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Walking the shore of Big Sandy Lake

 

Friday, August 23, 2019: Every day Gwen and I are doing some sort of exercise. This photo was during our walk to get to 10,000 steps along the shore line of Big Sandy Lake. I also did two bike rides, one more than an hour and the other about half and hour. Gwen uses Fitbit to track her exercises. I have just begun to use Noom a little more than a week ago. The two things it has done for me is to get me to count calories daily and get excited about taking my weight each morning. So far I have been (mostly) pleasantly surprised each morning. My weight goal is to get back to a weight of ten years ago when I was doing lots of heavy cycling. I will be very happy about fifteen pounds from now. My body will feel so much better if I'm not walking around with twenty extra pounds every where I go.

Every little town has a bowling alley The School House CafeWednesday, August 21, 2019: Gwen and I decided to do our laundry in McGregor, about 15 miles, because we have so much to do. McGregor is a town of only 380 population but has more business than 380 people could support, apparently it depends upon tourists, snowmobiles, hunters, and fishermen. It seems every small town has a bowling alley, apparently something to do in the cold winters. I remember our visit to British Columbia where every Rails to trails
town has an ice hockey rink. I walked the town while waiting for the laundry, the entire town. While walking, I found an old railroad line which has been made into an ATV and snowmobile trail, a very long trail. I found where the old railroad depot once stood. Gwen found a quilt shop and the proprietor recommended the School House Cafe for lunch. While there we found a page from the old First Grade text book Gwen and I used. I also found a photo of how McGregor children once got to school during the cold winter months. Click the photos to see our trip.
Satelite view of our camping location
Tuesday, August 20, 2019: This was mostly a relaxed day. I worked on fixing the Rand McNalley on board GPS navigation system and repaired the shower door. Then I took an hour long bike ride through the campground and south on route 65. This satellite view shows our location on the lake. It also shows Sandy River flowing into the Mississippi River as part of the Mississippi Headwaters. Click the photo to enlarge. You can also see the entire lake and surrounding area in this view.
Big Sandy Lake COE Park
Monday, August 19, 2019: On this travel day we drove from Washburn, Wisconsin to the Big Sandy Lake Corp of Engineer Park north of McGregor, Minnesota. This is another lake down river from Itasca which claims to be a part of the headwaters of the Mississippi River. It is a bit more remote than the other lakes and campgrounds we have stayed. We chose this park to be able to visit Duluth, Minnesota but have learned Duluth will be an hour + twenty minute drive. We will have to plan our Duluth trip carefully. Our camp spot is very pleasant. It is actually in a group campsite but when a group does not rent the whole unit the individual sites become available. We are well away from the noisy campers on the other side of the dam. Click the photo to see our site. We always love the Corp of Engineer parks. The sites are usually large, the parks are clean, and we get half off the camping fee with our Senior Access Pass.
Old Towne Ashland, Wisconsin

Historic Bank building

 

 

Saturday, August 17, 2019: We finally take a drive to the city of Ashland, Wisconsin. It is the largest of the cities in this area. We walked old town to see the historic buildings. It seemed busy and we enjoyed visiting many of the small shops.

After our walk in old town we took a hike on the "Waterfront Trail" along the shore of Lake Superior.

The weather has been perfect, mid-80s today with little wind. Tomorrow rain is forecast but as I write this there is not a cloud in the sky so no hint of wet weather.

In the past this area shipped iron ore by huge ore ships across Lake Superior to the steel making plants across the lake.

Began exploring at the North Shore Visitor Center

Our ferry to Madeline IslandReady for tomorrow's paradeFriday, August 16, 2019: We began our day at the North Shore Visitor Center where we found natural displays, area history, video exhibits and a gift shop. Yes, we purchased more post cards and a puzzle souvenir.

Next, we drove to Bayfield to board a ferry to Madeline Island. The postal clerk in Menomonie insisted we visit Madeline Island while in this part of Wisconsin. It seems to be a popular destination. We walked aboard the Madeline ferry. The small town of La Pointe on Madeline is right off the ferry so we walked much of the town.

This was a perfect day for walking with a warm sun and no wind. We learned that windsleds are used for transportation to and from the island once ice begins to form. Island school children must use the windsleds to attend school. Once the ice is solid and thick, an ice road is created between the mainland and the island. There is a celebration tomorrow for the island residents and visitors. We found several parade floats being prepared. I made a short video of our ferry trip. Click all three photos for more views.

Our campground from Lake Superior, Wisconsin

Thursday, August 15, 2019: This was a travel day from Highland Ridge Campground to Washburn, Wisconsin on Lake Superior. We are almost as far north as we can get in Wisconsin and our first time to see the Great Lake, Lake Superior. For the next four days we do not have a reservation in a campground. Our goal today was to camp in one of the two "first come first served" campgrounds in Ashland, Wisconsin. We arrived about 2 pm and both the Ashland campgrounds were full. I quickly looked at an APP on my phone called "ALLSTAYS" and found more campgrounds nearby in Washburn across the bay. They sounded promising with 51 sites in each of the two campgrounds. The first was full. We quickly unhitched the car and Gwen drove to Thomson West End Park hoping to find a spot there. Meanwhile I began to drive to a "primitive campground" thinking if Gwen was not successful, we could probably find a spot that wasn't as desirable. On the way, Gwen called to say she had secured a spot. She drove into Thompson at the same time as another RV. There were two spots left and she secured the best one. We are parked only 200 yards from Lake Superior with 50 amp electrical service (nice for air conditioning) plus artesian water only 50 yards, click the photo to see the water source. Our spot is large with lots of grass. There were lots of RVs driving the campground circle after us so we were only minutes from missing this site. We will do some exploring tomorrow.

Descending the stairs to the Devils Punch Bowl

The view from the base of the creek

Wednesday, August 14, 2019: Gwen and I drove to Menomonie so I could drive Gwen around Menomonie and the University of Wisconsin, Stout campus.

After exploring Menomonie (which didn't take very long) we drove to Devil's Punch Bowl. It's a small creek which has carved a canyon in the sandy rock. I imagine it is very turbulent (hence the punch bowl) in the spring run off. It was pretty calm today.

Click both photos for another view.

I also took a short video to give you a better idea of our hike.

We are leaving this area of Wisconsin early tomorrow morning. We are headed north to Lake Superior and Ashland County.

A bus stop house for the kids during the winter

Monday, August 12, 2019: Gwen and I have been passing a dozen of these displayed in a farm yard each day to get to our campsite. I've always said they were winter bus stop houses for the kids. I does get pretty cold in Wisconsin during the winter and I can't imagine the kids standing at the end of a driveway waiting for the bus to arrive without some sort of house to protect them from the winter elements.

I finally stopped to see what they are used for. Click the photo to see what I learned. Yup! They are for hunters. Apparently you set this up on your property and when an unsuspecting deer walks by, you open a window, take aim, then Ka-pow, you are having deer meat for dinner.

