The Maiden Voyage: Bighorn National Forest and Black Hills National Park
A fresh cup of coffee, the distant song of a wild bird and crisp mountain air; camping to us is an essential escape. My wife Lindsay and I have been tent camping and backpacking for many years, but as we welcomed our son to the adventure, we knew we needed more space and streamlined setup than a tent could provide. In April 2019, after much research into other brands of adventure trailers and teardrops, we excitedly settled on purchasing a new 2019 TAXA Cricket.
On our maiden voyage with the Cricket, we made a trip to Bighorn National Forest, then on to Black Hills National Park and a visit to Mount Rushmore. We both have fond memories of the Black Hills from camping trips there as children, and we figured Ethan would enjoy it as well. Let the adventure begin!
After hooking up the Cricket to our Rubicon and driving it off the lot in a Montana rainstorm, my first impressions were of how smooth it pulled. One of the things that drew us to the Cricket was its light tow weight and small profile. After a couple hundred miles, I was convinced from a drivability aspect that we had purchased the perfect trailer.
We arrived in Buffalo, WY a little before sunset and the rain had continued steadily all day. After a full day of driving, we were eager to find our landing spot for the night quickly so we could relax and unwind. After a quick trip to the local grocery to stock our Dometic powered fridge, we headed up into Bighorn National Forest and found a spot at Middle Fork Campground in about 30 minutes – perfect. Beautifully situated right next to a river, our site was an ideal place to setup the Cricket for the night. Although this campground wasn’t officially open yet, the sites were available to use at no cost – but with no facilities available. No worries; with our backpacking history, the lack of an internal loo in the Cricket wasn’t a problem, nor was a primitive site. We know how to “coexist” with nature responsibly and chose the Cricket for its ability to camp off-the-grid in a dispersed setting.
That first night and next morning will always be a special memory. The Cricket was so easy to setup, even in the steady rain. Everything is designed intuitively so that minimal effort is required to make the Cricket quickly feel like home at your campsite. We fired up the Truma furnace, started some dinner on the Dometic stove and were quickly warm and cozy in our new family habitat. Ethan loved playing around on the bed with his toys while Mommy and Daddy got everything ready. We found the interior space to be more than sufficient size for our young family to not feel too cramped as all three of us moved around.
The next day, we easily and quickly hitched everything back up and got on the road. It was a beautiful day of driving across the sparse – yet spectacular – Wyoming landscape. As we passed through Thunder Basin National Grassland, we could see Devils Tower National Monument piercing the distant horizon like something out of a science fiction movie. Again, we were impressed with how the Cricket tracked behind us. Even in that exposed, sometimes gusty terrain, I never felt like the trailer was pushing us around; rather, it was confidence inspiring.
Just outside Custer, South Dakota, we again found a great little site at a not-yet-open campground – this time at Bismarck Lake Campground. We figured this would be a perfect location to launch a visit the next day to Mount Rushmore. After setting down the Cricket at camp, we drove back into town to have pizza at a great little place we passed as we came in. Memorable trips for us always include enjoying a slice of the local scene; as much as we love to camp, part of the adventure is letting someone else cook from time to time.
The next morning, we spotted some Osprey hovering and diving for their breakfast during a morning hike around Bismarck Lake. Then we headed into the National Park to see the highlight of our trip; Mount Rushmore. The sculptured busts of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln that are carved into the Black Hills are a sight to behold, and we were thankful we had made the journey to see them. Ethan was likely too young to remember this first visit, but we will definitely return to the Black Hills for more stays with the Cricket. Now it was time to head home.
We bid adieu to the Black Hills and headed back to Colorado by way of Glendo Reservoir in Wyoming. As we headed south on I-25 – with ABBA providing the road trip soundtrack (an Anderson family tradition) – we spoke about how the maiden voyage of our Cricket had been a resounding success. Indeed, we welcomed our new “home away from home” into our family with a wealth of great memories and are thankful to be able to share our love of the outdoors with Ethan. The adventures that await us are around every corner, and this first road trip with the Cricket just wet our appetite for more!