What an awesome time we have had these past 10 days! We have trod over many of the areas we used to frequent when we lived here, and tried to reacquaint ourselves with the place we called home for 6.5 years. We also were able to catch up with some dear friends…more accurately, “family” if you will. It has been 16 years, but when it comes to close friends and family, it is almost as if we’d left here last week versus July of 1999. I think our whole family felt a bit of remorse when we headed East toward Washington D.C. that July day 16 years ago. There is a lot to say; however the pictures do much more justice to this Big Sky Country. A couple of updates first:
Tech Tip Updates:
1. The Stand Pipe issue. Well…it has been over 90 degrees every day for most of the time we have been here (with the exception of today…a cold front blew in last night and it is in the 50’s right now. Thank the Lord!) and we have had absolutely no odors from the gray tank, as well as no water in the wash machine. We have done a few loads in it just to make sure. We hope that little issue is now past us. What a difference shortening that drain hose in the stand pipe has made.
2. Gray tank odor in general. We were not sure about the stand pipe causing the odor on its own…the gray tank has to have an odor, and not just in the stand pipe. The hose being inserted as far as it was allowed the gray tank odor to escape into the Coach from time to time…how to get rid of the odor? Well, I’m sure the experiment we did on the way here from Missoula helped out a lot, but I have been listening to one of Kathy and John’s Pod Casts on http://www.LivingTheRVDream.Com when they mentioned a new product for both your black and gray tank called Pure Power Blue (PPB):
They posted a link to a YouTube video the RV Doctor had done on this product. It is Formaldehyde free, which is a requirement at many camp grounds now, and it is reported that this stuff not only breaks down waste and your normal single ply toilette paper, but will break down 2 ply as well! We are not ready to try that yet, but so far we are really happy with this product. We knew we would be in Great Falls for a while, so we were able to get some Amazon shopping done, and ordered a 12 pack of this stuff. As a side note, Mandi, our daughter was able to get some mail to us as well…it has been a long time, and it took a long time to weed through everything. Back to the issue…a few days after treating the gray tank, we had to dump most of it, as we’d done quite a bit of laundry, and the showers are usually longer when we have full hook ups. When I drained the tank, there was no bad odor at all, and I noted a bunch of additional “gunk” come out of the gray tank. In fact, the “odor” if you will, was quite pleasant…it smelled like the fragrant odor of the pouch when it went in. I’ve mentioned before that I use a clear 5″ section from the Coach drain to my sewer hose, so I can see the clarity of the gray, as well as note how the black is draining and flushing. This may be disconcerting to some, as we seem to discuss “Poo” a lot on this blog, but the truth of the matter is, you almost need to become a “Poo Master” in order to keep your systems up and running and clean in all environments. There is nothing worse than driving down the road, or sitting still on a hot day and having odors emanating into your living area. We have had none of that at all after the “cleanse” we did on the way here (see previous blog post) and using the Pure Power Blue. We will be draining both tanks tomorrow before we hit the road, so I will have an update on how the black tank looked when it drained on our next post. I believe the proof will be in how much comes out after I’ve emptied the tank and then flush it. Ever since we’ve owned the Coach, there is a lot of extra “stuff” that comes out after the initial drain and I start the flush sequence of the black tank. All in all, we are very pleased with the stand pipe correction and this new product. One word of caution…if you want to try Pure Power Blue, make sure you switch to a non-formaldehyde product before you start using it. Formaldehyde will kill the active bacteria in the product, and it costs more than other treatments do. If you don’t ween yourself off of the other products first, you will have to use more of the PPB, which will cost you more. We also are going to stop ordering the pouches and get the liquid. If you use the liquid, you will get about double the treatments for the same price. The pouches are very easy to use, but being fiscally responsible is part of this way of life for most of us.
Enough Poo talk! Friday morning, we drove over to one of our great friend, Wayne’s place of business and spent a lot of time catching up with him. What a great time! Wayne was one of the catalysts in getting us involved in the retriever dog business here in Great Falls. We worked hunt tests together, trained together, and he and his wife Marlene had the Stud we used for our dog Zoe when we bred her here. Wayne was also the one that actually won the bid at a Ducks Unlimited Auction for me which I couldn’t attend at the time for pick of the litter which led us and our family to our beloved Zoe. What an awesome memory of the times we experienced together over the years we were here! Wayne and Marlene were also there for the birth of Zoes pups…more on that later. In any case, it has been mentioned several times since we’ve been here, that it is like being back with family again…I’ll tell you it most certainly is! We made plans to get together later in the week, and Terri and I headed off to explore.
Great Fall has a mountain range to its East called the Highwoods, and one to the Southeast called the Belts. We decided to take a drive to the Highwoods.
On Saturday, we did some more driving around the base, trying to remember where our house was (they have replaced all of the housing since we left) and we took a lot of pictures to send to the kids to show them how things have either remained the same or changed from a major part of their childhood.
We decided to head to Fort Benton to attend their Summer Celebration. The arts and craft fair was really great, but it was the history and landscape that drew our attention. We decided to leave before the street dance started so we could hopefully see some more awesome vistas.
