Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 35 -- Ocean Cove, CA to Home

And we're home . . .

Our day started at the beach, cold and foggy and beautiful.  The fog is so mysterious and moody.  We knew we wanted to get an early start.  Our route takes us through San Francisco and down the peninsula so we wanted to be through there before Rush Hour.  Not driving a motorhome with a tow vehicle through traffic on Highway 17.

We had breakfast and headed down the coast.  It was beautiful and, in someways, easier to drive down Highway 1 in the fog.  You know the cliffs are there but the fog is hiding the deadly plummet that faces you if you steer wrong.  Hey, ignorance is bliss, after all!

We turned inland at the town of Jenner.  It's where the Russian River meets the ocean.  The mouth of the river was full of seals basking on the beach.  You know critters live in cold water when basking involves lying on a wet beach on a foggy day!

The drive up the Russian River is still windy but it's more the kind of windy road we're used to driving on.  We felt more and more like we were heading home. We left the fog and enjoyed seeing cute little towns that thrive along the Russian River.

Once we were out on Highway 101, things moved more quickly.  We zipped down through Marin County and over the Golden Gate bridge where we were momentarily back in the fog.

Once we were through SF, we drove familiar roads home.  We stopped in Scotts Valley to pick up our sweet Ruby-dog from my mother-in-law where she had been pampered and loved on for the last 5 weeks by Greg's mother, his sister, our nephews, and friends.   Do I need to mention how glad she was to see us?  Or how glad we were to see her?  :)

We let the kids swim there and then headed for home. The driving became easier as we drove on roads that we know like the back of our hands.  Coming into town, the scene was familiar and new all at once.  We were thrilled when our neighbors drove by and yelled, "Welcome Home!" out the windows!  We definitely felt that we were Home.

The house looked good as we pulled in the driveway.  (My mother-in-law is an amazing house-sitter!)

To be honest, I didn't want to end the trip.  Our worries were few, our chores familiar, our joys great on this epic trip.  We saw and did amazing, once-in-a-lifetime things over and over again.  We didn't get tired of the journey and devolve into bickering and fighting (even the kids!!!).  We were happy and excited for most of the journey.

Still, home is good.  And, we've got next year to look forward to . . .

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 34 -- Ft Bragg, CA to Ocean Cove, CA

A short day today. We were heading for home on a hard-to-drive road and decided to enjoy one last night along the coast. We got up, changed the fuel filter on the FMC (it's been backfiring strangely since we got gas near Olympia, WA), and got on the road heading south again.

We stopped at pretty much every little market between Ft. Bragg and Ocean Cove buying treats. Our favorite stop was in Elk, CA. It's a tiny town - absolutely beautiful. The ladies in the market had just finished their baking for the day. We got fresh rolls (still warm) and fresh baked chocolate chip cookies . . . still gooey and hot! We had the cookies right away and saved the rolls for lunch! We also bought them out of Dr. Pepper -- we bought BOTH cans!

Later, we stopped at the Surf Market in Gualala. Greg got tri-tip fresh off the grill and I got everything else! We had a great lunch that day! We stopped at Salt Point State Park's day use area and I made sandwiches. The kids had tri-tip sandwiches on the fresh bread but I had fresh, organic cream cheese and smoked salmon on the fresh bread. It was amazing! Oh, and Greg had tri-tip, too. YUM!


Shortly after, we were rounding a corner on Highway 1 and Greg spotted some RVs parked out on a point of land. We had found Ocean Cove Store and Campground. And, wow, what a find it is! We pulled in, paid our $20, and found an amazing site right on the edge of the cove. We got settled in to our site and went exploring!



Look what Gage found!

Before dinner, we headed over to Ft. Ross in the car. It's an old Imperial Russian settlement on the California coast. They set up a fur station where they hunted for sea otter pelts. They tried their hand at farming food and grain for other Russian outposts in Alaska but found they weren't in the best spot for it. Between the weather and the gophers, their wheat crop didn't do well. They were there for a number of years and then left California in 1841. It's an amazing place. Most of the buildings are reconstructions but the house of the director is original and it's amazing.



