Rolling East – Part 2

Location: Rock Island/Quad Cities KOA, Rock Island, Illinois

Dates: Sept. 13 to 14, 2017

We stopped for the night on the way east in the Rock Island, Illinois KOA. Malcolm forgot to get a picture of the site, but it was a nice long pull-through site with fresh gravel. Easy in and easy out. He did get a picture of a fall leaf on the rear of the truck the next morning.


After getting set up, Malcolm ran over to a nearby Camping World to buy a new LP gas detector. Our other one started going off the other night and we couldn’t get it to turn off. Though it was not out of date, we decided it may be bad (we now think it was going off due to the proximity to the cat’s litter box).

Malcolm tried hooking up the new detector in the same location and it was immediately flashing a red gas detected light (note that we shut off both propane tanks after removing the old detector). We decided that due to our suspicion that the cat box was setting it off that we would install the new one in a different location (actually closer to the gas stove/oven).

Location: Shipshewana Campground South Park, Shipshewana, Indiana

Dates: Sept. 14 to 15, 2017

We headed on our final leg east on the 14th. We had ordered some new underbelly material (coroplast) for the trailer from the trailer manufacturer (Heartland RVs). We paid for it ahead of time and had them hold it for pickup. We stopped in Elkhart, Indiana and picked it up on the way through, tossing it into the trailer for the time being.

The reason we are picking this up is that Malcolm will be replacing the underbelly material under the rear part of the trailer. When we had our hydraulic leak that we fixed last year, the fluid (essentially automatic transmission fluid) was spread all down the underside of the trailer, causing the plastic material to soften and start drooping in places. We thought we would replace the material before the current material possibly gives way and goes flapping down the road behind us.


We drove on over to Shipshewana to stay at the campground there overnight. Since we arrived around 5:00, most all the Amish-run stores were closing for the day. We did drive down to the 5/20 Restaurant and had dinner.


The next morning, on the 15th, we decided to take advantage of the noon check-out time and get our Amish shopping fix in during the morning hours. We first drove over to Rise ‘N’ Roll bakery for some of their tasty donuts as well as a few goodies to take along with us.


The Rise ‘N’ Roll cinnamon-caramel donut (on the right in the picture, below) is probably what they are most famous for. They are indeed very tasty.


After our sugary breakfast, we stopped at the E&S Bulk store and stocked up on a few grocery items. We also dropped by Yoder’s hardware and department stores.


Buggies outside Yoder’s Department Store

After our shopping extravaganza, we hitched up the trailer and headed south around 11:00. The southbound stops will be detailed in upcoming installments.






Rolling East – Part 1

Location: Green Tree’s Crazy Woman Campground, Gillette, Wyoming

Dates: Sept. 10 to 11, 2017

After leaving the rally in Red Lodge, Montana, our next stop was in Gillette, Wyoming. We arrived mid-afternoon. After setting up the rig, we went to the gas station and the grocery, then back to the trailer for dinner.


We were anxiously watching the news reports and our security camera on our site in Florida as Hurricane Irma passed through the state. Even though the eye of the hurricane practically passed right over our place, we didn’t have any damage. Some aluminum trim blew off a neighbor’s RV port and landed next to our car (not on the car). Also, our car cover blew off but is still wrapped around the rear tire. We’ll clean up when we get there next week.


Malcolm got up early and took the truck to the Ford dealer across the street from the campground. It was due for an oil change and we thought it might be time for brakes on it. Mid-morning, Malcolm dropped off a payment for a second night’s stay but the truck was done about 10:30 since it didn’t need brakes yet. We called the office (they weren’t in yet) and told them to void out the check for the second night’s stay.


We went ahead and rolled on out around 11:00 am and headed on east.

Location: Arrow Campground, Wall, South Dakota

Dates: Sept. 11 to 12, 2017

We took a little shorter drive today since we left Gillette later than we usually leave on a travel day. We arrived around 4:00 PM, got the trailer set up and headed out to fuel up the truck. We also walked around Wall Drug for a while, eating dinner in their diner. We ended up back at the trailer for the rest of the evening.


We packed up and headed out fairly early from Wall since we had a longer drive to our next stop.

Location: Sioux City North KOA, North Sioux City, South Dakota

Dates: Sept. 12 to 13, 2017

On our way through South Dakota, we stopped at the rest area near Chamberlain. This time last year they had just unveiled this statue, named “Dignity”, that we didn’t notice through here last year. Tomorrow (Sept. 13) was to be her first birthday.


We arrived at the North Sioux City KOA late in the afternoon since it was a longer driving day. After getting set up, we took one of our quilts over to the laundry to wash it (Callie had thrown up on it the other night).


After doing our laundry, Malcolm grilled dinner while he flushed out the black tank and emptied the gray tanks. We left the truck hitched to the trailer for tonight’s stop. Tomorrow, it’s on to the Illinois-Iowa border.




Eastward to a Rally

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.





The Rest of Our Washington Visit

Location: Gig Harbor RV Resort, Gig Harbor, Washington

Dates: Aug. 25 to Sept. 5, 2017

We moved the trailer from the Washington State Fairgrounds to the Gig Harbor RV Resort on Friday, August 25th. Since it was only about a 40 minute drive and the Gig Harbor RV Resort had a 1:00 check-in, we took our time at the fairgrounds getting ready. As a matter of fact, Val drove over and picked up Violet to let her go buy a birthday present for Scarlet, since her birthday party was later in the day.

We called ahead just after 11:00 to Gig Harbor and they said come on over any time after about noon, so we hooked up and pulled out of the fairgrounds around 11:30. It is a 24 mile drive over to Gig Harbor and we arrived just after noon and got the trailer all set up. We did some grocery shopping and later in the day went over to Fox Island to visit the family for a bit.


