Today I volunteered to go out with the US Forest Service to help do some things in the forest. It was great to get back in the woods with the Forest Service again. I saw some more new territory and some amazing scenery. What started out as a grey overcast day ended up being a beautiful, partly-cloudy day in the mountains. The area most of these pictures were taken just has the classic Montana feel to it. Look at them and you can see where the term “Big Sky Country” comes from.
My first trip to the state was in 1987-88 when I was on the road doing concert work. I remember looking out the window as we passed Little Big Horn Battlefield and I understood the Big Sky analogy that very moment. If you have ever been in that area you understand.
I thought I would share a few pictures and a video from the day. Turn down your sound as the audio is just wind noise; it was extremely windy up on top about 9500 feet above sea level. I believe the video was the area known as Ruby Valley, the view is west from where we were.
Today it was off to the pumpkin patch. It was a brisk windy day but it was fun. They had all sizes of pumpkins there, and some odd color ones too; one we got looked like a giant Honeycrisp apple. They had some that were red, and some with this weird green shade – like a lima bean green. If you zoom in on the picture, there are a few you can see.
It was on a ranch that had all sorts of animals – some you would not really expect to see except in a zoo:
The winds were horrible last night, and tonight is shaping up to be worse as the storms will be moving in. The winds were howling again and you could see rain/snow falling out of the clouds in the distance today. The winds (40-50 mph gusts) are forecast to continue a few days along with the precip – in whatever form it takes on the way down. It is going to be a rough few days weather-wise. We had some rain last night and figured it would be muddy this morning, but the ground is so dry the moisture was soaked right up and it looked like nothing ever happened.
I am finding a lot of dust from these fierce winds on everything inside the trailer. It’s so bad I am having to dust everything on a daily basis. The roof vent covers are warped from the sun and you can really hear the wind trying to get in through the gaps so I had to order some replacements. Hopefully it will cut down on the wind noise and the dust inside and maybe help the heat (or A/C) maintain more consistent temps inside. And hopefully, weather-permitting (or not), I can get them replaced since they will be here in a few days.
With the cold weather coming I need to insulate and seal things up as much as I can. I stay pretty cozy but anything to help save energy is always a good thing. I will probably have to get a heat tape or two for the tank drains. As far as the tanks, only one is exposed to the outside and that is the gray water tank so I will either have to add RV water system anti-freeze to it constantly to at least keep it slushy or add a heated pad on the bottom to keep it thawed out. The RV anti-freeze is not harmful like regular car anti-freeze so it won’t affect the system at a dump station. By doing this I can still use my bathroom and shower and not have to use a public one. From what I can tell, I think I can keep things pretty well thawed-out and usable by making a few adjustments.
One cold-weather idea I saw was people will get some bubblewrap (the small bubbles) and cut it to fit their RV windows. They then spray the inside of the windows with a mist of water and use the water to stick the bubblewrap to the window. The water evaporates, leaving the bubblewrap stuck to the window as insulation but it still lets light in. Easy to remove and replace. Very resourceful I thought and very clever. You could even add that shrink film window covering you shrink with a hairdryer over that. I don’t know if I will need to do that or not, but I am going to try to add a little weatherstripping and hopefully seal a few windows up a little tighter. I have some closed-cell foam that I think I may carve up and put in some storage areas as additional insulation to keep the cold out. I could also buy some styrofoam sheets to cut up and put in the storage areas to help insulate too. I have a few throw rugs on the floor so maybe I will just buy another one that matches and trim it down to “carpet” the whole floor.
I stopped at a place in Three Forks, MT for take-away the other day. It is in the historic Sacajawea Hotel and it is called The Sac Bar. I got this incredible burger called the Hilltop Burger and it is another one of the best burgers I have ever eaten. This is not a homestyle-burger; it is more of a gourmet burger ($14). See if this makes your taste buds pitch a tent: Montana Wagyu beef burger cooked medium, smoked onion BBQ sauce, applewood smoked bacon, Vermont white cheddar, jalapeños and crispy fried onions. All of that on an incredible bun with a side. The sauce on this burger is one of the best BBQ sauces I have ever eaten – even in any BBQ restaurant. The burger is huge – may even be a half-pound patty. This chef knows what he is doing. If you are ever in the area I highly recommend it. They have another restaurant called Pompey’s Grill that is upscale dining and that menu has some really interesting dishes on it.
