Glacier? Yes please.
So we decided to take a hike down to exit glacier in the Kenai park today. The pictures don't do it justice... it's badass in real life.
The hike was bout 4 miles round trip. Not too bad. We found this sweet turnoff just south of the park entrance. You can boondock here for up to 8 days. Looks like we might actually stick around in one spot for a while and enjoy our time in Seward, AK.
The city of Anchorage was unimpressive. Overrun with tourists in downtown and dirty streets and buildings everywhere else. I understand there isn't much up this way, but that doesn't excuse the fact that 50% of the houses and building we have seen are covered in trash. It's really a shame. The scenery around here is amazing.
We did stumble into a really cool little museum that was actually on the lower floor of a wells fargo bank.
They had artifacts out about everyday life for the old school alaskans. Many of them you could literally reach out and touch. The head of the museum came over to chat with us and expressed his distain for the paintings that were on the floor in the library. Some of them worth upwards of $500,000. There they were, just leaning against the shelf on the floor. Apparently the owner lent them to the museum and didn't care where they went.
A blast from the past is what this update is about. We've been out of range for WIFI or cell signal for a few days now. Every once and a while a faint pulse will come through, but not enough for me to link the computer to my hotspot and download pictures and events.
Following our road side accommodations we caved and looked for an RV park to spend a couple of nights at. The laundry pile was getting high and we figured there was at least $20 worth to do at a laundromat. So to make the best of our time we grabbed a spot at MTN View park outside of Wasilla AK. This gave us the chance to wash our clothes and take in some sights. It's tiring being constantly on the move. A little piece of grass to park the RV is a welcome break. Think of it as a mental relief. For the next two days we don't have to search for home and wonder if we will get kicked out or hit by a car. Sometimes we just need it.
This was something that turned out to be really cool. We found Independence mine state historic park. This old abandoned gold mine is open to the public for $5 a car, and $3 a passenger. You can bring a shovel, bucket, and gold pan... your free to hunt anywhere away from the buildings. Most of the gold is locked in granite. Hope your shovel is strong.
I'm a gears and motor guy. They left the train at the mine. A 1940 electric GE locomotive that weighed 4 tons, powered by 85 volts worth of batteries.
Day 28: ALASKA!
Alright, so technically we got into alaska yesterday. Customs was a non issue and we were through in less than two minutes. The road between Haines Junction in the Yukon to Alaska is rough. I'm talking roller coaster ride, gravel sections, construction, moose in the way kind of rough. We jounced and jarbled Roo through some of the roughest highway in the country. She's sixteen years old and made it without a grumble. Our way through the northern Yukon in the morning turned out better than we could have asked for. Free parking everywhere and we drove up to the amazing Kluane lake in the Kluane mountain range. We stepped out and walked the dry lake bed to what at one time must have been an island. The water still licked one side of the land and a good rainfall will take this chance away for future travelers.
It was late yesterday when we rolled into Alaska and pulled off for the night. This state is great. There are turnoffs and parking lots all along the highway. Just pull over, and put out the slide. We can sleep without needing a campground for a week at a time. This will be a great asset into saving us a few bucks. The manifold repair through us off by $1300 and we are burning through diesel faster than a drug addict that's spinning out of control.
Time to mosy on. It's 1430 here and we've got a few more miles to put on before we bed down for the night. We found this pit stop on the top side of a hill with a cell signal and I thought of you guys. A rare chance to update from the backwoods of Alaska. This was our first goal... we made it.
The last four days has been a time of solitude and separation. After leaving Edmonton Alberta our cell service became spotty, and our 4G non-existant. Katie has been able to post a few things on facebook here and there as we drive. I however focus on keeping this 30k lb freight train between the lines and only have time to type when we come to a rest for the day. Those places have been far and few between. We have traveled through Alberta, British Columbia, and currently sit in the yukon. Today we should be crossing the border back into alaska. Last night was the first night we paid for a place to sleep in 5 days. It wasn't too difficult to find a place in Alberta, and it was super easy in British Columbia. The Yukon however... they make you stay at an RV park. There are signs EVERYWHERE... no camping, no overnight parking. So without further ado here are a few pictures. Only a few... our phone data is limited. The place we stayed at last night was just a gas station that conveniently had designated spots for RV's. No driveway surfing here, you gotta pay.
