Mt. Hood and the Fruit Loop

We arrived as early as we could at Toll Bridge Park, which is probably 20 miles south of Hood River (which is on the Columbia River).

It’s a first-come, first-served campground, (FCFS) meaning you cannot make reservations; you can only get a site if there is an empty one when you arrive, or at least, before you give up.   The west loop, which is where I hoped to get a site, was a bit too tight for our bus and “of course”, none of the sites that were long enough for us were empty, so we continued to the east loop where there  were many empty sites to choose from.  We picked a 65′ pull-thru, one of the half-moon type pull-thru’s which are never as long as they state.  Ours was the same, shorter than it stated, so our car is close to blocking the exit of the campsite behind us.

The next day we took a drive up to the Timberline Lodge, apparently the hotel they filmed The Shining (Jack Nicholson’s version).   It was very cool (cold) up there and the view of Mt. Hood was spectacular as the lodge is just above the timberline.

Geez, guess I should have read this article prior to coming here about: Mt Hood     After coming down off the mountain, we headed over to Government Camp and found  a pub for lunch.

We headed out the next day to drive the fruit loop and pick up some fresh fruit.  It seems most of the fruit we saw driving were pears.  We did find some great apples, peaches and blueberries.  There are a lot of stores/farm stands around the loop.  That 16% grade was really short, but I doubt I would want to drive the bus on it anyway.

And no day driving around looking for fruit stands could be complete without a stop at a winery/brewery.   That purple stuff was wild berry hard cider.  I took a sip, it was very sweet.  My beer was much better.

We also found Ethan’s favorite tortilla chips while wandering the roadways, and currently they are Kathy’s favorite too!

One afternoon we headed down to Hood River, which was a very nice area to wander around.  Just about every building had a small plaque on it explaining what it was used for when built, most in the early 1900’s.   While Kathy was shopping, I sat around with the dog breathing in car exhaust.  Not sure why it was so noticeable, but it was.  Hopefully folks will pull their head out of the sand and seriously look at electric cars.  I won’t be buying another gas powered car.  The only thing holding me back at the moment is none of the current electric cars can be towed behind our motorhome with 4 wheels on the ground.  I would have to deal with a large trailer and that’s one hassle I don’t want to deal with.

I noticed this hole in the very tall tree next to us and hoped that there wouldn’t be a storm coming thru the few days we camped there.

Crow Butte, an Island on the Columbia River

Quite a nice place in the middle of nowhere on an island in the Columbia River.   We have stayed elsewhere along the Columbia River and it’s a major artery for trains heading east and west, on both sides of the river.  Luckily this time there were no crossings so we didn’t hear one whistle during the 5 nights we camped there.

A few days into being their I happened to be looking out the side window and saw a huge tractor driving by.   After a few seconds I saw that it was pulling a fairly large 5th wheel trailer.   It then pulled in next to us.  We occasionally see HDT’s (heavy duty trucks) but usually they are the smaller regional style Volvo’s.   This was a first seeing something this big pulling a 5th wheel.   I bet its challenging when you have to go to the grocery store in that thing.  The tractor itself is very long and probably doesn’t fit well into a handicap space at the store..

The first couple days there was almost no wind, but there were a lot of flies.  Kind of made sitting outside an annoying game of swatting the flies constantly.   Then suddenly on the 3rd afternoon a constant 10 MPH wind started and stayed around that speed for the rest of the week.  The day prior to leaving, it got a bit higher and most of the afternoon there were whitecaps on the river.   That seemed very odd.

They do water the grass here constantly like water is free.  I guess they might have a shallow well that fills from the river.  All around the area it was quite arid.  Golden brown hillsides with the occasional vineyard on a hillside.

It was a long way to anywhere from here.  The closest town was 14 miles, and it was just 3 restaurants and a fuel station.  I drove there to pick up lunch one afternoon, it just seemed like a very long drive.  We are on the north side of the river (Washington side) and it was probably 40 miles east to a  bridge to civilization and about 60 miles to the west.   There is pretty much nothing along the river on the Washington side.

Hells Gate State Park

We drove down to Clarkston / Lewiston on Thursday morning.   Here is a picture of one of the first signs we saw in Clarkston.  Headed over to the local Costco to fuel up and maybe pick up some groceries .  The fill-up there was easy, but the parking lot was small and filled with cars, so we headed down to the campground.  Along the way we thought we would stop at a roadside rest on the Snake River road, but that was not such a great idea.  It was tight to get in and turned out to be full, so we had no where to park.  To make matters worse, they had placed large rocks at the entrance and exit to the lot; so getting back out was too tight and we had to unhook the car so I could back up and get a better angle to get out. (otherwise one of the rocks would scrape a bit of the new paint, and I wasn’t going to be happy if I let that happen!)

