Sunday, July 31, 2011

homeward bound

After our very nice visit with Curt and Renee we are now headed eastward toward "ye old" Martin Manor RV park and are scheduled to arrive there on Wednesday.  Tonight we are in Rawlins, WY which is right on the continental divide at 7,000' elevation.  We were a little bit disappointed most of the way across Wyoming because we didn't see any antelope and there usually are many out along the side of the road in this State.  We were about 20 miles from Rawlins when we saw the first four and I think Jo counted 15 by the time we arrived at our campground.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

very nice visit

This morning after a nice breakfast with Curt and Renee she took off on her bicycle for Pocatello, almost 20 miles.  We headed that way in the car a bit later and caught up with her at the farmers market in town.  She bought some fresh veggies for dinner this evening and then we took a scenic drive back to the house.  I took these pictures this morning and plan to edit this post with more pictures later this afternoon.

Okay it's getting close to bedtime so I have added a few shots to the album below.

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Curt & Renee

I also want to add this next album of Curt and Fred on the deck before dinner.  It was loads of fun to play a few tunes with Curt and his banjo and a few with his guitar.  We definitely need to practice to get into duo performance shape,still it was great fun.

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pick'n & grin'n

nice visit

We arrived at Curt & Renee's place around 4:00 yesterday afternoon and backed into their driveway, it took 3-4 tries but eventually had success.  We got hooked up to water and electric and then enjoyed a very nice visit and dinner.  We even got out the instruments and did a bit of pick'n but I'm sure there will be more of that today and promise to get a photo or two of the dynamic duo.

Their address is Inkom, ID but Curt said that their property deed indicated that this area was originally called Onyx, ID and he has the rights to the official telegraph station.  That is why I called this stop the Onyx, Idaho Telegraph Station in my campground listing on the website.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Elkhorn Scenic loop drive

Today we decided to follow this scenic drive and glad that we did.  It was a 106 mile drive around and through the Elkhorn Mountain range starting and ending right here in Baker City, OR.  Most of the drive was on Forest roads but all were paved and all were just beautiful.  The weather was the absolute best with a clear blue cloudless sky and temperatures holding in the 68-70 degree range.  We kept our eyes on the lookout for some elk, especially in the high meadow areas, but none were to be found.  Since we didn't see any elk we stopped in Sumpter, OR at the Elkhorn Saloon for lunch and had an elk burger, yum.
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Elkhorn Scenic loop

As we passed back through Baker City we saw these trees in the landscaping for a bank parking lot.  The leaves are maple but the bright, light yellow was what caught our eyes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Back on Track

This morning I turned in the rental car and waited at the dealership service lounge for the completion of our repair.  I paid my share a little after 10:30 and we were on the road before noon.  YEA! ;-)

We took a shortcut from Moses Lake, WA to Baker City, OR so we now are back on the original track and only one day behind schedule.  We had originally planned to be here three nights but we will make due with two nights and one day to explore Baker City. We were here in September of '04 on our Oregon Trail venture and visited the trail information center so we will see what we can find to get into tomorrow.  Friday we are off again as we have reservations at Onyx, Idaho telegraph station for Friday and Saturday nights.

Boy am I glad that I purchased the extended warranty for this truck.  The engine and drive train were originally warranted for 5 years or 100,000 miles and even though we are below the mileage limit our 5 years was up last January.  Because of the known problems with this engine I bought a 36 month extended warranty last December and it sure paid off.  My share this morning was a bit over two hundred while the total cost was a number that began with a 6 and there were three other numbers between that 6 and the decimal point. WOW! They also will cover the rental car for $30/day which will be 3/4 of that cost.  I will continue to have doubts about this engine, even though it;s almost all new, until we get back to Martin Manor and look forward to beginning our next ventures with our new truck and a new 5 year warranty.

It was good to be rolling again!

