Day 100

Day 100, 9/7/15, Monday – Labor Day Weather: At regular ground level the temperatures were in the 50s. However, at the higher locations the temperatures were in the 30s.

We left the campsite and drove to the Visitor Center to check on the status or the shuttle operations. The Rangers confirmed that although additional snow had fallen during the night the roads had been cleared and the shuttles were now making their complete trips.

Our timing was right because one of the shuttles was at the Center and scheduled to leave shortly. We took it up to Logan Pass where we had to transfer to another shuttle that would proceed down the other side of the mountain. However, when we arrived at Logan Pass there was some confusion where exactly we would locate the other shuttle. Many private cars and other Park vehicles had also driven to this location. It was suggested that we wait at the Visitor Center until the appropriate shuttle arrived. Unfortunately, when we and other visitors walked to the building it had not been opened as yet.

This was now 11 am. The weather at this location was very cold with light rain/sleet falling and fog because we were at cloud level. We were informed by one of the Rangers that no one had the key to open the Center. A short time later, another ranger informed us that it was not open because they were waiting for the book store crew to arrive. Obviously, there was no thought being given for the visitors who were standing in the cold waiting for Park personnel to get their act together.

We took the westbound shuttle towards the Apgar Visitor’s Center. Others had told us that the visibility was great just a few minutes passed the continental divide. We took the bus about 3-4 miles before deciding to return to the east side and our RV.

When we arrived back, we had lunch in the RV and then left Glacier Park for the last time. The views of the surrounding mountains were beautiful and we thoroughly enjoyed the two stays that we made to this Park.

Now we began the journey south along highway 89 toward Great Falls. We had the option at one point along this route to turn east and join up with Interstate 15 but opted to take this scenic route through the small towns. This was a good decision because we saw vast grazing lands, cattle, horse, and bison farms as well as wheat fields that had recently been harvested. We passed through the small town of Choteau that was absolutely picturesque. The topography of the landscape along this route also opened up to the mountainous buttes which we remember from this part of Montana in western movies. We finally arrived in Great Falls at about 5:30, had dinner out and then park at Walmart for the evening.

Tomorrow we need to locate propane to replenish our supply. Then stop at the local AAA office to check on suggested routes to take east that would continue to provide the local scenery instead of taking the Interstate. Montana is a beautiful state and we want to see as much of it as we can.

G & P

Driving Into The Cloud Level On Way To Logan Pass
Driving Into The Cloud Level On Way To Logan Pass
Gail Near The Visitor Center On Logan Pass
Gail Near The Visitor Center On Logan Pass
Paul Freezing In Montana
Paul Freezing In Montana

Day 101

Day 101, 9/8/15, Tuesday

Weather: Clear all day with temperatures in the 70s.

It was so good today to find temperatures that were not in the 30s

Our first stop this morning was to locate the local AAA office. We wanted to check with them on what the condition of the local routes to the east. This would give us the opportunity to travel through the towns rather than taking the Interstate.

Across from the AAA office was the location to get the propane. It so happened that this was the same location that replaced the gas regulator on our way north. We stopped and thanked them again for their service last June.

We were now back on the road heading east once again. Gail made a miscalculation and that took us 90 miles out of our way. There are few roads in Montana and once the mistake was recognized, there were miles to drive to find another paved road. And it was on the day that Paul was not feeling well. We corrected our route and chose to stop for the night in Hardin, MT.

Tomorrow we expect to continue on I- 90 and be leaving Montana. The day’s drive should take us through a short portion of Wyoming and then into South Dakota.

G & P

Day 102

Day 102, 9/9/15, Wednesday

Weather: Sunny and clear all day with the temperatures in the 70s

Paul was feeling fine this morning so after having breakfast at the nearby McDonald’s we pulled out on I-90 and continued our drive east. We had entered the territory of the Crow and Northern Cheyanne nations yesterday and by mid-afternoon had passed through the Crow region. When we were having breakfast, we noticed that all of the restaurant workers were Native Americans.

The day passed uneventfully. Traffic was light and the speed limit for those who wanted to follow it was 80 mph. Since cross winds were still blowing intermittent heavy gusts, we maintained a speed that was safely appropriate for our RV. We passed many large cattle, horse, and sheep farms that were extensive in size on both sides of the highway. We also passed towns with interesting names such as Garryowen, Lodge Grass, Wyola, and Mad Woman. There were miles of red rock reminiscent of our trip to Garden of the Gods in Colorado and Sedona in Arizona.