I don't see why they can't be used for bus stop houses but they are pretty expensive for whatever they are used for. None have been sold in the week we have been here.

We also drove to Costco in Woodbury, MN today. You won't find these in Oregon!

Amish fresh peach pieWe are in Amish country

Saturday, August 10, 2019: When we arrived at Highland Ridge Campground, Wisconsin, our host told us of an "Amish Bakery". She further explained "put Amish Bakery into Google maps and you will find it. We did that and found a large farm house, three huge barns and two green houses with a sign out front, "Fresh Produce", Fresh Brown Eggs", nothing about a bakery. I checked with the host again who explained, "that's the place, just drive into the driveway. You will find a room on the back of the house which says "Open" on the door. Walk in to find the bakery items." So I did that. What I found was all sort of vegetables plus different types of flour and baking basics, jams plus canned items such as pickled beats. I asked about baked goods and was told I must order what I wanted. She gave me a verbal list of choices. I chose cinnamon rolls. When I returned the next day I met some ladies picking up pies for their church, fifty pies and they were placing another order for 25 more. I decided to order a fresh peach pie which I picked up today. Each of these three days I had been buying tomatoes, cucumbers and peaches from them too. I have enjoyed talking with the Laura, the Amish proprietor. I've learned the hundreds of plants they have in pots are "Fall Mums" and will bloom in another month. They have no electricity and do all their baking in a wood fired oven large enough to hold 24 pies. They move around using a carriage with a single horse. Somehow they teach the horse to trot so their speed is about 15 mph. When I picked up my pie today, two boys arrived in the carriage above. The boys were no more than ten, maybe younger. One boy showed Laura a note and gave her some money. Laura left the room for a second then return with a sack full of canning lids, apparently what the note had asked for. No doubt Mom had sent them on this errand. I got the photo when I caught up to them after picking up my pie. Seeing the Amish has made be compare the way I live my life with how they live their lives. I am surrounded with technology, machines, electronics, smart phones, tablets, lap tops and convenience so I usually have leisure time. The "work" that I do and the way I spend my time is mostly to use or repair my machines and technology. The Amish purposely have none of those things. They survive because the family and community work together to provide food and other needs. They cherish hard work and spend their time believing work brings the family together and brings the family closer to God. The work they do is growing food, storing food and/or preparing food or other products to sell. The whole family is involved with working for survival. In general the only "leisure time" is on Sunday during community church time. I enjoy my technology, convenience items and machines most of the time but compared to me, the Amish aren't killing the planet for profit (they did put their produce into plastic bags, however). Click the photos for more views.

Entrance to the Pierce County Fair
Alpaca at the fair My favorite A happy bird
Bashful rider Lots of rabbits too Farmer Bob
If you prefer flopeared rabbits I want THIS one, Mom! Lots of huge lawns in Wisconsin
Friday, August 9, 2019: I visited the Pierce County Fair today in Ellsworth, Wisconsin. It was a true mid-west county fair. More than half the fairgrounds were animal exhibits and judging along with animal auctions. No pigs in Wisconsin, at least not this county. Only one build was devoted to produce and plants. Lots of farm equipment on display also. Many riding lawn mowers because there are lots of huge yards in Wisconsin. This was day two of the fair which ends on Sunday. I was surprised with the huge crowd of visitors. I was hoping to miss the crowd on a weekday and during the afternoon but the fair was very busy and the parking lots were full. Click all the photos for another view.
Completely encased in leaves
Wednesday, August 7, 2019: After driving another 300 miles we have arrived at the Highland Ridge Campground near Spring Valley, Wisconsin. This is a Corp of Engineers park so our Senior Access passes give us half off on the camping fee. We have 50 amps but no water or sewer at the sight. We are grateful for the power since the humidity is still high and today's temperature was well into the 80s. Our campsite is completely surrounded by trees, branches and leaves. That could be a blessing on a hot day. If it rains, the leaves will continue to drip water on us even after the storm has passed. We spent three nights at Lake Itasca and had a thunderstorm two of those three nights. None is forecast for Spring Valley but the clouds tell another story. We had to drive through St. Paul, a town of nearly 300,000 population to get here and glad it was not commute time. After setting up, we drove into the tiny town of Spring Valley. Click the photo to see what we found. The photo was taken about 6 pm. There were two bars open otherwise there would have been NO cars on the street. The local county fair is this weekend so hope to catch that. I ordered a motor for our MaxxAir exhaust fan which should be delivered to "General Delivery" in Spring Valley so we located the post office on our drive.

Fire TowerFor a two hour lake tour

Tuesday, August 6, 2019: We take a drive on the "Wilderness Road" around the Itasca State Park and discover a few more things to see. The "Chester Charles II" will take tourists on a 2 hour tour of Lake Itasca. It is also available for private tours and weddings. I climbed to the top of the fire tower. They claimed it was only 100 feet tall but it seemed much taller to me. This is our last day at Itasca State Park so I made a video showing many of the sights we have seen.

This is obviously a park the people of Minnesota enjoy because of the coniferous forest not the lake. After all, this is the state with 10,000 lakes. Today the mosquitoes seemed much worse. I have noticed that Minnesotans step out of their cars and immediately spray down with repellant. We haven't learned to do that yet.

We have found the headwaters of the Mississippi River The Mississippi River is right behind me, rocks so you can walk across Gwen did the Mississippi River walk
Monday, August 5, 2019: Today we found the headwaters of the Mississippi River. We actually rode our bicycles to this location then walked across the Mississippi. This is a popular location with everyone anxious to walk across or dip their feet in the water. Not much water flowing from Lake Itasca but it picks up lots of water quickly. One of the Corp of Engineers parks where we had reservations cancelled on us because the Mississippi River had flooded the campground. Click all the photos for another view.

Lounging area inside Douglas LodgeItasca State Park Visitor Center

Sunday, August 4, 2019: We arrived at Itasca State Park in time to see the visitor center, pick up maps and gifts then explore Douglas Lodge down the road. This was a long day of driving, unusual for us to drive this far but we were anxious to see Itasca State Park since Mz Ruby is an Itasca Meridian motorhome. We still haven't learned where the word "Itasca" came from but hope to figure it out in the next couple of days. This is Minnesota's first state park created to preserve the old growth forest surrounding Lake Itasca. We were lucky to get a parking location since we decided to come here after the end of the Winnebago rally. All the RV campsites have power but no water or sewer. We came prepared. Click these photos for another view.

Hike toward lower fallsMinneopa State Park

Saturday, August 3, 2019: We take a drive toward Mankato to visit the Minneopa State Park. We chose to hike to the Minneopa double falls on Minneopa Creek. The creek has cut a deep gorge into the sandstone. The state has built a bridge over the creek between the two falls. They have also cut a stairway into the gorge which enables visitors to stand at the base of the largest of the two falls. We hiked to the base of the falls.