The reason I wanted to find a roadside stop was the state park wouldn’t let you check in prior to 2 pm, and now we were early due to the missed grocery shopping opportunity.   Turns out the park’s kiosk wasn’t where you check in to that campground and we were able to drive to their “Discovery Center” parking lot and park there till the check-in desk opened.

I drove over to see the campsite while we were waiting, and it was surrounded by wild turkeys and a couple deer.   There was also a nice big shade tree strategically placed for great shade to sit outside!

I wanted to take one of the local jet boats into Hell’s Canyon, but the only day they had available was Sunday, and Windy.com showed it was going to be very smoky there that day, so I didn’t sign up.  Maybe next time…  And on Sunday the smoke was very thick.  Glad I didn’t drop the $200, would have been a lot like the bus at Denali, hard to see anything due to all the smoke that day.

This weight limit sign inside the campground, just prior to any of the campsite loops, was interesting.  The weight limit listed precludes most Class A motorhomes as the rear axle is usually 20,000 lbs (10 tons) , and newer ones are often 24,000 lbs (12 tons).  So the 8.6 ton limit would be an issue. Also noticed the other weight limits listed for more axles don’t follow the 8.6 tons per axle limit.  Possibly they aren’t teaching basic math in schools anymore.

Our next stop will be Crow Butte Park on an Island in the Columbia River.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potlatch & St Marie, Idaho

What a great little campground in an extremely small town!  It’s a city park and I cannot say enough about how nice it is.  Every other small town should take notice of what this place is like.  Wide paved smooth roads,  level sites, well-placed full hook- ups.  Everything worked well.   No highway noise or train noise, although there were train tracks only 100 feet away and a crossing, but no trains the 4 days we were there.  The tracks looked like they might be used every once in a while but not often from the rust on the tops of the tracks.

After being here a couple days, we drove up to St. Maries, about an hour’s drive into the St. Joe’s National Forest.  Beautiful drive!  The town wasn’t really what I was expecting.  I was thinking it would be a tourist trap, but I never even saw the requisite trinket shops.   We stopped at a small city park dedicated to the man that surveyed the area for a road for the army and then built it a few years later.

By then we needed lunch and I found a place outside of town, and it turned out it was at a golf course.   The food was good and the view from the patio was spectacular!   Although the yellow jackets attracted by the food weren’t much fun.  The warm tortilla holder lid was perfect for swatting them away.   Kathy hates them, so she literally ate standing up and walking around to dodge them.  I preferred to just swat them away.

We saw deer running up on the fairway near us.  Kind of wondering what type of penalty it was if you hit one with your ball?  Was it considered out of bounds or an ecology sensitive area or what?

 

 

Blanchard, Idaho (CDA)

We decided to go to the Stoneridge Golf and RV Resort about 30 miles northwest of CDA.  I’ve found that the most expensive places often have last-minute campsites available, even though this wasn’t really last minute.  I was calling when it was only a couple weeks prior to the Labor Day Weekend, so every other place had no openings for that long weekend.

Turned out Stoneridge was a very nice place to camp (glamp?)   It did seem to have an identity crisis though.  All the paperwork when we got there had the name “Motorcoach RV Resort Idaho” on them.   I had asked the guy next door (who in the first conversation let me know he was an “owner”) about the name, and he wasn’t aware of that name.  Not sure how that works, if one of the site owners isn’t aware of the place’s actual name.

The place was extremely nice.  Lush grass and flowers everywhere!  If this was closer to home, I could see investing in a lot here.  But it’s very far and is only open May to October due to cold weather.

 

 

 

 

 

The day after arriving, we headed up to Newport on the Pend Oreille River, which is a tributary of the Columbia River.  The drive through the area just south of the town was a very depressed looking area, and the town itself, which I believe is in Washington State, is only a slight upgrade.   We did enjoy a drive over to the Albeni Falls Dam a few miles upriver for some pretty views.

The following day we met with the in laws to check out their new motorhome, new pup, and to see the lake house construction progress.   The lake house cabin was anything but a cabin.  It was very large with lots of steel beams and columns, three stories, right on the lake with three nice-sized decks, one on each level.  It will be a gorgeous home when it is done!  Hopefully John will get this done soon so he can retire!   We then headed back up to Stoneridge so they could see this place and we could get lunch on the deck at the deli.

Lunch was pretty good, and while we were munching down, the wind really started to blow, knocking over one of the unoccupied tables and umbrella behind us!   Thank goodness it didn’t hit the man and his daughter only a few feet away!

We drove over to our rig for desert just as the rain started, which only lasted a little while.  We bid Stacy and John adieu and they headed back home.  We were heading out the next morning toward Potlatch, ID.

