Casita tour, forest fires, and a kindred spirit

I wake this morning to the smell of smoke.  

A strong breeze blows through the open window above my bed.  Looking out, I see the hills surrounding the campground are cloaked in a smoky haze.  I whisper to the crew, “C’mon, let’s go for our walk.”  Once suited up, the crew walks quietly beside me as we pass Dermot’s tent and Larry and Virginia’s fifth wheel.

I look up at Larry’s flag.

A few days ago he affixed a pole to his fifth wheel so he could fly the U.S.  flag above his home.  He also situated a track light on the bumper so the flag is illuminated at night.  It’s a beautiful sight.  It also has become our indicator of wind direction, which has become increasingly important to those of us camped here.

Our walk is a short one this morning.

I notice three whitetail deer grazing at the campground gate.  Usually there is only one deer.  She appears in the field every morning and early evening.  I wonder if the fire is causing wildlife to move this way.  We pass by a rabbit, not more than four feet from us, camouflaged in the grass.  Spike and Bridget don’t notice.  So much for the canine heightened sense of smell.

Yesterday morning the smoke was worse.

At least one camper left in a hurry due to a concern for his asthma.  Fortunately the wind changed direction within an hour – It does that a lot around here – and the air cleared.  That fire, started by a motorhome catching fire from a gas leak, was first reported in the local newspaper as consuming 100 acres.  Virginia reported to us yesterday that it is up to 3,000 acres, and three more fires have sprung up.

I intended to visit Mt. Rushmore yesterday.

Instead I give the BLT a thorough cleaning.   I invited Dermot to bring his longtime friend, a retired veteran, for a tour, and I want it to look its best.  This friend saw the exterior of the BLT on a previous visit to Dermot’s campsite, and has become interested in a Casita for himself.  I love showing off my little home!  The three of us enjoyed each other’s company all morning.

In the afternoon, I drive the crew over to Cottonwood Lake.

It’s only about two minutes from here.  I dangle my feet in the water while Spike soaks and Bridget wades.   Later Dermot and I continue our ongoing conversation over several topics, including the life and death of Crazy Horse.  Once again I have the good fortune of encountering a kindred spirit in a campground!

Today the crew and I are going to Mt. Rushmore and maybe to the Crazy Horse Memorial, too.

I wonder if our excursion will be affected by the forest fires.   The wind is quite strong and roads may be blocked.  It will be better for all three of us to leave the campground and ride in the PTV with the windows closed and the air conditioning on.

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About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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47 Responses to Casita tour, forest fires, and a kindred spirit

  1. Sharon says:

    It tickles me how Spike cools himself in whatever water he can find. You’d think he was part Lab!

  2. Francy says:

    Does Spike look for fish while in the water?

  3. Pat says:

    I know you will enjoy the Crazy Horse Memorial. The movie about the family who have been working on it is amazing. The total dedication to the task for the long time it has been going on is hard to imagine. I also enjoyed the items on display. I have difficulty walking due to back pain and my husband remained in the car when I went to see the movie. I went out to get him because I thought he needed to see it. Once I told him that he could sit down, he was willing. Then I spent a little time viewing the displays until my back told me that I needed to sit. I use one of those walkers with a seat. It gives me my own seat whenever I need it.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’m happy you and your husband had the opportunity to enjoy the memorial. It is a memorable place! The crew and I weren’t allowed inside to see the movie, but it was enough to view the displays, the models of sculpture, and to go out on the viewing veranda. The memorial was started during the year of my birth. You’re right. That’s a long time!

  4. earthdancerimages says:

    Smoke and fire everywhere out West this summer! Stay Safe! Good to hear from you again! Sounds like you have met some really nice folks at this campground! Love the photo of Spike in the water! He’s such a ham! LOL!

  5. Cozygirl says:

    Just saw on CNN an air tanker crashed by Edgemont fighting the fire…be careful!
    Hope everything is ok… I did a google search fire Edgemont, then hit news link to get the latest as I was wondering if all ok your way.
    In my thoughts this morning. Cozygirl (

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello, Cozygirl,

      I heard about the air tanker crash last night but I didn’t mention it in the blog post because I didn’t have the details. Thanks for the link. We’re all fine here at the campground. Driving through Hot Springs this morning, it looked like Armeggedon or something… very thick smoke. It was a good day to leave the area and go to Mt. Rushmore! It’s cleared up quite a bit now, although I just heard more fires have sprung up in the surrounding area.

      • May you continue to find pleasant surroundings and continued safety. You enrich so many lives with your tales…its an honor and pleasure to get a peek into your journey…you give me such inspiration! ~cozygirl

  6. mark in massachusetts says:


    A few day ago you commented Casita shower was not very usefull . If you could remove or reengineer it , what would you place in that space ? Also any thoughts on sizeing of water/waste tanks for dump stop timing ect. (cassette use ?)