After the falls hike, we drove into their bison sanctuary. They have as many as 40 bison in the state park. We finally found some but they were at a distance and laying down. The local zoo manages the bison and the small 300 acre prairie in the state park.

This has been the warmest day since we arrived. We will be driving further north in Minnesota tomorrow to visit Itasca State Park near Bemidji, Minnesota.

Farmer's Market in Old Town MankatoGwen found a quilt shop in Mankato, Minnesota

Thursday, August 1, 2019: After doing some laundry this morning we took a quick drive into Mankato, Minnesota, only thirteen miles from our site. We visited the visitor center first to pick up some literature and ask about the bike trails around the town. Gwen learned of "River City Quilts" in "Old Town". She visited the quilt shop while I took a walk to learn what else was in old town. I found a bike shop where I picked up a cable lock for the new surge protector I bought at GNR. We then drove to the location of the Saturday Farmer's Market and learned that a smaller Farmer's Market was happening today back in Old Town. It IS August so the Farmer's Market has some real vegetables to sell. Next, we drove to the park where the MN River Bike Trail begins and took a short bike ride to learn where to begin a nice ride some other day. At the Visitor Center we learned the entire state of Minnesota has many "state bike trails" circling the state, That is a surprise since bicycle season must be fairly short. I did notice many of the bike trails are also Nordic ski trails too. Click the photos for another view.

Blue Earth County FairgroundOnly business in Garden City, population 255

Wednesday, July 31, 2019: We have left Forest City, Iowa after two weeks of Winnebago Rally. We driven north into Minnesota to Garden City, population 255. We found the perfect spot for quiet, the Blue Earth County Fairground. I have already ridden my bicycle through the fairground and the nearby town. We are surrounded by the Watonwan River which apparently flooded here recently. We are only a few miles from Mankato and will explore there tomorrow. Click these photos.

Instructor Mike Cody

Tuesday, July 30, 2019: Our Freightliner course continues today. We learned about the air system, air brakes, tires, air suspension, location of all components, meaning of the VIN numbers, transmissions and engine brake systems, and most important, the LBCU instrumentation.

Mike Cody is our trainer/instructor. He also provided us with a "thumb drive" containing many very important files to help with any chassis problem.

Tom, the Winnebago contact brought over a chassis for use to explore. Click the photo to see it.

In keeping with the meaning of RV (repair vehicle) when I returned to Mz Ruby at the end of the day I learned that the motor in our high speed exhaust fan has failed and needed replaced.

I'll be checking Winnebago parts tomorrow to learn if they have one before we leave for Garden City, MN.

Camp Freightliner

Monday, July 29, 2019: My two day "Camp Freightliner" class began today. We were given a 480 page instruction manual which was keyed specifically to my VIN number chassis. Today we covered Freightliner acronyms, warranties, online resources, specific engine information, fuel filters, fuel water separator filters and air tank lanyards to drain water from the air tanks. The majority of the time was discussing online resources and the Diesel Emission Fluid (DEF) system.

We also made a list of the parts we should have on hand and the reasons to order directly from Gaffney, South Carolina.

Every section we covered I learned of another filter or part which must be changed at the next service. This next service is going to cost me a fortune but this time I will have Freightliner do the service rather than Cummins.

Forest City, Iowa local talent presenting Sound of Music

Sunday, July 28, 2019: I was anxious to see the interior of the Boman Fine Arts Center in Forest City so we attended "The Sound of Music", a play with local talent, last night. The fine arts building was nearly full and everyone enjoyed the play. The building was built for the city with support of several foundation grants and will be used by Waldorf University, a liberal arts college, the city school district, local theater groups was well as regional and national entertainment. It is less than one year old and a beautiful building. Click the photo for another view.

Today, Gwen and I took a drive around the Iowa countryside. We were specifically looking for Thorpe Park where Winnebago took the kids during the rally. We also found Crystal Lake State Park. Here is a short video showing both. We saw lots of field corn corps and soybeans grown in the area.

Aerial view of the 50th GNR

Friday, July 26, 2019: The last day of the Winnebago 50th GNR took me first to a seminar detailing the method to use the "Auto Generator Start". When set correctly, the generator will automatically start when the battery voltage gets too low. This could be pretty handy for us when boondocking. The young woman in the photo helped to make the instructions clear. Next, Calvin from MCD shades (see the photo below), visited Mz Ruby and confirmed that the windshield solar shade motor needed to be replaced. He offered to fix the problem but I preferred to do it myself for the experience. Once this was completed, Gwen and I had lunch at the Flying W Cafe on the rally grounds. We drove downtown to get our new toilet but it hadn't arrived yet. The evening entertainment was Chris Kroeze from "The Voice", a CBS variety show (click the photo above). I enjoyed his performance and made a short video of one tune.

In the Aerial photo above we are located in the upper left corner. The vendors are located in the large building toward the bottom center. The Amphitheater is bottom right. The Winnebago factory is located out of the photo, across the street, upper right. It was reported, the final unit count was 944 Winnebagos. This has been the best rally we have attended, maybe because it was our first manufacturer rally. The vendors treated us royally with free service and parts in many cases, additionally, the food and entertainment was superb.

Calvin or MCD shades

Thursday, July 25, 2019: More seminars today. I began with Calvin (in the photo) of MCD shades. MCD supplies all the interior shades for Winnebago. They are a high quality pull-down style shade. All the windows have a two part shade. A "solar shade" which helps to block the sun but you can still see through and a "privacy shade" which we use to call a "blackout shade". Calvin took an hour to show us how to adjust the spring tension and stop points of the shades. He also showed us how to replace a broken spring or stop point. From his instruction, I have been able to adjust our manual shades but have not attempted to repair the windshield power solar shade.

Note: I did a quick Friendship Hall video where most of the vendors are located. Freightliner, Cummins, a bicycle dealer and several food vendors were outside. Most vendors did at least one seminar and many did multiple seminars, I thought all were very helpful.

Next, I went to the Carefree Awning seminar to learn how to take care and solve problems with the power awnings on the passenger side of Mz Ruby. There was a lot of discussion about the "wind sensors". I hadn't used ours until this week and ours seems to work fine.

My last seminar was from Southwire. Click the photo to see Steve who gave this seminar. This company makes high end surge protectors. These devices help protect Mz Ruby from electrical surges, mis-wired RV park electrical boxes, low and high voltage and high amperage electrical surges which might be caused by an electrical storm. I got answers to my questions and chose to get one to protect all our appliances and electronics. We have witnessed very poor electrical supplies from parks in the past.

At 3 pm, Randy from Atwood hot water heaters showed up to test the circuit board on Mz Ruby. We got a lot of new parts.

The rally had planned a roving Polka band at 4 pm but the weather turn wet so the Polka band was moved to one of the seminar tents. Gwen and I didn't visit the Polka band.

