Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Side trip in Eastern Washington

Before I left Portland I found an iFetch for large dogs on sale in Spokane and told the guy I wanted to buy it.  On the way to Great Falls I forgot all about it.  Before leaving I contacted the guy and he still had it so I arranged to pick it up.  This meant making a trip back to Spokane after arriving at Rimrock.  So on Sunday the dogs and I take off and drive to Spokane to pick it up. 

I had wanted to go to the Grand Coulee Dam while here so I decided to swing north and visit it on the way back.  What a beautiful drive.  This is definitely someplace I will come back to and spend some more time at.

Love having the dash cam.  Not only can I capture anything going on in front of me on the road but I can also reach up and press a button to capture a still.  Lots of these photos were done that way.


Final leg of maiden voyage.

Left Philipsburg and drove all day to Rimrock getting in about 5pm.  I have my choice of places to park and decide to face away from the clubhouse this time.  I was making a few attempts to get into the spot and two fellows came up and directed me in. This time I didn’t take out any hitching posts!

Boy was my throat getting worse…has to be strep so I look for a place to use my TriCare “insurance” for the first time.  The closest place is an urgent care in Moses Lake so I head out the next morning, leaving the dogs in Roxie after a long walk around the area.  After over an hour wait I am told that it is only a cold and to get some Benadryl to help me sleep through the night (and be able to breathe).  

I drive back to Ephrata and stop at the Dollar Tree to pick up a few things and realize I have lost my phone.  I go into the store and ask if they have a phone I can use but of course I don’t know the number of the clinic.  It is in the phone!  I’m standing at the cash register with the phone in hand and the clerk is trying to figure out how I can get the number when the lady checking out says “What clinic?”  I tell her and she gives me the phone number…WOW.  I can’t believe any one has any number other than their own memorized (and some struggle with that) these days. 

Yes, my phone is there.  Stop by the business desk to pick it up.  SOOO, grab what I need there, turn around and drive back to Moses Lake to pick up my phone.  The lady that handed it to me asked if my son had gotten hold of me.  I said “No” and she said she had called him to tell him my phone was there.  HOW did she do that?  I remember when cell phones first came out there was an ICE (in case of emergency) that anyone could access but didn’t realize that still existed.
Relaxing (?) with Oscar

Get back in Simon and call Andrew to let him know I had the phone.  He had sent me an email telling me where it was.  Now back to Ephrata and Rimrock. 

The rest of the time at RR was peaceful.  Reading, resting and taking it easy.  Taking the dogs on walks up the hill behind the clubhouse or over to the dog park.  This was a very nice off leash area.  Very large, covered in wood chips with doodie bags and trash can, and a large barrel for water that was yucky since it didn’t circulate.  Only thing is some people didn’t clean up after their dogs and there were "land mines" around especially in the corners. 

There were several wind storms over the days and I couldn’t keep the RV door open so I had to research how to do that.  Another order to Amazon or Camping World is in order to buy a door catch and a screen door bar.  Those are two other things I wonder why they aren’t part of the RV from the factory.  I also discover a toggle that will open the screen door without having to open the plexiglass slide, got to get one of those!  And I’ve decided that the vents need covers so I don’t have to remember to close them if it starts to rain (forgot that one time and had a wet bathroom).  Shake down cruise so long punch list.

Ok, time to leave to get back to Portland to make a dental appointment on 3 July.  Get up Monday morning to get hooked up and out early.  Take the dogs for a walk, disconnect and close up everything, put the animals in Simon and turn the key.  Nothing.  NOTHING.  Try my small jump starter that has always worked in the past.  NOTHING.  Go to the office to see if anyone there has jumpers.  A guy getting ready to leave for the day said he did and came over to the site and NOTHING! 

Back to the clubhouse to get a signal so I can call USAA roadside service.  I get a call back from them saying about 90 minutes.  Back to Simon.  Take the dogs out and open all the windows so the cats have air flow.  Settle down at the picnic table and waited.  

Heard some birds making a fuss nearby and walked over to see what it was all about.
I find three little birds on the ground and mom and dad hovering over them going nuts if anyone came close.  I figured they had been blown out of the nest in the wind storm the night before OR since they were pretty big had been kicked out of the nest and were being encouraged to fly.  Where they were they could easily be stepped on, especially by the kids walking around that area or run over if a vehicle tried to get into the spot so I reached down to pick them up and move them.  The one I was reaching for flew a little way off.  I walked over and bent down again and he flew into the bed of the truck next to the site. 