Trucks are pouring in and out of the rest area all night. Restless and agitated I wake up to take the dog for a walk at 0600. We get back to the RV and I see this sitting next to us. What a welcoming site in the morning before your coffee.
Make breakfast, pack up, roll out. We fire up Roo and point towards dawson creek. There's lots of miles to cover and we still have it in our heads that Alaska needs to be seen before winter sets in. It's balls out as we click off nearly 800km today in an effort to make up some ground.
A stop at the visitor center in grande praire AB gives us this. The largest sundial in North America. I'm not impressed. This is one of those things I'll make in my free time after this trip is over just to piss off some Canadians. Ours will be 44ft tall and in the middle of a field somewhere. Show me some excitement.. show me something that makes my heart pump!
Beaver aside we make it too Dawson Creek British Columbia. Getting here wasn't easy. We had to pass the watercraft inspection station (kayaks) staffed by two kids who took their job WAAAYYYYY too seriously. Because of these two water officials we can't use our kayaks in all of BC unless they go through a decontamination process. Well BC... go paddle yourself. We'll enjoy the water elsewhere.
Last stop of the night is in the famous Dawson Creek. A fine parking spot at WalMart will do just fine.
Two days worth of stuff to post again. The need for WIFI has become apparent as we delve into the north woods of Canada. Cities are almost non-existant and our phones dont' work great up here. Sure we have verizon with a data plan that covers canada and mexico, what they don't advertise is that they cut the speed to almost nothing once you go over a certain amount of data.
Yesterday was hammer down and hit some miles. We blasted from just over the border in Canada to Calgary Alberta. Sick of seeing the miles stack up it was time for a break. Our basic routine came to hand. Unhook the jeep, grab the dog, pack some water and head into the unknown.
We learned something in Calgary. These people like to run. Just runners... like everywhere. Bicyclists (who we hate) and walkers on their lunch breaks littered the downtown area. It's almost as if people were afraid to go to a party and have someone ask "where do you run?" and they wouldn't have an answer. So they go out and by the really stupid looking shirts with the arm sweatbands and then "run" at a pace slower than people walk. Then there's the damn people on bikes everywhere we go taking up the road who think they have an equal share to things. Well, you don't. Go bike on a bike path.
Tick tok. Tick tok. We gotta roll and get to Alaska before winter. Back to Roo and we hook up for our trip to Edmonton. Greeted by five lanes of traffic and the sweat inducing rush hour we make it to West Edmonton Mall. Cool place. Amusement park, water park and shopping all wrapped up into one money grabbing glob. We needed a book for our Alaska trip so we picked one up. Then it was off to crash at a truckstop for the night. Nothing like the sound of semi's to lull you to sleep.
Still behind the broadcast, happenings from 7/18/17
I'm still behind schedule with the updates. Yesterday we got up early and had Roo to the doctor by 0900. The diagnosis: exhaust manifold gaskets were installed incorrectly. The team over at Glacier Motors in Cut Bank were nice enough to squeeze us in. They pulled a tech from his project for the day and they started wrenching on us by 1100. Another ambitious day of moving the animals all at once so the shop could work.
This isn't the first time we've looked like a couple who escaped the mental hospital. There we are... loading three cats and a dog into a jeep in the parking lot of a truck repair center. People watching us, judging us, pointing fingers. Guess what? Don't care. Not even a little bit. We nestled our family in the only park in Cut Bank. Under the overpass next to a creek. No WIFI, not even a cell phone signal.
It's like we can't leave. We've been stuck between North Dakota and Montana for almost two weeks now. We should have already been in Alaska. How hard can it be? Alaska.... you tease. We will come see you. You shall be ours.
We pick Roo up late in the day and look at the clock. It's already 1600 and it's been a long day. Screw it, let's go to the border. In prepartion for our crossing into Canada we've read up on what to do. Three animals need international health certificates, no firearms, no dairy products, proof of registration and insurance, and the list goes on. We reach the border and get asked a few simple questions by border patrol, "Enjoy your time in Canada" is the the reply we get from the young man. Sweet and simple. We hammer down and put the kilometers behind us as we blaze north for the night. At 2100 I could take no more. Flying J will be home for the night in Nanton Alberta. Diesel engines all around us hum through the hours and lull us to sleep.