Today’s drive brought us through the remainder of Montana, the northeastern part of Wyoming, and South Dakota. By late afternoon we stopped at the No Name City Luxury Cabin and RV Park, Sturgis, SD (N 44 21’ 51” W 103 28’ 03”, elevation 3,626 ft.) where we are now spending the night. This is also the town for the famous motorcycle gathering in the summer.

Tomorrow, we will stay at this campground for a second day for a little rest before we continue.

G & P

Animal Shelter Dwarfted By Background Mountain
Animal Shelter Dwarfted By Background Mountain
Red Rock Wyoming
Red Rock Wyoming
Wind Blocks Along I-90 Wyoming
Wind Blocks Along I-90 Wyoming

Day 103

Day 103, 9/10/15, Thursday

Weather: Clear all day with temperatures in the 60s.

Today was given to rest and relaxation. Because of this, it was very uneventful.

Gail did the laundry while Paul did the routine lubrication of the rubber seals on the slide-out and the hydraulic stabilizing stands.

We will be leaving this campground early tomorrow and our intention is to drive for approximately 350 miles. Naturally, this expectation depends on the weather and road conditions. If we can maintain an approximate 300 miles per day then we could be home in a week. However, we recognize that this is not a commitment but an estimation of the very earliest that we could be home.

G & P

Day 104

Day 104, 9/11/15, Friday

Weather: Clear and sunny all day with the temperatures in the 70s.

We had planned on leaving the campground early this morning but a few things delayed the departure. For one, the couple that was parked next to us introduced themselves and we spent quite a while talking. Their home is in Boise, Idaho. They left there two weeks ago in their large diesel pusher and will not be returning until next spring. They are heading for Arizona and doing geo-caching along the way.

We took the opportunity before we left to do a complete flushing of each of the RV’s holding tanks.

Since the campground was located in the town of Sturgis we took time to drive into the town and do some window shopping. Sturgis is a really nice, quaint, and well maintained community. A quick fill-up with diesel and we were back in I-90 heading for Sioux Falls.

After a couple hours into the drive, we arrived at Wall, SD. Wall is located near the Badlands National Park. Although we visited this on the way north, we wanted to do the drive through in the opposite direction for a different perspective of the extraordinary appearance of the area.

The time was now near 4 pm and we needed to put some serious mileage on the day’s trip. By 9:30 we decided to stop for the night in Mitchell, SD ( N 43°, 41’ 12” W 98° 00’ 36”, elevation 1,377 ft.) . This is one of the places where we stayed on our way north. This placed us about one hundred miles short of the intended distance for the day. Oh well!

G & P

Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park
Black-eyed Susans At The Badlands
Black-eyed Susans At The Badlands
More Badlands
More Badlands
Up Close And Personal
Up Close And Personal

Day 105

Day 105, 9/12/15, Saturday

Weather: Sunny all day with the temperatures in the 60s.

Sorry for not having a very interesting blog to read today but, we spent hours travelling.

We had an early RV breakfast and then entered on to I-90. Our intended destination for today will be La Crosse, Wisconsin. Once again, the traffic was light and moving well. We did encounter a couple of road construction sites but, this is unavoidable and didn’t slow us too much.

We stopped at a rest area along the route and met a gentleman who cleans the facilities on both the east and west bound sides. He was working hard but took some time to chat. An interesting fact about him is that he is 89 years young. He says it keeps him busy. A real pleasant gentleman! He is not an example of those who believe that early retirement is to be sought after.

Each day, we usually stop for fuel at least once. You are never too young to learn new things and selecting fuel is no different. We have stopped at some stations that have two diesel pumps. One pump is labeled “on road diesel” and the other “farm diesel”. The farm/off-road diesel is different-it is dyed red and there are no road/highway taxes added to the price since it is not used on roads. If one gets caught using the cheaper fuel on-road there are severe fines. Over the last couple of days we are finding pumps that are numbered “1” or “2”. Pump 1 is for regular driving use while Pump 2 is used in very cold winter days.

