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8,000 Miles, Still Learning

I am traveling west. Last night I camped in the Badlands of South Dakota. Mmmm, what a lovely place. I met up with another Roadtreking threesome which was delightful. Dinner is so much nicer when shared with others.

Morning in the Badlands

This morning as I meandered through the National Park a dashboard indicator light came on. I admit, since Jim’s death I have not been managing stress well. If anything surprises me or is out of the normal, my stress level just kicks right in. I was not like this before the past three years. I calmed myself down, reminded myself that there were options and headed for the last place I wanted to be, Wall Drug.

The light indicated there was something wrong with my DEF. My first thought was what the heck is that. Out came all the manuals (I have 5). I admit that the language is often mystifying. DEF certainly was a mystifying moment. When I bought my SS Agile I became a member of the Roadtrek Emergency Roadside Assistance, free for the first year. Thank you. I called them and they explained what DEF was. I added DEF fluid to my DEF tank and the light went out and I was on my way.

This is a reminder to me that I am still a newbie. It doesn’t matter if I have been on the road for 2 months and added all the miles. I am still trying to figure it out. I really like the feeling that I am not alone out there in the big wide open places of the west. It is good to be only a phone call away from help. If I had been near wifi reception I would have been on the Roadtrek Facebook Group, another great resource for those less knowledgeable.

Big Horn Sheep, Badlands
Big Horn Sheep, Badlands

imageI have decided that I will never again belittle the town of Wall Drug, no matter how touristy. I did a lot of lengthy walking in Chicago and was concerned about a blister under my right great toe nail.  As I was sitting in my RV talking to the RT help line I spotted a medical  clinic. I went in and they saw me right away. I went to the pharmacy and got my prescription filled in 10 minutes. Then I went to the Wall Drug Lube and he filled my DEF tank. I felt very well taken care of. There is a very nice book store in Wall Drug. It was definitely worth exploring. The doughnuts were delicious too.

When I find myself in situations like the above, I remind myself that is OK to ask for help.  People in general are more than willing to help and advise. I just need to be forthright and ask. No one can guess my needs. I found my way to the Lube joint because another patient in the clinic overheard my discussion with RT assist. He talked to me as I got in the RT and guided me to the best place in town.

Tonight I am in Buffalo, WY. I am continuing west to Cody tomorrow and then I into the north loop of Yellowstone. I admit this is one of my favorites places on earth. I was there with work in June. I am finding myself delighted to be traveling into the park without all my troops behind me.

I will continue to ask for help and connect with good people. I have met the nicest people. In the middle of  so much change in my life, these moments are what continue to sustain me.

RT in the South Dakota Prairies
RT in the South Dakota Prairies


27 Responses to “8,000 Miles, Still Learning”

October 03, 2014at7:53 am, J Tom Hopkins said:

Wow I have the zame picture from a couple years ago. Badlands

October 02, 2014at9:49 am, Cynthia McCarter said:

keep the pic coming wow beautiful out west i hope to be able to do it again in the future also.

October 02, 2014at6:37 am, Tony Davis said:

Keep on trucking…

October 02, 2014at1:45 am, Lucky Cajun said:

That would make an awesome stronghold.

January 27, 2014at10:38 pm, Susan Pozdzioch said:

Badlands in winter are just as beautiful, miss the beauty of the Badlands and the prairie’s.

January 27, 2014at7:36 pm, Sally Titus Wardle said:

looks like here in Utah

January 27, 2014at4:59 pm, Tawanna Griffin Martin said:

I want one of these!

January 27, 2014at2:24 pm, Rector Rector said:

Looks. Like some my road trip can wait. For. Another one

January 27, 2014at2:24 pm, Rector Rector said:

Looks. Like some my road trip can wait. For. Another one

January 27, 2014at1:21 pm, Dallas Stone said:

Nice picture

January 27, 2014at12:45 pm, Lucy Beauregard said:

I would love to be there !

January 27, 2014at11:25 am, Eric Rees said:

We would love to do that wife and I 55 got to retire don’t know if we have enough $

January 27, 2014at10:36 am, Robert Plotz said:

I want to go back to wall south dakota

January 27, 2014at8:09 am, Robert Morris said:

Looks great !

