The Journey

Day 1 – Adventures of Ms. Caviar and TunaGirl

We were finally ready to go. Ms. Caviar came to Denver the week before to prepare with TunaGirl and now the adventure day has arrived.

We chose a reputable rental car company that allowed one-way rentals and had the vehicle scheduled two months in advance. We caught a deal and got a percent off thanks to TunaGirl’s earlier rental with that company. All was ready, and we headed out to get the vehicle.

If there is one thing we can share, it is that the proverbial “Monkey Wrench,” is always lurking behind the next bend. This was immediately evident when we had to wait nearly 45 minutes for them to find something for us to drive.

We loaded the Jeep Compass the night before and settled in for a good night’s rest. There was a lot planned for that Saturday and first thing we were up and at it.

TunaGirl yawns, telling Ms. Caviar, “We have a Monkey Wrench.”

Ms. Caviar replied, “I have one too.”

We both say simultaneously, “We forgot to load the desk.” [this is a story for another post.]

Out we go to correct it, and an even bigger Monkey Wrench is discovered. The vehicle won’t start!

After some time getting things fixed, we finally get on the road and leave Colorado toward the Badlands of South Dakota.

The first stop was a mystery shop for food where we got some lunch meat, a little kombucha, snacks, and goodies totaling $25 which was all free. After that, a couple of other shops paid $17 each for a total of $34 plus food reimbursement [more free food worth $46.12]. We ended up with breakfast and lunch for free. With the invention of the smartphone, images are so much easier than they once were, but now the expectations require a good image so make sure you are getting those snaps in. It is always better to take too many than not enough.

While shopping these places, it is imperative that you are observant. Companies want to know you can identify issues as well as excellence.

Some examples of photos you might be required to take.

Not a bad start right?


We had scheduled another two shops up in Rapid City, totaling $195. This was one of the major shops that would help with expenses as these were straight shopper pay, no purchase, and reimbursement [meaning no purchase out of pocket first]. This is cash people, cold hard cash.

The next Monkey Wrench now presents itself. When we started that morning, we thought it had to be there by 4 p.m. which is the normal M-F timing. TunaGirl had done these shops before… However, it was not M-F, it was Saturday and it had to be done by NOON!!!

We’d missed the deadline and had to reschedule the shop. Had TunaGirl not been one of the company’s best shoppers this could have been a huge problem. But they allowed her to cancel it; no harm, no foul. This brings us to the lesson in this adventure. ALWAYS read your shops’ guidelines and ensure you understand the timing and expectations.

By choosing to camp along the way, we knew we could save considerable money and sought out the iOverlander app to find the best places. We headed north to camp for the night at the cutest campground. Fort Welikit in Custer, South Dakota was simply wonderful. We had a pleasant fire and relaxed. The best part was the rutting and bugling elk all night long. We woke up to a whole flock of turkeys we considered tackling one for a turkey dinner but let them go on pecking the ground instead while we watched and enjoyed our coffee.

Stay tuned for more on the Adventures of Ms. Caviar & TunaGirl…

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