When we got back to the motorhome, we had an amazing dinner. Crab appetizers, steak, salad, fresh bread . . . our last night on the road. We also had a wonderful fire and made S'mores! Yum! Life is good!


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 33 - Brookings, OR to Fort Bragg, CA

Waking up in Brookings at the jetty was as nice as going to bed there. The animals and birds were out playing in the water again. It was a beautiful day! We got on the road again. Before we got too far, however, we stopped at The Great American Smokehouse and bought some smoked salmon and crabmeat.

We headed on down the road and were back in California very quickly! It was nice to see the wonderful Redwood trees again.


We got back out to the coast again by taking Hwy 1. Hwy 1 in far northern California is an intense road: very narrow, steep cliffs, minimal guardrails, etc. Driving the motorhome (heck, riding in the motorhome) is an exhausting progress. The benefits are the amazing views and the coolness of the fog!


By the time we got to Fort Bragg, Greg was done (and had been done for about an hour) so we opted to stay in a well-reviewed private campground in Fort Bragg. The park, Pomo RV Park, was lovely and clean. However, we didn't feel all that welcome . . . they were not family friendly and made it clear in their attitude and their rules that children were a huge inconvenience. I hate that in an RV park but we were just there for one night.

Needless to say, we ate well. We had smoked salmon for appetizers, steak for dinner, yum!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day 32 -- Honeyman SP, OR to Brookings, OR

This must have been one of our most fun days along the Oregon Coast. We drove up to Sea Lion Caves first thing in the morning. This looks and feels like a tourist trap but actually is a really cool place to see Sea Lions and sea birds. From the top of the cliffs, you take an elevator down 200 feet into a cave where you can see sea lions hanging out. There are lots of viewing places both inside and outside the caves.

Liza was excited to see Pigeon Guillemots -- a very cool sea bird that breeds there.


After the Caves, we headed back to camp. I packed up while the kids and Greg did one more foray out to the dunes. And, then we headed on south again.

The drive down Highway 1 in Oregon is simply beautiful. We loved it. One of our favorite family spots is the West Coast Game Park. It's a walk-thru wild animal park/petting zoo. You get to interact with a lot of animals . . . especially baby animals such as lions and tigers and ferrets (oh my!)


Ruth and deer

Loving on llamas

Gage, Greg, & Ruth with baby lion

Gage with baby ferret

Once we left there, we started looking for a good place to camp for the night. We were hoping to be near the beach but it was very windy and we couldn't find a good spot. We passed some beautiful beaches and finally couldn't stand it. We stopped at a really beautiful one and had a great time, despite the high winds!


The wind was so strong it blew the sand right out of my shoe!

708 on the Oregon Coast

We eventually settled on a campground at Brookings, OR. It was on the Jetty at the port. We paid $20 for a spectacular view with no hookups. We saw sea lions, seals, pelicans, cormorants, grebes, and gulls. It was gorgeous! We enjoyed some champagne, smoked salmon, and amazing cheese for appetizers while watching this spectacular sunset!

Sunset, Brookings, OR

Day 31 Nehalem Bay SP, OR to Honeyman SP, OR (July 12, 2010)

We got up and had pancakes and bacon for breakfast? Why? Well, our lovely daughter, Ruth, turned 12! Greg had some work to do so we got a bit of a late start out but once we were on the road, we deadheaded to Tillamook, OR to taste some cheese!

We love cheese!

We had lunch, did the tour, and did some shopping. Tillamook was a bit crowded and noisy but it's a required stop. Plus, you can't miss their Vintage White Cheddar -- it's beyond delish!

Greg had more work to do (thank goodness for 3G access!) so we hung out in the parking lot there until he got it done and then headed down to Honeyman State Park. This is a family favorite -- Greg's family visited here eons ago, he and I visited years ago and we were looking forward to sharing it with our kids.

Honeyman is located in the Oregon Dunes area which makes it a really unique area to visit. However, it's changed in the last 20-something years. We hadn't realized that ATVs were allowed on the dunes now. This results in a campground that is crowded and noisy. Add to it that there was something I was horribly allergic to and I don't think we'll be back. Sad, huh?