    • Sue, I had my shower redone and absolutely love it! There are separate hot and cold handles on the right as you walk into the bathroom, with a removable shower head on a
      long flexible hose. They were installed from the closet side. Made a huge change in my comfort level! But the corner sink remained, with a new faucet installed. Also, no more opening the drain valve located in the closet, that is totally gone now, along with the need for RV antifreeze in the winter!

      • Chuck says:

        We use the Oxygenics shower head on a long attached hose and it makes a big differance. Also saw another Casita that had an Oxygenics hooked up to outside shower and bath curtain around it. Had wodden platform to stand on(camping world)

        • Pat says:

          Does your Oxygenic shut off completely? Mine still has a small a small stream of water when I turn it down to soap up.

          • Chuck says:

            Pat, it does NOT shut off completely nor is it supposed to. The small stream that remains is to keep water ‘blended’ so when you turn it back on, you don’t get scoulded of frozen. Chuck

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        Your mod is very appealing to me. Maybe someday . . .

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Mark,

      I think the water and waste tanks are the right size for me. Of course, I don’t drain the water tanks with showers and there’s only me. A couple might want larger tanks. I can go two weeks without filling up the water tank or dumping the waste tanks. That coincides with the 14 day limit on many campgrounds.

      I wouldn’t change the bathroom space because one needs a commode and a bathroom sink. The shower head doesn’t take up any room. If I were to change anything, I might do what Kim (above) did to her shower room.

  7. Pat says:

    Enjoy your trip and stay safe. I want to do the same area, but it will probably be next summer. I am enjoying the northwest, it is a big change from the desert for me……lol

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      The Northwest must be a refreshing change from the desert. I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself. Maybe next summer the Black Hills won’t be smoky with forest fires.

  8. Ginger Davies says:

    I love to see the flag flying, and I bet it does look beautiful on Larry’s 5th wheel, lit up at night. It’s great that you found a kindred spirit in Dermot, to yak with and share stories. It makes life a little more interesting. The lake looked empty and inviting. Sure hope the smoke doesn’t ruin your plans for today.
    I went back to the last post and read the comments about how some gals are reading your posts from start to finish, and are also RVing alone. I did the same thing, started from the beginning and read each post until today. I would like to travel also, just haven’t decided whether a small motorhome or a trailer would be right for me. I am a little worried about being able to back up a trailer, straight. Plus, the fact I don’t have a tow vehicle…my car wouldn’t be of any use for towing.
    Lots to think about. Have a fun day.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello, Ginger,

      I congratulate you also on reading all my posts. I admire your perseverance!

      When making your decision re: motorhome or trailer,, I hope you don’t let backing up a trailer factor too greatly. I think people make backing up an issue when it isn’t. Of course I’m not talking about a big trailer. I don’t know about that. I do know backing up a Casita is not a big deal. To me it’s like not buying a car because they’re hard to back up.

      Today as I was twisting up the steep,, hairpin turns to Mt. Rushmore, I saw some Class Cs and Class As climbing along with me. I wondered if they had to bring their home along because they had no other option. I like being able to hitch and unhitch.

      If you’ve read all my blog, you know I had to give up my Honda in favor of a perfect tow vehicle. Good luck figuring out what suits you best.

  9. Patty says:

    We visited Crazy Horse Memorial in the 90’s. I would love to go back and see how much it has changed. What is the projected completion date? I can’t remember, but I didn’t think it would be finished in my lifetime.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I looked for a completion date at the memorial and in the brochure I brought home. I haven’t seen a date. Maybe they don’t want to do that because there are so many challenges ahead.

  10. cinandjules says:

    Enjoy your day!

  11. jack says:

    Sue, The fellow who looked at your BLT and is thinking about getting one might check with Ben’s (An Older Texan Remembers) daughter about the Casita Ben had just bought.

  12. Sra. Julia says:

    As soon as I smelled smoke I would be packed up and gone! I know how fast a fire can move ! Stay safe!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Fortunately there is a lot of open space around this campground and the town of Hot Springs. We could smell smoke because the winds are strong in the morning. Larry and Virginia, our camp hosts, are doing a great job keeping tabs on the fire. They have a police scanner they monitor and they make a trip to the edge of the fire zone every day.

  13. G says:

    Sue, I have noticed in other rv blogs that fire in an rv is of ultimate concern. Obviously for the safety of its occupants, people and pets, but also because it can become ashes in probably minutes.
    Is there RV insurance that protects you from such a casualty? Just wondering and curious…


  14. Ron says:

    Just a little note ,the longer the trailer is the easier it is to back up. So Sue you are doing great backing the little trailer.