Happenings of 7/17/17
I got lazy ok. I'll admit it, shame on me. We got back from a day in the park and I didn't want to type it up.
Tonight we recant Monday and talk about HOW FRICKIN AWESOME IT WAS! I'm not really sure how to talk about the park without sounding like a jackass who is rubbing in the fact that we are on this trip. But hey, if you're reading this than you know why we are traveling. Yesterday was one of those days that made all of the hassle and headache worth it. A year of planning and leaving it all behind. When we started to drive through the mountains and caught our first glimpse it became real.
Climbing through the first few twists of the park we reach St. Mary's falls. This was the only hike of the day we completed. A lazy 4 mile walk with only a few hundred feet in elevation change, but it was still worth the effort. There are signs everywhere. "Beware of grizzly bears. They have injured and killed people in this park. Carry bear spray during your hike" I left the bear spray in the RV.... so we just tried not to see any.
We finish our hike and fail to be eaten by bears. That's a good way to measure your day. Eaten by bear= bad, not eaten by bear=good. Shirley continues to pluck away at the road across the park. We are traveling on the Going-To-The-Sun Road. A magnificent ribbon of asphalt that runs through the park from East to West.
The drive to the park was just over an hour. We spent another three just to drive from one side to the other, and it looks like traffic picked up during the day. A decision is made to leave the park and head around it's south side to get back to Roo. We weren't dissapointed by that call. I spotted a river bed with access to drive onto. Bet your ass I'm gonna drive on a riverbank when the opportunity shows itself.
Back up to the east and we enter the Blackfoot Indian Reservation. Now, I'm not a racist guy. Purple, brown, orange, black, green or white really doesn't matter. Be good person and you've got my respect. That being said, this was one of the crappiest areas we have driven through yet. There was trash in the yards and broken vehicles littered about. The majority of the homes were trailers with tires on the roof to hold their tarps down. What a shit hole.
Sometimes there are still hidden gems. The fact that someone out there was cool enough to build these horses with the trash from a yard says a lot. A trained eye will see it's mostly old car parts.
A long day on the road and we need some time apart. I get in the jeep and roll out to just be alone for a bit. On my side trip I spot a gas station. Cold beer? Yes please. Turns out the bud ice is on sale, that'll due.
I've been holding out on you guys. Last week we had work done to the RV. Remember? The whole day in the park with the cats and a dog ring a bell? I checked on it the other day and it's leaking again. Some quick phone calls and we've got a date for a Tuesday morning checkup at the local cummins shop.
All in all just another day on the road. We'll end up splitting that six pack and watch the sun fall over the hills of eastern montana.
It's 0610 and I've already been up for 45 minutes. Eli has been walked and coffee has been made. When I mentioned earlier that we needed to head north to avoid the heat I meant it. It was 48° out this morning, and 55° inside Roo. I actually got the space heater out so Katie won't freeze when she gets up for breakfast. Apparently this region is one of the coldest in the USA. It regularly gets to -30 to -40 degrees here without wind chill. The wind is constantly coming out of the west off the glaciers in the mountains. Today we are gonna go see those mountains. Cool.
The rule of temperature is a pretty simple one. North cold, south hot. It's frickin hot outside and we're sick of it. What to do? Head north. We were up and out of Aunt Sheila's house by 0700 and hauling balls across the continental divide before it gets hot. The road grade there is 8%, which means you better hit the hill with some momentum in a big rig and pick the right gear. Our drive is a bit easier. Roo is an automatic with push button up/down shift. It was a balmy 65° on our way out so she didn't have a problem with the heat today.
The canyon lands of Helena open up to the plains of northern Montana. We click through Great falls with little drama and head towards Shelby. A quick pit-stop for fuel and it's due west to the big little city of Cut Bank. This is one of the closest RV parks we could find outside of Glacier National Park. We've come to realize a few things along our trip. Our RV is huge, too huge in fact. Glacier National Park has a size limit of 35 ft. We could have lived in something smaller. We book an RV park for the next two days so we can have AC in the 90° heat. Tomorrow we roll out for Glacier National Park and we need all of our fur-balls to be comfy while we are gone.
