Montana Stop 3 of 3

Location: Missoula KOA, Missoula, Montana

Dates: Aug. 6 to 8, 2017

After changing our tire and riding on our spare, we made it to Missoula just fine. It was only an 85 mile drive. We got set up early in the afternoon at the KOA in Missoula. Our site was very close to the pool (which we never got around to going to) and the office. We even had a separate parking space for the truck.

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While the air conditioners cooled off the rig, we ran across the street to Costco to pick up some items there. We relaxed the rest of the evening. Malcolm caught up with some work. We sat outside for a while, though it was somewhat smoky from nearby forest fires, it was pleasant otherwise.

On Monday morning, we decided to try out the breakfast served by the KOA. It was pretty tasty. Malcolm sampled the whole buffet and Val ordered a couple items ala carte.

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After breakfast, Malcolm loaded up the spare tire and the flat tire and put them both in the back of the truck. He headed out to a nearby Les Schwab tire store and had them fix the punctured tire and swap it and the nearly new spare tire between the rims. The thought was to use the half-worn and patched tire as the spare from now on and put the nearly new tire into service on the aluminum rim.

While they fixed the tire, Malcolm ran a couple errands including a hair cut. When he hadn’t heard back from the tire store, he stopped by the trailer and picked up Val so we could do some other shopping. The tire store called and we picked up the tires while we were out running the other errands.

Back at the trailer, Malcolm put the regular rim with the formerly spare tire on the trailer and put the spare back in the spare tire carrier. The rest of the evening, Malcolm caught up with some more work and we relaxed inside.

Tuesday morning, we got up and had breakfast at the KOA again. We weren’t in a big hurry since we didn’t have a long drive to Spokane, so we took our time getting ready to hitch up the trailer. When Malcolm checked the tire pressure monitor in the truck, it was beeping about low pressure. He saw that another tire was supposedly at 0 PSI. He checked that tire and it was at normal pressure, so it was the tire monitor that was acting up. We went ahead and hitched up the trailer.

After all our usual checks, Val hopped in the truck and noticed that another trailer tire was showing low pressure – the tire we just had put on. Malcolm checked, and sure enough, it was down to 31 PSI. We ended up having to unhook the trailer and remove the tire to take it back to the tire store. In the process, one of the lug nuts got bent up (they have decorative covers on them) and Malcolm couldn’t remove it with the shallow socket he had on the lug wrench. Off to Lowes to buy a deep well socket (we ended up with an entire set).

With the tire off the trailer, Malcolm drove to the tire store while Val let the office know we needed to stay a little longer (it was already almost checkout time by this time). The tire store prioritized us after Malcolm let them know that we needed to leave soon. They found that we had a cracked rim, so there wasn’t anything we could do immediately. The rims have lifetime warranties (we had to replace another one for the same reason last fall), so we’ll submit a claim to get a replacement, but will have to wait until we get out to the Tacoma area next week.

Back at the trailer, Malcolm mounted the spare tire (the one with the plug from the screw we picked up a couple days earlier) and we said a little prayer before we hit the road.

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One More Time

We made it to Spokane just fine later in the afternoon. We’ll update you more on that stop in the next blog entry.

Montana Stop 2 of 3

Location: Deer Lodge KOA, Deer Lodge, Montana

Dates: Aug. 4 to 6, 2017

We arrived on Friday to a very smoky campground in Deer Lodge, Montana. There are forest fires somewhat close by and there was little wind and hot weather making things a bit worse.

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Our spot in Deer Lodge

The smoke was thick enough that it was nearly blotting out the sun and casting an orange glow on everything, which is evident in the picture of our trailer, above.

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The smoky sky

Later in the afternoon, the wind picked up and blew most of the smoke away, leaving a mostly blue sky for us.

On Saturday, we didn’t do much other than some grocery shopping and laundry. Malcolm was feeling bad on Friday and Saturday. We think it might be a side effect of some allergy meds he is taking.

On Sunday morning, we were moving slowly since our next stop was in Missoula, only about 80 miles away. The plan was to hit the road around 11:00 AM, which gave us plenty of time to get things ready to go. It was a good thing, too. When Malcolm went out to the truck to get it ready to hitch up, he turned on the tire pressure monitor as he always does and it started beeping that one of the trailer tires was low.

After checking the tire in question with a tire gauge, Malcolm determined that the tire was indeed very low on air. He got the spare tire down and after we pulled in the slides, Malcolm pulled the low tire off the trailer and put it in the back of the truck. A screw was visible in the tread.

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Checking the air in the spare

With the spare aired up to the right pressure, it was put on the trailer and we hitched up and headed out. We didn’t figure we’d find anywhere to fix our tire in Deer Lodge on a Sunday. We were fairly confident that we could make it the 80 miles to Missoula without a spare tire (we did).

Montana Stop 1 of 3

Location: Hardin KOA, Hardin, Montana

Dates: Aug. 3 to 4, 2017

We left Wyoming and made the drive up to Hardin, Montana. This is our first of three stops in Montana. Considering that we have six days to make the drive on into Washington and we’re only two long or three short days away, we’ll start slowing it back a little, but after today.