  15. Carolyn & Jim says:

    Sue, we have been keeping up with your blog. We have a 2006 Casita Liberty. We have a blog also if your interested. All of our long trips are on there. The one we are on now is to the Great Lakes. We really enjoy your daily blogs, We have been to many of the places your are visiting. It really brings back memories. One more state (Michigan) and we will have been in all 50. Carolyn & Jim

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Congratulations on your extensive travels. What a bundle of memories you have! I’m glad my blog brings back some of those experiences.

      Thanks for letting me know you are with us and that you enjoy my blog. Keep making good memories!

  16. Ron says:

    You must be a mind reader

    I think the water and waste tanks are the right size for me. Of course, I don’t drain the water tanks with showers and there’s only me. A couple might want larger tanks. I can go two weeks without filling up the water tank or dumping the waste tanks. That coincides with the 14 day limit on many campgrounds.
    This question was the next I was going to ask you, I am picking your head about things like that for information about the sizes I need in my cargo trailer.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      One other thing, Ron. Keep in mind that my fresh water tank is large enough for flushing the toilet, washing hands, brushing teeth, washing dishes (using water sparingly), etc. However, I have eight one-gallon jugs that I fill at every opportunity. I use this water for the crew’s water dish, for making iced tea and coffee, and, especially when I have a ready supply (like at a campground that has a common spigot, not one at every campsite), I’ll use the jug water to put in a dishpan for my sponge bath, soaking my feet, or washing my hair.

      I wanted to clarify that so you’d have a better idea of the water usage. I think it’s neat that you are creating your home in a cargo trailer. Very stealthy . . . .

  17. jo says:

    Hi Sue,
    I’ve been reading you for awhile, and enjoying your adventures. While I love a display of our flag, I would ask the boondockers and campers out there to consider where they are, when they point a light into the sky at night. As an amateur astronomer, I know how scarce our dark sky sites are becoming; light pollution is rampant. Many people in this country have never, ever seen the Milky Way. Those precious areas that have dark skies need to be appreciated and respected. A bright light shining up into the sky can ruin the viewing for miles around. This is not something that most people think of, but that everyone understands when they hear it. If you are aware of the issue, you could be a gentle source of enlightenment (no pun intended) for those you share your camping areas with. And if you ever see anyone setting up a telescope during the evening, ask if you can have a look after nightfall. Most amateurs enjoy sharing the views through their scopes!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I understand your point very well, Jo, from another perspective.

      I once had an old home in an old neighborhood. It was a lovely house, small and well-built. I loved it! I used to enjoy sitting on my screened porch, which was positioned at the side of my house, and relax in the cool evening air.. A burglary occurred in the neighborhood prompting my neighbor to attach a huge light to her garage. It lit up my porch as if it were noonday. My home and yard felt like a car dealership at night! No longer could I use my porch after dark. Light pollution from one neighbor and noise pollution from the other eventually led me to sell the house.

      Larry’s light is not bright. It’s a small solar and hardly reaches the flag, just a soft illumination. He thought it needs to be higher, closer to the flag, but we convinced him it’s beautiful the way it is.

      • jo says:

        Ahh, Thanks, Sue, I knew you to be a kindred spirit! And sorry that you had a neighbor who gave in to the fear. While studies show that bright lights really just make better dark shadows for burglars to hide in, hardly anyone living with fear as a roommate, believes it…

  18. Ron says:

    Sue I appreciate that run down of water usage. Maybe I should explain what I am trying to do.
    I,ve built an 8 ft cab over camper just like a factory with aluminium siding, used it for several year ,then a teardrop trailer, then a 10 ft stand up trailer covered in fiberglass.I wasnt satisfied with the durability of any of them and they required to much maintenance just like most rvs.
    The cargo trailers are all metal and tough as a boot with very little maintenance if you buy the ones with the one piece roofs. I dislike roof ac and use the 100.00 dollar wally world window units
    Trailer will have rv windows and door ,fantastic fan, solar ,a small generator ,led lights separate 110 and 12 volt electrical systems be an 16 ft box with a 2 ft nose 7 ft wide.
    Black water is my main concern and need at least two weeks of usage ,I will have a fresh water tank also. But after several years on the road I buy drinking water for drinking coffee and cooking and have found my health and stomach problems to be much less frequent , plus my coffee always taste the same. some water on the road is yucky..
    My trailer want be stealthy but it should be the last one I need to purchase are build.
    I think the eggs fall into the low maintenance rv,s as well.
    I know this is probably to long ,sorry.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      No need to apologize. I found every line of your comment interesting. You are an extremely capable and resourceful guy.

      I agree with you on the water. I’ve never had disgestive problems (so far) but I’ve encountered some of the “yucky” stuff.

      Re black water . . . Not to be indelicate here . .. If you are a typical man and if you boondock, no doubt you will not use the commode as often as a woman does, if you get my drift.

      What you’re doing is very ambitious. You’ve got the experience and have done the research so your finished home on wheels will last you a long time and serve you well. Thanks for writing about it here.

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