20140909 MesaFalls (21)

Traveling To Island Park

Camp next to Grasshopper Creek
Camp next to Grasshopper Creek

Jagger and I are up early and start to pack up camp.  This is the second time I have “dry camped” and again only for one night.  I listen carefully to the groans of the battery as the slides are pulled in and the stabilizing jacks are pulled up.  I did all this without plugging in the workhorse to see how the batteries hold up.  I am nervous to camp more than one night even though I purchased a second battery when buying my coach.  It did seem to groan a little, but everything did work as designed.  I definitely will need to purchase a generator or solar setup before I take on longer stay.  The battery may be okay, but I won’t.  Call it peace of mind.

With the coach all hitched to the workhorse, Jagger and I say good-bye to Bannack Ghost Town and head South-East to Island Park, Idaho.  This will be my first camp in this area and I am looking forward to the drive.  My long term goal is to explore Wyoming next, which I have never traveled to any extent, as I make my way south to Arizona to meet my family for a camp at Fool Hollow Lake, Arizona.

Bannack Plains Near Dillon
Bannack Plains Near Dillon

As we drive from Bannack through the dry plains valley, Jagger and I see some wonderful scenery passing by our windows out in the middle of God’s creation.  Up ahead I see someone standing on the side of the road with a big STOP sign and we pull up to a stop, with Jagger growling.  The road worker greets us with a pleasant hello and I apologize for Jagger’s behavior. We visit for about a half an hour waiting for the pilot car to return and the road worker explains they are doing a major repaving project before winter sets in.  Before the pilot car returns we accumulate several dozen cars and trucks.  Up ahead I see the pilot truck coming as the road worker told me how slow John drives, he’s a new guy.

We take off following John for many miles of gravel covered road before he turns around to take another group back West and Jagger and I continue on to Virginia City.

It’s a commercialized ghost town with plenty to see.  I had the pleasure of strolling the streets here and having lunch about five years ago on my way to Yellowstone (my first visit) with my friend Beth.  The pictures above are from that visit in 2008.  This time Jagger and I just pass through, driving slowly as there are many tourists today in spite of it being after Labor Day.  Since the main street is the highway we are traveling, I get to experience the flavor of the area and I remember things, like where we ate lunch five years ago and walked the town main street.

Virginia Valley
Virginia Valley

As Jagger and I head out east of Virginia City, we continue the steep climb going between Hollowtop and Baldy Mountain.  Then we travel down the other side and a beautiful view opens over looking the Virginia valley, the Madison river, and in the distance the city of Ennis.  It’s here we take a brief break over looking the valley to have our lunch before continuing on to Idaho.

After lunch Jagger and I head out continuing down the steep road into Ennis.  Here we stop for diesel fuel at a station much to small to be pulling the Coach through, but no choice at this point as the Workhorse has used most of the fuel I purchased in Hamilton before I left two days ago in preparation for the trip.  Of course after fueling I prepare to leave and someone squeezes in next to me blocking my exit.  Hmm, I think I can make this, but it’s the closest I have ever had to negotiate pulling the Coach.  I ease forward and make it with inches to spare.  I notice the driver, who was in a rented RV.  He looks over at me with the look of apology or maybe unbelief on his face.  I wave and off we go.

Hail Storm, impending Winter
Hail Storm, impending Winter

We arrive in the Island Park area and inadvertently take the wrong road (thanks Google) to get to the RV Park where we would stay for the coming week.  The road turns into dirt, then mud and we spend the next twenty minutes bouncing around and dragging the Coach through the mud.  We continue around the north end of Henry’s Lake and the road turns into a paved road about a quarter of a mile before we see a sign, “Red Rock RV Park“.

Red Rock RV Park
Red Rock RV Park

After checking in we are escorted to our nice camp, well maintained with all the amenities you would expect from a full services park.  Island Park advertises itself as the city with the longest main street and only has a population of several hundred. It was founded during the prohibition days, as it was right on the border of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.  It’s also in an ancient volcanic caldera.

To be continued…

Until next time, safe travels, Gary

20140902 Bannack (39)

Bannack State Park

Dillion Montana Plains
Dillon Montana Plains

Wow that went fast. The first leg of my 1,700 mile, month long trip south, was less than three hours before seemingly arriving in the middle of no where! But hidden down in a tranquil valley sits the old town of Bannack, just like it has for over a hundred years.  Of course now it’s deserted and only the ghost and memories walk the boardwalks.  In fact when I arrived there were only two other cars in the parking lot.  That seemed weird, but it is off season now.

After registering at the town office, I pulled into my site for the night.  I then set about the task of getting my camp set up before going back into town about a half a mile away.

Camp next to Grasshopper Creek
Camp next to Grasshopper Creek
Grasshopper Creek
Grasshopper Creek

My camp was prefect for dry camping.  It was right on the Grasshopper Creek, close enough that I could cast  a fishing line out my Coach window.

The entire park was only large enough for about a dozen rigs and a few tent sites.

