19-25 June 2015; Making Tracks…OR-WA-ID-MT

Hey Blog Nation!  We sure hope things are well with you and yours.  Terri and I made some serious tracks over the past week…not any records mind you, but we wanted to make some distance to try to get back on track for what we want to see before we land in WI in late July. We departed Gills Landing in Lebanon, OR about 0930 last Friday morning.  The slide that we had work done on operated perfectly, and has every time since.  We both had our road legs on so to speak, and before we knew it, we were nearing Spokane, WA.  From Lebanon we went North on I-5, then to I-84 back through the Columbia River Gorge.  We sure are glad that we explored that area in early May, as the crowds are unbelievable since school let out.  Also, the area has gotten little to no rain, so it was much more “brown” than when we travelled through westward.  At the East end of the Gorge, we took I-82 West for a bit, then picked up WA-395 which took us through some gorgeous farm country. We caught I-90 East and headed toward Spokane.

While we were traveling, Terri found a typically members only resort just West of Spokane that said they accepted non-members as long as you belonged to something like GoodSam or some other travel club.  This was a good experience for us, and if we stay at this a long time, we will maybe want to join something like Thousand Trails, or RPI, or one of the many other membership resort programs. What does this get you?  Well, we are still researching, but for the most part you pay an initial membership fee and then an annual fee which gives you anywhere from two weeks at a time in a park and then a week out, to unlimited days for no extra charge other than your annual fees.  There are so many derivations of these programs that there is no way I could capture it all here. If you are interested in that type of thing, check out http://www.thousandtrails.com or one of the hundreds of forums that focus on this type of thing.

We put on about 460 or so miles on Friday, the most we’ve done in a single day in the Coach, and it wasn’t bad at all…this is not something we want to do routinely, but it worked out well.  It was quite warm, so we ran the generator so we could use the house AC units while going down the road.  This is a good thing, as the generator needs to get a good workout routinely.  Silence is not golden in the case of generators.

We were all set up at the park by about 6:30 PM.  We checked the place out a bit…pools, hot tub, billiards, meeting rooms, put-put golf…the kind of things you would expect at a resort.  The place is called Ponderosa Pines, and is actually in the town of Cheney.  I don’t think either of us were awestruck by the place initially.  First off, all of the roads and sites are dirt or gravel.  This is not always a bad thing, but I was expecting larger sites, and at least some paved roads to the individual sites.  With as dry as it has been, and as hot as it was outside, the cooling fan on our motor definitely caused one heck of a sandstorm getting to our site.  Coach and Truck both trashed once again, and no rain in sight.  Our site was real tight too…one of the most difficult to get into yet without causing damage to the Coach by tree limbs and such.  The day we were leaving, one of the managers of the place came by to chat, and said he couldn’t figure out why they put us in such a tight spot!  Well…hey, maybe you could have done something about that.  We will say that with all of the activities they had, and the people being as nice as they were (campers and staff alike) it was a great stay.

Tech Tip:  We have had issues ever since we bought the coach with water getting into the wash machine (just a bit really)even when it is shut off.  We also from time to time have noted a gray tank odor, and determined it was coming from the stand pipe behind the wash machine.  Believe it or not, gray tanks can get quite rank…think about all of the bits of food particles from washing dishes (even though we are very diligent in wiping dishes off before we wash them), dirt and oils from showers, washing hands, you name it, and this can cause an odor in your gray tank, and if that odor works its way back into the Coach in some manner, it can be quite unpleasant.  Terri and I both had done some research, and in talking to a few folks, determined that we needed to see how far the wash machine drain hose went into the stand pipe.  The theory is that most installations were done where the installer used whatever amount of hose they had and jammed that into the stand pipe.  If the hose happened to go all the way down to the P Trap (why isn’t it called a J Trap?) this would cause an odor.  Here was the issue…we first needed to get to the hose, which is located at the back of the machine, which is only accessed from the shelf and cupboard.  This involves taking everything out, including one huge shelf, where you are now able to remove an access panel.  It was really tight up there.  I can stand on a chair and reach it, so I pulled to hose out, and yep…it was crammed all the way down the stand pipe.  There was no way I would be able to maneuver any kind of tool in that tight space, so I tagged out, and Terri went in!  We cut a bunch of the hose off, and actually secured it this time with zip ties to the frame…it had not been secured before.  So far so good…no water and no odors…let’s hope it stays that way.  Here is a great shot of Terri the mechanic working in the tight space….well, part of her anyway!

She had to get on the chair and then launch herself into the cupboard.  It worked out great!

She had to get on the chair and then launch herself into the cupboard. It worked out great!

After that experience we had a quiet night as we planned to head into Spokane in the morning.  Terri was up really early, and found out that they were having a Fathers Day steak dinner on Sat night for $6 per person, and a Fathers Day breakfast on Sunday…free for dads, and $5 for others…count us in!