I went to another one picked it up and it flew into the bushes in the “island” I was trying to get them to.  One parent went over there and the other stayed at the site.  I didn’t try to get the other one at that point.  About a half hour later I walked over and all three were back on the ground…OH well.

The caretakers of the park came over with their big truck and heavy-duty jumpers and tried to jump me.  They said they heard a click and maybe it was the starter.  One said if he knew where the starter was he’d hit it and maybe it would work.  They leave and I go back to the table.

Waiting patiently for road side service.
It has now been over 2 hours since I called for roadside service.  I went back to the clubhouse and call the company who tell me it is on it’s way and say I might need a tow.  They have only sent a truck to try to jump me and the person on the way might be able to diagnose what was wrong and would decide if I needed a tow (another two hour wait!!!).  Back to the table to wait.

As I read the local Penny Saver a gentleman walks over and says, “Won’t start.”  I say “no we tried jumping and nothing.”  He says, “Try it again.”  I roll my eyes grab my keys, get in and turn the key.  VAROOM.  He says, “I’m magic.” Turns and walks away.  OH MY.

A few seconds later he turns around and says it is probably the starter.
Three minutes later the roadside service guy arrives.  He is an employee in his own truck telling me that they are slammed and all the service trucks were on other calls so he volunteered to take the drive out to service me.

I don’t turn Simon off.  Put the dogs inside back up to the hitch and get out of dodge!  Thought about leaving him running when I stopped for gas but at least I was in town and took the chance.  No problem. 

By this time, it is almost noon and I need to be in Portland by 2 the next day…stop somewhere or drive through?  I push through.  Lots of short stops on the way to stretch and walk the dogs.

About half way home the check engine light comes on, GREAT.  I know that sometimes this is caused by the gas cap not being on securely so I check and sure enough it is loose.  Keep going and let Bill (my mechanic) check it out.
Wild Horse Monument.  First time I saw this I 
thought they were real horses.

Wind power...and there was lots of wind

FINALLY around 7 I pull up to the house, get the animals out and collapse.  Time to deal with everything later.

Another sunset at Rimrock.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Part 3 of Maiden Voyage…SW Montana

June 25…You live someplace for 20 years and there is so much that you never go to see.  That is how it is with Montana.  We did the Glacier NP, Museum of the Rockies (Bozeman), Kalispell/Whitefish, Capital (Helena), West Yellowstone and areas around and between them but never the off the beaten path places.

I had always wanted to visit the ghost towns.  As I left Great Falls I planned to go to Virginia City but as I drove down the freeway I decided to stay on the west side of the interstate so Bannack State Park would be my ghost town for this trip.  It was too far to go in one day and tour the place so I pulled out my Good Sam’s guide and looked for a place around Dillon.  I had originally picked Sportsman Lodge as a stopping point when playing with Trip Wizard planning this trip so I called them and they had one space available.

Along the way I had a 15-minute construction wait.  Turned off Simon and cruised the emails and texts and noticed there on oncoming vehicles, strange.  Then the light turned green and we moved across the median to become two lanes.  A little way down I saw the construction.  A rock slide taking out most of the hill and covering the south bound side.  Huge cranes were there to lift car size boulders.  It seemed that they stop all work when vehicles are passing by.  Work a half hour, rest a half hour maybe.

When I got to Melrose MT and Sportsman I tried to back into the spot (RV9), which is the last one on the row, and had trouble.  With a fence, another RV and storage shed along with trees in the area I was stumped as to how to make it in.  Tony (of Tony and ??? the owners) came out and guided me in just in time for a wonderful thunderstorm. 

There was no reception at the site so I had to walk around the facility to find a signal but got to see Melrose in the process.  That is when the rain started.  A peaceful nights sleep there with rumbles in the background and I was up and ready to go on Tuesday.

Sunday, I woke up with a scratchy throat that I thought was from all the cottonwood in the air but it was now becoming a full blown cold…great!  On my way out of Great Falls I had stopped and purchased lots of precold medicines that you drink and chew (Airborne and Zycam) so it wouldn’t get worse.  No such luck.