Still, we had fun climbing the dunes!!!

Day 30 -- Seattle to Nehelman, OR (July 11, 2010)

Bebe bunny, Kent, WA

Our time in Seattle had to come to an end.  We packed up (This baby bunny did not want to leave it's hiding place under our motorhome.) and then headed south and west.   We headed for the coast and met up with Hwy 1.  On the way south, we met up with the Lewis and Clark trail . . . at the end of it.  When we hit the Columbia River, we found a great roadstop that marked where the Lewis and Clark Expedition had to spend a week waiting out a Pacific storm. They called the place Dismal Nitch so I don't think they enjoyed their stay there as much as we did.


708 at Dismal Nitch

And, then we head off over the Astoria bridge into Oregon.  I'm not a big fan of bridges <ahem!> and this particular bridge kinda freaks me out!


We didn't have time to stop in Astoria so we just cruised through and headed south.  We drove through town after cute beach town along the coast.  I started looking for a place to spend the night.  However, we ended up finding an amazing campground by accident.  As we headed south, we saw a state park campground that said they had vacancies.  So, we gave it a shot.


What a beautiful campground.  Nehalem Bay State Park, Or.  It's on the beach but the campsites are sheltered and surrounded by beautiful landscaping.  The pads are paved and level.  Each site has electricity and water.  They don't designate tent or RV sites and they also have amazingly cute Yurts that you can rent to camp in.  The atmosphere was beautiful and peaceful.  I could have spent a week there!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 29 - Seattle, WA

Our last day in Seattle was one we'd had planned for months! As a family, we have a favorite band. They are rock with an Bombay edge to them. They are called Manooghi Hi and we utterly adore them. Greg found them but we all claim them as a favorite. When the kids and I are driving home from school and it's been "one of those days," Manooghi Hi can be guaranteed to lift our moods!

Imagine our thrill when Greg found out they'd be playing at a festival in Seattle while we were there.

So, this was our day to "do" Seattle. We did the Space Needle first. Greg and the kids went up the needle while I made sure things were okay at ground level . . . I'm not a big fan of heights! They loved it up there and more power to them. I had iced coffee and a croissant with my feet firmly planted on the ground!

Then we drove over to the Ballard district in Seattle. They hold an annual Seafood Festival and Oh. My. Goodness. is it worth a visit. It's a free street fair with all sorts of food vendors. They had a beer and wine garden set up but we never made it in there. Seattle was having a heat wave while we were there and it was in the high 80's that day. We drank our combined weight in lemonade and water! The seafood was amazing. The festival also has a Scandinavian edge to so there was some ethnic foods from that area (we avoided the lutefisk eating contest!). Ruth discovered that Swedish meatballs are delish! Gage played it safe with corn dogs. Greg and I had lots of good things like prime rib sandwich, fish and chips, alligator (which the kids loved), korean bbq, salmon wrap, New Oreleans crab cakes, and more. While we ate lunch, the kids cooled down when the fire department sprayed a section of the street . . . I didn't see anyone else get this wet! Sigh.

Our kids know what to do on a hot day when the firefighters open the hydrants!

I staked out seats near the main stage two hours before Manooghi Hi was set to play while Greg took the kids over to the kids zone and explored the rest of the festival with them. We had great seats in the shade with a good view of the stage. Manooghi Hi is a Seattle-based band although the lead singer is from Bombay. Imagine our delight when she walked her father over and sat him at our table too. He was a very dignified Indian gentleman who was soon joined by a huge crowd of friends and family.

When the band started, we sent the kids up to the front row. They had the best seats in the house which was pretty cool for their first rock show!

Front row for their first rock show!

The band was better than we could have hoped. They played all our favorites from their album as well as new stuff we'd never heard before. They did an amazing cover of Led Zeppelin's Kashmir where both female singers took turns singing and just blew us away! During the last song, the kids couldn't stand it anymore and leapt up to dance (along with a bunch of other fans!!!).

Manooghi Hi

Manooghi Hi

When the show was over, we took the kids to get Mehnaz's autograph. She was most gracious and sweet with the kids. (Note their new Manooghi Hi tee-shirts!)