Lippert Slide Rooms

 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019: This day began with a bicycle ride with a group called "FitRV". There were about forty riders and all did a good job. I did a video which I did share at RVeCycling.com.

I rode directly to the vendor building to talk with Thetford about toilets since the "fix" on our toilet did not work. They quoted a price for a new toilet. I then went to Lichtsinn RV, the Winnebago retail dealer in town where I had drawn a 25% discount coupon to get another quote. Their price with my coupon was considerably less so the toilet is on order and will arrive on Friday. I returned to the rally and attended a Thetford seminar which told how to take care of the toilets. This time I should be able to make the next toilet last the life of the coach. Next, I attended a seminar of how to take care of the Onan Generator. I believe I have been doing well on the generator. The final seminar today was the Lippert Slide room seminar (the photo). Lippert makes the parts which move the slide rooms out and back in. These can be a serious problem if not maintained. I learned how to lubricate, set stops, and synchronize motors on those components. Lippert also make the leveling jacks, the reason they are sitting on the table.

Gwen and I returned to Lichtsinn RV for a free pulled pork sandwich and a Q & A session with a certified tech (click the photo above). I learned the surge protector built into Mz Ruby is not enough and another unit should be installed. I'll be attending a seminar tomorrow with a company who makes the surge protection units. We ended the day with a shared bowl of ice cream from Scooby Doos on the rally grounds.

Home Free

Tuesday, July 23, 2019: I was in the "Special Events Tent" before 7 am this morning looking for coffee and "pastry". Unfortunately, the pastry was in those little plastic bags you buy at the grocery store... I won't go back for that again. Announcements began at 8 am along with a drawing for door prizes. We didn't win. I had planned to attend a 9 am seminar where the topic was Safety Plus. I was on the stabilizer shock on the steering system but turned out to be a sales talk. I already have the stabilizer so chose to skip out and head to the Vendors. I talked with Thetford about our toilet. The toilet has given us trouble since the purchase of Mz Ruby and I've had in out of the coach three times with no permanent repair. He told be to try one more thing before making a replacement. Next, I talked with Blue Ox about replacing a broken safety cable which was easily done for $61. The Blue Ox is the hitch system connecting Mz Ruby to the Forester. Next, I talked with MCD, the people who make the shades for Mz Ruby. The windshield screen shade (not the windshield blackout shade) has never worked. Mary and Mike, the previous owners said it needed a new motor and gave us a $1000 discount because it didn't work. I will have MCD confirm that, show me how to make the repair OR have them make the repair. By that time it was time for lunch. After lunch I attended Cummins Engine Maintenance seminar. Mz Ruby has a Cummins Turbo Diesel engine and I need to learn how to take care of it. It was very informative. There is a lot to know about this engine. Next, I attended an Atwood Hot water Heater seminar. Fortunately I have been doing all the right maintenance on it. I did schedule a technician to look at it since we were told some of the heaters have bad circuit boards and I want to be sure ours is not one. Finally, I caught the last part of a Freightliner Chassis seminar. I will be attending a two day Freightliner "Camp" after the rally and this gave me an idea of all the stuff covered in that two day workshop.

Our entertainment tonight was "Home Free". It is a five voice male, country, A Cappella group. This group seemed to be more popular with this crowd than Stephanie from last night. Here is a video of their first tune. Click the photo for another view.

Stephanie Quayle

 

Monday, July 22, 2019: The is the official "move-in" day for the Grand National Rally at Winnebago. If you signed up for the rally, today is first day paid for by your registration fee. If you came early, like us, you paid $15 per day extra, a real bargain which includes 50 amp electrical service. So more RVs arrived today until the gates were closed at 5 pm. The official welcome was in the amphitheater at 7:30 pm followed by country singer Stephanie Quayle.

She entertained the whole group for nearly two hours. It was a very energetic performance enjoyed by all. Here is a video of her first tune.

The real rally begins tomorrow with the opening of the vendor building and the beginning of the technical seminars. That is what everyone is really looking forward to.

Click the photo to see Stephanie with her band.

Introducing the GNR to Newcomers

 

Sunday, July 21, 2019: The rally does not start until tomorrow but today was the orientation for those who have come to the Grand National Rally (GNR) for the first time. So we learned where to park our cars, what to do when severe weather arrives, how to sign up for the "honey wagon", where to find the list of seminars, where the Flying W Cafe is located, where the people movers will take you, where the shuttle bus will take you, how to sign up for the door prize drawings.

It was announced that only 25% of the attendees are new, 75% are returning again.

This is the 50th GNR. There is a lot of ceremony because this is the 50th.

Click the photo to see the crowd.

Took a walk downtownThe weather is different from yesterday

Saturday, July 20, 2019: Yesterday the big news of the day was the HOT weather. Today the big news of the day were the thunderstorms but much cooler ... and more to my liking ... weather. I did everything today I had planned with the exception of driving to Thomas for the Winnebago County Fair. Today was "Puckerbrush" in downtown Forest City with a parade, craft fair, music plus activities. I took the shuttle bus into town and looked for the craft fair. It must have been blown away with the storm because no craft fair was happening. I did find a quilt store for Gwen. I also walked about a mile to the Bowman Fine Arts Center because it was announced to be open for rally people, however it was closed. I continued my search around Puckerbrush Days by visiting the United Methodist Church for pie and ice cream. I chose Rhubarb. Then back to camp.

My reward for doing laundryGood to get laundry done before the rally starts

Friday, July 19, 2019: I needed to do the laundry so I decided to take my laundry to Mason City, Iowa. It is about 25 miles and through some of the best farm country in Iowa. Mason City is a much larger city than Forest City. Not sure why Winnebago is in Forest City, maybe because it is half into Winnebago County. Click the laundry to see a view of the countryside.

I decided to reward myself with homemade ice cream at Birdsall's. I saw the advertisement in a Mason City brochure. I was hoping for a coffee flavored scoop. Click the building to see all my choices. No coffee ice cream. I chose the advertised "Fresh Peach", a single scoop in a homemade waffle cone. Check the prices. They seem low to me. I like them.

I brought the wet clothes back to Mz Ruby. We can use the dryer, just can't use the washer because we have no sewer connection.