One of my camp neighbors, it turns out, lives near home in Hamilton.  What a coincidence, I had just met them at a dinner held at a friends house a month or so earlier.  I had no idea they were coming here to get away and celebrate their wedding anniversary.  They said they come here to camp occasionally and it close to home.

Road to Town
Road to Town

Okay, all set up now and I head back to walk the town.  Like most ghost towns there is an eerie feeling when going into buildings with so much history.  This is the first ghost town that I have been to that let you freely explore the town and buildings inside and out.

The Hotel was in better shape than most of the other buildings in town. A sign indicating the state had spent over $200,000 to redo the foundation and stabilize the structure.  They also were working on refurbishing the plaster on the walls.  What a great building.

The school was also in good shape.  They had brought in furnishings to resemble what it looked like when in use many years before.

Town Church and Homes
Town Church and Homes

Strolling down the main road in town you can image what it was like so many lifetimes ago.

I had to check out the jail so I moseyed over to the Sheriff’s and went behind to see the crude structures in the rear.

The Jail - Known to hold those who soon hung from a rope
The Jail – Known to hold those who soon hung from a rope

They were built out over the small cliff allowing a hole cut in the floor to be used as the “facility”.  Inside the wood seemed to be in decent shape.  Very heavy planks and Iron bars on the small windows.  No one would be getting out of here.

Glad I am on this side
Glad I am on this side

The windows were built as to allow the occupants to see the brand new gallows on the hill.  It was some distance away and I had no desire to hike out to the site although I wouldn’t mind seeing boot hill cemetery.

It’s my understanding that eventually the sheriff used the gallows and the jail he had built not only for bad guys, but on the rope end!  Apparently he wasn’t thought to be person he once was.

The town had so many buildings I was unable to see them all in the time I had, so I am sure I will return one day.  For now I travel back to my camp and prepare for the long night. I will be listening to the whispering voices  of long ago, telling of the excitement trying their hand at striking it rich panning for gold or stealing some and paying the price.

Note: I had many more pictures to share, too many for this blog.  I chose twenty-five, including these and they are shared on my gallery at: Bannack State Park Photo Album

Safe travels until next time, Gary

The Church
The Church
Mining Equipment
Mining Equipment
Home Settling In Header

Heading South for the Winter

With a sad heart, but full of wonder for what lies ahead, I leave my Home Base in Montana and venture South-West through Big Hole on Highway 43 heading to Bannack State Park in Montana for a “look see” and spend the night dry camping.

Arriving at Big Hole
Arriving at Big Hole

Passing Big Hole reminds me of the day trip I did only a month ago to once again check out the Big Hole National Battlefield.  A number of years ago I walked out to the Nez Perce camp on an eerie day.

The wind was howling and the sky was threatening.  But it was my only chance to at least experience where so many Nez Perce Indians were slaughtered.  Both cultures clashed and misunderstanding prevailed, but that was reality in that day.  So I went out into the battleground alone to feel the history all around.  On my departure the sky darkened, thunder clapped and the wind howled through the canyon and trees.

This year my adventure took me out to the US Calvary’s location higher up in the tree line where they set a snare during the night and launched an attack where many shed their blood and some it cost their lives.

I pass the battlegrounds and feel the eeriness in my bones, but continue my trip to the first planned over night stop at Bannack State Park.  There I find another story of riches, hardship and hangings!  But lets save that for next time.

Safe Travels, Gary

2014 0802 FlatheadRiver (4)

Heading South for Warranty Repairs

Flathead River Hwy 2
Flathead River Hwy 2

After leaving Columbia Falls Montana, I drove south passing Flathead Lake just in time for a lunch break. The day was still a little smokey from the Washington, Idaho, Canada and Montana fires that we have had recently.  Some still on going!

After lunch I continued on to Missoula where we will spend the night so I can have my Coach at Bretz RV first thing the following morning. The service department will have it for the day while fixing the warranty work on my Atwood refrigerator electric mode. Workhorse Being SaddledIt turns out the heating element failed.  Also I am having my wheel bearings serviced due to the leaking grease around the hub.  Hopefully Grand Designs will cover a portion of that since I only have 2500 miles on the Coach.  

I am anxious to get home so my plan is leaving the Coach overnight and return the following tomorrow, despite the ninety mile round trip.  Also, I didn’t want to hang around town all day with Jagger, especially since it is predicted to be a warm day.

Walmart
Walmart

The following day we head back to pick up my Coach and return home, but after a supply stop at Walmart ;)  Once home I set up the Coach on it’s site and begin to evaluate items I need to complete before heading south to Arizona in a couple of weeks.

Friday I took my Workhorse in for another oil change.  AlmostFirst Photo New Truck fifteen thousand miles on him now.  I took it to Scott’s Automotive in Hamilton.   It was my first trip there and I was impressed by the detail they go to to make sure I am good for travel south.  Scott is a very nice guy who moved to Hamilton ten years ago and started his business here.

10-20140612 Hamilton (15)It’s approaching a year since my retirement (Oct. 1st) and I am cleaning up my old email addresses, organizing photos, blogs and websites while back home.  I am preparing to start my Fall adventures South, physically and mentally.  