We got to the campground and set up for the next two days. Something I didn't mention... It's windy here. I'm talking hold on to your hat windy. My aunt said it's like this all the time and the guy at the campground desk confirms it. Thirty mile an hour winds are the norm. Roo shakes on her jacks as we sit inside and try to relax. Katie and I head down to the creek for a walk with Eli. I'm wearing my favorite hat, that is until it blows off into the river. Don't worry, I'll get it.
Crap river water behind us, we stroll back up to the top of the hill. I've decided to work on my headshots for a future modeling career.
We'll walk Eli tonight as usual, right after we hang out with metal Jesus.
Another day out here in big sky Montana. We had a great breakfast with My aunt Sheila and Uncle Dave. Nothing gets the day started like bacon from a wood fired washing machine and pancakes. Afterwards it was today's journey to travel east to Helena in Shirley to gather a few supplies and check out the city of Helena. Roo is still combating heat sickness so I gathered the proper materials to fully clean out the CAC and radiator. We had to roll through Macdonald pass in order to reach helena. Shirley decided to strike a pose.
Helena has got a few things to see. It's the sixth largest city in Montana at a massive 30k people. Want your mind blown? The city of Billings is the largest at a staggering 110k. You can drive for miles around here and see nobody. Nothing. It's kind of wild and we are still not use to it. In terms of total population this place is #44 on the list but is the 4th largest state in landmass.
Anyways back to Helena. I asked the guy at ACE hardware what there is too see around here. His response was perfect, " I grew up around here so there's nothing really exciting to me. I heard the state capitol building is nice. Lots of marble and shiny floors". This is what he said almost verbatim, I shit you not. Shiny floors? I like shiny stuff. I skip over to the jeep in jubilation of shiny objects but Katie has already picked out another spot for us to check out. Time to hit up the Cathedral of St. Helena.
I'm not a real churchy guy but this place is cool and just oozes with character. It's amazing what people used to build back in the day with the technology of the time. This hunk of rock is from 1908 and comes complete with built in pipe organ and amazing stained glass work.
We power walked the church in just a few minutes because Eli was in the jeep. Waves of oppressive heat in Montana have kept it at a steady 90°-100° during the day. To the shiny floors! Finally something that sparkles and can hold my short attention span for a few moments.
Impressive? Not really. I give it a 5 out of 10. We've been to a few state capitols and Madison was by far the best. Back across the mountain pass and to Elliston once more. I get Roo cleaned up as good as I can and dinner is being made in the house. We eat and then decide to go get some ice cream. My aunt drives to the nearest little convenience store that is only a few miles away. She comes back empty handed, it's closed. We pile into the car and drive 10 miles to the closest restaurant. Katie and I split a Huckleberry shake. A little fruit that taste a lot like blueberries.
I want to put something into perspective for ya. My aunt and uncles house is in the mountains. I don't mean like, "hey they see a mountain". It's more like " We are all gonna die if everyone doesn't chip in". I'll summarize in a list for the stupid people reading this how far out they are
Due west of Helena lies the little town of Elliston. My aunt lives out here and offered up a free place to park. Who can turn that down? Coming out of Helena we were eyeballing the hill in front of us. It's already 90° out and Roo doesn't like the heat. The hills are a steep climb and the temp guage jumps up almost immediately. We stop, unhook Shirley again and press onward. The rest of the pass is made at 25mph in 2nd gear just to keep the motor from overheating.
There's got to be something I'm missing. The RV has the power, but the temp skyrockets under boost. I'll be giving the CAC (cold air charger) another thorough cleaning to try and dislodge any debris that may have been missed. The last attempt was half hearted.
Upon our arrival we're greeted by a rough 100 yard lane with big chunks of gravel in the way. The only way up and into the driveway is to back it in. It took a few minutes, but came through without an issue.
I'll finish up my work here and get ready to do nothing for the rest of the afternoon. Our busted mirror replacement is supposed to be delivered here today so long as UPS can find us. This place is around the bend and them some.
Had a fun day. Started prepping early this morning for our advenutre. I thought to myself "Might get a little rough. Should probably take the kayaks off. You know what, people look a little sketchy around here. I'll lock them up to the front of the RV and leave the dashcam on". Then after a long day we come home and fire up the generator to run the AC. Do you know what happens when a 7500 watt diesel generator is running for 3 hours with it's exhaust pipe a foot away from a kayak? Scroll down...