Missoula 2022

We arrived in Missoula the Thursday afternoon before my niece’s wedding.  I had gotten a last-minute reservation at the local KOA, so I was a bit apprehensive about the site we would get.   A couple weeks prior they had no openings for our stay; so when I called back and they had something, I was very happy.   We had originally thought we might stay at the ranch or at the local hip-camp.   When we drove over to the ranch to help set up for the next day’s event, I was surprised by the 10-ton bridge weight limit I would have had to cross.  We are close to 20 tons…

It turned out we really lucked out and the KOA gave us a very nice campsite with a very big tree for shade!

We had been struggling with our toad’s A/C only blowing cold air from the defroster and floor vents for about a year since last year’s Mississippi River trip.  When originally calling around to get it fixed, the dealers were talking thousands of dollars in repairs as the whole dashboard needed to be removed to get to the system to fix it.

Recently I had re-posted my question about the issue on a Chevy forum, and someone answered that my issue was a bit different than what the Chevy dealers were quoting; that the Mode Door Actuator was the problem and it was a lot simpler to repair than what the Chevy dealers were telling me about.

I then watched a Youtube Video on the repair and knew that was my issue with the A/C.  I must have called 20 places while in Wyoming and Colorado and was only hearing they had no openings for weeks.   I finally decided to call the Chevy dealer in Missoula a few weeks prior to getting there, and the service gal told me they could do it, but had no openings till the week after we would be leaving Missoula.  Then she said if I brought it in early the day after we arrived, she would squeeze it in.  YES!

That morning I brought it in and they fixed it in a few hours.   Two weeks later and we still have air coming out of the dash instead of the defroster!!  Wow.  It’s been really hot this summer and it took a long time for the car to cool off with the cold air blowing everywhere but at you!

We drove over to help with anything we could for the wedding on Friday afternoon, mainly moving things like beverages, chairs and coolers around the barn and adding ice to the coolers.

The wedding was a fantastic event, and the weather totally cooperated.  I did learn something new at the event.  I asked someone why all the cowboys where wearing sunglasses and was told, no one wants to see cowboys crying.  🙂

 

The next day we went with Chris and Shelly for lunch at Notorious P.I.G. restaurant downtown in his rented model Y Tesla.   It’s a pretty nice car.  I really liked the display showing all the cars around you.  That may be a feature of the self-driving mode which it had.  Chris said he used that during the drive from CDA to Missoula the day prior.

We headed over after lunch on Sunday to help with the cleanup.  There was a lot to move from the barn to the house and a small truckload of borrowed tables/chairs and cooler to go back to Julia’s work.   After that we went back to the bus and passed out.

 

 

The rest of the time in Missoula we mostly visited with the family that was still there and cleaned the inside and outside of the bus.

On Thursday morning we headed northwest to CDA to visit with the new in-laws.

 

 

Deer Lodge Montana

Checked out the car museum here in Deer Lodge and was surprised how good it was!   I was thinking there would be a bunch of cars, but there seemed to be hundreds after you snaked thru a lot of rooms where you couldn’t see more till you walked thru the next doorway.  They had a lot of old cars starting out with an odd looking 3 wagon-wheeled contraption that looked like it would tip over on any turn,  and ended up with 1970’s muscle cars.  There was even a Super Bird in the collection.

One of the coolest displays I have ever seen was a 1933 Kozy Kamper Pop-up Trailer.  It was in very good shape for something that will be 90 years old next year.

To my delight there was even a funny little car that one of my childhood eccentric neighbors picked me up in when I was  hitchhiking to the beach one summer morning.  When he stopped, he opened the door, which was the whole front of the car.  Even the steering wheel moved with that door.  It was a bright-red German Messerschmidt, exactly the same as the one I was currently standing in front of!  I had never seen anything like it back then, nor have I ever seen another one since then, till today.  This one was even the same color.

This picture is of a car with the first car air-conditioner, looked more like a swamp cooler to me

This town even had a large Safeway Grocery Store, and the town itself is much smaller than our prior stop, Livingston, MT.

Livingston Montana and the North Gate to Yellowstone.

We arrived at this small town which is about 30 miles east of Bozeman.   It was a bit larger town than I had expected.  As we pulled off I-90, there was an Albertson’s Grocery Store right in front of us. (which is a supermarket the size we have in large cities)  We headed over to our campground for a four-night stay.  It was in a rural residential area just on the south edge of town.

As most of the area we’ve been driving thru for the last few weeks was arid, the bugs smashing into the mostly flat front of the motorhome were minimal.  But the drive from close to Billings to Livingston was mostly irrigated fields and with that come the hordes of bugs!  Cleaning them off the front that morning was time consuming at best,  and I had just washed the whole bus the day before in the campground at the Little Big Horn.  UGH!