Down I15 to Bannack State Park.  What an interesting place.  It was hot and dry.  Oscar and Tinkerbell did a good job of keeping up as I wandered from OLD building to OLD building on the wood sidewalk watching for “rattlers”.  I purchased a book that told what each of the buildings were.  What a glimpse at life in the first (only?) territorial capital of Montana.  Up on the hill you can see the gallows (not the original…long ago rotted away or torn down) where Henry Plummer, lawman, outlaw and the man who ordered them built, was hanged.

Not growing up in Montana I don’t have much insight into the history of the state but visiting this place and others to come has me wanting to read more about it…wonder where I can pick up an 8th grade Montana history book?  (At least we had GA history in the 8th grade or maybe they don’t teach history anymore.)

I didn’t get to stay as long as I would have liked because the cats were in Simon and it was getting hotter.  So after a water and potty break we head up the dirt road back to modern day.  I had to back track to I15 to get to my next planned sight to see.  Turning west on I90 for a short drive I get off and head north on ….

What beautiful country I drove through.  Snow on the mountains, blue sky, fluffy clouds and gorgeous scenery.  I had no plans for the night other than I wanted to explore Philipsburg MT the next day but I couldn’t find any campgrounds listed near there.  I figured if I had to pull off on a BLM or Forest service road for the night Ok.  As I turned off the road into town I saw a couple of roadside signs that said RV parking but didn’t get an address or direction so I plowed ahead…I figured it’s a small town how hard can it be to find an RV park?  Well not so easy.  At the main street I turned to the left and started looking…too late I saw a sign “Pintler Peak RV Park, Self Service, $30  50amp”.  I went down the road until I found a parking lot big enough to pull off in and turned to head back.

Keeping a sharp eye out for the sign again I found a flat grassy area with three hookup sites.  The first one had a “reserved” sign but the other two were open.  I expertly (well in my mind) backed into #2.  It was around 4:30 by the time I was all set up.  The self-service was pulling an envelope out of one box completing a form tearing in half, putting half in the envelope with your money and depositing in the other box and placing the other half on your dash.  I went for a walk through the town leaving everyone else in the trailer.  What an interesting place.  One morning wasn’t going to be enough so when I got back to the trailer I self-served myself to a second night.

The occupant of #1 had arrived and I found out they were from Great Falls.  They come down several times a year for the theater and BBQ.  I had noticed posters for a theater group around town and in the visitor literature I had collected.  He was heading out to get BBQ and asked if I had tried it.  I said no but it sure made me hungry when I passed it and would have it the next day since I already had dinner plans (actually I had just eaten two scoops of homemade ice-cream, almond joy and double chocolate orange, soooo good).  I set up the 0 gravity chair and we sat out in the cool evening.  Our dogs played together then it was early to bed.

Early to rise also when you have a puppy.  As I came out and took them for a walk this was what I say next door.  I have to remember to take my camera with me everywhere since I almost missed them going back to get it.

After coffee and breakfast it was time to explore.  Oscar went with me and Tink stayed with the cats in the cool trailer.  First stop…sapphire hunting.  You buy a bag of rocks and look for gems.  After about an hour I walked away with three cuttable sapphires (2 carats each), some smaller ones and a small bright red garnet.  It was fun. 

Back to walking the streets.  I go in a couple of shops that I had checked out the day before then find a quaint little park with a porch swing just as my sisters call.  I sit there swinging while Oscar enjoys the cool grassy shade and talk to them for at least a half hour.  Then up the street to the post office where I purchase a card and mail off a letter (what’s that?), cross the street and go to the BBQ joint.  It was ok but nothing I’d drive 3 hours for.  I buy some gifts for son and DIL in Portland and finally get back to the campsite around 3. 

I meant to go back for more ice-cream but never made it.  Instead the dogs and I walked the opposite direction and head up behind the main street where the churches and houses were.  Oscar in his puppyness got under my feet and I stepped on one of his paws pretty solidly.  That put a stop to our walk and I almost had to carry him back.

Up the next morning, no deer this time, and back on the road to Rimrock for a few days. 

