Howdy all! While we continue to push East, the heat continues to stay with us. We experienced some of the hottest temperatures anyone had seen in Great Falls, and the SE part of Montana and South Dakota have been really warm as well. That did not stop us from checking out everything there was to see over the past week however. Knock on wood, the AC systems in the Coach have been working great, keeping us cool when it is needed. The fridge on the other hand really suffers when temps get hot. It has to work overtime, and we have had several instances where the interior temp of the fridge reached near 60 degrees. With the sun beating on the outside of the Coach, there is not too much you can do other than monitor your food.
A few Tech Tip updates before we jump into the day-to-day part of this post. The Pure Power Blue (PPB) seems to be working really well. We have had no odor at all, and the “waste” appears to be almost 100% liquid, which is a really good thing. The active ingredients in this stuff seem to be doing their job. We also have had no issues with the wash machine since we shortened the hose in the stand pipe. We plan to be in Wisconsin later this week, so we will ship some more of the PPB to our daughters house. We haven’t stayed anywhere more than a few days since we left Great Falls, so it is hard to get mail or UPS deliveries.
On Monday, the 6th of July, we were up early and raring to get down the road. We were hoping to pull out at about 0900, but as with most plans in the RV world go, they change. One of the last things we do is check the fluid levels and the tire pressure before we hit the road. While checking the last tire, we had the same issue that we had experienced in Texas…the core of the valve stem would not stop the flow of air after I pulled the tire gauge off. I put the stem cover back on to prevent more loss of air, then located a valve stem core tool and tightened the core. This worked…I thought. After airing the tire up, the same issue reappeared. Bupkiss!! On the phone with Good Sam travel assist once again. They located a local tire shop, and the guy pulled in about 1100. He took out the old core, and said that there is nothing wrong with it…what the heck does that mean? Well, he explained that our tires had been “bead” balanced. I had never heard of that before. Apparently rather than use weights on nice looking rims, some dealers balance the tires with beads which according to the tech are like little BBs inside of the tire. If you use a standard valve stem core, eventually one of this BBs will work its way in between the mechanism that lets air in and out of the valve stem and keep it in the open position. OK…thanks for the education…now what?? Well, the tech went to his truck and came out with a core like I’ve never seen before. It is almost 2/3 longer than a normal core, and has a small filter on the end of it. He installed the new core, aired up the tire, and said I’ll never have the problem again with that tire. He went back to his truck and pulled out a bag of the things and stuffed them in my pocket. He said it was not a matter of if, but when the rest of the tires will have the same issue, so now I have the correct replacements. Another service call? Sheesh…this must be breaking our bank, right? Nope…nadda, zippo, nothing charged to us at all…all paid for by my roadside assist program. I’ve harped on it several times in this blog…if you do not have a roadside assist program, get one.
Enough of that. We finally got on the road about noon, and our friends told us not to head south to Billings at Eddy’s Corner, where we normally turn to get there. Apparently there is a lot of construction going on, so we kept heading east on 200, and took 87 South at Grass Range. It was kind of nostalgic, as this was the area of the missile field that I worked in when we lived in Great Falls and we were stationed at Malmstrom. 87 took us into Billings, where we caught I-90 East. We decided that we wanted to see the Little Big Horn Battlefield once again, so we found a park called the 7th Ranch RV Camp in Garryowen, MT which is about 70 miles East of Billings. It was a really nice park, but there are gravel roads leading up to it, and the sites are all dirt…we’ve mentioned our tornado producing engine fan in the past. Lets just say that I think we not only completely coated our Coach and the truck, but everyone other rig that was within 100 yards of us. We got settled in and took some walks…oh yea…they have free ice cream at this park when you check in. Nice touch.
Tuesday we were up early and off to Little Big Horn. I won’t go into all of the history of this place, as it is quite well known that this is where Custer got his butt kicked bad and lost a lot of men. The Indians were ingenious in this battle protecting their way of life that was being taken from them…you see, in 1874 gold was found in the Black Hills, the heart of the new Indian reservation…this led to the U.S. violating the treaty of Fort Laramie. Read the rest of the history if you don’t know it and definitely check this park out if you can…see more at http://www.nps.gov/libi
The Ranger programs (talks) are fantastic. The one we had for the explanation of the battle was awesome. Kudos once again to the National Park Service. After the park, we grabbed a bite to eat, then headed into Hardin, MT to check out the Big Horn County Historical Museum. What a great find, and only $5 each with our military discount. The museum takes you back in time as you stroll on the boardwalk that leads to the historic exhibits and structures that are part of the areas rich past. They have a great display inside the building, but the structures that they have restored on site, as well as the ones they have moved here are awesome. Everything from farm machinery, to a church, houses, work camps, railway station, soda fountain, barbershop, general store, service station, barns, blacksmith shop and on and on. Well worth the time. Check them out at http://www.bighorncountymuseum.org
We crammed a lot into one day, so were bushed when we got home, as we were headed to Rapid City in the morning. We had about 320 or so miles to go, so it was early to bed. We got up and got everything ready to roll in short order, and were on the road by 0930. The weather was perfect…was being the key word. It had rained overnight, which cleaned things off a bit, and laid enough moisture that we didn’t create a tornado on the way out. Once we got on the road, it started to rain. You may remember a few posts back that when we were traveling from Maryhill State Park in WA to Portland, OR we ran into rain, and the driver’s side wiper would not work consistently. After a lot of research, we thought maybe the wiring was not done correctly, as there had been a service notice on the issue quite a few years ago. I had this checked out when we were in Oregon, and everything was wired correctly. We could not get the situation to repeat itself, no matter how many times we ran the wipers (while standing still.) Well, we hadn’t traveled in any rain since that day in May. As soon as the rain started, I recalled that most people said the issue occurred when they were up to speed…for some reason the motor would not pull the driver’s side wiper back, which caused the driver and passenger wiper to stop. Well, that is what happened to us. If we were going over 25 miles per hour the thing stuck. Under 25, nope, not on the interstate. That is fine if you are traveling in town, but if it is a light rain and the speed limit is 80 MPH, it can be trouble. We managed, and the rain eventually departed. After we got to Ellsworth AFB, SD (near Rapid City) we replaced the blades and lubricated everything we could find that looked like it needed it. Getting ahead of ourselves here, but we tested it yesterday under speed, and everything seems to be working correctly now. We just need to add some rain at speed to see if this holds true!