Most of Montana is under a pretty bad drought and, subsequently, is under a lot of burn restrictions. The campground noted that their burn restriction is at a high enough level that they can’t run gas-powered lawn equipment. Accordingly, the place was a little overgrown looking, but they’ve done the best they can. This was just another overnight for us, anyway.

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The back of our trailer was facing directly west, which is why Malcolm took a picture of the site from the rear. The red roofing is a lean-to that shades the picnic table for the site. It also helps with wind control to some extent.

The only “sightseeing” was Malcolm driving down the road to fill up the truck at the fairly new Loves’ truck stop. Otherwise, we just relaxed.

 

Montana and More Planning

Current Location: Deer Lodge KOA, Deer Lodge, Montana

We packed up this morning and headed out from Buffalo, Wyoming towards Montana. Fresh from last night’s reservation-making, we were confident that we’d be staying in the Grant County, Washington fairgrounds campground on Saturday evening. Still, just to be safe, we decided to call the fairgrounds to make sure.

That’s when we found it pays to be flexible again. When Malcolm called the fairgrounds office, they indicated that they don’t open the campground unless their is some type of event going on and there isn’t right now. They did suggest a nearby city-run campground, instead, so Malcolm called them up.

The first person that answered the phone said that she was pretty confident we wouldn’t have any problem getting a site, but that there is a two-night minimum. Malcolm told her that we would call around to make sure we could re-arrange some reservations. We decided that we would travel on to Deer Lodge today instead of stopping in Livingston. Deer Lodge said that we could come on in today instead of tomorrow.

We couldn’t drop the Livingston reservation without losing all of our $50 deposit, though. However, we could change the reservation to a later date, so we changed it to coincide with our trip back east in early September.

With all that coordinated, Malcolm called the first campground back again. Another person answered and he wasn’t sure if they could accommodate a rig our size, but he was going to call the camp host at the campground to see what they could do. We drove on down the road while waiting for a callback. Once he called back, he said he could put us in an overflow area where could at least get electricity. Then he asked when we planned on arriving. This is where we should have asked up front. They are completely booked over the weekend, including the overflow area.

On our next stop, Malcolm just started calling around to campgrounds up and down I-90 between Deer Lodge, Montana and the eastern third of Washington state. He finally found a site for Saturday night at a little campground in the middle of Idaho and reserved that. Once we got to Deer Lodge, we found that we could stay two nights here, so that covers us through the weekend. Phew.

After all that phone calling and planning, we’re glad that we’ve finally got all the bases covered all the way through and including Labor Day weekend. After that weekend things get a lot easier to book, so we are more confident we’ll have a place to stay all the way back east. Such is the life of a full-time RV’er.

At any rate, here we are at the Deer Lodge KOA. We stayed here back in 2013 heading west with our son riding along with us. Though it is a small park in the middle of town, it is nice and quiet. The owner was very accommodating to all our changes.

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Some Montana Big Sky in the background

Tomorrow we’ll be running various errands around town in preparation for our week and a half camping with the family at Lake Chelan, Washington.

 

 

 

Montana, Wheat and Bread

Current Location: Fort Three Forks Motel and RV Park, Three Forks, Montana

We were up a little early this morning to pack up and head out from Idaho. Malcolm noticed it was fairly chilly as he was taking care of outside stuff, but didn’t realize how much so until he went to get the truck ready to hitch up and noticed frost on the truck bed cover. Once the truck was started, Malcolm saw that the current temperature (around 7:45 AM) was 34 degrees. Brrr. That was a bit colder than the weather forecast. Might have been our location.

We headed on down I-90 eastbound, stopping a couple times for breaks, once for fuel and once for lunch. We crossed the Continental Divide on the way. Of course, the typical Montana scenery we’ve come to expect along the way, as well.

Continental Divide

Continental Divide

Montana scenery

Montana scenery

More Montana Scenery

More Montana Scenery

We arrived here in Three Forks around 4:00 PM (Mountain Time), checked into the campground at the motel office (we called ahead to get a reservation, just in case) and pulled the rig into our site. We had filled up the truck just down the road in case we could leave everything hitched up overnight, but found that the electric post was too far forward on the site to stay hooked up. Plus, the site is probably a little to short to do that anyway, so we unhooked the truck.

View looking west from our site

View looking west from our site

Unhooking the truck was a good thing. We found out that our RV park is directly behind a Wheat Montana bakery. The bakery has a store and deli. The baking bread smell made us hungry a little early, so we ended up eating dinner at the deli. The sandwiches were delicious. We also ended up buying a couple gifts, a t-shirt for this year’s quilt and several loaves of bread and a sleeve of bagels. Most went into the freezer for later.

Store and deli

Store and deli

Great selection of breads

Great selection of breads

After dinner, we decided to just relax in the trailer, but not before grabbing a great sunset photo op.

Sunset

Sunset

Today’s license plate count – 18 of 51 plates found. You can tell summer is over. Traffic is quite a bit lighter with fewer far-flung states represented.

License Plates

License Plates