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Part 2 of the Maiden Voyage  (still a little behind)

June 18…I never disconnected at Rimrock Meadows so it was fairly easy to pull out when I was ready.  While I was here I used the shower and now I know why so many people complain about it…I didn’t like military showers when I was in the military and certainly don’t want to take them now!  I like my massaging shower head and endless hot water in the sticks and bricks.

This was a great place to practice and this time it was dumping…easy peasy.  No mess no fuss and didn’t even wear gloves!  Well, one issue, I couldn’t get the front gray water cap off but the caretaker of the camp was checking the next site and he got it off for me (after I loosened it of course).  My dump hose doesn’t fit in the bumper because I have two 10 foot sections and the connecting point is too big.  I purchased a tube that I will ask my neighbor in Montana to help me attach to the trailer but for now, it goes in a plastic container.

So I did!
9:30 we are all loaded up and roll out.  I decided it was too far to drive in one day to get to Great Falls MT and would have to stop somewhere along the way but I didn’t know where.  Then as I crossed through Idaho I saw a sign for 50000 Silver $ Casino that said free RV parking, YES!  About 3:00 Simon has struggled over 4th of July Pass and Lookout Pass and we arrive at 50000 Silver $ Casino.

I have passed by this place many times but never stopped.  When driving west it is too close to Missoula where I have just stopped and I’m not big on “casinos”.  But this is so much more.  The RV parking is just the edge of the forest in the back.  They are kind of hodgepodge some have power but no water or sewer.  Later people just wedge in wherever they can.  There is a restaurant, bar, casino, gas station and gift shop.  The burger was great, the gas cheap and the gifts mostly Montana Made.  A good nights sleep and back on the road Sunday around 9:30. 

Get into Great Falls and park at the house for the night.  Take son and DIL out to dinner.  We had a problem finding a place to eat because it was Fathers Day and many places there close on Sunday and Monday.

The plan was to clean out the garage and storage unit keeping just the essentials, selling, or donating the rest.  But waking up Monday was like being in Portland…rain, Rain, RAIN!  I get a spot at the Malmstrom AFB Famcamp and unhook getting soaked in the process.  Tuesday…more rain.  We at least go through the little bit left in the garage. 

I think this is the most water I've ever seen
going through the dam.

I get to Roxie at the end of the day and think DARN it someone peed in the bedroom.  I wipe it up.  A little later I walk in and it there is more water.  And it is water.  There is a leak somewhere.  IT IS BRAND NEW!  I get it all cleaned up and with the little rain we have gotten it hasn’t leaked again.  At least not that I can see.

40 years of stuff...

Wednesday we start on the storage unit come hell or higher water (several rivers in the area are already at flood stage).  Two days, 6 or 7 loads to donation, a couple of truckloads to trash and a small storage unit (from 15x15 scattered to 5x12 properly packed).  Friday and Saturday a garage sale.  Some of my favorite pieces find good homes and I make almost enough money to pay for my gas.

In Norway, Finland or one of those other cold countries they call this "Death Cleaning".  As the parents get older they give the things that the kids want to them and continue to downsize until they are old and only need a tiny apartment.  The kids aren't left with a mess to clean out.  Makes sense.

OH MY the most important part…I met my new puppy!  Everyone had asked me “what’s his name?” and I had come up with Murphy but he didn’t like it, never responded.  Then I called him Oscar and he perked up so he is Oscar Murphy Guard dog...OMG.  Should be Oscar Madison since he is so messy (unless you are as old as me or watch old tv shows you won't know him).

Oscar minds pretty well for a puppy.  I put his collar on and attached a leash.  He didn’t like to have me holding the leash but let go and he walks behind me.  After a couple of days I put on a harness and he walks on the leash for the most part.  He likes to step on Tink and she snarls back at him.  She sleeps in his bed and he sleeps in hers.  Occasionally he will get in his bed and push her out.  He is pretty much potty trained.  At least he will go on the potty pad if I don’t hear him ask to go outside.  And he is a piggy, eating constantly.

Living in a small space with four animals can be challenging.  The cats won't walk past Oscar to get to the litter box so they go when we go for walks.  

Sunday my neighbor helped me attach the tube to the underside of the bumper.  We decided against drilling any holes in the frame and used pipe strapping to hold it on.  Then for added measure a zip tie through the holes in the tube and the holes in the strapping.