Sometime over the last couple of days we really lost track of time. During our trip, we have been in 5 different time zones. I guess we have been distracted by the traveling and not having a schedule as well as having so much fun, we did not realize that we had crossed from mountain into central time. This evening it came to our attention when we saw the discrepancy between the time on our cell phone and the time on our GPS and on-board computer. Great to be retired!

At 5 pm (or 6) we decided to stop our travel for the day and find a spot to stay in Sparta, Wisconsin ( N 45° 56’24” W 90° 49’ 57”, elevation 815 ft.)

Our plan for tomorrow is to continue east.

G & P

Day 106

Day 106, 9/13/15, Sunday

Weather: Clear all day with temperatures in the 60s.

Early rising and on the road again. Today is dedicated to travelling again. Our goal is to reach Gary, Indiana.

Passing through Sparta Wisconsin we met “Ben Bikin”, a 32 foot tall fiberglass “Gay ‘90’s” cyclist billed as the largest bicycle in the world. Whimsy is fun and brings a smile or two! Sparta is the “Cycling Capital of the World”. Good to meet you Ben.

One of the reasons that we have set targeted miles of driving each day is that Paul called the Wilkens RV dealership in Rochester, NY on Friday. We still have some pressing warranty work on the RV and Forest River authorized the final work to be done by Wilkens where the RV was purchased. We have an appointment for next Thursday. As soon as that work is completed we will head to Brielle.

The traveling today went well and we were passing Chicago by 3:30. Later, on entering Indiana, we decided to call it a day. At the Visitors Center, there was a LARGE stained glass duck. Gail was really taken with the design and its beauty . It could have been ours for $20,000! Not!

Gail located a campground, the Maple Ridge Campground ( N 41° 32’ 19” W 86° 17’ 33”, elevation 850 ft.), that is located about 12 miles south of Notre Dame in Lakeville, IN.

Tomorrow we will continue on I-90 into Ohio.

G & P

Bikin Ben In Sparta, WI
Bikin Ben In Sparta, WI
Duck Under Glass, South Bend
Duck Under Glass, South Bend
That's One Big Duck!
That’s One Big Duck!

Day 107/108

Day 107/108, 9/14 & 9/15/15, Monday and Tuesday

Weather: Clear and pleasant with temperatures ranging from the 60s – high 70s

Today began early with the intention to do a final laundry that would last us until we arrived home in a couple of days. Unfortunately, although this was one of the finest campgrounds we stayed in, we discovered that there was no laundry available. Well this will have to wait until our next camping site.

Last week, an appointment had been made to bring the RV to our purchase dealer, Wilkins RV in Rochester, NY this Thursday for the remainder of the warranty work. Paul decided to call the dealer to be sure he was able to make contact with the service dept. of Forest River for the necessary approval and parts. The Forest River company is the manufacturer of our RV.  It is also located on I 90 in Elkhart, In not far past Notre Dame. When the dealer was contacted, he said that he had tried to reach the corporate representative on Friday and already this morning but had not received a response. This was not a surprise to us because we had the same problem several times ourselves during the trip.

We indicted to the Wilkens service manager that we were in western Indiana and we would need to know if the parts would be available for our Thursday appointment by the time we reached eastern Ohio this afternoon. It would be at that time that we would know to proceed on to Rochester or reschedule the appointment for a couple of weeks. This was critical because we would have to make the choice to take I-90 to Rochester or continue on I-80 for home. We also offered to stop at Elkhart on the way past and pick up the parts and deliver them with us to Rochester if needed.

The final decision was eventually made to head for home. Realizing how potentially close we were to home we decided to go for broke and drive through the night. This is not completely unusual for us. With a stop for dinner and a couple of rest area stops to catch some rest we arrived home in Brielle at 11:30 am. Our neighbor Ruth was on hand to snap our final picture, as she also took the pic that started our travel.

We are home and with it the conclusion of our journey to the last frontier.

This trip was an experience of a lifetime and we enjoyed it all including the friendly and interesting people that we had the fortune to meet along the way. We were very glad that many family members were able to join us and also experience some of Alaska.

This concludes “the blog”. We hope in years to come we will look back on the 108 days and the accompanying pictures and relive this enjoying our summer of 2015.

Total days of the trip =108

Total mileage driven = 15,336

Total diesel consumed = 1072.7 gals.

Gail & Paul signing off!

What A Great Time!
What A Great Time!