It’s been great here at my “Home Base”, I have rested and had some great family times with my Sister and Brother-in-law.  Had five weeks of intensive evaluation and training for myself and Jagger. Finally completing some needed maintenance on my Workhorse and Coach with a little site-seeing to boot.  I’m ready to roll South.

Safe Travels, Gary…

Jagger

My Companion Jagger

It dawned on me that I haven’t created an “About Page” for my Companion Jagger.  So here it is, a recap of our trials adapting to the RV lifestyle up to this point of our adventures.  It will also be available on the Menu above under About Me (About Jagger) or http://www.retiredvagabond.com/about-jagger/

Prologue: There was a time I wasn’t sure Jagger would work out,  due to the aggression issues with other dogs.  He seems to be doing better each day.  It’s still a struggle for me due to his size, but I think we can get past it, only time will tell.  He is a puppy stuck in an adult dog body.

Jagger - S 6 months old
Jagger 6 months old

Jagger is an Australian Sheppard born on October 14, 2013 in West Virginia.  He is black with white markings and tan points, and light blue eyes.

As a very young puppy he was transported to a breeder via a crate (kennel) by ground to Arizona.  There to become a Stud for a hobby breeder.

In February 2014 after inquiring about owning an Australian Sheppard for my life style, the breeder thought one would be a match for me.

Jagger 8 Months Old
Jagger 8 Months Old

The breeder planned a litter for the spring, but it didn’t materialize and they wouldn’t have any puppies available before I headed north after picking up my coach.

After continuing contacts over the next several months, they told me they had a young six month old puppy that regretfully they were going to return to West Virginia for personal reasons.  They asked me if I would be interested in taking him.  Well after a few visits and consulting with my son, I picked him up in late April 2014.

I have grown close to Jagger over the past few months.  We are together 24/7, and he has learned all the basic commands and leash training.  We are still working on “heal command” and his “dog/leash aggression”.  We have traveled over 3,000 miles together so and  seen untold sights and still going.

It hasn’t all been fun. Discouraging times were his endless bout of stomach issues lasting over two months before finding the right food for him after the giardia infection.  Nursing him after his neutering surgery. Socializing him at an older age has been tiring and still ongoing. First noticed was his dislike of some people and still his leash aggression with other dogs.  What training and discouragement I missed as a very small puppy, I more then have made up since.  We finished a “basic training” class together this summer, spending most of the classes in the “dunce” corner (side yard).  We also spent many hours after class and during the weeks with our trainer Jewel and eventually her puppy Shasta (The Joy Animal).  Still we have issues with other dogs, but he is improving and between the two of us we will conquer this aggression.

Jagger has finally made some friends at home in Montana.

In all Jagger is a perfect companion for me. Together we will conquer his dog aggression and experience traveling full time in our fifth wheel, seeing the country we live in.

Safe Travels until next time…Gary

Lunch Creek Falls

Glacier National Park

Welcome
Welcome

It took me some time to write this post, writers block.   Maybe it was due to the subject.  I had been looking forward to seeing the pristine National Park named Glacier, but right off on arrival to Columbia Falls, where we stayed at the Columbia Falls RV Park, it didn’t feel special.  It was a nice high end park and the only one I could find reservations for the seven days we would be staying. The staff was pleasant, facilities were clean, but sites a bit too close after having all the room I wanted at home for over a month.  I was spoiled!

Columbia Falls City Park
Columbia Falls City Park

Also and most paramount, the park was FILLED with pets, specifically dogs!  If you remember Jagger was at the height of his aggression issues and it would not be pleasant for me or Jagger.  I did learn early there was a small city park across the highway where I walked with Jagger every morning and evening.  So we/I adjusted to the situation.

Saint Mary LakeDuring our stay here we went to Glacier Park several times.  Due to my National Parks Senior Pass the entry fee was waved each time, wahoo.   Our first trip through the park we took the “Road to the Sun” all the way to Saint Mary.

At St. Mary’s I had lunch and then we continued on through to the East Entrance where we exited and drove South and back to our camp.  As I have been mentioning on Facebook and Google Plus, due to the fires in Washington, Canada and Montana there was a haze most of the time that we stayed here and was another reason I was bummed.  As we exited we stopped briefly at East Glacier Lodge.

Saint Mary Lodge
East Glacier Lodge

Driving South we passed forest completely destroyed a number of years ago by fire.

The second trip into the park I was focused on Lake McDonald.  I drove straight there and after parking at the lodge realized it was too warm to leave Jagger in the truck, so I drove through and focused on stops with short hikes outside the grounds.  I took a few pictures that turned out, but again not quite what I was expecting.

We followed up a few days later by a visit to the Flathead River.  There I enjoyed a pleasant evening while waiting on the sun to set, Jagger and I did training drills.

Jagger has been a handful, but so much improved.  He will approach almost anyone with an over enthusiastic greeting.  We still need to work on that.