This is how our day began Arrived at the rally, waiting for parking We aren't the last in line
Wednesday, July 17, 2019: We were up early, not sure why. I got us ready to move then a severe thunderstorm arrived. About that time our phone's Emergency Warning Tones sounded and we both got the Flash Flood Warning. We stayed parked waiting for the storm to pass. I made a short video so you could see why we didn't move. By the time we dumped our holding tanks and got fuel, we were chasing the storm all the way to Forest City, Iowa. Fortunately, we weren't driving in the rain, just wet roads. We had already received notice, all rigs were being held until 3 pm due to the wet fields so when we arrived, we weren't surprised to be waiting in line with all the others. The GNR (Grand National Rally) is for any RV made by Winnebago. It is an annual event which lasts a week. The start day is not until Monday but lots of folks (including us) like to arrive early. The parking fee for early arrival is only $15/day. We get a 50 amp connection and access to water. A pumping service is available. We are parked on grass with gravel roads. All the larger rigs look like ours. There are many different sizes plus Winnebago trailers. Many rigs have scheduled service during the rally. I expect to pick up some parts which need replacing. Click the photos for more views.
Visiting Mt Rushmore Profile of Washington Profile of Crazy Horse

Driving through the "Eye of the Needle"Monday, July 15, 2019: We visited Mt Rushmore and the Crazy Horse exhibit. This was our first time for both exhibits. I was expecting something larger with Mt. Rushmore from the photographs I had seen but was not disappointed. Do you know the four Presidents carved on Mt. Rushmore?

To get to the Crazy Horse exhibit we drove Iron Mountain. Many hairpin turns and single wide tunnels. Fun drive on the "Needles Highway". We drove through the "Eye of the Needle".

Crazy Horse was impressive. This was far more expensive to visit but with no government support all income goes to supporting the project. They have done a great job of explaining the project and making visitors comfortable.

Click all photos for more views.

Deadwood, South Dakota
Sunday, July 14, 2019: Deadwood, South Dakota is at the north end of the Black Hills. It is famous for the longest running gold mine in the world. However, the merchants in this town have tried to turn the name of Wild Bill Hickok into gold too. He was actually in the town only about two weeks before he was murdered. It seems every other store or bar marks the location of the murder and sells T-shirts to make Deadwood famous. The town of Sturgis, South Dakota is only ten miles and the annual motorcycle rally is only two weeks away. You can tell every merchant is getting ready for the thousands of motorcycle riders to visit Deadwood. The inventory of T-shirts, hats and other souvenirs is high and every story has a sign in the window asking for more employees during the rally. The day we walked the town was the weekend of the three-wheel motorcycle rally so we got to see many of those. Click the photo for another view of the town.
Wyoming space
Friday, July 12, 2019: We drove from Garryowen, Montana to Spurgis, South Dakota through Wyoming today. We have driving many wide open spaces such at Nevada, Southern California desert, Arizona and Montana. What is different about the wide open space today was miles and miles of green in July. It was mostly rolling hills until we entered Wyoming and saw the mountains in the distance. Remember the movie, "Close Encounter of a Third Kind"? We saw Devils Tower from a distance today. Impressive. We are parked tonight on private land owned by George and Renee. They have invited us to stay through Boondocker's Welcome. This is a unique group where property owners invite other RVers to park without charge on their property. We have picked out several locations along our travels where we can use Boondocker's Welcome. Meet George and Renee by clicking the photo above. They have a very nice parking location on the road to Deadwood, South Dakota. We will explore their tomorrow.
These stone markers were scattered for several miles in this area Few indian markers because family members removed indian remains after the battle Where George Armstrong Custer was found
The last of the indian warriors
Thursday, July 11, 2019: We returned to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument for a self-guided tour and more photos. This story would have been much different had G.A. Custer followed the plan and waited for Terry and Gibbon to arrive (one day). Gwen and I learned much we did not know, for example, Custer split his men into three groups. One group was under the command of Maj. Marcus A. Reno and the other under command of Capt. Frederick W. Benteen. 350 of the solders under the command of Reno and Benteen survived the battle. It was Custer and all the men under his direct command who were killed. 262 soldiers plus Custer were killed. It was the actions of the U.S. Government and U.S. Grant (President at the time) which forced the indians off the reservation and into a position of defending their way of life. Had Custer followed orders and waited it would likely have been another massacre of indians like the Marias Massacre under the command of Maj. Eugene Baker and the Massacre at Wounded Knee commanded by Col. James Forsythe. The story of this battle is told over and over by the signs, Park Service Rangers, tour bus narrator and there are 28 stops with recorded information. Click on that link, you can listen to the information yourself by entering codes 1 through 28. I also made a video of our self-guided tour. As our tour guide ended his narration, "This is all a part of both of our histories." (he is Crow indian).

Leland, our tour guide

Wednesday, July 10, 2019: Gwen and I took a tour bus, with Leland as our tour guide, of the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. During the hour, Leland told us the story of the battle and pointed out the different areas of the battlefield where events happened. We did not have the chance to take photos so we will return tomorrow for a self-guided tour. The basics we learned today: the indians had left the reservation because gold had been discovered in the Black Hills and thousands of settlers illegally encroached on the indian reservation. Indian agents were in charge of distributing supplies to the indians but instead sold the supplies to settlers for a profit. The indians left to find food. The army was charged with forcing the indians back to the reservation. Custer miscalculated the size of the indian camp which was the fatal mistake. Click this photo to see one of hundreds tiny little visitors arriving today. More photos tomorrow.

Travel back to Montana

Tuesday, July 9, 2019: Last night we were in Buffalo Gap Campground under an electrical storm. We don't get to see those very often in Oregon so I sat behind the windshield watching all the activity. We drove west back to Montana today to park next to the Little Bighorn National Monument. We chose the 7th Ranch RV Camp, an RV park with full hookups. Nothing else was listed in my research. It is fun seeing all the nice rigs, we are just a medium sized rig in this park. This is what 95% of RVers do, travel from one RV park to another. We got an Escapee discount so paid $42/night for this park. We have full hookups, parked on gravel and are 12 feet from our neighbor on each side. This park seems to have pretty good WiFi. They also gave us a free ice cream bar. Last night in the forest service campground, we had fresh water available, dump available, parked on pavement where no neighbor was visible and the closest neighbor was 50 yards. The fee was $3/night. The WiFi signal, when we had one, was very weak but strong if we drove to the top of the campground overview 1/4 mile. Most RVers freak out if they don't have a pedestal to plug in, we have ten years experience camping off-grid so comfortable. The weather forecast is for hot weather so we will appreciate the 50 amps to run our three air conditioners (smiley face). I made a one minute video of the 7th Ranch RV Camp.

Storm arriving

 

 

Monday, July 8, 2019: I drove back to Medora for the post office and a T-shirt for my collection. The town was much different today. At least 10x less traffic and tourists, maybe 20x less traffic and tourists. Much more pleasant today.

Back at camp, Gwen is working on another jigsaw puzzle. I rode the bicycle around the campground. Somehow I accidentally (at least I don't know how it happened and can't do it again on purpose) watched a movie on my phone. We have very little cell reception at camp so that's one reason it shouldn't have happened and I clicked on what I thought was a preview but turned out to be the entire movie. It was one of the new planet of the apes movies.

Tomorrow is moving day back into Montana to visit the Little Bighorn National Monument. Of course the forecast is for rain beginning at midnight and continuing all day tomorrow. That means both Mz Ruby and the Forester will be dirty. As you can see, the clouds are already beginning to arrive.

