Traveling with Scamper Squad

Meeting up with Scamper Squad at Red Shale Campground in the Custer Gallatin National Forest in Montana.

A dramatization of a text message:

Scamper Squad –
Thx for making the camping reservation. FYI we call ourselves the Scamper Squad complete with an official pose. If you don’t have a name and pose yet, better get cracking. ūüėĀ

Greg & Duwan –
I don’t know what a pose is.
Is it like a stance?

Scamper Squad –
Like a stance.

Greg & Duwan –
I think we will be La banda de Ballena Blanca.

La Banda de Ballena Blanca –
We will work on the pose.

And so started our adventure with Scamper Squad.

We never came up with a pose, and since La Banda de Ballena Blanca didn’t quite roll off the tongue as nicely as the sibilant Scamper Squad, Greg and I became Junior Scamper Squaders (although we were never taught the official Squad pose).

Scamper Squad are actually Scott and Ellen, boating friends of ours we met at Indiantown Marina in Florida many moons ago. As it goes in the boating/traveling world we have said countless goodbyes to each other when we thought one pair of us were going to sail off on the high seas never to return. But the traveling life has its twists and unexpected turns and none of those goodbyes ever seemed to stick – even the last time 2 years ago when we thought we were saying our “last” adios as Greg and I finally drove away from Indiantown and the sailing life. Scott and Ellen were just about ready to say more goodbyes to sailing friends in Indiantown and sail away on the high seas just this last year when their boat developed a serious crack. After many many months of trying to get it fixed and debating what to do they decide it would be easier to let someone else worry about it. So they sold the boat and moved back into the tiny little Scamp trailer (named Scamper) that brought them to Florida so many years ago when we first met them.

As soon as they decided it was safe to leave (or rather when the COVID-19 numbers started making it unsafe to stay), they hit the road and plotted a path from Florida to North Dakota. Come to North Dakota they told us. But we were having too much fun in Idaho. We decided to meet in Montana and travel together for a while.

Traveling can be stressful. There is all the deciding where to go, the timing of things, and the logistics of getting there – especially when you are driving down unfamiliar narrow bumpy dirt roads in a lumbering van looking for a campsite. It can be hard enough with just one other person so the potential for bad times with 4 personalities in the mix can be even more challenging. But Scott and Ellen are a little more than happy-hour-on-the-dock boat buddies, we have lived with them before. Back when Greg and I were trying to sell our boat I (Greg was as already back in Cabbagetown painting houses) spent over two weeks living with Ellen (while Scott was away) on her boat. Since both of us are introverts, we spent most of our time separately in one of the two different rooms on the tiny boat, emerging for a happy hour drink and super before retreating to our separate worlds in separate spaces. And 3 years ago when Scott and Ellen were fleeing from a hurricane in Florida, and could only finding vacancies at fleabag hotels, we invited them to come stay with us in the tiny house where we were pet sitting in Cabbagetown. It was one of those magical weeks in Atlanta with festivals, parades, free beer at every turn, and a natural disaster – which always brings out the best of everyone in the right knit little community of Cabbagetown. After the storm passed we all found excuses for them to stay just a few more days.

This time we ended up spending 21 days with Scamper Squad traveling through Wyoming and Montana and visiting 3 National Parks. We spent most of the time together outside exploring, always met for happy hour in front of their Scamp, and when anyone ever got overwhelmed by all the socializing we could always disappear back into our separate worlds in our respective rolling tiny homes.

And it appears to have worked out pretty well. We said another goodbye when we left Glacier mid-August but here we are now, right now this very minute hanging out with them again outside of Theodore Roosevelt Nation Park in North Dakota. And there has been talk of possibly meeting again in Arizona later this year – hopefully along with another pair of nomadic friends – for a trip across the border to visit the dentist.