We headed into Spokane about noon, and went to the downtown area.  They have done a great job sprucing up the area, and had an arts and craft sale going on, so we checked that out for a bit, then took a Gondola ride over the Spokane River.

Riding the Gindola.

Riding the Gondola.

View of the market from above.

View of the market from above.

Good shot of the river.

Good shot of the river.

The park near the downtown was very nice also.

Gorgeous River Scape and families out everywhere.  They have a small amusement park downtown as well.

Gorgeous River Scape and families out everywhere. They have a small amusement park downtown as well.

We were a bit hungry, so I suggested a hot dog…and Terri found an awesome place right downtown called Wild Dawgs.

More like a four course meal in a bun!  This was mine...cream cheese, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, more cheese, etc.

More like a four course meal in a bun! This was mine…cream cheese, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, more cheese, etc.

This was Terri's...those jalapeños had a kick!

This was Terri’s…those jalapeños had a kick!

Interesting perspective...

Interesting perspective…

We had never been to Fairchild AFB, so we took a drive out there since we had a few hours before we had to eat again!  It is also the place we couldn’t get into for their FamCamp.  The base and FamCamp were real nice.  We picked up a few things at the commissary, and headed back to the Coach.  Before we knew it, it was time for our $6 steak dinner.

New York strip, baked potatoe, corn, lemonade, and strawberry shortcake.  Awesome!  Plus, we took two steaks home because they had so many leftovers.

New York strip, baked potato, corn, lemonade, and strawberry shortcake. Awesome! Plus, we took two steaks home because they had so many leftovers.

Sunday was Fathers Day, and I was blessed to hear from all the kids!  Terri took me up to have a great breakfast for free at the Campground, then we decided to head to Coeur d’Alene for the day.  We thought about going to Grand Coulee Dam, but that was quite a drive.  We had a blast.  We decided to take a cruise around the lake on one of their many tour boats.

There are so many houses on the south side of the lake that are so huge.  They are only accessible by boat, and all materials have to brought in by boat.  One house was over 26,000 square feet...two bedroom, nine bath mind you.

There are so many houses on the south side of the lake that are huge. They are only accessible by boat, and all materials have to be brought in by boat. One house was over 26,000 square feet…two bedroom, nine bath mind you.

It was an awesome day with a gorgeous gal!

It was an awesome day with a gorgeous gal!

Some more of the lake shore.

Some more of the lake shore.

Here is a shot of the infamous floating green.  You have to be boated out to the green should you be lucky enough to make it on.

IMG_5160

We stopped at a sporting goods store afterwards, and we were treated to this parking space:

In fact, they had three spaces right up front set aside for veterans.  Pretty neat.

In fact, they had three spaces right up front set aside for veterans. Pretty neat.

We were quite lucky too…we have been searching for zero gravity lounge chairs for a while now, and we found one that fits Terri real well.  Still searching for one that I fit in.

We were on the road by 10:30 Monday morning after goofing off for a bit and chatting with the folks at the resort.  It was a really great drive over the pass and into Missoula, Montana.  It sure is great to be back in this state again!  We landed at the Missoula KOA, and we got an awesome site.

Nice big grassy site...

Nice big grassy site…

Shortly after getting all set up and plugged in, we noted it was getting quite warm in the Coach, so we turned the air down, and nothing happened.  We noted the system was inverting, which means we were running off of battery.  I checked the power management system, and noted we had a fault on one of our 120 lines, showing an over or under power issue.  This had happened once before when we replaced the plug to the 50amp shore power cord, so off I went to tear that apart.  While I was doing that, a guy behind us came over, and asked if he could help…he said he was a retired electrician.  Knock yourself out my friend!  I took the head off the plug, and everything looked snug.  He took a closer look at it, and said it appeared the ground wire insulation had worn through causing it to touch the neutral terminal.  Sure enough…I shortened the ground wire a bit, taped the insulation and re-routed the ground wire so it wouldn’t be so tight when all put together.  Presto!  Problem solved.

Tech Tip Results:  Last week I reported about putting a battery operated fan in the fridge to better circulate the air and keep from having to defrost so often.  Then fan worked great!  The key word is “worked.”  It seems the double D battery fan doesn’t like the cold.  I’m sure this will do the trick, just have to find the right fan and battery.

Result #2:  Stand pipe issues and odor.  Well, as of today (Thursday) no odor from the wash machine and no water in the basin.  Will continue to monitor.

While we were researching all of this odor business, we also noted that if possible to travel once in a while with your tanks half or near full, and dump a bunch of dish soap in your gray tank to slosh and clean while you drive.  We’ve been having some issues with our gray tank indicators of late, and so we gave that a shot today when we drove from Missoula to Great Falls.  A lot of gunk came out with the gray water, and the indicators are working well right now.  Will continue to report on this as well.