The Gold Diggers Band entertained the steak eatersSteaks on a pitchfork

Sunday, July 7, 2019: Somehow we talked ourselves into a "steak cooked on a pitchfork". We actually only bought one and shared it. I asked one of the chefs and was told they cooked and sold 700 steaks tonight. Since we only bought one steak, I'll bet others did too. Also, lots of kids, they got hot dogs. That means there were probably 900+ people here tonight. This is Medora, North Dakota where the folks in this town have done a remarkable job of creating a tourist destination in the middle of no-where! The Teddy Roosevelt National Park helps to draw in the crowd but the Medora Musical has done a wonderful job of creating a tourist frenzy. The musical is done in the style of the Branson, Missouri musicals. The facilities are very creative. We have parked in a campground our camping neighbor, Don, recommended, Buffalo Gap. It is really well done, all pavement, several nice toilet facilities, one with a shower, a dump station and fresh water. All this for $3 per night with a Senior Access Pass. No hook-ups but plenty of solar. Who knows, we may spend two nights here? We have an RV park reserved beginning Tuesday. Yes! I did a video of our pitchfork cooked steak (steaks) experience.

 

The kids love swimming in the muddy Little Missouri RiverFinding Internet Access at the Watford City Library

Saturday, July 6, 2019: Our last day in this area of North Dakota. We began by investigating the CCC campground just across the Little Missouri River from the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Very nice campground with a host and only $3 per night with a Senior Access Pass. We had a picnic there then drove to Watford City for grocery shopping and for Internet Access at the Library. When we return to our campground we found the kids swimming in the muddy Little Missouri River and loving it. That evening we attending the Ranger talk with Ranger Laura. The topic was all about the Bison. The Bison and many other prairie wildlife would be extinct now if not for Teddy Roosevelt. I made a short video (Bison) of the day.

North Dakota BadlandsGwen and I with Teddy Roosevelt

Friday, July 5, 2019: Gwen and I took a 68 mile drive to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park - South Unit. We passed three counties in the sixty eight miles, just like Montana, these are small counties compared to Oregon. We are driving through the Little Missouri National Grassland to reach Medora, North Dakota where the South Unit begins. We stopped at the "Painted Canyon" Overlook to view the North Dakota Badlands. Click the photo at the left for a panorama of the Painted Canyon. We continued into the South Unit park and discovered, as our camping neighbor told us, the North Unit is better. We were checking the campsites to learn if we wanted to move south tomorrow and decided to stay where we are. We will write new plans once we return to our North campsite. We have a few days before our reservations at an RV park outside of the Little Big Horn National Battlefield. Click the right photo for a panorama of the Medora valley with Interstate 94 passing through. As all tourists should do, we went shopping in the tourist town (and county seat) of Medora. We left them some Oregon money today but got new T-shirts plus stuff for kids and grandkids. I did a video of our day.

Contractor GeneratorDraining the grey water

Thursday, July 4, 2019: It was surprising, the campground did not fill, perhaps only half full. The sign at the entrance suggests a "small amount of gray water could be poured into the campground toilets. We have been here long enough I needed to drain the gray water. I made four trips with a (5) gallon bucket of gray water to the RV dump (not the toilets). It worked perfectly, no leaks with the lid on the bucket.

The photo at the right is a "contractor generator" brought here by a trailer camper. It is 100 yards from us but only a few yards from other trailer and tent campers. These should NEVER be brought to a campground. They are designed for a construction sight. They run at full RPM no matter the load put on them. They are extremely loud. We can hear it inside Ms Ruby even when 100 yards away. Imagine the campers around this generator. These campers have driven hundreds of miles to camp in the "wilderness" only to find themselves next to this guy with his contractor generator. The proper generator is an "inverter" generator such as a Honda or Yamaha. These quietly run at a low RPM until a load is applied. Even then the noise level is only 55 db. They also produce a much cleaner power safe for electronics. Please, please, never bring one of these to a campground.

The Oxbow Overlook at the end of the scenic road
Wednesday, July 3, 2019: Gwen and I went looking for the Oxbow Overlook a second time since the first time was blocked by Bison. This time the Bison had moved on. Try to follow the curves in the Little Missouri River above, you will see it flows both north, south, east and west. That is called an "Oxbow". Click the photo for the official explanation. The view from this location is spectacular, click for a panorama.
Williston Community Library Visited the Williston State College Campus for a hat Fort Union Trading Post

Paddlefish found only the north Missouri River and in ChinaTuesday, July 2, 2019: I drove to Williston, North Dakota to see the growth of this farm town turned to oil town. Very busy with lots of merchants specializing in oil drilling equipment, Obviously lots of money in the little town and lots of jobs too. I went to the Library first for Internet access. I noticed this town much have a lot of Lutherans. I counted four very large Lutheran churches. I like to visit a college campus so went to the Williston State College Campus. A very nice campus, maybe benefiting from the oil too. I bought a Williston State College hat, home of the Tetons. From Williston, I drove to the Fort Union Trading Post. This was a private trading company owned by John Jacob Astor for the purpose of trading with the indians, 1828 - 1867. It was built only a few feet from the Missouri River and steam boats would bring trade goods to the fort and haul away the furs brought to the fort. This young woman was standing in the trade room to explain the purpose and procedures in the fort. It was interesting to learn that what the indians wanted most was European fabric. Finally, I drove to the Interpretive Center for the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers. Was fascinated me the most was the Paddlefish. It grows in this location and in China. Click the photo to read about this unique fish. Click all the photos for more views.

Pumping a storing crude oilAn oil boom in this area

Monday, July 1, 2019: Gwen and I drove into Watford City, North Dakota for the first time. This area is in the middle of an oil boom. We saw lots of oil worker housing both large and small plus RV parks built on dirt, mud when it rains. We saw pumps to draw the oil out of the ground and storage tanks for oil once it is out of the ground. Lots of businesses in Watford have specialized products for the oil industry. Lots of happy merchants in town.

We came to use the Internet in the library. Unlike our Douglas County, this library is open long hours, six days a week with a very fast Internet connection. Next, we did laundry since with have no water or sewer connection back at camp. $25 for four loads, nearly the most expensive we have ever paid. Lots of oil workers taking advantage of the "drop-off" offer at $1.50/lb or $2.50/lb if any oil on the clothes. Then we went grocery shopping. They have the milk we like, Almond Milk made in Bakersfield, California and they had my Silk Soy Creamer in pint containers, not quart. They did not have Umpqua ice cream! Click these photos for more views.

Bison walking the scenic road Little Missouri River Alone on the Prairie
Sunday, June 30, 2019: We went exploring the Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Unit today hoping to see Bison. We rounded our first corner and here was a real Bison walking the road toward us. What a treat. We took a video! Our first stop was the River Bend Overlook which was a perfect view of the Little Missouri River valley below us and of the North Dakota Badlands. As we drove toward the end of the scenic drive and the Oxbow Overlook we came across a herd of Bison feasting on the tender new grass growing after a prescribed burn. Ranger Dora described the new grass as tender and sweet so the Bison prefer the taste and also good for the Bison calves. Click each of the photos for larger views. We were unable to see the view at Oxbow because the overlook was too close to several Bison.

