Arrived in Washington State


Only two days from picking up my camper in Chiliwack, B.C. ( on 10/15), and thought this might be a good time to post about my trip across the country.

First of all, it’s LONNNNNG.  It took me six days to get across but one of those days was spent mostly in Sioux Falls, SD and Madison, SD to get my South Dakota driver’s license in Sioux Falls and then go to Madison to check in with my mail forwarding service, My Dakota Address.  There are three states that are very good and very popular for full-time RV’rs:  South Dakota, Texas and Florida.  I chose South Dakota because it’s supposedly the best but, also, it was just a short distance off I-90.  Advantages of changing state of domicile?  Main one I found was the sales tax rate for my camper:  4% v.s. 8% had I registered in Cleveland.  So I saved $1,000.00 right there.  No inheritance tax (well, I have to think about those things) :roll: No state income tax.  And more that I can’t remember at the moment.

* Side Stories are little incidents that happened that may or may not be of interest to everyone.  If you’re not really into reading blogs, just skip those.  :)

* [Side Story]:  Almost flunked my last eye test for my driver’s license in Cleveland.  Was thrilled to read that if you have an unexpired DL, you do not need to go through the testing again in SD.  Showed up at the license bureau, got called to the desk, handed over the paperwork I had already filled out and then the clerk directed me to “look through the machine and read the third line.”  What????  Well, I guess “no test” meant no DRIVING TEST.  So I struggled greatly to read the letters.  “Try it again,” she said.  And I did.  And she then said, “Try it again and I’ll put more light on it.”  Tried it again.  “OK,” she said, “last chance.”  I mustered all the eyeball power I could dig up.  “Well, you BARELY passed, I’m going to have to put a restriction on your license.  You will have to have side mirrors on your vehicle.”  “Oh, good, I have those, doesn’t everyone?”  She just glared at me and went back to typing.  “What do the side mirrors do?”  I persisted. “They help with your blind spot.”  Wanted to question her further because I still didn’t get it but figured I’d leave well enough alone.  She was kind enough to let me take the test FOUR times and didn’t want to push it.  Just glad I got a compassionate clerk and not a grump.

Back to South Dakota.  After getting my license, met Teri from and picked up the mail she had waiting for me.  All the paperwork for my trailer had arrived from Escape Industries in Chilliwack, B.C., my debit card (first time I’m ever going to use one) and my cell phone booster (for those times with minimal coverage) which Escape will install when I arrive on the 15th.  She then filled out all the paperwork I needed to get my license plate, I walked to the next block, went to Treasurer’s office: no line, nice lady and in 10 minutes had my spankin’ brand new South Dakota license plates.

And westward ho, as a certified resident of South Dakota.

I’ve traveled cross country several times but don’t remember having speed limits of 80 mph.  Doing 80 mph through mountains, with winds, hills and endless mountain curves was, honestly, terrifying.  I had raced my Triumph TR3 in a road race at Nelson Ledges when I was 17 . . . and won in the women’s division!  Fearless!  What happened to that woman????  I tried to go slower when I could but didn’t want the lines to form behind me — enough time for that when I’m pulling the camper!!!

Brief return to the beginning of the trip:  My dear friend, Cher, spent two days helping me before I left Cleveland 10/6.  Cher suggested we try a tip she had seen on Little Houses on TV.  I went out and measured the interior of the Tahoe.  Then I laid down that measurement inside my condo and taped off the area.  We then condensed and loaded everything within that space to be sure it would all fit.  Then when we loaded the Tahoe, everything fit perfectly.  Great tip to remember.


* [Side Story] I originally thought I would save money and sleep half the nights in the Tahoe.  First night woke up from a power nap at a truck stop.  Went in to use the facilities and realized I didn’t have my phone.  Checked my fanny pack.  Checked my pockets. Retraced my steps, searched the Tahoe.  Went back to the washroom.  Back to the Tahoe and rechecked.  Looked underneath.  Checked fanny sack and pockets again. Asked the cashiers.  Third time to the Tahoe with a flashlight.  Asked a couple of customers.  Finally accepted that I had lost it and rationalized that I was going to get a new phone anyway and had (hopefully!) backed everything up.  Opened my fanny sack to get glasses to look at the audio books on the shelf and there was my phone!!!  I celebrated by buying an audio book and a bottle of orange juice.  Had hardly slept the night before leaving and only got 2-3 hours this first night.  It was tough driving the next day and after being encouraged, decided to just spend the bucks and stay the rest of the nights in motels.

