before being properly awake Billy was looking for food. He tried for a stepping stone jump from the floor to toilet to sink while I was brushing my teeth. Only I hadn’t shut the toilet lid yet, nor had I flushed. (Camper toilets, for pertinence, don’t hold water in the bowl. That was a golden pink bean bath). So… I was trying to rinse off Billy’s pee feet, Billy was trying to escape and I wasn’t near awake yet with a toothbrush hanging out of my mouth wrangling a cat.
I think it stopped raining, maybe.
Day 3 Hill City, Minnesota:
It was decided. Then it was done. There was no juggling the issue of space. One way or another we were making a trip home at least once. After hours of driving we found home exactly as we left, held steadfast against yet another winter. We arrived in time for maple blossoms. An anticlimactic homecoming. This, at least, would be easy. I would be here with the pets. Minimally supplied and without a legal car▪️