Wake-up call

... as if we needed any this morning.  We are anxious to get back on the move and just have to wait for business to open this morning to settle-up for our truck repair.  But, I have written in a previous post about the major agriculture industry in this Grand Coulee basin and this morning at 4:30 am they began crop dusting a near-by field by aircraft.  Talk about a wake-up call, with a repeat jolt on every lap across our campground as they made their turn around.  It kinda took the place of the railroad tracks that are not anywhere near this campground.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Just finished talking with our service shop and our truck is almost ready to go. ;-)  They are flushing out the engine coolant system because the problem caused diesel to get mixed in with the coolant.  They say that I should be able to pick it up in the morning which will allow us to get away about noon and it will be good to get "on the road again."  The past couple of days of just twiddling our thumbs has not been much fun.  This campground is super nice and the weather has been the best but it's just not what we had planned for this outing.  We will have to shorten our stay in Baker City, OR by one day and then we will be back on our schedule.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Our call this afternoon from the service department working on our truck wasn't the good news that we were wishing for. ;-(  Dave told me that one of the major parts needed, when arrived, was not the correct replacement so this adds at least another day to our stay in Moses Lake, WA.  This still allows us to get back on schedule with only one day in Baker City, OR instead of the planned two and then it's on to a visit with Curt and Renee.

I have been busy today in discussion with our local (at home) Ford dealer and have actually made a purchase of a new 2011 truck for our future travel adventures.  The engine in our current truck is known to have major problems which is why I purchased the extended warranty but even with this current repair I would always be concerned about it's ability to get us to our many destinations and back, especially into the Maritime Provinces of Canada with Phyllis in September.  We know our salesman that has worked with us on several  of our last vehicle purchases and after my research on the internet we have an agreed difference.  We will make the actual trade as soon as we return home next week.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

a day of rest

We didn't get too far from the trailer today with only a short trip to Wally World to support the local economy a little bit.  We are hoping to get some good news tomorrow from the Ford service that we will soon be back on the road.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

a bit of exploring

We took off this morning on a drive around this area of Washington west from our campground.  A few miles down I-90 and we came to the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park which is located on the banks of the Columbia River.  Jo and I had stopped there once before but while in the area it was worth another look around the information center.  They have many specimens scattered around the visitors center and some petroglyphs that were relocated to this site when the river was dammed years ago creating a lake that would have covered them.

After our stop there we continued west to Ellensburg, WA for fuel and lunch.  On our way we topped over a crest to a spectacular view of Mt. Rainier and off to the north was a good sighting of Mt. Stuart.

This area around Moses Lake, WA is high plains desert country and was not productive until the building of Grand Coulee Dam and the main function of that dam was for irrigation with electricity and flood control being secondary.  The irrigation made possible by that construction has made this a highly productive area and this county brags of raising more potatoes than any other county in the USA.  Washington State also brags of raising more potatoes than Idaho.  With apples being the number one crop in the state, grapes for wine is number 2.

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Ginkgo Petrified Forest

Friday, July 22, 2011

extended stay

The progress report from the Ford dealership yesterday afternoon indicated that it will probably be next Tuesday before our truck will be ready to go.  This morning I went to the campground office and paid up for a few more days here in Moses Lake.  This is a super nice campground with nice grass areas between sites that has a watering schedule.  We were given that schedule on check in and our site gets "rain" from 7:00 am to 7:30 am twice a week.  This would not be a good time to sit out under our awning.  This morning after the sprinklers were turned off I went out and dumped our holding tanks and washed the back window of our trailer that had accumulated some road grime.

Then I got out the Martin and did a little practice pick'n before trying to keep up with Curtis.  Jo is trying to learn about her convection oven and has a cake going now for a first time use.  It's just nice to have our own comfortable home to use while having to wait on the truck repair.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Grand Coulee

Since we have been given a bunch of lemons we have made lemonade today and took a drive up to the Grand Coulee Dam and enjoyed the history and geology lesson.  We also learned the difference between a Coulee and a Canyon.  The Grand Canyon was formed by the forces of the Colorado River.  This Grand Coulee was not river erosion but instead was formed by the forces of the floods of the ice ages thousands of years ago.
It was a nice drive up to the dam and then we took the tour of one powerhouse and got a few pictures from inside the generator house and from the top of the dam that can't be taken without the tour, security is strong around this major facility.  We had a nice lunch just before our tour and then on the drive back we took a few pictures to show the scenic beauty of this Grand Coulee basin.