Now one of the kayaks has a big zit. The worst part? It's not mine. Use your great power of deduction to figure out who that leaves left over. I'm never gonna live this down.
Tired dog, hot cat
Ever seen a dog after a 4 hour hike through 1,400ft of elevation? It looks like this. About as happy as a cat in the A/C.
We're taking our time getting to the west of Helena. My aunt lives out that way and we really haven't ever met. I woke up this morning early, 0620 to be exact. The trains were rollin by all night and sleep was restless at best. The neighbors here in this free campground are obviously working in the area, and must roam from one free campground to the next. The jerk across from us ran his generator all night long, and we had to listen to the hum. I'm restless and looking for something to do today. I breeze through some websites and find a hike along a local creek. It's 6 miles, and only 16 miles away from the campsite. Cool. Lets do that
Three miles in and we hit our first obstacles. Little did we know this would continue for almost the next 13 until we got to the trailhead. I've driven on gravel a bunch, but not like this. The picture doesn't do it justice. This hill is about a 25° slope with rocks about 6 inches high. It's ok though, Shirley doesn't mind.
We peddle up the road at about 10mph. The rocks are good sized and we don't need a puncture out here in the middle of nowhere. Shirley doesn't fail, and we make the whole trip in 2wd. (Well worth the time I spent putting the limited slip diff in)
An hour later and we end up at the trail. The GPS said an hour when we left. I thought it was stupid. Turns out I'm stupid. The dog jumps out and we grab our gear. Into the hills we go to explore unknown territory.
We plunge into the hills with vigor. It's already 1000 and the heat is on it's way. I hate this heat. It sucks. Forward ho we continue so that our readers can live vicariously through us. In order to diverge my picture taking into more than rocks, I snap a shot of the dog.
Fast forward to 1130 and this has become stupid. We're tired, hot, and pissy with each other. This is a dumb idea and we should just go home. Hangry, we pop a squat and grab some snacks. Life is better, let's trudge onward. This is why we're doing this, to experience. And what an experience it became. The steep up and down hike finally gave up the goods. A dull roar in the distance had to be water. Thank god, cause I'm ready to stop.
I take off my shoes and pants. Whoa whoa whoa, this is a pg-13 blog. I left my underwear on. I walked in up to my knees. The water was so damn cold I couldn't take it. My feet were numb after a minute and out I came. Another snack, a few pictures, and it's time to roll out. It's supposed to be in the mid 90's and the kitties are in the RV with no A/C.
Not a bad way to spend a Thursday. Sitting here in the RV with the AC running I count the pennies being burned out the tailpipe. No more of this. We need to head north. Just one more stop before the great vastness of Canada. What do we call canadian geese when we get there? Geese? I hate not being a local sometimes.
It's a good feeling to have Roo fixed up and rolling west again. The cruise control is on and the heats are stable. She chugs along without any complaint and I can relax again. Katie is riding shotgun as we hit Crazy Mountain range and churn on towards our home for the night.
I spotted this piece of rustic art on our way through Big Timber MT during a fuel stop. It was created back around 1900 out of metal and a hammer. All of the seams are made by an arc welder. Just awesome. The movement continued west until we ran into Indian ground camprgound outside of Townsend MT. This is the place we will call home for the next couple of days. Life could be worse.
Pretty scenery? Yep. Good views from rim rock? Sure. More trailer parks than we have ever seen in one area? Check. Billings is alright, but it's not home. A city of 110,000 people and the biggest place in mighty Montana.
After a visit to Rimrock park we meander our way back through town and over to Roo for the night. This time a parking lot stay over at Sam's club.
The whole RV moved. The whole thing. It's 0515 and something just hit us. I jump out of bed and go to the front to look around. Our neighbor for the night at Cabela's clipped the mirror with his trailer.
I'm outside looking at the damage and the trailer is nowhere to be seen. Two minutes later and a man pulls up with his fifth wheel and truck. Turns out he felt it on the way out and wanted to come back to make sure it was ok. We exchange information and he offers to pay the bill. It's people like that who restore humanity in my eyes. He could of have just left. I'll order the parts and install it myself. If this man is willing to do right by me, I'll do my part to do right by him.