As with most things, there were pluses and minuses to our experience. Here are my takeaways on traveling with other nomads:

Pros

  • Someone other than your spouse to talk to
  • Someone your spouse can talk to who likes to talk first thing in the morning
  • Discovering new things to consume – everything topped bread from Walmart, cough drops as snacks
  • Hiking longer one-way trails – because we had two vehicles we could park one at one end of a trail and the one at the other – meaning we could hike an 11-mile trail without having to double back
  • Friends buy you chocolate for your birthday adding to all the chocolate your spouse has bought for you plus the chocolate you bought yourself because you figured no one would remember
  • Hanging with friends is a good excuse to make pizza
  • Sometimes your friends buy you ice cream unexpectedly
  • Your friends provide potato chips for happy hour
  • Someone else does most of the driving (thanks Scott!) and we can leave Ballena Blanca at the campsite
  • Someone else likes to take photos so I don’t feel like I’m the only one holding everyone up all the time when we are hiking
  • Lots of laughs at happy hour

Cons

  • Husbands teach each other annoying things to say which they then start saying all the freaking time (hooty-hoot, dontcha know)
  • Feeling responsible for being the one who suggests an unpleasant, overgrown, buggy trail for the group to hike (this is when you start making rules like – if anyone wants to turn around at any time and abandon the plan, please speak up because we are all probably thinking the same thing)
  • Not having your home with you at all times – because Scamper Squad had a car we used it most of the time for exploring. This meant Greg and I had to do more planning – making sure we packed enough food for all-day excursions and taking a variety of clothes with us for when it warmed up during the day and for elevation/temperature changes.
  • More people talking first thing in the morning
  • Having too much fun and not having enough time to bathe, exercise, write blogs, etc.
  • Eating too much chocolate, pizza, potato chips, ice cream, and putting on weight

Here is our journey in pictures. Although I have a few pictures of the National Parks we visited in this post, there will whole posts with tons more pictures dedicated to each one coming up in the future.

We hadn’t eaten out in so long that I thought it would be fun for our first stop to be at a brewery that allows camping in their parking lot – so we headed to Ten Sleep Brewery in Wyoming.

We arrived on open mic night.

We had a few beers and a tasty dinner of Navajo Tacos. Lots and lots of taco toppings on Indian frybread.

Our Camping spot at Ten Sleep.

The next morning we headed off into Bighorn National Forest for some hiking and sightseeing.

There were lots of vistas on the road that leads through the forest.

View from a fire tower in the Bighorn National Forest.

View from the highway that runs through Bighorn National Forest.

That evening we found ourselves at a free BLM (Bureau of Land Management) campsite near Ten Sleep. It was a bit of a drive out into the desert and we were unsure of the condition of the roads or the availability of the sites so we scouted it out in Ellen and Scott’s car first. The road was fine, the campsite was beautiful and we were surprised to find ourselves the only ones there on a Saturday night.

Castle Gardens. The next morning I hiked around photographing the formations that give Castle Gardens its name.

Castle Gardens. Another early morning view at Castle Gardens.

Young bucks at Castle Gardens.

Scamper and Ballena Blanca in the distance hanging out under the rocks.

The next day we were off to Grand Teton National Park.

It was an all-day trip from our campsite at Castle Gardens to Grand Tetons, with a stop at Walmart along the way where much chocolate was covertly being purchased. We arrived too late to snag a free campsite at the north end of the park. And since we didn’t have a backup plan we explored the idea of staying at pay campground but we were too late for one of those too. We ended up in this campsite (parking lot) that straddled the edge of the park and the Bridger Teton National Forest. We couldn’t find spots next to each other but were lucky to get a spot so late in the evening. Every other evening we stayed here it was full by 5 pm.

But like most places in Grand Teton, the view was pretty good.

The next day we were able to find spaces next to each other and claimed some real estate.

Hiking around Jenny Lake in Grand Tetons National Park.

After 3 nights in Grand Teton, we were off to the highlight of our journey – Yellowstone National Park. A heard of bison made it a bit slow going to our next campsite but I don’t think anyone minded but what are you going to do, honk your horn and tell them to get off the road?

I called about a week before our arrival for camping reservations and I was lucky to get them. They only had 3 campgrounds open due to the pandemic. The lady who took my reservation was super nice and said she’d try to get us campsites next to each other. She was successful our first night but we had to switch to another camp spot for the next two.

One of first stops in Yellowstone was at West Thumb on the edge of Yellowstone Lake. It just got better from here.