While at Glacier I received a call that the warranty part for the refrigerator was now available.  I was just barely able to book an overnight site at Jelly-stone park in Missoula due to the Paul McCartney concert.  Everything was booked and this was a last minute booking so I could stay over for the repair early the next morning.  So up early and dropped the coach on our way home to Hamilton.

Safe travels until next time…Gary

Discouraging View Header

Lolo Pass – Full of History

Meeting Rich and Crew for Lunch - Missoula
Meeting Rich and Crew for Lunch – Missoula

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Rich for lunch in nearby Missoula. We worked together at The Orange County Register before I retired last October. He was on vacation here in Montana with his brother and several friends who live in Idaho.  They were all traveling on their motorcycles and fishing along the way.  We met at Famous Dave’s in Missoula and spent several hours catching up before they had to move along, traveling over the Lolo Pass to their next destination.  Again enjoying myself and didn’t take pictures! Oh and thanks again for the lunch Rich.

Back at home preparation had been underway for some family  members who were traveling fromCompany Arrives from California The Gathering - Montana and CaliforniaCalifornia.  They will be visiting my Brother-In-Law and Sister for a few weeks, while Jagger and I  head out for a short two week trip.   First to Lolo, Montana and then to Columbia Falls just outside of Glacier National Park Montana.  I stayed for a few days in my Coach to see the kids and visit, then we took off on a nice sunny day.

Getting Lolo Camp Set-Up - Home for the week
Getting Lolo Camp Set-Up – Home for the week

Jagger and I first stayed at a small RV Park in Lolo known for decades to people near and far for “Square Dancing”.  No I don’t square dance.  I don’t think I could physically anymore, at least not for more than a few minutes.  :)

Lolo camp view from my window
Lolo camp view from my window

I have noticed there aren’t very many RV Park’s between Hamilton and Glacier that looked like interesting places to stay for the first week so I chose this one tucked into a stand of tall pine trees along the Lolo creek.

After setting up camp and hanging out for a few days I decided we should explore the Lolo Pass, known for it’s rich history. Most notably  in our American history was Lewis and Clark.

Lewis and Clark a very bad passing marker.
Lewis and Clark a very bad passing marker.

The Indians however,  had been using the Lolo Pass for centuries.  To them it was known as naptnišaqs, or “Nez Perce” trail in the Salish language.

Our first stop was at Fort Fizzle.  It was only a few miles from our camp.

This turned out to be one of our hangouts during our stay at Lolo due to it’s proximity and considering Jagger isn’t very social with our neighbors.  There were allot of trees and room to play right alongside the Lolo Creek.

Fort Fizzle was built quickly after the locals and the US Calvary heard the Nez Perce Indians were coming that way in July of 1877. This was as a result of their defeat several weeks earlier at Clearwater in Idaho.

Lolo Pass Forest Fire 2013
Lolo Pass Forest Fire 2013

From Fort Fizzle, we continued up Lolo Pass going by the remains of the Lolo fire of 2013.  I always become melancholy when passing sights like this knowing it will be centuries before the land can recover completely.

The Nez Perce Indians Final Journey in July 1877 passed through here.
The Nez Perce Indians Final Journey in July 1877 passed through here.

Continuing on, I look around and try to imagine what it was like two hundred or more years ago when the Indians would have passed through here on their travels for survival and trade.

Nawah, Lou-Lou, Loo-Lo, or Lo Lo? Creek Early Mispellings Going Back to Lewis and Clark
Nawah (the Indian name), Lou-Lou, Loo-Loo, or Lo Lo Creek?  Early Misspellings Going Back to Lewis and Clark and the traders.

When approaching the higher elevations I looked out to see Mountain range upon mountain range into the distance.

It was said Lewis and Clark were discouraged at this view near the top of Lolo Pass, endless mountains.
It was said Lewis and Clark were discouraged at this view near the top of Lolo Pass, endless mountains.

It is recorded that the Lewis and Clark expedition were expecting to see the Pacific Ocean in the distance when cresting the first mountain range of the Lolo Pass. Instead a “disappointing view”, more mountains to cross.

Driving a little further we passed the Lolo Hot Springs.  Here there is a campground, lodge and coffee shop.  I had planned to stop, but the way it was built up didn’t interest me and I drove on further.

 I have read stories of how the Indians and trappers would gather at various hot springs, especially to warm up with a hot bath and socialize.  This was one of the more famous ones.

Lolo Visitor Center
Lolo Visitor Center

Arriving at Lolo Pass Visitor Center at the top of the pass we stop to walk around a little and check out the grounds.  I went inside to pick up a few post cards and talk with one of the rangers.  This doesn’t sound like a fun place to be if you have to drive in the winter time.  Skiing and Snowmobiling would be a different story.

Meadow at Lolo Visitor Center
Meadow at Lolo Visitor Center
Lolo Visitor Center Meadow - Note the tall grass laying down due to deer and elk resting here probably at night.
Lolo Visitor Center Meadow – Note the tall grass laying down due to deer and elk resting here at night.

We load up and again move further West down the pass not knowing what to expect.   Another half hour drive we arrive at the DeVoto Memorial Cedar Grove.  This was an unexpected find.  A lush grove of cedar pines so thick they provided continuous shade throughout the day. I read an article that said some of the trees here were over two thousand years old.