All of the motels were just fine but one was particularly quirky.  I felt like I was living in a movie, staying in the Bates Motel.  Have to show you this photo of the desk and chair.  The bed was attached to the wall and unmoveable.  Absolutely impossible to pull the chair away from the desk to sit in it.  Yup, quirky but I loved the place.  The owner was super nice and there were dogs running all around.  What’s not to love?

motel desk Guess ya hadda be there!   :-)

And since I haven’t had a TV for a couple of years, it was a real treat to watch TV at night, even though I usually only lasted five-ten minutes before falling asleep.

Yesterday drove to Camano Island State Park where I plan on staying after returning from Canada.  It is right on Puget Sound and very beautiful.  Lucky timing and met the Ranger so got a lot of good information.  Evidently there may not be many other campers by the time I get there.  Would be nice to have my dog but really have to wait until I’m comfortable learning all the systems in the camper.

Camano Island       Quick shot from car on Camano Island – no berm

Coming UP:


7:45 a.m. Pick up brake controller at Escape Industries.

8:00 a.m. Have brake controller installed

11:00a.m. Do two hour orientation at Escape to learn about the systems in the trailer

I will then follow an Escape employee across the border Sumas, WA so he can handle all the customs work

We will then hook up trailer to the Tahoe

Then, will RETURN to Chilliwack and spend the night.


9:00 – 11:00 a.m.  Driving class.  Especially need to learn how to work brake controller and how to handle hills.

Then heading to Peachland, B.C. to spend a few days with Dave and Bob, the Canadian brothers I met in Osoyoos, B.C. several months ago at the Escape Rally.  Also, Bob’s wife Carol and their miniature daschund, Frankie.

And the adventure continues . . .

P.S.  It would be great if you order from, that you do it through my link on the side of the blog.  It will connect directly to YOUR amazon account, will not cost you one penny more and I will receive a very small % of the sale.  Only thing is that if you connect from my link, must order while connected from that link or I will not receive credit.  Thanks so much!!!

42 thoughts on “Arrived in Washington State

  1. Corrina Leavitt

    I absolutely love reading through your blog and digesting every word. You’re definitely a hero to me! As someone with continual wanderlust, this trip you’re embarking on and all the stories and information you provide are absolutely inspiring to me. I hope to take a similar trip some day :)
    I’ll be looking forward to your next post.

    With Love,

  2. Mary Strasser

    So enjoy reading about your pickup of your new Escape and your travels to come in it. Our pickup date for our 21 is July 8, 2016! I didn’t know if you had a residence elsewhere, or if you declared it to be SD, and are living full time in your Escape. We will have to decide that as we want to do some traveling in Canada and Alaska before returning to wherever our home may be.

    1. Ellen Darby Post author

      Hi Mary. Those months will certainly fly by. I had a year wait and it took all that time to figure out all the logistics! Yes, did
      declare SD as my state of residence. For starters, saved $1,000 on the sales tax! My Orientation is in 45 minutes so must run.
      Thanks for posting and congratulations on your Escape!!!

  3. Patty

    Thank you for sharing your Escape story/adventures! I’m excited for you and a little envious too. Keep your posts coming, be safe and enjoy the journey!

    1. Ellen Darby Post author

      Thanks, Patty! Will keep’m coming! Will be leaving Canada Tuesday and heading to Washington State. Take good care!

  4. Jan Leavitt

    Just read your email regarding your amazing adventure. I’m so excited to read all about your incredible experiences. I will wait with great anticipation for your next email. It all proves to me that you are the most adventurous woman I have ever had the good fortune to call Sister.
    Love, Jan

  5. KayD

    Hi Ellen, How exciting! You are on your way to new adventures. If you have time on your way back through WA, let us know where we could meet you. Every time we get out the ping pong table you are on our minds. Love to hear about your adventures! (side stories especially) Kay and Paul

  6. Leon webster


    Do nice to read your blog and follow your life a bit. Thanks for sharing. Hope you are as happy with your trailer as we are with h ours. Enjoy Peachland! We stayed there for a few days about a year ago. There were some special salmon that were running and a ‘bilingual’ walking trail for dogs. The two languages were ‘woof’ and English. There are several nice wineries in the area. Mission Hill was worth the trip just for the art. Best wishes. Leon

    1. Ellen Darby Post author

      Hi Leon, thanks so much for commenting. I absolutely love my 17B. It is sweet and cozy! Yes, Peachland is beautiful. Remember the brothers, Dave & Bob? I am at Bob’s and Carol’s and Dave is here also. They have been awesome!!! Take good care!