Ranger Cathy talks about cowboys

Saturday, June 29, 2019: Each night a ranger will give a lesson on a variety of subjects. This is Ranger Haley. She was able to talk about cowboys for nearly an hour. The modern western movie glorifies the cowboy life but I saw nothing attractive in the lifestyle.

She taught us that as a twenty-something, Theodore Roosevelt came to North Dakota to try his hand as a "cowboy". He was a "tender foot" and treated as such by the other cow hands. But through determination and hard work, gained the respect of the others.

He bought a ranch nearby but lost all his cattle during a winter storm, left the ranch and never returned. The foundation of his ranch building still exist and those who wish to drive a 4X4 vehicle can visit the remains.

The most active years of the cowboy began in 1866, after the civil war and continued for twenty years until 1886. The drive boss was paid the most, about $120/month, the cook was paid $60/month while the cowboy as paid $30/month.

Click the photo for a larger view.

I rode my bike today looking at trailheads. View the video of that ride by clicking here.

The sun avoided us all day today, behind a solid overcast. The positive, much cooler, the negative, no solar charging.

Lots of grassland View inside the Norht Unit TRNP Canonball rocks
Friday, June 28, 2019: Traveling from Fort Peck to the North Unit, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. We got an early start so we could arrive early. The North Unit has only one campground, "primitive" but we are expecting a lot of campers so I wanted to arrive early to get the best campsite we can. We expect to be in this campground as much as ten days to get through July 4. With our Senior Access Pass, the fee is only $7 per night. The campground has fresh water in one location and a dump station if we need other. This will be a real test for the solar charging system. Today is warm, 86 degrees and it is struggling to cool off. Still 79 degrees at 9:15 pm. The drive was muddy through the town of Wolf Point, Montana. Two miles of the main street was under construction and last night's rain has turned it to mud. So now the mud is all over Mz Ruby and our Forester. We saw lots of grassland today plus National Grassland. We could boondock on the National Grassland but our space on the Little Missouri River feels more comfortable. Tomorrow is forecast to be even warmer so we will visit the nearby town of Watford City, North Dakota. The host has told us of a comfortable library and movie theater. Click the photos for more views and look at the video Gwen made of our trip today.
Alice in Wonderland play by local musicians The Montana Dinosaur Trail Fort Peck Dam Spillway
Thursday, June 27, 2019: Our day began with a play in the Fort Peck Theater by local musicians. The play was an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland with much music I recognized, like The Who, Jefferson Airplane and The Beatles. Then we visited the Interpretive Center where we learned of the dinosaurs roaming Montana 65 million years ago. The second half of the center showed the building of the dam beginning in 1933 ending in 1940. It was the largest earth dam at the time creating Fort Peck Lake, the largest lake in Montana. The building of the dam was a project by the Corp of Engineers to create work during the depression. The earth dam is behind the spillway in the third photo (click the photo). The Interpretive Center is behind Alice in the first photo. The size of the Fort Peck Dam project is overwhelming. The Tyrannosaurus Rex head will discovered nearby in Montana. Click that photo for a larger view. Understanding the age of the dinosaur is bewildering to me.
Overlooking the Missouri River from the Downstream Campground
Wednesday, June 26, 2019: Another nice, sunny driving day from Fresno Reservoir to Downstream Campground near Fort Peck, Montana. We are overlooking the Missouri River. We passed several small towns on Highway 2 and three counties. It amazes me the number of counties in Montana. The population of each county must be very small and the county seats are tiny. It takes about 20 minutes to pass from one county to another. Compared to Douglas County in Oregon, our home base, it takes about two hours to pass from one Douglas County border to another. Of course winter travel time in Montana may make the difference. Here is our lunch stop at the only "Rest Area" along the way. Downstream Campground is a Corp of Engineers campground so very clean and large spaces. We have 50 amps of power but no water or sewer. There is a nice paved nature trail which I documented in this video. Click this photo to see our dinner overlooking the Fort Peck Lake.
Exploring Fresno Reservoir The beach below our campsite Boat launch
Tuesday, June 25, 2019: I went exploring today around Fresno Reservoir. The folks in Havre think it is always windy here but today, very little wind and lots of sun. We had a full charge on our batteries by 1 pm, that's good news. It was our first real test of the solar install I did before leaving. This is a very large lake which Montanans use for fishing, water skiing, water tubing, and swimming from the beach. Click the photos for more views and here is another of the water coming from the dam into the Milk River.

We visit Havre, Montana

Monday, June 24, 2019: We drive from Fresno Reservoir to Havre, Montana, about eleven miles to see the Buffalo Jump and the underground city. Unfortunately, the Buffalo Jump, where the indians ran the buffalo off a cliff, was closed. The tour of the underground city was open. In January, 1904, three bar patrons were kicked out by the bartender. To get retaliation, these three decided to burn down the bar. The wind caught the fire and burned down most of the town including 60 businesses. The business owners got together and chose to reopen their business in the basements where the buildings once stood while they rebuilt the building above. It took 1-1/2 to 3 years to rebuild. During that time, all business was done underground in the basements. Once the buildings were built, the railroad company used the basements for Chinese worker living quarters. The underground tour would not allow video but they did allow photos. I've made a video of the photos I took on the tour. You will also see the "Amtrak Empire Builder" on the video. It was originally the Great Northern Railway Empire Builder built by James Hill. The route of the Empire Builder is from Seattle, Washington or Portland, Oregon (the Portland and Seattle trains are combined or separated in Spokane, Washington) to Chicago. The Amtrak has one train in each direction each day. The trip today takes 46 hours. Whitefish, Montana is one of the Empire Builder stops and must be especially popular during the winter for the skiing. Havre is also one of the stops. James Hill made Havre the middle of the route giving the town great importance at the time. The underground tour begins in a railroad museum, you will see a few scenes of the museum on this short video.

Our road turned to gravel for 15 miles
Sunday, June 23, 2019: Traveling from Cut Bank to Fresno Reservoir, Montana on Highway 2. About 15 miles of roadwork so rough dirt/gravel road and 35 MPH speed limit. The sky was incredible. I hope we see more of the mid-west sky without any damaging hail. Click the photo for a view of Fresno Reservoir and our boondock location for three nights. Here is a very short video of our drive today.
Don't impede 3 or more cars Montana

Saturday, June 22, 2019: I had a Montana County Sheriff stop me on route 2 to tell me I could not impede three or more cars in Montana. I was doing the truck speed limit, 60 MPH, he thought I should be doing 70 MPH, the car speed limit then decided he might be mistaken since I was towing. He gave me a warning then checked the registration on the car and motorhome. He shared that he grew up in Roseburg.