Mehnaz of Manooghi Hi signing autographs for the kids

What a day. We all agree it was the highlight of the trip! Rock on!

Day 28 - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

One of the big goals of the kids for this trip was to become international travelers . . . we wanted to visit Canada.

We got up bright and early on Day 28 and drove north, and drove and drove and drove north. When we got near the border, there was a sign that told how long the waits were at the border. We opted to head inland a bit and cross at Langley, WA. While we were waiting in line, we played "American Idiot" by Green Day. We're wacky that way!

The very nice French-Canadian border guard was somewhat surprised that we would drive so far to have lunch in Vancouver but encouraged us to have a nice visit!

Welcome to Canada

We did.

Vancouver BC

Lunch in Vancouver

Vancouver is a beautiful city. We drove around enjoying the sights and sounds. We had lunch at an outdoor brew pub in a trendy neighborhood and felt like The Beautiful People. We headed over to Sidney Park and drove the loop there -- stopping to check out the totem poles. And, then headed back to the good old U. S. of A. And, yes, the US border guy was equally thrown by the fact that we'd driven up for the day. Is a three hour drive (each way) too far to give your kids a lifetime experience? We didn't think so!

Totem Poles, Sidney Park, Vancouver

What a great day.

Day 27 -- Olympic Peninsula

Greg and I really wanted to explore the Olympic Peninsula so that was our first stop. In a perfect world, we'd have had a week just to do this part of the trip. Obviously, we don't live in a perfect world so we had one day. I mapped out a route that MIGHT have been possible (not!) and we headed off.

We drove to Seattle and took the ferry to Bainbridge Island. That put us on the Kitsap Peninsula. We then had lunch in Poulsbo, WA (a small Norwegian town on the water) and drove across one of Washington's famous floating bridges. As someone who is bridge-phobic, I like bridges that stay right on the water! We were finally on the Olympic Peninsula. We drove up to Port Townsend and fell in love. This little Victorian gem at the top of the peninsula is spectacular. Our love affair was enhanced by the PERFECT weather (sunny and 75F). We drove through every street and admired houses and buildings. Definitely a town you could imagine yourself being happy in!

We continued on our way. At this point, we realized that my "plan" for the day was unaccomplishable unless we took the last ferry back to Seattle at 12:55am so we just relaxed and enjoyed what we could see. We drove to Sequim (pronounced Squim) where there was a "wildlife drive." Most of the drive took us through neighborhoods and past lavender farms. But, we just about the time when Greg was starting to harrumph about the lack of wildlife, Ruth yelled out, "Bald Eagle!" We slammed the brakes one and backed up and there it was . . .

Bald Eagle, Sequim, WA

We continued on to Port Angeles which is the gateway to the Olympic National Park. We couldn't see most of this amazing park but we wanted to do at least part of it. We chose to do a road called Hurricane Ridge which lets you get into the middle of the park and you can see the highest point, Mt Olympus. It was spectacular and awe-inspiring and we saw Ravens up there . . . and black-tailed deer.

Raven in flight, Olympic NP

Black-tailed Deer, ONP

We drove back to the ferry and decided to eat dinner on the Seattle side. I researched mexican restaurants and found one with amazing reviews. Serena couldn't get us there, however. There was a bridge that was closed permanently and that totally threw her for a loop! Once we made it there, the restaurant was closed and in a seedy neighborhood. Sigh. We ended up eating at Famous Dave's (always a good meal at like 9:45pm). Exhausted but happy!

Day 26 -- Ellensburg, WA to Seattle, WA (July 7, 2010)

708 in Ellengsburg, WA

Once we got on the road, we were really glad we hadn't gone with plan B which was to press on to Seattle and drive most of the night. It was a long drive with lots of grades. The mountains east of Seattle are beautiful and most of them still had snow on them. We were surprised because they aren't that high but we are so far North that it changes things . . .

Serene, our GPS, brought us into Kent on a most circuitous route. We found her ability to handle Seattle to be limited at best. So, Greg was pretty tired when we got there. The KOA in Kent had gotten good reviews on line and they are deserved . . . we wanted a safe, clean place to use as a homebase for the days we spent there and we got that. That said, it's a crowded and busy park . . . lots of other people use it the same way. So, you don't have much privacy but it was nice.