After spending time walking through the grove, we loaded up once again for the drive back to our camp.  We will have to leave the remainder of the pass to another visit.

Our second week in Columbia Falls and Glacier I will cover in the next post since my rambling here has gone on to long.  It’s a very history rich place to visit.

Until next time, safe travels, Gary

Blodgett Header

Blodgett Canyon View Trail

Return to Blodgett Canyon
A beautiful warm day when we start our hike
A beautiful warm day when we start our hike

Since my last post I went back to the Blodgett trailhead with a friend of many years, Dona and her Aussie-Border Collie mix Sydney.  She has lived in Hamilton with her husband, Phil, for some time and from what I hear, knows about every trail around here.  We chose the Canyon View for a short hike of about two miles.  One that is not very steep and has some awesome views.

Dona and Sydney
Dona and Sydney

So back out the dirt road arriving late morning and to a sunny, albeit smokey warm day.  We immediately tackled our challenge climbing up the trail.  Sydney was amazing, you can tell she has gone many times and has developed a preference for what types of holes to investigate, looking for that stray squirrel or rodent.

Dona pointed out some Huckleberry BushHuckle Berries along the way.  I was surprised no one had eaten them as they were right along the trail and easy picken’.

On arriving at the top of the trail a spectacular view opened up on the back side of the mountain, overlooking the canyon as far as you could

Looking Into Idaho - Blodgett Canyon
Looking Into Idaho – Blodgett Canyon

see.  It was definitely worth the work to get there.  Unfortunately smoke from the forest fires burning in Washington was washing over the mountains, leaving a haze in the air and limiting the view.

As we were admiring the view we noted a set of rather ominous black clouds moving over the mountains and down the valley so we decided to hightail it back down to the trailhead.  About half way down it started, rain.  Hmm, here I am not prepared as all my gear was in the Coach, which was at the RV Dealer in Missoula.  The thunder and lightening started and I told Dona to run ahead as Sydney was afraid of thunder,

Within a very short time the droplets were becoming quite large and more frequent. I thought to myself, I am going to get drenched, along with my camera.  Almost as quickly as it started though, the rain stopped just as I was nearing the trailhead and Dona waiting with Sydney.  The sun came out and dried my clothes and we finished the trek to the car in the fresh mountain air.

Safe Travels until next time, Gary

 

Looking up at Blodgett Canyon

Back Ordered

Drive to Blodgett Canyon

Dirt Road to Blodgett TrailheadLast week Jagger and I took a short afternoon drive out a rutted dirt road to the Blodgett Canyon trailhead.  I wanted to get a “birdseye” view of our city and  I have been looking up at this canyon pass for a

Looking up at Blodgett Canyon
Looking up at Blodgett Canyon

couple of weeks now from my home, wondering what was up there.

What a difference in vantage points, looking down on the BitterrootLooking back over the Hamilton - Bitterroot Valley Valley and the town I now call my Home.  The drive up was a little rough, but the view was worth it!  After arriving at the trailhead I got out, then retrieved Jagger from the Workhorses’ back seat.  He had issues almost immediately with a couple of people who appeared suddenly coming down one of the trails.  Since Jagger was uncomfortable with this new area, I put him back in the truck.

With Jagger back in the Workhorse, I decided to check out the creek coming down the Blodgett canyon.  It ran right by the truck.  I took a few pictures and returned to the Workhorse.  We then started our ride home, arriving there by late afternoon and in time for dinner at my Brother-In-Law and Sisters’ home.

Jagger’s Training
Jagger Playing in the Pond
Jagger Playing in the Pond

I find it difficult to put what follows down on “paper”. I am sad for Jagger due to his fear and anxiousness towards animals.  We have become buddies since we have spent almost every waking moment for months together.

During a training meeting with Bob and Dona (Jagger-Sydney)
During a training meeting with Bob and Dona (Jagger-Sydney)

Several weeks ago Jagger and I went to a few training sessions here in Hamilton.  I met with Jewell of The Joyful Animal for an observation session.  Then later at several informal sessions, Jagger and I sat in an adjacent yard to agility class in session being led by another trainer.  We stayed there about thirty minutes, walking by areas where he could see the other dogs close by.  He only got anxious a few times, but Jewell was able to refocus him with treats.  A week ago Saturday, we attended Jagger’s first official training class, but Jewell told us it would probably just be another observation session and she was right.  We sat in another area where he could get “peeks” at the four other dogs attending the class.  It was very stressful for him, but we made it through.  Our classes and sessions will continue for four more weeks.  I am hoping to seeing a marked difference in him when we have completed the classes.

——

NOTE (recap from earlier posts): Apparently Jagger has a fear of other animals of just about any kind, especially dogs.  I’m not sure what caused this fear,   If you remember, when I picked him up he was six months old.  During my stay in Arizona he had playful interaction with my sons two dogs. He did well and seemed to especially have fun with Phebe a three month old German Sheppard.  Jagger just doesn’t seem to like any other dog or animal for that matter!  As a result he becomes uncontrollable and seems like he wants to get aggressive.