While we were driving to the Rapid area, we were calling several parks, and everyone was full, or only had electric (30 AMP mostly) and the prices were outrageous. As a final act of desperation, we called the base FamCamp again just to see if they may have something that opened up…I had called them several times over the past few days and they had nothing. The young lady on the phone stated they had room in the park for two nights for full hookups at $21 per night, and we could then move to overflow with 30 AMP only for $10 per night…sold!! Early to bed, as we were headed to Custer State Park in the morning.
A lot of the facilities in Custer State Park were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 30’s. The park consists of over 71,000 acres of the most pristine land you will ever see. The wildlife are abundant, and the views are breathtaking. They have several campgrounds, interpretive centers, educational centers and on and on. They also have a Playhouse, but more on that later.
This was the area that folks originally wanted Gutzon Borglum to carve historical western figures in the stone until he determined the stone was not strong enough, and came up with the idea for Mount Rushmore. Thank goodness they didn’t destroy these magnificent creations. They are majestic as they stand.
On our way into Rapid, Terri had mentioned that it would be nice to see a play or a musical again. She was right, as it had been a long time since we had found anything we wanted to see. Well, it just so happens that Custer State Park hosts the Black Hills Playhouse, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary. On tap for the night was She Loves Me, which is the third adaptation of the play Parfumerie by Hungarian playwright Miklos Laszlo, following the 1940 James Stewart – Margaret Sullivan film The Shop Around the Corner and the 1949 Judy Garland – Van Johnson musical version In the Good Old Summertime. This play surfaced once again in 1998 as the Tom Hanks – Meg Ryan feature, You’ve Got Mail. What an awesome musical this was, and an even greater theater. We had awesome seats in a near full house. The lady we ordered the tickets from must have liked us! Check out Custer State Park at http://www.custerstatepark.com and check the Playhouse out at http://www.blackhillsplayhouse.com
The play ended about 10:30 PM, and Terri said she had read that if you take a curvy, winding road called 16A back to Rapid City, you would have the pleasure of going through 3 tunnels…in the dark…hairpin turns…wildlife! OK…let’s go! The added bonus she read stated that through one of the tunnels you would be able to see Mount Rushmore lit up at night…hmmm, sounds too good to be true.
Friday we were up and at it as we had to move to overflow. Overflow is at the opposite end of the base, high on a hill overlooking the B-1 maintenance area and the flight line. It is just a long slab of black top with 30 AMP electrical poles. Guess what? We had a blast up there. The place was full almost every night, and because everyone was somewhat in the same boat, we were all out and about talking with each other each night. It was a good time for sure. After we got settled in, we headed to Mount Rushmore. Check the place out at http://www.nps.gov/moru
Saturday was spent at garage sales, picking up a few items for the Coach and a few groceries. We really seem to get a good feel for a town when we hit the garage sale circuit on Saturday mornings. We had a nice evening, and said good-by to the new friends we had made, as we were headed out early on Sunday. We headed down the road another 300+ miles and landed at a place called Camp America in Salem, SD which is about 36 miles West of Sioux Falls. It is a really nice park, and great folks it too. The guy that pulled in next to us last night is from WI, and told us to NOT take I-90 through Minnesota. He said it was the worst he had ever seen, so when we leave tomorrow, we are taking the red roads to get to Fort McCoy FamCamp which is near Tomah, WI where our next scheduled stop is. That being all taken care of, we hit the rack as we were headed to Sioux Falls in the morning to hit their bike trails. Yelp and Trip Advisor had all kinds of good things to say about the parks and bike trails along the Big Sioux River and around the city…they were right!!
That is all for now…off to Wisconsin, or at least Eastern MN tomorrow. Our reservations don’t start at Fort McCoy until Wednesday, and we will be on Red Roads for about 360 miles, so we may take a break along the way.
As always, we hope this finds you Happy, Healthy and Living Your Dreams!!!