One thing I hadn't realized I missed while living in Portland was the birds.  Yes, I have beautiful hummingbirds but mostly see black crows and sparrows.  At Rimrock and in Great Falls the variety is amazing.  Robins, meadowlarks, mockingbirds, doves,  etc.

The scenery around the base is beautiful.  More fantastic sunsets and mountains.
Looking at the Little Belts in the distance.
They looked bigger in person!

 My DIL left on Saturday to go to Hawaii to visit her mom who has lost everything to Pele for the third time.  She is a midwife there and plans to deliver our granddaughter in August in Montana.  (I will have to go back in time and do a story on the wedding held on the Big Island so you can see the beauty that has been lost.)

On sons birthday 25 June, I left Great Falls.  He went to spend his Bday with his best buds in Missoula.  I will be back at the end of August to welcome Finnley.

Task accomplished now time to explore before returning to the task ahead in Portland.

Friday, June 29, 2018

 Time to play “ketsup” with my activities.

June 11th...My maiden voyage in Roxie got off to a rocky start.  I went to the RV dealer on Monday for another walkthrough to make sure I remembered how to use everything and could hitch up right.  He told me I did a good job but had the cord wrapped wrong and he moved it.  They charged me for this!  But I did find some screws that were broken and caulking that was missing and he fixed those.

Silly me…I took Roxie back to the storage lot because I was worried about her being on the street overnight.  And while trying to back into my space sliced the cord almost in half.  The lot owner came to my rescue and mended the cord so I could take her back to the shop the next day to have it replaced.  They had to order one and it wouldn’t be in until around noon…so much for getting on the road early Tuesday morning.

Late Tuesday morning I pulled her back out of the lot down to the dealer and in about 45 minutes the new cord was installed and everything worked.  This time she spent the night on the street. 

All Loaded up and ready to go.
June 13...Wednesday I finished loading up.  I had already put a lot of stuff in her and just had to make about a dozen trips back and forth.  I knew I probably wouldn’t use the generator on this trip, but I wanted to get it in place anyway.  I can’t lift the 92-pound chunk by myself so I purchased a pet ramp (would have had dual duty for Homey to get in and out of the trailer) and pulled it up into place.  A tarp, couple of ratchet straps, a huge heavy duty bicycle cable lock on it and I’m ready to go.

It was about 10:30 by the time I pulled out.  I had decided to go through Yakama instead of the Tri-Cities but I had forgotten how many and how steep the hills were.  I didn’t think Simon was going to make it, poor boy! 

We got into Rim Rock Meadows around 4:30…pretty good time and I had my first experience at backing into a campsite.  You have to be careful not to run over the water faucet and electrical box and the sewer connection.  Oh yes, don’t forget the picnic table on one side and trees on both sides.  Whew.  Finally in.  Get out to walk around and discover I had forgotten I had a tailgate with the generator on it and had backed into the hitching post that divided the spaces. 
                    ChaChing…$30 for one post.

I drove 295 miles and walked over 16500 steps...what a day!

The Storm before the Calm
This was my get situated stop.  I’d be in it for three days and could decide exactly where everything fit.  Had I put the pots and pans in the right location?  Were the craft supplies in a good place?  What about the food?  A variety of storage boxes, baskets, command hooks and strips were deployed to contain everything.  I love the red storage ottomans I bought from the shopping channel.  Great for storage and resting my feet while I write.  They fit perfectly with the slide in.

Oh did I mention that I have a small Pomeranian, Tinkerbell, and 2 cats with me?  The cats have a playpen (doggie dorm) where they ride in Simon with the litter box.  At the campground, they can get fresh air.  Inside Roxie, the litter box is in the shower when I’m not using it (the shower, not the litterbox).

But beautiful things to look at...

There is no TV reception, no phone reception (except at the clubhouse) and for two days I didn’t realize that the WiFi in the clubhouse reached the campground once you got logged on inside.  I had one DVD with me that I purchased several years ago and had never watched...a British dramedy.  It was OK to run in the background at night.


Blue sky and sunshine
Large pool for relaxing

Inside Clubhouse

First meal in RV (cheated it was
all frozen just had to heat up)

A couple of wind storms, a wonderful thunderstorm and long days of sunshine.  What a wonderful way to spend the start of this adventure.

Sunset over the rim.