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Grand Coulee

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


We had a not-so-good phone call this morning from our Ford dealer's service shop.  After getting started early this morning it was soon discovered that our problems were larger than first thought.  The problem seems to be a cracked head or heads and they won't know until totally removed to check.  It looks like we are here for a few more days than we first thought.  Our warranty service has agreed to cover the cost but they want their own independent inspection once the heads are removed which will delay the time of completion, bummer.

Just for grins and since I have lots of time to spend (more than money) I sat down with one of their sales staff and discussed a "what if" we were to trade for a new truck so we could be on our way.  This dealership only had one truck that would serve our purpose but it wasn't totally equipped the way we would need.  They then went to work searching for one in the area that would fit our needs and that they could do a dealer trade.  The frustration for me was that the sales person I was talking with had to run to someone in the corner office whenever I ask a question.  He would come back with that answer only to have to take off again when there was another question, he obviously didn't know much about trucks.  It is a small dealership and I guess the floor staff is just there for taking time with paperwork.  They only found two trucks within the vicinity that were anywhere close to our needs and they both had extra options that we really don't need.  There are many logistic items with such a trade that really made it questionable/difficult but worth a try I thought.


Eureka, we have found it!  We really feel for our family and friends back in Missouri who are still suffering with what we left, but this morning we had the heat on and it really felt good.  If we have to be stranded, which we are, it is nice to be comfortably situated in a very nice campground with these very pleasant temperatures.

After yesterday's excitement we are going to just take it easy today and will probably find something around this area to explore tomorrow.  I think we were fortunate that our problem with the truck happened early in the week and can only hope that we don't get hung out over the weekend.

Reading a little bit about our location we find that he town of Moses Lake is the same age as JoAnn.  Before that it had a different name but in 1938 the name was changed to reflect the name of the lake where it is located.  The lake was named for Chief Moses of the Sinkiuse tribe that negotiated with the white settlers in the late 1800s to begin settlement in this area.  The lake at that time was a small salt lake but now after the dam was built in the early 1900s it is a fresh water recreation area.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What a day

It started out great but ended up with a HUGE bump in the road.  This may be a long story so get some popcorn and settle in for a little tale of our day.

We left Missoula and followed, or I should say, crisscrossed the beautiful Clark Fork River valley out of Montana.  The big thrill of the day was just before we entered ID a huge brown bear crossed the road right in front of us.  There was a concrete median barrier between us and the eastbound lane and just about 30 yards in front of us this bear jumped over that median and crossed to our right and up the hill faster than we could say "there's a bear".  It was large and shaggy having shed most of it's winter coat.  What a chance sighting but no opportunity for pictures.

Our planned goal for tonight was to be Ellensburg, WA but shortly before lunch time our truck beeped to say that the engine was overheating.  I pulled over to the shoulder and in just a few minutes the temperature gauge cooled down and we continued slowly and pulled off at the next exit to a safe location and called our road service for assistance.  We were in Ritzvlle, WA and a couple of hours later the tow company arrived to haul the truck to the nearest Ford Dealer's service and pull our trailer to a campground in the same town of Moses Lake, WA.  There is bad news and good news.  First, the bad news is that after checking out the problem it is going to take a few days for the repair which will alter the remainder of our trip.  We have canceled our stay and visit to the Olympic National Park and will keep it on our bucket list for someday.  The good news is that our extended warranty contract has agreed to the repair except for our deductible and include the rental car so we can tour this area while we wait for repairs.  I planned on calling Enterprise but there wasn't an office any where near this location so I have a local rental and we will just tour this area and wait for our truck to be repaired.

ps:  We finally found the cool for the trip as the high today was in the 70s with tonight's low forecast to be in the upper 50s..

Monday, July 18, 2011

Big Sky Country

... and Montana is one big State.  Today we drove for seven hours and still have 101 miles to go to get across into Idaho.  It was a beautiful scenic drive along I-90 with most of the morning following the Yellowstone River valley.  I don't know where the oil spill is but because of the continued snow melt from the winters record snow pack the rivers are all running full.  A little later we crossed the Gallatin, the Madison, and the Jefferson Rivers shortly before they join together and form the beginning of the Missouri River near Three Forks, MT.  The climb to the pass just east of Butte was the toughest pull yet with the trailer.  Before we reached the summit we were down to 39 mph and still passing the big rigs.

