Thursday, November 12, 2015

Mermaid Tour 2015 - Heading East

Mermaid Tour 2015 - Heading East

 I said goodbye to my hubby in Washington and started the trek east toward my next show in North Dakota, really the main event that I build this trip around. I have family there, went to high school there*, and it is so much fun to be able to drive over to this other world and do my thing. (*For the record I am originally from California, lived in ND for 6 yrs then ran back to CA as soon as I turned 18.) This was my 3rd time doing this show in Bismarck, and every time I get there my first words are, "damn it's a long drive!" It's far. Crossing Montana is just a big beautiful beast. I took way less photos while driving this time, it's dangerous and also I just wanted to soak in the sights. The pics rarely do it justice anyway. 

First campfire of the trip in MT.
Day 1 I set out to locate a campground I found on my first tour in 2010, just over the MT border. I remember it was a couple miles off the highway and cost only $7. I was so excited to find it right where I left it, and still only $7! It's a less secret spot now I guess, it filled up pretty quickly. But just as peaceful as I remembered. The whole state of WA had a ban on campfires, so this was my first chance to enjoy my favorite part of camping. 

Driving around country roads looking for a magical campground.

Day 2 I wanted to find some campgrounds I had trouble finding last year, in the middle of Montana on the road south toward Yellowstone. This year I had more daylight, but it was Saturday so they were all full. However I regret nothing. The detour was totally worth it, such a beautiful area! And now I know where the most glorious campground is located, next time I'll snag a reservation. 

Eastern MT starts to look like the ND I know so well.

Meanwhile, I had no backup plan for the night's lodging. Last year I managed to sleep in my van incognito, even though it was filled up with stuff. But it was so hot this time, I really didn't want to do that. There was also a BMW motorcycle rally happening in the area, so I figured I would have a hard time finding a hotel room. I decided to just drive as far as I could until dark, then figure it out. I ended up crossing most of the state that day, finding the last room in Miles City. It was cheezy and loud and had a shower and a/c... worked for me!

Letty & I looking twinsy.

I made it to my mom's house in Mandan, ND the next day. Such a funny feeling to drive up, after so many years of flying. Yep, just thought I'd stop by. Ha. Just like last year, Mom let me set up at her big annual yard sale. My little brother, who lives down the street, brought over my new niece for me to meet for the first time. My birthday twin Letty! Isn't she a doll??  

Grandma doesn't like her picture taken.
 It was fun to visit with everyone, but really I spent that week working hard to prepare for the big show. I brought lots of extra stock that needed to be printed and otherwise prepped for sale. A Capital A'fair is THE big handcraft festival in town, artists come from all over the mid west and it is very well attended by the locals. It happens at the state capitol grounds and is pretty huge. It's really too bad that it is so far away, because it's become one of my very best shows to do. This year was no different. I had my single best sales day to date, lots of repeat customers from last year. Just a killer show for me.
A Capital A'Fair, Bismarck ND.
 After the yard sale and craft show madness, Mom and I were both pretty spent. I stayed a couple more days to recuperate, then it was time to get back on the road. I wasn't feeling it, I'll admit. At this point of the trip, I'd been gone for about 3 weeks. I've decided that is probably the ideal length of a trip like this. I really was not looking forward to another 2 days driving back across Montana. Ha! But once I got on the road, with my music and my sweet comfy van... I forgot most of my woes. Onward! The next show awaits!!

All packed up after the show, capitol building beyond.

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