All set up in Gig Harbor

We spent Saturday and Sunday over at Fox Island with the family, as well.


Sun setting on Mt. Rainier as viewed from Fox Island

Malcolm worked all week the following week, though two or three work days were over at Elizabeth and Cole’s house. It is a bit longer drive from Gig Harbor to their house than it is from the fairgrounds, so we would typically just pack everything up and head over for the day. Malcolm worked back in the bedroom so he could have some quiet.

Monday the 28th was Elizabeth’s birthday. We celebrated by going to dinner with Cole, Elizabeth, the girls and Val’s sister Anne and her son Jonathan at The Old Spaghetti Factory in Tacoma.

On Tuesday, the girls decorated some cupcakes for us.



On Wednesday, the 30th, Elizabeth and the girls met us at a nearby restaurant. Val took the girls and Cole’s grandmother and mother for a lunch out. Meanwhile, Malcolm and Elizabeth drove up the road a few miles and had their 3rd annual daddy-daughter birthday horseback ride.


Elizabeth and Malcolm riding horses

We spent the day on Thursday and Friday over at Cole and Elizabeth’s. Some days were more tiring than others, apparently.


Scarlet wiping out early

For the Labor Day weekend, we again spent the weekend out on Fox Island with the family. We celebrated Malcolm’s birthday a day early, on Saturday, since some of the family wouldn’t be there on his actual birthday.


Lulu relaxing with Malcolm


Violet and Pa relaxing with Lulu

Violet and Scarlet came home with us from the island and slept over with Nana on Saturday night. Pa slept in his recliner. Sunday morning was spent playing with Nana’s Build-a-Bears before loading up and heading back out to Fox Island.


On Monday afternoon, we said our goodbyes to all of the family, including Cole, Elizabeth and the girls. They were heading back home a little early so that Violet would be ready for her first day of school on Tuesday. We headed back to the trailer so that we could start packing up everything for our Tuesday morning departure.


Saying goodbye to Fox Island until next summer

This morning, September 5th, we hitched up the trailer to head out on our first day of eastward travel back towards home. We were greeted with a fairly heavy smoky haze and a light dusting of ashes on the back of the truck. We rolled out around 9:00 AM, heading toward Spokane.


Ashes on the truck from Washington forest fires


The Next Week in Review

Location: Washington State Fair Campground, Puyallup, Washington

Dates: Aug. 20 to 25, 2017

On Monday, Elizabeth and the girls came over to experience the solar eclipse with us. Though we weren’t in the path of totality, we did get 94% coverage. That meant that it got fairly dark, like just at sunset type of dark.


Waiting for the Eclipse

We did do some interesting experiments when not viewing the eclipse through the two pairs of eclipse viewing glasses we had. One was to see how the eclipse affected the bright areas in the shadow of a nearby tree, making a bunch of semi-circles.


We also showed the girls how you could view the eclipse on a solid surface by putting a small hole in a piece of cardboard and focusing the resulting image on a piece of paper.


Once it was done, life went back to normal with Malcolm working for a while and Val visiting with Elizabeth and the girls. We had dinner at their house later in the day.

Tuesday was generally a stay inside day. Malcolm worked and Val worked on some sewing projects. We went over to Elizabeth’s house for dinner and came back home afterwards. Right after we left, Cole called Malcolm to let him know that the wheels for the trailer had arrived.

When Malcolm contacted the wheel company about the cracked wheel, he got them to send him a replacement wheel for the cracked rim, and two more to complete the set of four on the trailer (we already had one replaced last fall).


On Wednesday, Malcolm spent most of the day working on getting wheels replaced on the trailer. We drove up to Elizabeth’s in the morning to pick up the wheels and drop Val off to work on some sewing with Elizabeth. Malcolm took the new wheels and the three tires and wheels from the trailer to the tire store to drop them all off.


Malcolm picked up the wheels and tires a couple hours later, then went up to pick Val up from Elizabeth’s house since Elizabeth and the girls were going to visit some friends. Malcolm got everything mounted back on the trailer and the spare put back into place.


Later in the afternoon, we ran the old wheels over to a recycling place and got $36 for them, offsetting some of the cost of mounting and balancing the tires on the new rims. Afterwards, we headed on back to the trailer.

Cole and Elizabeth dropped the girls off around dinner time and headed to have dinner with family. The girls spent the night with us in the trailer. Nana and the girls had a slumber party in the living room and Pa got the bed to himself (a change from the usual overnight arrangements when the girls stay over).

Elizabeth came by on Thursday with her babysitting children and we all had cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Afterwards, Elizabeth left with all the children to run a couple errands, taking Val along with her. She dropped Val off later on. Malcolm stayed in the trailer and worked. We went up to their house for dinner.

After dinner, Elizabeth and Cole took Violet out to buy back-to-school supplies (she’s in first grade this year). We talked Scarlet into going to the grocery store with us by bribing her with a stop for ice cream.


We dropped her off at home and headed back to the trailer after Elizabeth, Cole and Violet returned.

On Friday, it was moving day. Time to leave the fairgrounds as the fair starts in a week and they need the campground for vendors and others involved with the fair. We were only moving 24 miles up the road to Gig Harbor, so we delayed leaving until nearly noon.

Val took some time to pick up Violet and take her to the store to buy a birthday present for Scarlet since they were having Scarlet’s birthday party (a couple weeks early) at Elizabeth’s house. Val got back around 11 am and Malcolm called ahead to the next campground to verify that our site would be available. It was, so we finished hitching up and headed on up the road to our next stop in nearby Gig Harbor.