——

I will follow up soon with updates soon about his progress.

More “Back Ordered” Parts
Welcome to Idaho - First Rest Stop - Lunch Time
My Rig – Workhorse and Coach

Monday I received some bad news.  The part for my Atwood refrigerator is on backorder.  They are estimating the end of July before it’s shipped to Bretz RV.   So far I am two for two.  I have taken the Coach in for warranty work twice and both times I have been hung up, waiting for parts.  Hopefully this doesn’t delay my departure in early September from my home in Montana.  If you remember in March my plans to leave Arizona were delayed for weeks.  My plan now is to pick up the Coach in Missoula this week and travel the next two weeks here in Montana.  I will return home in early August for a few more weeks before leaving for the rest of the year.

Well that’s it for now.

Safe Travels, Gary

Bitterroot River Header

More Warranty Work for the Coach

Jagger’s Feeling Better
Jagger
Jagger

Jagger continued to dramatically improve from his surgery over the past week.  By the time we left early in July to take the Coach to Bretz RV in Missoula for a couple of warranty repairs, he was almost back to normal. Since we had to leave Hamilton at 6:30 AM to make our appointment in Missoula, I decided to move the Coach to Black Rabbit RV Park along highway 93 (1st Street) in Hamilton.

Black Jack RV - Riverside
Black Jack RV – Riverside

There we dry camped away from other campers as not to disturb them so early in the morning.  Diesel engines starting up do not make a very pleasant alarm clock.

The Repairs

The warranty repairs consisted of the Utility support under theHome kitchen slide, the Lippert rear stabilizer pin that broke and the most important repair was the electric mode of the Dometic refrigerator.  The propane mode has continued to work efficiently for over a month.  I left the Coach at the RV facility to return later, hopefully picking it up and bringing it home.  The other two repairs were completed the same day.  Most interesting was the Lippert Rear Stabilizer, which was pronounced repaired and given their blessing on my arrival!  My Brother-in-law’s custom fix was as good as it gets.  Thanks Bob!  I will be asking them for a spare pin for the one that broke, incase it happens on the road and I’m not in Hamilton where Bob and his complete tool shop is available, to custom make parts.

Some Shopping

The Trilhead - MissoulaAlso while in Missoula I was shopping for a new pair of hiking boots that will hopefully relieve some ankle pain I was having.  My Sister, Janet, referred me to The Trail Head.  A specialty shop for Outdoor and Ski clothing, and accessories.  I wasn’t disappointed, picking up a new pair of  Salewa hiking boots at the same price advertised on Amazon, but the advantage of lots of advice and the ability to try them on.  They are great, the shoes, sales advisors and the store.

Visiting Lolo Pass

During the day we also took a ride out Lolo Pass for a few miles, researching for a future trip we will be taking later in the month.  We didn’t go far, but stopped at the Lolo Square Dance Center and Campground.  I am not a square dancer, but the campground hosts were friendly and the grounds were shaded by large pines. I ended up booking a week there.

Return Home

In the afternoon we returned to Bretz RV in hopes of towing the Coach back home, but alas the part for the refrigerator had to be ordered from Dometic, so I chose to leave the Coach there.  As of this post we are still waiting, the part is “back ordered”  :(

On the drive home Jagger and I made a rest stop at Tuckers Landing on the Bitterroot river.  It was a very long day and we took a quick nap under a tree and later went for a walk.  Then back to highway 93 to complete the trip home.

Bitterroot River at Tucker Crossing

Fawns
Fawns as the move across our property.

While traveling down our street on our final approach, I saw a deer and her fawn crossing up ahead.  I stopped and waited not far from the fawn.  It was a new arrival with legs still unstable.  Eventually the momma deer called it to cross and it caught up to her.  Jagger, although very excited, didn’t bark much.   Probably because I was distracting him with treats :)

Until. next time,  Safe Travels,  Gary

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Reflection: Paria Ghost Town

A visit to Paria Ghost TownOnce again we travel back to last May when we were camped at Panguitch, Utah.  The drive South on highway 89 that took about an hour or so was well worth it for exploring a little history and enjoying some four wheel driving experiences, breathtaking at times.

Paria (Pahreah) Ghost Town

Once arriving at the historic marker along the highway we headed in on an old dirt road that was somewhat maintained.  A little precarious at times, not only from the rough road needing a high clearance vehicle, but a couple of very steep drop off’s if you miss a turn.  On the drive in, the cliffs on either side were multicolored layers of red, white, purple and greyish blue.  A beautiful site that a photograph cannot begin to capture. I wouldn’t recommend this road for a regular passenger car, maybe some SUV’s would be okay.

There were signs that the area has been used by people bringing in horses. The government, I assume, had built some nice corals along with a vault toilet.  Again I don’t think bringing a trailer all the way back would be safe at this time.  Maybe the corals were built long ago.  Riding back from highway 89 would be enjoyable I am sure, but bring plenty of water.

