Location: Spokane KOA, Spokane, Washington
Dates: Sept. 5 to 6, 2017
We left Gig Harbor with our ash-covered truck and trailer around 9:00 in the morning. The forest fire smoke grew greater as we crossed Snoqualmie Pass on I-90 east of Seattle. It got somewhat better through the state of Washington but was still bad enough we left the air conditioner on recirculate.
At a fuel stop west of Spokane, we saw Mr. Peanut’s vehicle parked at the gas pumps. Malcolm had to go inside to pay for fuel but didn’t see Mr. Peanut around anywhere.
We arrived at the Spokane KOA in the afternoon. Spokane was having some pretty smoky skies, as well. Their smoke was from western Montana fires.
We ate dinner out at Panera Bread and stopped by the store to pick up a couple items, fueling the truck up on the way back to the trailer.
Location: Deer Lodge KOA, Deer Lodge, Montana
Dates: Sept. 6 to 7, 2017
Before we left Spokane, Malcolm called our neighbor in Florida as we were getting emails from our Florida neighborhood indicating that volunteers were helping lash down any loose items before hurricane Irma came ashore. Our neighbor couldn’t help, but sent someone who was volunteering and was helping him. They came over and put a couple items away for us.
We had a smoky drive from Spokane to Deer Lodge, Montana. The smoke was especially bad through the mountains in Idaho and on into the west end of Montana. The smoke was thinner in Deer Lodge.
We just left the trailer hooked to the truck at Deer Lodge and just took it easy for the evening.
Location: Red Lodge KOA, Red Lodge, Montana
Dates: Sept. 7 to 10
On Thursday, September 7, we drove from Deer Lodge to Red Lodge, Montana to the KOA there. We were attending the Montana Chapter rally for the Heartland Owners Club. This was the Montana chapter’s first rally.
Right after we got the trailer set up and the air conditioners running, we headed over to the chapter leader’s site to enjoy a meet and greet with others that had already arrived. We also had a pitch-in dinner later in the evening, with the club (including Malcolm) grilling up hot dogs and hamburgers.
On Friday morning, many of us drove into Red Lodge and ate breakfast at the Red Lodge Cafe. The food was very good and there was plenty of it.
After breakfast, we headed back to the campground (it is about 4 miles north of town). Malcolm rode with several others to Woodbine Falls for a photo expedition and hike. Val stayed at the trailer and did some sewing and visited others that had stayed behind.
The hike back to the falls was a bit strenuous, and we were at around 5,600 ft. elevation. But the views were worth it (despite it being smoky again).
The actual falls are very narrow and tall. Malcolm didn’t get the best vantage point to photograph the top part of the falls but did get some good shots with his big camera (these photos are from his phone).
When the falls group got back into town, it was time for the 2:00 brewery tour at Red Lodge Ales. Val drove into town to meet Malcolm there. Malcolm skipped the tour since he hadn’t had lunch and we ate something there at the brewery while others took the tour.
After the brewery stop, we headed over to Absarokee, Montana, about a 35 mile drive west of Red Lodge. We visited with Malcolm’s cousin Sue and her husband, Rich. We’ve been trying to stop through and visit them every year that we’ve been passing through the area and just haven’t matched up schedules. This year we gave them advance warning and called a few days in advance.
We talked for a while at their house then headed to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Afterwards, we returned to their house and talked for a little longer and took a selfie of the four of us.
After that visit, we headed back to the campground, arriving after dark.
On Saturday morning, everyone was gathered again for a pancake breakfast with all the trimmings and pitch-in sides.
After the breakfast, a group headed out in vehicles to drive the Beartooth Highway. Malcolm was torn on whether to do that or to walk around downtown Red Lodge and chose the latter. We had a great visit in downtown. They have a lot of nice shops and restaurants. We found some gift items for Christmas to put back for later and a couple items for ourselves.
We also stocked up on some Red Lodge ales for Malcolm.
After taking our goodies back to the trailer, we changed clothes and headed back downtown to the pizza place where the final rally dinner and prize giveaway happened. We all had great pizza and salad and many prizes were given away.
Two prizes were auctioned off, with all the auction proceeds going into the Montana Chapter funds to help offset costs for this rally and future rallies. Malcolm was the winning bidder on this nice Yeti cooler. He bought it for half of the price that Amazon was selling it for. The other prize that we didn’t bid on was a nice smoker grill.
After the dinner, everyone headed back to the campground for margaritas and great conversation. We stuck around for that for a while before heading back to the trailer to start packing up to leave on Sunday. We said goodbyes just in case we missed anyone the next morning.
On Sunday morning, we took our time getting ready to leave and said goodbyes to many of the folks that were trickling out all morning. We eventually hit the road around 9:30 am heading towards our next stop in Gillette, Wyoming.