    1. Ellen Darby Post author

      Thanks, Kathy! Yes, but I have to get very comfortable with the systems in my RV first and also will have to be in one spot for a while. That said, can’t wait! I recommended you to a friend as someone to do her wedding–hope it works out!

  7. Kathy

    What a great way to start my day Ellen, reading about your adventure.
    You are an inspiration to me, love you have a blast and be safe.

  8. noel

    I’m loving reading your adventure story! I do hope you find your way to Guerneville, in Sonoma County. There are several places in the area where you could park and be.

    1. Ellen Darby Post author

      Would love to see you guys! By the way, looked for Greenwood Bakery when I went through Seattle and couldn’t find it. ??? Wanted to take a photo and send to you! Hope to see you in CA!

  9. Bettina


    I had to laugh, gasp, and totally delight in your adventure so far. The eye test has me almost in stitches, although it’s not that funny and I would have been in the same boat..ur…van I mean. And then the photo of the motel…just can’t stop cracking up.

    But wow, you’re on an adventure. Lots of right brain, left brain work there girl!

    Keep posting. Love traveling along.



    1. Ellen Darby Post author

      Hey Chika-B! Wow, now I want to post more often. So glad you enjoyed! So many humorous things have happened along the way – just wish I could remember them. :) Thanks for posting! love!

  10. Kate Powell

    Will love hearing about your road trip. Don’t forget you are not far from us! I don’t know if Boondocking is still allowed at Walmart in all states. We did it a few times. Be safe!

    1. Ellen Darby Post author

      Thanks Kate. I would really like to stop on the way south. Some Walmarts allow, some don’t. Hope to see you in Oregon!

  11. Alyx

    Ellen … what a great blog ! Thanks for sharing your journey ! So exciting not only for you .. but for all of us who know and love your spirit ! Stay safe and have fun !

  12. Lee

    Oops, I thought I had commented but it’s not here! I’m happy that you’re off to a good start and seeming to enjoy every minute of your adventures. Love your writing and the side stories. I’m looking forward to your next post!

    1. Ellen Darby Post author

      Thanks dear bro! Yes, really loving it. My friends in Peachland have made the start especially joyful. Love you!

  13. shirley stevens

    Aha!! Twinster Finally got to catch up with you and am having a laugh while reading your posts. Been on a trip so now back to keep up with your trip. I’m so happy you love my home state of SD. Born and raised there pretty much–I,m sure you remember me telling you that though. Hee hee Take it easy now and remember if you need Jim to help you with anything –we’d be there. (another Hee?) Not kidding. Luv ya and can’t wait for more side stories .

    1. Ellen Darby Post author

      Oh, sure, of course I remember you telling me you were born and raised in SD! (I don’t think I have access to those little faces or I’d insert one with a “yeah-sure-RIGHT” face.) Thanks for posting dear Twinster. So much looking forward to seeing you! And, Jim, look forward to meeting you!

  14. Suzy Boo Denison

    I love the bed, chair and desk from the motel! I didn’t realize speed limits were 80 either – that’s Idaho
    where I just came from – seemed very fast to me and pulling a camper…..I don’t THINK so!!!
    so boo, waiting to hear that you;re in WA and ready to make trouble with this granny…..
    love you, boo

    1. Ellen Darby Post author

      Hey Boo, well, that was in the Tahoe, coming across the country. Would never think of it with the camper! I plan on leaving B.C. Tuesday, heading to Camano Island. Will be in touch. love you!

  15. Melissa

    Ellen I love your blog! I am so happy for you and excited for this journey! I look forward to your updates and will be living vicariously through you! Much love to you!

    From Melissa (and Timmy)


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