Getting ahead of ourselves here…back to Missoula.  On Tuesday we went to the Smoke Jumper visitor center at the suggestion of some friends of ours.  If ever in the area, don’t miss this one.  They are fully staffed for the summer, and deploying to fires like crazy.  Terri and I were lucky enough to be the only ones on the tour and we were able to go through the Operations Center, Sewing shops (all the jumpers make their own jump suits, and a lot of other gear) the stores area, and the flight line.  This is a free tour.

Gear storage area.  There were guys and gals all around doing there thing just waiting for that call.

Gear storage area. There were guys and gals all around doing their thing just waiting for that call.

The rigging room

The rigging room.

Flight line and the ready aircraft.

Flight line and the ready aircraft.

The inside of the plane.  Usually 8 jumpers, 2 spotters and two pilots.

The inside of the plane. Usually 8 jumpers, 2 spotters and 2 pilots.

Later that evening, we took a drive, and saw a bunch of wildlife.

There were deer all over the place.  We saw two does and two fawns hanging out together.

There were deer all over the place. We saw two does and two fawns hanging out together.

Dinner time!

Dinner time!

On Wednesday, we headed downtown with our bikes.  Terri found out there was live music in the park by the river, food, and all kinds of stuff going on.

We caught sight of this family of four "surfing" in the Clark Fork.  They would jump into the Rapids, surf the, for a bit, then drop and roll down stream a bit in order to swim back and do it over again.

We caught sight of this family of four “surfing” in the Clark Fork. They would jump into the Rapids, surf the Rapids for a bit, then drop and roll down stream a bit in order to swim back and do it over again.  I couldn’t seem to get a shot of them on the boards!

They had a great band playing mostly 40's era music.

They had a great band playing mostly 40’s era music.

We then took the bike path up and down the river.  We saw some more interesting wildlife activity.

We came around a corner and saw a doe walking across the bridge.  It was obvious she was real worried about something, and we figured she had a fawn nearby.  Terri saw it u dear the bridge.  After the doe called a few times and the fawn answered, the fawn found its way back to momma.

We came around a corner and saw a doe walking across the bridge. It was obvious she was real worried about something, and we figured she had a fawn nearby. Terri saw it under the bridge. After the doe called a few times and the fawn answered, the fawn found its way back to momma.

A very young fawn...it had trouble making all four legs work like they should.

A very young fawn…it had trouble making all four legs work like they should.

After that great experience, we went and toured the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.  Another great place to visit if you are at all interested in hunting and conservation of wildlife.  They have a nice display area, some movies and a lot of other educational material.

Welcome to the RMEF!

Welcome to the RMEF!

They have the most magnificent displays of record Elk that have been harvested over the years.

They have the most magnificent displays of record Elk that have been harvested over the years.

After that we headed back to the Coach for a while, as we wanted to head up to the National Bison Range in Dixon near sunset to hopefully see a lot more wildlife.  The guy at the RMEF suggested it.  While we were hanging out, we met a couple from California that are working their way to Great Falls to join a caravan that is headed to Alaska.  We asked if they wanted to join us, and off we went.  It is light until 10:00 PM or so, which is why we didn’t leave until about 7:30.  We took the self guided 19 mile tour over hill and dale.  What awesome vistas, and lots of wildlife!  These pictures will not do justice.  Bill had a camera with a photo lens and said he’d send us some if they turned out.  In the meantime, you’ll have to get by with my iPhone photos.

The views couldn't have been more spectacular.

The views couldn’t have been more spectacular.

These fellers were dusting it up as we came around a corner.

These fellers were dusting it up as we came around a corner.

We saw a lot of Mule Deer, White Tail, Elk Antelope, and of course, Bison.

We saw a lot of Mule Deer, White Tail, Elk, Antelope, and of course, Bison.

When we got down to the lower elevations by the river, it was like someone threw a switch, as there were animals everywhere.  It was about 9:30, and we saw deer and elk in the river, making their way up and bedding down for the night, and, well…it was an awesome experience!

We were up early this morning, and I headed up to the “Gathering Place” for some great coffee and biscuits and gravy…one of my favorites.  We were on the road by 9 or so, and took a nice leisurely near 200 mile drive to Great Falls via MT200.  It was great to see this area again!  We lived in Great Falls from ’93-’99, and absolutely loved it!  The Coach operated real well, and we made it to the FamCamp by about 1:00.  My have things changed!  There is a lot we did not recognize while traveling down 10th Ave South, and the base has changed significantly as well…all for the better I guess.  The FamCamp we are in now was a housing area when we were here before.  It is quite nice, and is either $24 per day, or $130 per week.  We paid for a week, and will see if we will extend through the holiday or not.

Welcome to the Malmstrom AFB Gateway FamCamp!

Welcome to the Malmstrom AFB Gateway FamCamp!

A neat little Lewis and Clark wood display.

A neat little Lewis and Clark wood display.

We are excited to be here once again, and hope to be able to catch up with friends that are still in the area.  We also hope to get in some great hiking, biking and fishing!

That’s about it for now…as always, we hope this finds you Happy, Healthy, and Living your Dreams!!

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