I think I will get an early start tomorrow and run to the storage unit to grab that foam to insulate some compartments when I get back and also grab a few other things I need – like another blanket. After that I may go get my flu shot. I try to wait as long as possible without waiting TOO long to get it. I think I am just about at that threshold, and with the pandemic exploding even more I want to keep myself well. I thought about taking a drive tomorrow but I think these things are a bit more important to take care of with the weather that is moving in. Plus, there may be snow on the roads.
Fall is settling in and getting comfy but it is looking like we will get a little taste of winter over the weekend with some rain, cold nights (around 30° F) and maybe a few snowflakes. I cannot find my electric blanket yet but I am getting by okay between the electric heater and the propane furnace. I may need to do something different in the meantime like oh…get another blanket.
The moisture is certainly needed since the west half of the country is on fire and I am fairly certain that there won’t be many complaints from anyone around here no matter how we get precipitation. You can see the smoke in the picture above giving the sunrise that amber and orange glow – that is how the sky has looked most of the summer, but much of the time we cannot even see ANY of the three mountain ranges within view. The fields that are not irrigated are devoid of greenery and in many places it’s mostly just dirt. It’s pretty bad drought conditions.
I took a trip to the storage unit this morning and decided to drive a different route back. It was a backroad instead of the interstate. It went through farm country and it was a nice drive on a two-lane blacktop. All of the trees were really changing colors so it was a beautiful detour to take. I had been on just a few miles of this road at the far end so I had to see what was between where I was and what I had seen. I am beginning to understand more why my dad always did that.
After that last POS coffeemaker I bought and returned I treated myself to a present. My French press broke on the last trip so I spent real money and got a good coffeemaker this time. It is made by Breville and it is a Nespresso Vertuo. It will be here next week and I am so excited to try it. I think it will take up less room than the French press and coffee canister and I can store the kettle under the bench. Only thing is since it is electric I cannot boondock and use it so I may have to just switch to tea an d water on the stove when I am off-grid and that is totally fine. This one uses little recyclable aluminum pods instead of the plastic Keurig-style clogging the landfills with their convenience. They should store easier than my big ceramic canister which, somehow, has not broken yet given what it has been through on the road so far.
I am hoping it will make a cup of coffee like we had in Europe and, since I have never had an espresso, I will be trying that too. This machine spins the pod and it makes a “coffee foam” on top of the cup that looks kinda like a Guinness. It comes with a milk frother but I like my coffee straight up – nothing but the taste of coffee for me these days – so that will go into storage. Yeah, it takes some of the ritual out of the morning but I really wanted to try something a little different. They make many different roasts and flavors plus I really like the recycling part. Someone even makes a kit so you can refill the old pods so that is cool. Yep, I am excited about it!
Earlier this week I got a text from a friend I had not talked to in several months and that really brightened up the day. We both had many changes in our lives recently and texted back and forth for a long while, catching up with each other’s lives. It’s nice to hear from some of the people in your past and this person is definitely one of the ones it was really great to hear from. You know who you are! 🐶 🐕 (And, of course, if any of you want to send a message and don’t have my info just post a comment; they won’t post until I okay them and I do not post everything sent to me.)
I do have another adventure coming up soon so I will be posting about that at some point. I really hope the weather holds out a little while longer so I can get the things done that I need to take care of; I’m getting to the point where I will be having to worry more about the weather as the calendar pages flip. I’m sure that I’ll be posting about that in the future as well.
The other day I heard a banging noise outside and thought it was the horses banging the side of the barn like they do, but it had a different sound the more I listened. I looked out a window and the other dogs were staring at something from the backyard so I thought I would investigate. And just what did I see?