Movie Set

A number of years ago this area was used to film  westerns.  You may recognize some the scenery from movies like “The Outlaw Josey Wales”.  The original movie set including some buildings and false fronts from the making of this movie remained here for many years, but mother nature did her work and they had to be torn down in the late 1990’s due to safety issues.  Later several larger buildings were rebuilt, but in 2006 mysteriously they burned to the ground.

Town Cemetery
All thats left - a Cemetery
All thats left – a Cemetery

A memorial has been erected at the old cemetery, along with an iron fence to protect it.  The grave stones have long since withered away and are not readable.  My understanding is there are a few original foundations left from the original buildings on the other side of the river.  All of the buildings and sign of habitation have long ago faded.

Dry Paria River
Dry Paria Riverbed

Due to the heat and the very dry riverbed, Jagger and I turned the Workhorse around, attempting not to get stuck in the sand in the middle of nowhere!  I was wondering after making a few turns, even in four wheel drive if we would make it.  The four ton weight of the Workhorse was a bit much threatening to dig trenches in the deep sandy surface, leaving us stranded, but we made it out.

Until next time, Safe Travels, Gary

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Reflection: Dixie National Forest – May 2014

I mentioned in a previous post, that I would be looking back on previous adventures that I have not published yet.  Now that I am at my Home Base in Montana, I can catch up a little bit.

What follows below was one of my experiences when I staying in Panguitch, Utah back in May 2014.  If you remember I was camping at the Hitch N Post Campground and had Jagger less than six weeks.

Shopping Adventure?

Now that I am a Retired Vagabond, I have discovered through trail and error that you can’t spend everyday on the hunt of new adventures and things to see.  It’s not like vacation, better because it continues on each day.  Some days you actually need to clean house and do laundry!

Walmart Cedar City
Walmart Cedar City

Yesterday I needed to go to the store for groceries and a few hardware items.  I decided to go to Walmart.  Wait a minute though, the closest Walmart or any hardware store is over fifty miles away.  True there are a few small grocery stores around, which I have been using occasionally, but they don’t always have the items I have in mind.  So the decision was made to have an adventure shopping.

The Trip
Highway 20 to Cedar City
Highway 20 to Cedar City

I chose to drive Highway 20, north of my camp to Interstate 15, then South to Cedar City, Utah.  A pleasant drive through nice scenery that took a little over an hour.

While at Walmart we met a nice lady who had several Australian Shepherds.  She saw Jagger and walked all the way across the parking lot to say hi.  We visited for awhile then left for the drive back to our camp.

On the way back we went Highway 14, through the Dixie National Forest.  This was a steeper and more narrow road.  I am not sure I would want to bring the Coach up here, but I am sure the Workhorse wouldn’t have a problem if I did.

I passed several trucks really struggling to pull their trailers over the winding, steep terrain.  We took our time stopping here and there for sight seeing and grabbing a few photos.  I am glad I didn’t buy anything perishable as it took over 2 hours to get back to camp.  Well worth the trip though in many ways.  I am not sure many could say they saw what I did on a grocery run!  Good times.

Until next time, Safe Travels, Gary

 

 

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Jagger – The Dreaded Day

The Dreaded Day
D-Day
D-Day

Jagger’s dreaded day, should I have told him first?  Yesterday was a day that I think was just as hard on me as Jagger, of course not physically for me.  He was neutered.  The surgery was performed by Dr. Hans H. Boer, DVM (Hans) at Companion Pet Clinic, here in town.  We have visited there several times since our arrival and the staff and Hans are wonderful.  I also should mention they are very reasonable compared to California and Arizona Vets too!  On arrival Jagger was his happy go lucky self.  Anxious to meet everyone in the office.  After check in, I gave the leash to the tech and off he bravely marched not even looking back and no I didn’t tell him.  I feel a little guilty for that.

Pick Up Time
Poor Baby
Poor Baby – After arriving at Home

When I picked Jagger up in the afternoon, after his surgery, he seemed a lot more active than I expected and he pulled me to the Workhorse.  He got help up to the back seat by one of the staff tech’s and we started our journey home, which was only a few miles.  After arriving home I turned around to see those big blues about half staff!  He was falling asleep sitting up.  That pretty much was how it went the next 24 hours, a very sleepy puppy.

Recovery Days
Rainy Day - Looking out our window
Rainy Day – Looking out our window

During Jagger’s recovery the next few days I sat down and put “pen to paper”.  During the recovery I watched Jagger struggle back to normal after the medication.  Sleepy all afternoon and evening.  The next day is better, but Jagger is still laying in his kennel at our Home Base.  It will be a quiet day which is fine as it has been raining here, very intense at times.

 Tomorrow

I am hoping for a good day tomorrow for Jagger.  His trainer, Jewel from “The Joyful Animal” will be coming by for an early evaluation.  Jagger is still having issues with animals, especially dogs (and deer).  I am hoping to learn how to correct that for sake of both of us.