We finish off breakfast and load up Shirley. Roo is getting dropped off for the exhaust manifold today and we have three cats and a dog that need to go somewhere for the day.
We set up camp at riverfront park. The park is clean for the most part except they have a problem with canadians. I hate canadians. Those bastards just shit wherever they want, and strut around like they own the place. Stupid geese. Th day of stress has caught up with me and I just can't take it anymore.
The day clicks by and we lounge around the park like a bunch of homeless bums. People come and go. They see us sitting at a table, with a dog, a laptop, and a tent full of cats. They must mutter to themselves "These people must be nuts".
Time clicks by. Tick tok. Tick tok. I've never really stressed out to much in my professional career. Things happen, stuff breaks, life moves on. Now I'm sitting in the park and all I can wrap my mind around is the continual thoughts of what if... " What if it's not done tonight, what if the head is warped, what if they they break a few manifold bolts?" These scenarios run through my mind throughout the day. This is all we have, and our budget is shoestring thin. The phone rings. Some damn telemarketer. The hours continue to tick by until 4pm. The shop closes at 5 and I'm ready to call them. The phone rings again "Kenny?" the voice asks, " We're all wrapped up here. She's ready to pick up" Sweet relief after a day of worrying. We load up the animals into Shirley and roll over to Roo.
Sunday morning rolls in and we slowly pack up for the road. We are both going about our normal move out tasks. Katie is making breakfast and putting things away, and I'm outside unhooking the RV and prepping the jeep for the next leg of the trip. I'm groggy and tired from the night before. Hungover or not, we've got miles to cover. Roo has a hot date with Rocky Mountain Cummins in Montana on Tuesday and it's still a couple of hundred miles away.
Three miles out of town and trouble strikes. FLASH! The check engine light comes on. I immediately let off the gas and start sweeping the gauges. The tachometer is bouncing up and down. Not good. I pull over and watch the gauge and listen intently. Motor sounds good. Rev's up ok... guage must be the problem. In an effort to make the boys jobs at the Cummins shop easier I sprayed the motor off the night prior to rid it of two weeks worth of dusty back road filth. Bad idea. I call up the shop that is going to do the work and he tells me what sensor feeds that signal. We leave Roo sitting on the side of the road for a parts run to town. I pop into O'reillys and pick up the sensor I need along with a few tools. I've only brought a limited selection.
Under the RV and laying in the gravel I begin the tackle the job. Turns out the sensor is tucked behind two pumps on the side of the motor. An absolute nightmare to get to it. After 45 minutes I am finally able to get the socket on the bolt to loosen the mount. Yeah, 45 minutes just to figure out how to thread the extensions through the wire harness and mounts of the power steering pump and injection pump. The bolt comes out but the sensor is wedged in. Another 2 hours trying to create some sort of extraction device and I get nowhere. Time to give up and move on.
I don't like to give up. It bothers me. Alas it's 1500 and we still have 3 hours of driving in order to get to Billings. I put everything away and fire up Roo. Gauge is good. No check engine light. Guess she just needed to know that I cared.
We pull into Cabela's around 1845 and breathe of sigh of relief. When will the problems end?
The whirlwind tour is relentless. The oppressive heat, and never ending hurdles we encounter are taking their toll on both of us. Saturday morning and we are driving through northeastern Wyoming. We swing over to Devil's tower in hopes to do some exploring. The heat is coming on fast. The jeep has been unhooked for two days straight now. It's 100° during the day and our injured Roo can' t handle the extra strain. The exhaust leak is getting worse. We press on to Buffalo Wyoming where we can spend the night at an RV park.
Deer Park campground is a welcome relief after the last few days. It's been 4 days since we have had hookups. Every night living on the side of the road or in a parking lot in an effort to pinch pennies for the trip to continue. Just to remind you, we don't have any income. This is our life savings we are blowing away.