Walking the boardwalk near Old Faithful.

Our 3 days at the Campground in Yellowstone came and went really quickly but we weren’t nearly done exploring the park. We tried to make more camping reservations but they were completely booked. We ended up finding a boondocking spot in the Custer Gallatin National Forest just north of the park

Most of the dispersed spots in the forest were right on the road. But, hey we were a half hour’s ride from the park, it was free, and the hike up the road was beautiful.

The forest overlooked the small town of Gardiner just outside of Yellowstone. And farther in the distance, we could see the park. At the base of the mountains on the left side of the picture, there is a horizontal white spot. This is Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone.

After a few days of rest, we ended up back in the park. We drove the northern road looking for wildlife. We saw bison, pronghorn, and foxes. Here at Trout Lake, we were looking for otters. No luck on the otters but we saw some waterfowl and lots of ground squirrels.

We continued along the northern road out of the park and up the Beartooth Highway, a lovely windy road with amazing views, called “the most beautiful drive in America,” by the late Charles Kuralt. The Beartooth that the highway gets its name from can be seen on the right side of the range.

The summit of the Beartooth Highway, Beartooth Pass at 10,947 feet.

Due to some road construction we got displaced from our dispersed camping site in the forest. But luckily our timing was perfect we were able to snag a spot at the Eagle Creek campground just down the road from where we were camping closer to Gardiner.

From Eagle Creek we had an even better view of Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone.

A great fog covered the park on our last day in Yellowstone. But even the fog is amazing in this volcanic park. We said another goodbye to Ellen and Scott who stayed on longer at Eagle Creek and we went off to do some kayaking and birding in Montana. But we would meet up again soon enough.

Little over a week later we met up again at a dispersed camping spot in the Flathead National Forest outside of Glacier National Park. Greg and I arrived a day before Scamper Squad and scoped out the park. It was busy! We started getting up predawn every morning to beat the crowds into the park.

Scamper Squad had loaned us one of their bear spray canisters while we were with them in Yellowstone. At Glacier we bought our own, because you never know when you will have to defend against a vicious bear. (Photo by Scott)

The Saint Mary Falls hike along the Saint Mary Lake in Glacier National Park.

We hiked the Highline/The Loop trail in the park. It was epically beautiful. This is when having two vehicles came in real handy. Usually, Glacier runs a shuttle to take you back to your car at the end of this hike but because of the coronavirus, they weren’t running it this summer. We parked one vehicle at one end of the 11-mile trek and the other at the other end. And we were very glad to see a car waiting for us at the end of our 8-hour trek.


Have you ever traveled with friends? How did it go? Would you do it again or do anything different?

6 thoughts on “Traveling with Scamper Squad

  1. Kat and CookieDog said:

    Darn I was by Ten Sleep last year and couldn’t find any boondocking. Must have missed it. Love your pictures.

    • Duwan said:

      Thanks Kat! I hate that you couldn’t find anything. There was lots of camping in the National Forest but lots of spaces looked like they were already claimed and we didn’t want to hunt. I found the BLM site on two different apps -iOverlander and UC Public CG.

  2. Such a fun, fun post! Much like the fun, fun, fun we’ve been having with you, dontcha-know! You probably heard me laughing out loud as I read this in our Scamper next to your van. ūüôā

    • Duwan said:

      I did hear you laughing and wondered what you were reading that was so funny! Looking forward to our next rendezvous at the Mexican border to see the dentist!

  3. Looks (and sounds) like your squad had a marvelous time. It’s tough to find friends (or family) to be able to travel with longterm! I love your lists of pros and cons. Right on. We usually don’t like the traveling (sailing anyway) together part, but love meeting up Рand staying Рwith likeminded friends at the destinations.

    Funny that Ellen has a shirt that says ‚ÄúEllen‚ÄĚ! Unless that was you wearing an ‚ÄúEllen‚ÄĚ shirt. ūüôā Hope to catch up with y‚Äôall in Arizona in a couple of months!

    • Duwan said:

      Yes, meeting up is better/easier than actually following each other from place to place. But we made it work.

      Looking forward to seeing you!

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