We have been missing good Mexican food and saw some taquerias on the drive in. We asked at the office if they knew of any nearby and were told by a fellow Californian that there really weren't any good ones locally. Sigh. We ended up at a mexican restaurant at a Mall in Tukwila. It was good and had margaritas. Mission accomplished!

So, that day was just getting settled in and getting oriented. We sat down and made plans for the rest of our stay in the Seattle area. We had lost a day because we are on our heading home leg and we had reservations for July 12th at Honeyman State Park in Oregon. We had to fit it all in in a short time . . .

Day 25 -- Coeur d'Alene, ID to Ellensburg, WA

We woke up early and ate breakfast on the road. Greg found the Starbucks in Couer d'Alene (proving his deep love for me!).

We also found Erickson's RV Supply -- a used RV parts place. Greg had found them on the internet and planned that we would stop in there. We found a lot of parts and bits and pieces that would work on the FMC. They had two of the original cooktop/stoves for our beloved coaches. Greg and I are planning to restore ours because the cooktop and stove were replaced with a cooktop and microwave. And, while the microwave can come in handy, we dry camp (meaning no hookups so no outside electricity) too often and then it's just a big, expensive cabinet. Besides, I have no way to bake cookies while we're on the road! We are still checking out options for that "upgrade" but we ensured that they would indeed ship it to us if we called them in a couple of months! :)


We continued on our way into Spokane. I haven't mentioned another problem that appeared on our drive from Billings to Coeur d'Alene . . . we had sprung a small but noticeable differential leak. The noticeable part came from the vast amounts of oily fluid all over my car and the back of the motorhome. We decided we couldn't ignore it so we started calling repair places. They all agreed how they could do it . . . in a week! Not! There was a place in downtown Spokane that Greg wanted to try. They said they could take a look at it so we headed on over there (Have I mentioned how glad we are we splurged and got a Garmin GPS right before the trip? We have her speak to us with a British accent and we call her Serena!)

Ray's Truck Service is a great business and I highly recommend it to all our friends who live or travel through Spokane!!! First of all, it is a 3rd generation business. Second of all, they have completely redone their building and facilities and they are clean, stylish, and very welcoming. They suggested we go get lunch while we waited. We also intended to hunt down a car wash so we could clean the oil off the Suzuki and hopefully bring the FMC back when we were done. We ended up having lunch at Frank's Diner -- a Spokane landmark. The food was fantastic and the atmosphere (an old private rail car) was totally fun! It wasn't cheap but it was good. We washed the car which was fun for the whole family! And, headed back to Ray's.

They weren't quite ready for us so we plunked down in their air-conditioned waiting room where the kids played with the dog (an adorable King Charles spaniel) and we waited. Finally, the owner came out -- we thought to tell us what was wrong and how long it would take to fix it -- instead, he handed Greg the keys and said it was done. Greg can explain all the nitty gritty but the gist of it is that there is an o-ring and where it was supposed to be seated was bent. They straightened it out, put in a new o ring and we're good to go. The guy seemed surprised that the part got bent and Greg asked him if it was possibly damaged during a bad towing experience -- are you surprised that he said, "Absolutely!" No, we weren't either.

Still, it was just about 1pm and we were off . . . to wash the motorhome . . . another family fun experience! You can get pretty wet washing a motorhome in a car wash place!!!


We started driving west. We didn't think we'd make it to Seattle so I called the KOA in Kent and told them we were getting a late start. They were very nice and moved our reservation by a day so we didn't lose our deposit. We drove until we got grumpy and hungry which happened around Ellensburg, WA. It's a nice little town along the Yakima River and totally geared towards serving the needs of travelers . . . in cars. There were no restaurants that we could park the motorhome at so we ended up at a more expensive place than we'd planned. It was good meal though. We decided to call it a day and stayed at the KOA there. It was nice but not wonderful. It was a pretty setting though along the river and we all got showered up and slept well!