From the brochure we received at the hotel and restaurant: This is Montana’s oldest operating hotel and one if its most famous landmarks. Upon opening in 1882, the Grand Union Hotel was reputed to be the finest hotel between Chicago and Seattle. It was elegantly restored to its original splendor in 1999 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Check it out at http://www.grandunionhotel.com
I had been in touch with one of the folks I worked for when I was here who lives here now, and he provided us with a great recommendation for a church for Sunday. Unfortunately, he and his wife were out of the area on vacation. He and his family were our neighbors when we lived here. The good news (besides the service, which was great) is that his daughter and her family were at church. It was great seeing her again and meeting her husband and their great little young man!
Off to the rodeo!! The Augusta Rodeo was on Sunday, and never ones to shy away from a rodeo, off we went. The fortunate thing is that it was near one of the places we camped at a lot when we lived here, so we were on task to kill two birds with one stone. This was the 79th Annual Agusta Rodeo. It is one of the oldest rodeos in the state.
After the Rodeo, we headed further into the mountains to one of our favorite camping spots in Sun Canyon.
We took along drive around the mountains and worked our way back to Great Falls. We enjoyed the many ranches and the abundance of wildlife that we saw. We arrived back at the FamCamp for a great sunset.
Monday and Tuesday were some slow days for us. We got chores done, and I made a trip to Scheels Sporting Goods store just to walk around and remember. It rivals any Bass Pro or Cabelas in my humble opinion. On Tuesday we took a drive over the Belts, stopped at the ski area we used to go to, hit Monarch, where one of our other favorite camping spots is no longer, hit Neihart, White Sulfur Springs, Townsend, Helena, Wolf Creek (great pork chop sandwich) and back to the Coach. Sorry, we were so enamored with the landscape, we didn’t take any pictures.
On Wednesday, I caught up with a dear friend from our time here, Charles. Charles lived right behind us on base and was a great friend to the family while we were here. He’s one of the biggest hearted people I know. He and his wife Carrie have a ranch just outside of town and we headed out to catch up.
On Thursday we took care of some more chores at the house, and Terri was cooking and sewing and cleaning and all sorts of things, and in the afternoon I headed back out to Charles’ place. The other neat thing was that his old crew partner from his time here, and a great and close friend of his, Heidi had arrived for a vacation. It was great catching up, and Charles and Carrie overdid themselves on the meal once again.
The 4th of July!! Terri and I were headed to Wayne and Marlene’s for a cookout, and since Terri already had everything ready to go in the morning, we headed out to the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center. This was completed just before we left, and it is a must see if you are in the area. Here are a few web sites for you to check them out: http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/lcnf/learning number two: http://www.lewisandclarkfoundation.org and http://www.lewisandclark.org
After that, we had an order from Mandi to find the park with the slide that she enjoyed so much…a very specific request, huh?? Well, we found it. Black Eagle Park, which had (and still has) a slide that is built into the hillside and is very long. OK…time to head to Wayne and Marlene’s. What a great time catching up with them and their family! It has been way too long. I’m sorry to say that I believe we were too overtaken by catching up that I didn’t get any photos. They are all doing great, and we picked up just like it was yesterday!
Back to the beginning of the post about Zoe. Well, Wayne presently owns Zoe and Dude (her studs) grandson! The last pup we sold was called Herc (short for Hercules…the kids named the pups for the most part.) His name was great because he was the largest male we had. We had him until about 16 weeks, which is about 9 weeks longer than most folks would want a pup from a breeder. In fact, I had started training him, and was fascinated with his abilities. One day I was at a repair shop in town, and the guy that ran the place ended up buying Herc. Long story short…Wayne now has the granddaughter, call name “Mojo.” Man…a walk down memory lane for us. Mojo has a lot of the characteristics of Zoe and Dude.
We were up early on Sunday after the 50MPH winds blew the cold front in. We headed to First Alliance for church again, and had plans to meet Wayne and Marlene and their friend Carl (great guy by the way) at the MRD (Missouri River Diner…notorious here in Great Falls for their breakfast, and a must before or after a deer, duck or goose hunt) after church for breakfast. Wayne had mentioned that one of our other “family” may be in town, and when we walked through the door, I was overjoyed to see Jamie and his family! Jamie was another one of our greatest friends and an awesome hunting and dog training partner while we lived here. He lives in Billings now, but had made the drive up yesterday from Billings to see family and us I guess!!! What a great time that was…man I’ve missed that guy too, and in normal fashion, it was like it was only yesterday that we’d parted. Yep, we are both a little older, maybe a little slower, and maybe a little grayer, but none the less, as it has been with everyone here, we picked right up where we had left off.
Well, enough talk…time to sign off. We are headed off to see Charles one more time tonight, then we head East tomorrow. We don’t know still which route we will take, but we will be sure to report when we get to where we are going.
As always, we hope this finds you Happy, Healthy, and Living your Dreams!!!