We drove out the next day to check out the Roosevelt Arch at the north gate of Yellowstone Park.  I had read about the Teddy Roosevelt Arch when I was a kid and thought then someday I would go there to see it.  I finally did, a lot of years after I first read about it.  It is a magnificent structure, very tall, but the opening to drive thru it into the park was not very wide…  I guess back then cars were few and far between.  I am pretty sure only one car can go through it at a time.   And it’s only for cars/buses going into the park, outbound vehicles bypass it.

The north entrance to Yellowstone is closed indefinitely from the flooding they had a few months ago.  It’s a big impact to the little town of Gardiner, Montana.  The main reason to take the drive out there is to go into the park.  Hope they make it through the years it will take to redo the road.

One evening when I was sitting outside, a woman approached with her dog, asking if we were from Southern California.  Apparently she had seen Kathy’s USC license plate holder.  I replied yes, that we are from San Diego.   She then told me her family owns a grocery store there.  I told her we lived in Del Cerro, and she laughed and said that’s where her family’s grocery store is.  I asked if it was Windmill Farms,  and she said yup.   Then she told me she had a sandwich in the deli named after her, the Lindsey Special, which is our favorite sandwich they make!!   She mentioned it was really her brother’s favorite sandwich, but they didn’t think that a Trevor Special had the right ring to it.  Talk about a small world, here we are about 1,000 miles as the crow flies away and we meet someone from home!

Later she came back when Kathy was outside with me and I introduced them.  She was astonished too.   Lindsey was on a 10-month trip in her travel trailer.  She told us she rented her house out via Air BNB and had her family friend (a realtor) handle all the details and issues while gone.  I think we should really look into that when we travel next year; with the price of fuel, an extra $2k per month could really come in handy at the pump!

The next evening a gentleman came by asking about my new paint job.   We ended up talking for more than an hour.  He had been a train engineer going between Amarillo and Winslow, Arizona, most of his career.  He retired recently and is currently living full time in his motorhome and fly-fishing everywhere he can.  He wants to have his 2006 motorhome painted too as it sounded like he has a clear coat issue like mine did.

I walked by his motorhome the next morning as he mentioned he had started using Starlink recently and loved it.  I wanted to see how he had mounted it.  He was using the standard tripod on the ground.  So, nothing new to see for my deployment this winter.   I didn’t notice his paint issues, so it’s probably not as bad as mine was.  Hopefully we will meet up again as he was fun to talk to.

 

 

Little Big Horn

We drove up from Buffalo, WY, and got to the 7 Ranch Campground around 1 pm.   They weren’t kidding about not using a GPS to get there.  Google Maps directions wanted to take me the wrong way twice after I got off the freeway.  The first one was down a long paved road along the eastern side of the freeway that I had noticed had ended at the Little Bighorn River prior to where the campground road was.   We followed the signs to the park and about half way there along the road on the west side of the freeway it kept wanting me to make a right turn down a couple of dirt roads.  Geez, the campground folks were right.  If I had followed either of those routes provided, I would have been a really unhappy person as we cannot back up with the car in tow.

We headed over to the Little Big Horn national monument early this morning, not long after it opened at 8 am.   It’s kind of an eerie place, vast hills and ravines for as far as you can see.   This would have been a really awful place to fight a battle in June, although the tops of the ridges and hills should have been pretty good vantage points if you still had ammo.

All along the ridges and hills were small groups of two or three white grave stones with the inscription, 7th Calvary solder fell here.   A few places there were many in the groupings.   The pictures of the landscape don’t show how steep the ground was.

 

We drove down to Reno’s battlefield and realized that was a long way south of where Custer’s men were.   And about halfway between there was a marker for an Indian settlement.   Not sure how he could have fought his way to Custer with the mule train of ammo as he was under attack the whole time too.

The park appears to have private land right in the middle between the two largest battlegrounds.  Along that way we came upon a herd of horses.  As they appeared to be on the private land area, I was guessing they weren’t wild.  They appeared to be fenced in as there were fences along that stretch of roadway.   But all along that part of the road were piles of horse dung.  It seemed odd the horses would walk along that roadway, and how did they get past the fence?

Short Horse video.

There is a national cemetery there where I presume all the 7th Calvary men were buried, although there appeared to be many more than 270 graves, but nowhere near as large as other national cemeteries we have seen.  The one my Dad and Mom are buried in is huge in comparison.

 

 

Buffalo and the Black Hills

We arrived in Buffalo Wy around 1 in the afternoon, checked in and drove over to our very shady campsite.   Trees are not normal in the high plains, so this is  a really great campsite as the whole campground was full of very large trees.  Now this might not of been a great place to be if the Gale from the prior night had come thru here.  But my neighbor said the night prior had been totally calm winds.

We had been to Buffalo 5 years ago but when I drove off to buy groceries it didn’t look at all familiar to me.  We are still recovering from our Covid 19 bout so we haven’t been doing much at all.