This was the longest days drive for this trip and tomorrow isn't but about 30 miles shorter and then we are back to our usual short driving days.  Because the West is so expansive and in order to get where we are going and to get back home in a reasonable time frame we have to have a few long days.  Jo got me up early this morning so we are set up at our destination by 2:00 pm and we have the rest of the day to relax.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Big Horn County Historical Museum

This morning we visited this museum with several buildings on display from the past.  It was a self guided walking tour of all the displays with good boardwalks and limited steps/stairs.  We have visited this type of museum in other locations and always enjoy the displays from our history.  We went early this morning before the temperature rise to the predicted high of 102°.  Tomorrow we pack up and head westward again toward our goal for this trip of the Olympic National Park and should be there by Wednesday.

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Big Horn County Historical Museum

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Kahay, welcome in Crow speak.  This morning we toured the Little Bighorn Battlefield and went early before the temperatures got too high.  We took the Native American guided van tour and since we were the first of the morning we had a private tour with just the two of us, our driver, and our guide.  It was very informative with all our questions being a one on one experience.  We did get one piece of information that Custer sent John Martin to Maj. Reno's camp to ask for more troops and supplies.  Maj. Reno refused and John didn't return to the last Stand ridge and therefore survived the battle.

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Little Bighorn Battlefield

After our visit to the battlefield we stopped at a grocery store and fueled up before returning to our campground.  Jo took this picture of mustard weed that is invading this north west area.

This is a picture of our campsite showing the source of our July snow.

Friday, July 15, 2011

snow storm in July

It may be 91° outside but our campground tonight is in the middle of a July snow storm.  The campground is in a large grove of cottonwood trees in full shedding mode.  It's nice to have the shade but every time we open the door some "snow" tries to fly inside.

Today we crossed through and over the Black Hills of South Dakota, beautiful country.  We passed by some real serious soil erosion, at least that's what Jo's mom (a good farmer's wife) said the first time she saw the Badlands of South Dakota.  Then we passed right on by the world's most famous (or at least the most advertised) drug store.  We stopped once several years ago and once was enough.  Back in 1977 on a trip with Kenneth and Phyllis we borrowed the Ledgerwood's pop-up tent trailer for a late summer trip to Yellowstone.  It was on that trip that we stopped at Wall Drug after our visit to the Badlands.  On that trip we stopped at Mt. Rushmore and then made it to Yellowstone.

It was a long day's drive today but we are here for three nights which will give us some time to visit the Little Bighorn Battlefield.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 3

It was nice, cool, and dry this morning as we got all buckled up and ready to travel.  Not long after getting back on I-29 it started to rain and before we got out of Iowa we drove through some good rain showers.  It stayed cloud covered and cool all the way to Sioux Falls and when we turned westward the sun popped out and the heat began to rise.  In our campsite now in Belvidere, SD the current temperature is 93° and rising.  It's supposed to be down to the upper 60s tonight so maybe our drive tomorrow morning will not be too bad.

Our drive from Onawa, IA into SD was right along the MO River valley and there was water everywhere.  At Sioux City the river turned westward while we continued northbound.  Later as we traveled westward on I-90 we crossed the MO River at Chamberlain, SD and again the river was very high and obviously out of its normal banks.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Detour day 2

It was another nice short day on our alternate route to the original first night campground.  Last night was a very quiet campground and it looks like we will have another quiet evening.  We are very near the Missouri River but in this area we are high enough to not be affected by the flooding that caused our detour.  Tomorrow we continue north to Sioux Falls, SD and then we turn westward.

The temperatures today have been nice and moderate, only 76° at this time.  We had a little shower or two during last night but then this morning was only overcast.  When the sun did come out it still didn't get back to the oppressive heat that we have been having.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Since our original route is flooded out we are on a detour around that problem.  The original first day of travel was going to be an eight hour drive which is a bit longer than our usual day but after the detour added miles and a couple of hours of drive time we decided to break that into two 5 hour days which is more to our liking for a day on the road.  Tonight we are in Eagleville, MO which is along I-35 right at the Iowa line and tomorrow we head on north to Des Moines and west from there to Council Bluffs and back on track north to Onawa, IA.