This is Maverick. He is a wild horse rescue who thinks he is a dog. All that banging was him climbing in the tank and playing. He stomps around a little, splashes around with his nose, then plays the fence wire with his teeth like it is a guitar string and he is Jimi Hendrix. He has such a fun personality. He always walks over to say hi and see what’s going on.
After this, the tank was moved outside the fence and just a little of it is under the fence so they can still drink but hopefully it will keep him out of it. I don’t know how, or IF, it will work or not to keep him out. Meghan’s German Shepherd Cheyenne actually does the same thing in the dog tank. 🤦♂️
Got up with the alarm this morning…only because I forgot to turn the weekly alarm schedule off. Oh well. I got up and put everything away and took off toward Newport on US 2, overt to Sandpoint, then south on US 95 to I-90. I chose this route, and backtracked a few miles to get on US 2 in a certain spot.
I did this because driving the length of US 2 across the country is a goal of mine, but now I have been on the entire route in WA and ID, as well as about a third of MT. Doesn’t matter…piecing it together or all at once. You are still driving it either way and there is no real need to cover it all again once you have done it. It saves time and fuel as well.
It was another beautiful drive and a nice day for it and a nice day for a stop at a local landmark. Nothing to do with food this time!
I have driven this highway several times and have been wanting to stop and see the Cataldo Mission, the oldest building in Idaho. With the weather being cool enough the dog waited impatiently in the car while I went in the building.
It was a really interesting building to see. There are some interesting details on how it was built and some nice interpretive signs on the grounds. I did not go in the museum (maybe when there’s no pandemic I will) and there were way too many people inside (no masks, of course) so I spent very little time looking and missed out on some of the history behind it.
We got back on the highway and continued on. There are a few other things I want to stop and see at some point but they may be closed now that summer is over.
The bad thing about travel is it usually has to end at some point. However, you can always look forward to the next trip. Being retired I don’t have to settle for one or maybe two trips a year; I can go whenever I want. I got back, parked the trailer, and settled back in. I always feel fortunate when I do get to go see and do things and I never take any of it for granted. I enjoy the experiences – big and small, good and otherwise – and I always take away something from every trip I take.
I watched a documentary called “Iconicity” on Prime that was pretty interesting. It’s quirky and not for many, but I found it interesting and it made me want to visit the places in the video. It is about art, but also about the people and lifestyles in places like Salvation Mountain/Slab City and the Salton Sea. That area has kind of fascinated me since I saw another documentary about the music scene in the Low Desert. I’ll get that way someday.
Well, it’s an early morning for me so I am done for today.
Seriously, today I wanted to get somewhat of an early start to drive back over and down to Coeur d’Alene. I have never been downtown or by the waterfront so I wanted to do that. And, it JUST so happens that there is a famous place there I want to eat called Hudson’s Hamburgers.
I left the KOA and Apple Maps routed me east and south through Idaho which is how I wanted to go anyway since it is a road I had not been on. It ended up being a very scenic drive through gold farmlands in amongst the dark green hills. A very beautiful drive and one worth the time – it took me an hour and twenty minutes or so to get to where I was going. If you have ever driven through CdA/Spokane on I-90 you will understand avoiding that mess even by taking backroads.
I got into downtown and it’s a nice area if you are a shopper and like sidewalk cafes and beers – not really my kind of place to hang out. I got parked and just 600 feet around the corner there it was. Hudson’s. Nothing fancy and a very limited menu. Since I was here for a burger, I ordered up a cheeseburger with spicy mustard and onion. I stepped outside, unwrapped it and angels sang as a bright light shot out of the wrapper. Absolutely one of THE best burgers I have ever eaten. Yes, he said “ever”. Juicy, homestyle burger cooked perfectly, a slab of white onion and some fairly spicy brown mustard. I damn near went back for a second one it was so good. That alone was worth driving over six hours yesterday and the drive down to the restaurant.
I took a walk around the area, but since I am not really a shopper it didn’t do much for me. I did stop and buy an almond blackberry cookie at a bakery that was a little spendy but it was really good. I decided to get back on I-90 and head west of Spokane to pick up US 2/395 north toward the trailer.