January 27, 2014at6:57 am, Kevin Ingersoll said:

I’ve always liked wall South Dakota, a very nice place.

September 16, 2013at8:35 pm, Martha S said:

Congratulations on dealing with the crisis. After having lost a spousal support system, I can imagine it’s easy to get stressed out and feel helpless when stuff like this happens. Dealing successfully with it – which INCLUDES asking for help – must feel exceptionally wonderful! I hope to join you on the road soon as a solo woman RVer, thanks for your posts.

September 12, 2013at9:58 am, Roger Fethkenher said:

What is the DEF tank and what do you put in the tank and what is it used for.

September 12, 2013at10:07 am, Bill Sprague said:


See Campskunk’s note above for a full explainaion but it’s Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF).

Where it’s filler cap is will have to be answered by someone who has a Sprinter Chassis. Here’s a YouTube video of the procedure:


September 11, 2013at8:08 pm, Bill Sprague said:


The North & South Dakota Badlands are among out favorite places. Thank for taking us back there!

Good job of overcoming the knee jerk to stress out. Back in my USAF flying days, we had an Emergency Checklist. The number one item on the list for every aircraft type was “Maintain Control of the Aircraft.” You did a fine job of doing just that. Congratulations!


September 11, 2013at10:59 am, angie o'malley said:

Hi Janet. Glad everything turned out so well. I didn’t know RT had an Emergency. Service. Was it a free year of coach net or route 66?

September 11, 2013at10:54 am, Campskunk said:

DEF is diesel exhaust fluid. it’s a concentrated urea solution. in order to get the emissions down to the new diesel standards, Mercedes and other manufacturers inject urea into the exhaust stream to provide extra nitrogen to combine with the nasty NOx emissions to form harmless molecular nitrogen. it’s just an extra tank to fill up, like windshield washer fluid, except that if you run out the engine computer warns you, then nags you, and then shuts the engine down if you go too long without filling it. it usually lasts as long as an oil change, so they top it up when they change your oil. like all things mercedes, it’s frighteningly expensive if you buy it at the dealership, and can be bought at many auto parts stores and even some truck stop fuel pumps. janet, you did an excellent job of troubleshooting and dealing with this problem, which mystifies many a sprinter driver. congratulations!

September 11, 2013at10:50 am, Rita said:

Hi Janet! I loved reading your blog! I would hope that I could take our Roadtrek on the road if my DH died, but I have serious doubts of my ability to handle the crisis like the one you had yesterday. I live in Billings, MT, just a short (1 1/2 hour) drive from Cody. I was hoping that you were going to come here, but Yellowstone is so fabulous I don’t blame you one bit! Every time we go there we are so glad that we did! Have a super and safe time!

September 11, 2013at10:50 am, Harry Salit said:

Hi Janet,
Another very good forum for Sprinter help is :
They have thousands of members all over the world & if you post a question often you will get a response very rapidly. And many members are Roadrtrekies.
Harry Salit
2008 Krystal Sprinter

September 11, 2013at10:25 am, Sandra said:

Janet, you continue to amaze me. I lost my husband 9 months ago and traveling in an RV is something I have decided to do. It is the little unexpected things like your DEF that are a little scary. But you survived. It is good to know that Roadtrek is traveling with you. Thanks for sharing.

September 11, 2013at10:04 am, Manny Pena said:

Loved your blog. Now, what is a DEF?

September 11, 2013at9:36 am, June in Savannah said:

Janet, I REALLY enjoyed reading your posting about SOLO camping in The Badlands. I am very familiar with DEF as we have a diesel truck that we use to pull our travel trailer. We too had the “ADD DEF” light come on and stopped at an auto parts store to purchase a couple of gallons. We learned that if the DEF tank goes empty that the engine STOPS!
I think you are really brave to travel so far by yourself but I hope you have a great trip. We were in the same campground in the Badlands last year and found it to be awesome!
There is a good website for solo women that Evelyn Hannon maintains called
Safe Travels and Happy Trails!

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