Our destination today is the Museum of the Plains Indian. My plan was to learn about the plains indians (Blackfeet) then request permission to stay the night in their parking lot. We saw Blackfeet clothing, art, weapons and food but somehow missed stories of their culture. They have been in this area for 13,000 years so I wonder about their relationships and politics. I probably could have learned more had I taken more time to read everything. Greg, the manager granted us permission to stay in the parking lot but we decided to move on to Cut Bank. Here a short video of our trip.

Whitefish Lake at Whitefish, Montana
Friday, June 21, 2019: On this longest day of the year (summer solstice) we drove to Whitefish, Montana to explore this tourist town. It is obviously a winter spot with a very nice ski area only minutes from town. It has one of the nicest Amtrak Depots I've seen which also caters to the winter crowd. The ski area promotes summer activities on its slopes but the ski area parking lots were nearly empty and I'm not seeing any crowds waiting for activities. Whitefish, the town, however, was very busy with tourists and the parking lots were full. Gwen found some bicycle shorts she liked and I found a $5 vest and $1 book at a thrift store so the town didn't make much money off us. We have decided to leave Kalispell a day early due to the rain and electrical problems at the Elks park. Click the photo to enlarge the view of the lake. I also made a video slide show of our day.

Parked at the Kalispell Elks Club

 

Thursday, June 20, 2019: This was a travel day from the YAAK Campground to Kalispell, Montana. We passed Troy and Libby, Montana on Highway 2 along the Kootenai River. We are surrounded by mountains and forests the entire route. Ten years ago we passed this same direction and stopped at the Kootenai Falls. This time we did not stop, mostly because the view point came quickly and we weren't paying attention. Gwen made a short video of our travel today so you can see what the area looks like. As it turns out, the Elks club RV parking is backed up to a small airport where flying lessons are taking place. I got my pilots license in 1977 and have owned two plans until the mid-1980s. I really miss that adventure.

Kootenai River north of SandpointHighway 95 to Sandpoint

Tuesday, June 18, 2019: We got a mid-morning start from Coeur d'Alene but did not leave the area for about an hour. We fueled the Mz Ruby for $2.99/gallon then drove to the Kootenai County Fairgrounds dump station to dump holding tanks. I had already filled the fresh water tank at the Elks Park.

The photo on the left shows highway 95 between Coeur d'Alene and Sandpoint, Idaho. The photo on the right is of the Kootenai River north of Sandpoint near Bonner's Ferry. Click both photos for more views. We also made a short video of the drive into Sandpoint. We passed Lake Pend Oreille where my father trained for the navy in World War II.

We stopped in Sandpoint to eat the lunch Gwen fixed then walk some of the historic district. We found an interesting building with shops scattered inside. Yes, we did share some "Oregon money" in this Idaho store, mostly for children and grandchildren.

We reached Montana soon after Bonner's Ferry and soon after that reach Yaak Campground, a National Forest campground. With our Senior Access Pass, the fee is $5 per night. The campground is at the mouth of the Yaak River where it meets the Kootenai River. Very nice campground with paved roads and sites. Yes, there are NO hookups but water is available if needed and there is a campground host. This is not our first time here. We are in the trees so we'll have to run the generator tomorrow to charge the batteries. We have already ridden the paved roads with our bicycles. When we first arrived, we were the only campers. There are five now. The train track is across the Kootenai River, about 1/4 mile from us. We have already heard five trains pass but no horns. The temperature at 8 pm is 80 degrees, cooling slowly. Gwen took a shower and is now outside reading her book. It is very comfortable here.

Coeur d'Alene Farmer's Market
Saturday, June 15, 2019: Gwen, Penny and I went to the Coeur d'Alene Farmer's Market just down the street in Hayden, Idaho. Lots of fresh vegetables, bakery items, food, and crafts of every kind. All of the craft items were high quality so this farmer's market may be juried. If I lived here I would be here every weekend looking for something new to eat or new vegetable to try. Prices seemed really affordable. Click the photo for another view. I also made a short video to give you a feeling of how good this market was. We will hit more Farmer's Markets as we travel this summer, compare them to this one.
Coeur d'alene Elks RV Park
Friday, June 14, 2019: We left Hermiston, Oregon this morning. We followed US395 until we reached Interstate 90 which we followed to Coeur d'alene, Idaho. The Elks club in Coeur d'alene has a fine RV park with power and water. Our friend, Penny lives only two miles from the Elks club RV park. We traveled the state of Washington from south to north passing through Spokane into Idaho. This part of Eastern Washington grows wheat. We passed mile after mile of wheat fields before reaching a few trees about 20 miles south of Spokane. Here is a short video as we finally reached the trees. The Elks park is nice with parking on the grass. Spaces are large. We visited with Penny and expect to do more with her tomorrow.
Parked in the Umatilla County Fairground
Thursday, June 13, 2019: The dryer was repaired and we were leaving Clackamas by 10 am today. I'll report on the dryer repair another day. Since we got an early start we decided to drive half way to our next destination (northern Idaho) which would be Hermiston, Oregon. We checked on Elks parking in Hermiston and the report was two RV spaces with electric and water. No one was at the Elks club and we found unsatisfactory parking so Gwen found the Umatilla County Fairground nearby. We always like the fairgrounds, at first because it is always a good place to let our dog, Morgan run. Now we like them because there is usually a lot of open space, not crowded, and less expensive than an RV park. We were looking for power because it was another hot day and we wanted to run our air conditioning. Umatilla gave us a 50 amp connection. Al Davis is the general manager and made us feel very welcome at the fairground. This would be a great place for an RV rally. Click the above photo to enlarge and you will understand what we mean by wide open spaces. We road our bicycles around the fairgrounds once the even hours brought cooler temperatures. To get here we drove Interstate 84 along the Columbia River. The first 30 miles is very scenic then it turning high desert, dry and today, very windy from the west. Here is a short video of what I-84 looks like once we reached the high desert. This fairground is new, clean and would make a great location for a major RV rally.
The adventure begins

Wednesday, June 12, 2019: This is day one of our next adventure. It began this morning at 9 am when I stopped at the Timber Valley office to pay the electric bill to "zero out" the electric account so renters electric bill starts today. The next stop was only ten miles down the road for breakfast at Rice Hill. After breakfast it was a straight drive north on Interstate 5 to the distributor and service center for Splendide appliances. They allowed us to park in their lot overnight because our appointment is at 8 am tomorrow morning. Fortunately they have a 50 amp receptacle for us to plug in and run our air conditioning on this 100 degree day. Our Splendide dryer is making a loud noise. Daryl, the national service director, listened to it and thinks it is likely the motor. We will learn tomorrow morning when they take it apart.

 
No Umpqua Ice Cream in this North Dakota store
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