Day 25 Coeur d'Alene, ID to Ellensburg, WA July 6, Tuesday
Woke up early and headed out. Found breakfast at Starbuck's in Cd'A. Went to Erickson's RV -- a used RV supply place. We bought a couple of fans and they have the stove we need for the FMC. They also had the bed frames we think might work for fixing up the bed area to work better for us. We had the leaking differential valve fixed at Ray's Truck Service. Can't say enough nice things about them. Lunch at Frank's Diner in Spokane. We washed the car and the motorhome at a Brown Bear Car Wash -- totally fun and boy did they look better!Dinner in Ellensburg. Stayed at KOA.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 24 -- Coeur d'Alene, ID (July 5, 2010)

Another fantastic day on the lake. It was still cold but calmer and pretty. Auntie Boat-Lady (Stacy) took the kids out tubing. They never actually touched the water (good thing . . .freezing!!!) which is why they look so happy!




Later, we went on a boat ride to look at the amazing (and not-so-amazing) homes that have been built along the lakeshore. It was really cool to see the various options . . . none of them looked more comfortable and wonderfl than the Cobbs' houseboat. We had such a great time!!

We ate and consumed and generally had fun all afternoon and evening. We said our good-byes before we headed up to the FMC that evening. It was going to be a long day ahead!

Day 23 -- Cabin City Campground, MT to Coeur d'Alene, ID (July 4, 2010)

Day 23 St. Regis, MT to Coeur d'Alene, ID July 4, Sunday
Coldest morning yet. Got a very early start -- we really want to be at the Lake. We found coffee in Wallace, ID at the Red's Garage. Great people. Great coffee. Neat little town. It's a pretty quick to get across the panhandle of Idaho. We were at Coeur d'Alene by 8:30. Frank came and met us and guided us in to their property. The lake is beautiful. It was a cold and cloudy 4th but we had a great time anyway!

We woke up to a very cold morning, It was foggy near the border of Montana and Idaho. We got on the road quickly and crossed into Idaho early. We stopped in Wallace, ID at Red's Garage (a cafe) and I got myself my necessary mocha and got everyone else hot chocolate.

Refueled, we zipped across the panhandle of Idaho. Frank Cobb had sent us GPS coordinates and we arrived and called them to say we were there. He drove down and guided us back to their property alone the shores of Lake Coeur d'Alene. They have a beautiful spot on Mica Bay. We fell in love with this gorgeous lake!

Frank and Jill are dear family friends. Jill became friends with Greg's mother when all their kids were little and they all lived in Southern California despite moving away, divorce, remarriage, many years, deaths in the family, and all sorts of other life events, the families have remained close. This was the first time we'd managed a visit. The Cobbs live in Spokane, WA and spend their summer weekends on their houseboat at their spot alone Coeur d'Alene.

We were welcomed as dear family members. We parked up at the road and walked down to the spectacular lake and their fantastic houseboat. Greg reconnected with Stephanie and Stacy and their families. We met Greg and his family. We had a great time! It was cold and windy but most enjoyable. Stacy is a skiier -- we joked that the kids would remember her as Auntie Boat-Lady. It was too miserable to take the boat out but the kids did get in the water with Mitch, Katie, and Kyle. We ate like crazy, had margaritas, and generally a great time!

We love Lake Life!!!



Day 22 -- Billings, MT to St. Regis, MT (July 3, 2010)

In all honesty, our morning started with a fairly somber mood.  Greg and I knew there was a decent chance that we'd be stuck in Billings for the July 4th weekend.  We'd already made plans to bail on Billings and head to Cody to see the last day of the Cody Stampede Rodeo so that the kids would have a fun memory of the 4th if we needed to do so. We woke up in the Walmart parking lot determined to make the best of things.  We drove over to the repair shop and were pleasantly surprised when the manager arrived, rolled up his shirt sleeves and got to work on the FMC.  Greg told me that the manager was hoping a mechanic would show up to help with the repairs and then we'd be fixed and on our way.  We agreed that if the mechanic did show up, I'd take the kids to do something fun for a few hours so as to be out of everyone's hair.