Safe Travels until next time, Gary

 

 

Home Settling In Header

Home Base – Settling In

Being back at “Home Base” with my “Coach’s” first visit, has been great.  During the past week or so I have been relaxing, reading a series of “Barnaby Skye” novels that were recommended sometime back by RV Sue and Crew.  I have enjoyed it, especially since it revolves around the pre-pioneer and pioneer days in the area I now call Home Base.  Also I have been doing some cleaning and general maintenance on the Coach.

As a side note: Home Base is the first camp that upgraded my electrical hookup to 50 amps so I could run my air conditioner when we have additional family members join us here in Montana later this Summer.  I feel pretty special here!

Remodel Completed
Finishing Up the Remodel
Finishing Up the Remodel

The house remodel is finished and I moved in last week.  I will be here until next Tuesday when I pull my Coach to Missoula for some more warranty work, about 50 miles away.  My refrigerator “electric” mode died about a month ago and I have been using the propane mode since.  Also a drive pin sheared off my rear Lippert electric stabilizers and made them inoperable.  Fortunately, this happened when I arrived here at Home Base.  I need to get everything back up to speed before I head out in September for more adventures.  After the repairs are completed, how ever long it takes I will come back home for more R & R and some family time.

Venturing Out

Only a few days since arriving at Home Base, have I ventured out for any exploration.  However we did go for a drive and check out a couple of  future “short trips”.  One was the National Forest Land at Bear Creek.  Partially developed in one area requiring a drive back in the forest on dirt roads too rough for the Coach. The other area was a campground with some pull through sites, but very tight for me.  I didn’t take any pictures :( it was so crowded.  All the spots were full and several RV’s were still circling the wagons, but no space.  We moved on.

Later in the week I drove to Lake Como with my sister.  It had a nice campground.  Very small, I think 16 sites mostly pull  through with electric.  I may go here for a week or so later in July or early August.

Como Lake
Como Lake
Como Lake - Future Camp?
Como Lake – Future Camp?
Jagger’s Training

Jagger has made remarkable improvements in his obedience training.  Most of the time he is “leash free” here on the property, which I might add doesn’t have any retaining fence.  It’s been a blast to watch him run and chase a Frisbee.  His agility is remarkable.  Walking on the leash has also improved.  He really has learned a lot in just a few short months with me, under very unusual circumstances of moving all the time.  I have him signed up locally for some classes starting in July.  The class is really for me :) – don’t tell Jagger though.

Safe travels until next time, Gary

Home

North to Montana

Wagonhammer RV Park - North Fork, ID
Wagonhammer RV Park – North Fork, ID

Heading north to my new home base in Montana only 70 miles away.  I planned to leave Wagonhammer Campground in North Fork, Idaho early in the morning.  I was able to pull off 8 AM, the earliest departure since I have been on the road.  Pulling away, I again had feelings of leaving something special.  We had a great time at Wagonhammer, especially “Dog Island”.  I will have a lot of good memories of a relaxing times and good acquaintances.  The campground is one of my favorites so far.  It had the right mix of atmosphere (Rivers and Trees), Great facilities, wonderful Hosts, but time to move on to my home in the North.

Lewis and Clark, Indians Passed This Way

As we pull out onto Highway 93, I focus on the road heading North over the Great Divide.  My mind wonders some, thinking about Lewis and Clark along with many other Indians and Pioneers.  They made the same route North many years before, but they weren’t pulling the weight my Workhorse.  It is pretty effortlessly moving up & down the highway.  They had many more difficulties and taking many days to accomplish what I will in a little over an hour.  We live with wonderful inventions, but at a price.  I will pass more wonders than you can count and never really see them even though I move slow and focus on such things. Progress?

Getting Close to Home

This is some of the steepest roads I have been on with the Coach behind me.  There was virtually no place to safely pull over and take pictures of the beautiful landscape flying by my window.  For many miles the Workhorse was pulling up, once over the Great Divide and passing highway 48 coming in from Big Hole we started our descent traveling down steep, winding roads at 25 MPH.  The closer we got to Sula, Montana, highway 93 became very narrow.  I didn’t remember it being so narrow when traveling in a car along the Bitterroot River, but at 8 feet wide, I am taking up almost all of my lane North.

Chief Joseph Ranch

Soon we were in familiar territory, passing the Chief Joesph Ranch, now owned by a nice family from Missouri.  I wanted to turn in the entrance gates, as that was home when I visited here so many times over the last 10 years.  But onward we go to Hamilton.

Property Entrance
Property Entrance
Final Approach

On arriving at our home, I parked out front on the narrow road and did the walk through.  I needed to make sure the Coach would fit the narrow driveway and approach to the site where it would park the next few weeks.  It appeared we would make the turns and so I proceeded cautiously.

It was very close in fact the branches were rubbing on the Coach, but I thought it would be okay, however I had some very minor superficial damage.  I guess we need to trim the trees back some before making the pass again.

Arrived

We are officially Home and Jagger is so happy, as am I.  This is Jagger’s first experience here and you can tell he loves Janet and Bob immediately.  Right outside the Coach is a huge yard for Jagger to run and play.

Until next time, Safe Travels, Gary

 

A Full Time RV Adventure