I took my exit, and of all the bad luck there was a Dick’s Hamburgers joint at the bottom of the ramp. NOT all Dick’s are the same. This is not affiliated with the chain in the Seattle area. But, it has piqued my curiosity driving past it many times and ever since I ate at the Seattle ones as much as possible as you know from previous posts.
This was quite different than the Seattle ones but still a pretty good burger, and both are definitely much different than Hudson’s. I thought the fries were good but the Seattle ones have a soft spot as a similar memory from my childhood – my grandma’s hand-cut fries cooked in a cast iron skillet in lard. One of the top four fries I have ever eaten (Dick’s, my grandma’s, the ones at the bar near Grand Coulee Dam, the duckfat-cooked fries in Galway at a pub). Anyway, Hudson’s you MUST stop at and any Dick’s location east or west you cannot go wrong for different reasons.
Rider and I headed back to the trailer. I don’t think he is feeling very good. He hasn’t eaten much the last few days which isn’t normal. We got back and I tied him up outside. He eventually got to feeling a bit more lively and we took a walk over to the lake. I think tomorrow we are gonna just stay here and take the trail around the lake, and maybe walk around other parts of the campground.
It’s pretty quiet here right now but it is probably hopping when there’s no pandemic. They have a lot of family activities here along with the little lake and it is also part of a camping club network so yeah…it gets busy. But it is a nice place and the people are very friendly. It has great ratings and I see why. Not my usual style of camping but I knew I could get a spot here.
I actually ran into an issue in a spot last night and had to be moved. No, it was not another redneck blowhard asshat. It was an odd problem; the sewer pipe hook-up pipe was higher than my trailer tank outlets so they just would not drain. Of course I discovered this after I had already unhooked the trailer and got it set up. Something to remember to check for more often. I talked to them about the problem and they moved me to a better site and there was no extra charge. Luckily I had only hooked up the grey water and not the black but I knew what I needed to test it with and it wasn’t poo-related.
Sometimes I buy frozen Bird’seye garlic chicken with vegetables and pasta and it is really good. They came out with a new plant-based protein version (made with Gardein brand Chik’n) and it was not bad at all. Tonight I stir-fried it up (without the garlic butter) in some General Tso’s sauce. It was pretty good, but I find myself steering away from that old favorite to something less sweet and more savory these days. I guess my tastes have changed considerably as I noticed this about a year ago. I guess it’s why I have been eating more Thai food the last few years.
This has been a very relaxing trip so far. Today after we got back I just sat on the tailgate of my truck looking and listening for an hour or so. I am looking forward to the walk around the lake, too, and I know the dog will like that. It looks to be another gorgeous day tomorrow so it will be a great day to really lay back. Yeah, there’s several days of stuff to see and do around here but I only have a few days so I’m having a slack day.
It is very pleasant outside tonight. Cool but not too, perfectly still air and fairly quiet – a nearly-perfect evening that recharges you. The dog wanted to go for a stroll to check the irrigation so we walked leisurely down the road a bit and came back as he inspected; I have not seen a night like this in quite some time and it is so nice…even soothing. We have had cool nights but the never-ending wind…well, it never ends.
Getting out on these trips brings out the travel bug in a big way. It feels good to be on the road seeing things. I am so ready to get back to Europe I cannot stand it. I have been thinking about both my trips over and the girls and I were talking about our trip again. I need a long stay – enough to rent a place for a month, then another place for a month, and maybe a third, all in different countries. I still have enough miles to schedule a flight but I just can’t go for it yet.
I went out to close the front window cover a few minutes ago and had this weird flashback of doing the same thing in Banff National Park in September 2012 (almost eight years to the day…within a few weeks). My parents let me take the trailer to Washington State when I was moving, and I had a pretty big adventure. It’s why I started this blog. I didn’t know much about the trailer but I got through it and learned along the way. I have learned so much and I am still learning not just about the trailer, but a different way to live. It has an oddness and uncertainty about it most people would think “no, it’s not for me”, and rightfully so, I guess. It really is not for everyone. I really am enjoying it though. Most importantly I have had a lot of fun doing it.