The oasis of Deer Park is a real pleasant experience. The spunky lady behind the counter gives us the rundown and takes us to our sight. We set up and start getting ready for the night. Laundry day. Finally, laundry day. I look over at Katie and then turn towards the pool. She follows my eyes and immediately gets dressed for the water. Thirty minutes in the cold water is all we can manage. Back to the RV for a quick shower and to start the next load of laundry. Beer run? Yes please. Let's go all out tonight. We pick up a 6 pack of the local brew and a bottle of Vanilla Jim Beam for good measure. The rest of the night is spent cleaning the dust out of the RV and having a few beers. I on the other hand did not practice self control and cracked open the Jim Beam. I'll be paying for that on Sunday....
Saturday morning and we roll out of the badlands. The other day we were playing in the jeep and found that 35mph on washboard gravel was better than 5mph. Shall we carry that philosphy over to the 40ft motorhome? I believe so. Balls out down the gravel road and things are going well. We see some people we met the night before in another RV crawling across the washboard. This gentleman stopped by with his kids the night earlier and I basically blew him off. I was hot, tired, and in no mood to chit chat. Shame on me. I constantly forget that we are on this trip to meet new people and talk to them about their lives. He finishes his quick hello and moves on. Then we meet again on this god forsaken road and I pull up next to him. " I don't know about you guys but we found that 30 mph works better for us to stay on top of the bumps" I blare out the passenger window. He smiles back and says " Yeah we'll give it a shot". I tear ass up the road with Roo at full steam. The guy behind me follows suit. Nine miles later and we are at the paved road. Dust found it's way through the engine doghouse cracks (thingy that covers the engine in the back) and covers the back bedroom.
Two miles down the road and we stop for construction. The guy behind me bounces out and runs up to the window, hands me a bag of coffee and introduces himself. Turns out he runs a coffee producer, retailer, and restaurant in Milwaukee. www.anodynecoffee.com
We are out there. No cell signal, no wifi, no TV. Sure a facebook post uploads every once in a while, but it's spotty at best. That's why this page hasnt' been updated. I've had a lot of time in the the last 48 hours to stab away at these keys. I wanted too. I get bored very easily. Alas, technology available to the masses can't always keep up and it forces us to slow down. Turns out it was exactly what we needed.
All the worrying about the heat, our travel budget being eaten away by RV repair bills, where we will camp next, melted away after we set up camp and just looked into the horizon. There's buffalo out here roaming the hills and coyotes yipping in the distance. We unplugged, and you should too. Do yourself a favor. Find a day, a half day, hell even an hour to turn your phone off and go do something uninterrupted. In our days of constant social interaction and the media screaming about whether trump is crazy or a genius we tend to get overloaded with too much. A mental break can do wonders. I myself calmed down in an hour or two reading a motor trend magazine in a chair. Just a good reset from life.
This journey isn't just about sitting on our ass though. Unhook Shirley and lets roll. The badlands need to be seen and we are gonna go see them. A quick whistle for the dog and we are all packed up to go look at a bunch of eroding dirt.
On the way out a herd of buffalo ahead of us. No big deal. Then the heard splits and runs across the road. Half on one side of the jeep, half on the other. There's a 1,500lb bull standing 30 ft from the jeep. He's pissed. This loud grumbly snort coming from his face and he's looking right at us. You know that whole "we're at the top of the food chain" crap, he wants to prove us wrong. I roll up the windows and put Shirley in reverse, backing away from the heard and baby calves. We look at each other " What do we do now?" Katie inquires. I have no response. We are way out of our element. I see a truck on the horizon. "Let's wait and see what they do." is my response pointing towards the ball of dust coming down the hill. The truck doesn't waver. This guy is heading towards the middle of the heard at 30 mph. Bison scatter, running at full gallop to each side. I catch a glimpse of his plates as he passes by. South Dakota, this guy knows what he's doing. I look over at Katie and roll the windows up, "Hammer down". I get the typical eye roll response. Katie isn't a huge fan of my jeremy clarkson approach to driving. I believe he said " Speed. Power. Speed and Power solve many things"
The day wraps up with us sitting in chairs. A storm is on the horizon to the north. We grab our hiking shoes. Another quick whistle, the dog is part of the pack. Upward bound toward the clouds. A hill about four stories tall will offer us a better vantage point. Two human lightning rods on a dirt hill in the badlands. Great idea.
Enough of this barren waste land and it's relentless heat. Tomorrow we roll out, Wyoming bound.