This route today is the exact same route that we made 12 years ago in July of 1999.  That was the first trip that we made with our first fifth wheel trailer on our way to Des Moines for a square dance weekend.  Larche and Marianne shared the trailer with us that weekend and then after the dance we toured the covered bridges of Madison County (from the movie) and visited the boyhood home of John Wayne plus visited the Amana Colonies.  That was the beginning of our fifth wheel traveling that has now covered 106,115 miles within this North American Continent.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

bug juice

As you could imagine the front of our trailer is tall and wide so as we roll down the highway through all of our trips it catches many bug splatters, YUK!  The last couple of evenings after the sun moved to put this part of the trailer into some shade I washed a six month accumulation of bug juice off the front cap and then put a coat of wax back to help with the next bug removal operation.  After 12 years of travels with a similar trailer I finally got a bit smarter this time and figured out that I could lower the front jacks almost to the ground and that would make the top of the front cap easier to reach with the 6 ft. step ladder that I have.

There are a lot of things that the Bounce dryer sheets are supposed to do but except for the laundry use there is only one other use that is very true and that is bug juice removal.  I wet the surface down with a liquid car wash soapy water and then the dryer sheet just wipes away the bugs with minimal effort.  It does also remove any previous wax surface but then again with the front end lowered for easier reaching I put on a new coat of wax and the front now shines like a new RV.

I doubt that there were many bugs out last January when we pulled our new trailer home from Kansas but the trips in March, April, and June sure piled them on.  I know that on previous trips to the northwest we sure encountered many bugs and swarms of grasshoppers that really make a big splat so I am glad that at least we are starting out with a clean front end.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

flood update

Our original route is still closed due to the flooding Missouri River but we are on go for next Tuesday to begin our trek westward.  Because of the length of the detour route we are leaving a day earlier than originally planned.  I sent an email to the Onawa, IA campground and they are still above river levels and it looks like we will be good to go from there.

We have begun our checkoff list in preparation for liftoff but there are always many items on that list that can only be completed the morning of departure.  We keep the fridge on between trips so there are many items that are maintained without having to load and unload.  Also laundry items from the trailer closets are returned as soon as finished.

We do enjoy our travels and even though we love our Missouri home we are always ready to head out again.  Our great neighbor that keeps an eye on our house while we are gone put a sign on the kitchen door of our "sticks and bricks" house that reads "welcome to our 2nd home."

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy 4th of July to all ...

and a big Happy Birthday to the USA!  We hope that everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

"How highs the water mama?"

?  feet high and rising.

Our trip westward is supposed to begin next week with the first day's route planned to be to St. Joseph, MO and then north on I-29 to Sioux Falls, SD.  Right now that isn't possible as I-29 is closed due to the Missouri River flooding between St. Joe and the Iowa line.  The campground for that first night's stop is scheduled for Onawa, IA, just north of Omaha a few miles, and they are saying that they are not affected by the flood (yet) and still open for business.  Right now we will be able to get there by heading toward Des Moines, IA and then over to Omaha on I-80 but that adds a bunch of miles to that day of travel.  We can break it up with an overnight in northern Mo along I-35 but that will mean starting the trip one day earlier, which isn't going to be a problem.  We will check with that campground in Onawa as the time gets closer to see if the route north of them on I-29 is okay and if so then we will be okay and back on our scheduled route.  The route home at the end of the month will also be affected so we will just have to keep track of the flood levels along that portion of our route.  The record snow fall from last winter and its spring melt is feeding the Missouri River and it's tributaries and sure causing many problems along the way.

Friday, July 01, 2011

It has arrived

The package was delivered a little before lunch time this morning.  To answer the last comment, yes it will find a place in the trailer on our next trip.  Shore is purty ain't it?

waiting for the brown truck

When we were in PA, JoAnn allowed me to order my birthday and Christmas gifts for the next several years.

After our tour of the Martin guitar factory I checked on line and found the best price was in a music store just 20 miles from our campground near Allentown.  We drove by the store but found they were closed for remodeling and their sign suggested using the internet to shop.  I placed my order that afternoon and by ordering it on line saved the cost of sales tax that I would have had to pay at the store.  Tracking the shipment through the UPS website shows that it arrived in the local distribution center this morning and is on the truck for delivery today.

We had told Phyllis about my purchase and she is just happy to know it will be hers someday, just not right away.