The mechanic showed up around 9:30 am.  I took the kids off in my car and we went to Zoo Montana.  It's a very small zoo that (honestly) could use more funding but they have some amazing exhibits.  There were only a few people there so we felt like we had the place to ourselves.  We fed the animals in the petting zoo and then took off to see the more exotic exhibits.

Kids with Bald Eagles, ZooMontana

They had a pair of Bald Eagles.  Both of them had been injured severely while in the wild and can only survive in captivity.  They were so beautiful and it was so cool to see them up close.  They also had a Raven and, again, honestly, it was hard for me to see him (her?).  Ravens are very social birds and mate for life and seeing one alone made me very sad.

Don't Wake Me Up!!!

The best exhibit in the zoo was the wolverines.  I've never seen a wolverine exhibit where the wolverines did anything.  They are generally asleep and/or hidden.  We thought this was the same as always but then we saw one of them moving around.  He was roaming and clearly looking for mischief.  Eventually, he decided to go wake up his friend who was not happy about it.  The kids kept teasing me that it was like me when I hadn't had my coffee!  There was lots of snarling and snapping.

While we were watching, my phone rang.  It was Greg.  The FMC was repaired, had been test driven, and he was on his way to the Zoo to pick us up.  Wow!  We met him and got on the road.

The drive across 2/3s of Montana was amazing.  Parts of it were dull but from Bozeman on, it was really beautiful.  We ended up spending the night at a USFS campground about 2 miles off of I-90 called Cabin City.  We arrived just after dark (about 11pm Mountain time) and were surprised that our campground neighbor came around for a nice long chat with us.  He was a lovely gentleman in overalls with two very sweet pugs who demanded lots of attention from me.

All in all, it was a good day and we were glad to be on our way.  We were going to be a day late arriving at Coeur d'Alene, ID and meeting our friends, the Cobbs, but we'd arrive in the early morning and that's not too bad!

708 at Cabin City, MT

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Days 18 - 21 -- Billings, MT

I've decided to consolidate our time in Billings into one post.  This was not a planned stop and while we made the best of it . . .

We took a drive over to the repair shop first thing in the morning to check on the status of the FMC.  As expected, the tranny needed to be rebuilt.  What we didn't expect was the the tow truck drivers did not hook our vehicle up correctly and caused some major damage to the FMC.  This resulted in phone calls to RVS in Santa Clara to have parts shipped out as well as to Coachnet to get it all dealt with. Thankfully, Coachnet is fantastic to deal with and Brown's was as well.

On the way back to the motel, we drove by the KOA in Billings.  It is the first KOA ever and has a great reputation.  We were really impressed and, since my back was aching from the bed in the Motel 6 (and we weren't overly impressed with the neighborhood), we decided to move into a Kamping Kabin at the KOA.  We packed up all our belongings in the FMC and checked out of the Motel 6.
Bookstores are fun!

Moving from 708 to the KOA Kabin

This is good!

Our home away from home away from home

The KOA had a playground, room to ride bikes, and a pool.  It was the right choice!  It also had nice clean bathrooms, air conditioning, free wifi, and much more comfortable beds as well as a place for Greg to work while we were there.

So, we hung around the campground and the kids got to play, we shopped at bookstores, we went and saw Toy Story 3 in 3D.  We ate out a lot and thoroughly enjoyed our time in Billings.  Still, we were very glad to check out on Friday, pack all our belongings back in the car and head off to pick up the FMC.

It was 7:30 at night before we got it on the Friday before the Fourth of July weekend.  The guys stayed late and got it finished.  They were rushing to get home for the night and we were rushing because we wanted to get as far down the road towards Idaho as we could.

We drove back to the KOA so we could dump the holding tanks and that's when Greg noticed that the transmission was leaking fluid.  We drove back to the shop and, of course, no one was there.

We were determined and didn't give up.  We had the manager's name and we called him at home.  Given other circumstances, we wouldn't have done that but we needed this fixed.  He agreed to meet us in the morning and was going to try to get a mechanic to come in, too.  So, we headed off for the Walmart parking lot to spend a rather grim evening worrying that we'd miss the 4th of July in Coeur d'Alene with our friends, the Cobbs.