No WIFI available: Events of 7/6-7/7
It's been four days since I've posted. On the sixth we rolled out of Cabela's in rapid city and headed south to see the great mount rushmore. We were there before 7am and the parking lot guy was kind of enough to let us on through.... free of charge.
The stone faces were a quick visit. We saw them from the amphitheater seating and left. The trails under the giant heads weren't open yet and we needed to get rolling. It was supposed to be a hot day and Roo can't handle the heat and hills all at once. Two days prior I pushed her to hard and she gave up two exhaust manifold gaskets. A call to the Cummins dealer confirmed my suspicion. We most likely overheated the mainfold, warped it, and now it won't seal. That's bad. Turbo engines need exhaust to build boost for power. Leaky exhaust= crap power and lots of heat. Heat is bad. Heat = more broken stuff on motor.
Unfortunately the only time the cummins dealer in Wyoming (next state over) was available is on the 20th. Way to far away for us. It's blistering hot during the day and we won't survive two weeks out here. Katie and I are cheeseheads through and through. We love beer, brats, and cold weather. A quick ring to the next cummins shop was in billings montana. It's a 7 hour drive to the northwest but at least it's on our way. They squeezed us in for next week tuesday. Funny how the they already have RV parts in stock, for this year motor, and this style of pusher.... makes you think.
I digress. Back to Thursday the 6th. After rushmore it was balls out through the steep black hills forest to go to our next destination. Wind cave national park
Apparently this tunnel underground is the longest and most complex cave in the world. To us it was just an hour underground walking through a tunnel. Check another park off the list
It was warming up and we had to roll. Precariously the RV pointed northeast back to rapid city. The temperature gauge rising and falling slightly with each hill. It's amazing how 45 minutes of driving can just drain you psychologically. Will it break? Will it overheat? Will it warp the head? The hills lightened up and we made it to Wall. We stopped in the parking lot of wall drug. Katie looked perplexed " What are we doing here?" I responded " We have to go, you're gonna get asked if you stopped at Wall drug". With the generator humming away and the AC at full crank we left the animals to sit in their cool familiar shelter. Drudging through the crowd we meandered through the store. Color me unimpressed. A giant collection of tiny stores selling novelties, trinkets, and cowboy hats. Forty five minutes and two postcards later the RV fired back up to head south. Sage creek campground lay ahead. A free place to park to up to 5 days on the outskirts of the badlands. Nine miles of washboard gravel? Yes please. Crazy skinny lanes for a 40ft RV. Check. We showed up after an hour of driving.... the only class A motorhome there. Either crazy or stupid, we made it.
It's hot. Real hot. We knew it was coming and hit the ground early today. By 0730 we were rolling through the far southeastern corner of Montana heading for North Dakota. I didnt' even grab breakfast. Katie was kind enough to feed me on the go.
I was on the throttle hard charging towards Newell lake SD to beat the heat. The whole goal was to be off the road by 11am so Roo didn't have to work too hard. I had cleaned the radiator and charge air cooler off ( radiator for the turbo) last night in hopes it would offer some relief. We arrived at the lake and it was 91°. A quick turn left took us down a gravel road. Three cattle guards and two miles later we arrived at the flowage that was damned up into a lake.... and then we saw it. That stupid sign we see everywhere "NO CAMPING". The illustrious sign then even went so far as to taunt us. Overnight park use allowed for " hunting, fishing boating". So we could park a truck and trailer overnight no problem. RV you say? Get the hell out of here.
Depressed and hot we needed something to cure our woes. Warmed up some tacos and made a plan. Well, I made a plan. Katie took a nap. Pointed south our epic journey continued. The heat continued to rise and Roo was feeling the stress. Thirty miles outside of Sturgis my nerves caved and we pulled over. Roo was running hot again and we can't afford to take any chances. Shirley was unhooked and free to drive herself. Katie piloted the red girl as we made the 50 mile stretch to Cabela's in Rapid City SD.
Now, I'm not typically one to plug stores or products. Let me just say Cabela's is awesome. They have a sign that points to the overnight parking spot specifically for RV's. They have free fresh water, and a dump station that is $5, or free with a store purchase. So here we sit. The generator humming away and burning diesel to run the AC. It's not the most environmentally friendly thing to do, but damnit it's hot.