Jul 29, 2010

Missoula to Kalispell

Today was travel day. About 120 miles and 2 hours after we left Missoula we arrived at the Rocky Mountain "Hi" RV Park in Kalispell and we are now in Glacier Country for the next week.

One of the things we were hoping we would have here in Kalispell is better and faster internet and cell coverage and we are very happy travelers, we have both! We really enjoyed our stay in Missoula and the campground was nice but internet was painfully slow and we barely had one bar on our cell phone. That's not to say we plan on spending lots of time on the internet and cell phone this next week, but it is nice to have them available when we want them.

The air hose replacement part arrived on Tuesday. It took about a minute to attach it to the hose and now it once again works great.

Our drive up here took us to Polson and around the east shore of Flathead Lake. This area is cherry country and we passed many roadside stands selling cherries and cherry products. Some orchards even let you pick your own fruit.  Michigan is a big producer of cherries, and we love them, so we may have to go back down there and buy us some before we leave.

Tomorrow we are off to explore the National Park.

Jul 26, 2010


We are currently in Missoula Montana.  We are in a very nice campground.  One of the reasons we are here is a stupid boo-boo on my part.  When we left Medora we went through our normal hookups between the RV and Explorer including tow bar, brake light connections and the brake air line. Twenty miles down the road when we stopped for fuel Judy discovered the air line had come loose and we had been dragging it.   

 IMG_0223-1-1 As you can tell brass doesn’t hold up too well.  After checking numerous supply houses it became apparent that this was not just any normal fitting.  So Friday morning I called SMI to order a new one.  Of course it cost more for the shipping than the part.  To be continued....

We arrived in Missoula Sunday afternoon.  It’s a great place to stock up and also to play tourist a bit.  We are staying at Jim and Mary’s RV Park. 

 IMG_2304-12IMG_2309-14 Nice place, wide spots.  This is where I had the package sent from SMI.  Well the package didn’t show up today.  I placed a frustrated call to SMI only to find out that they hadn’t shipped it.  No reason, just a mess up.  But they recovered well and shipped the part out overnight with free shipping.  So now it’s in the hands of UPS not to mess up. 

This afternoon we visited a little museum at the local airport. It was called the museum of mountain flying.  I won’t bore you with all the details, but it was fun to be able to climb in and around these old planes. 

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And how many of you remember Sky King and Penny.  Do you remember who sponsored their TV show in the late 50’s and early 60’s?



Tonight it was fresh veggies and ham steak on the grill.  Good eats!! Even Mollie thought so.

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Until later.

Jul 20, 2010


Last Thursday we arrived in South Dakota to spend the required one overnight before we could become residents. The next morning, with important documents in hand, and with a little bit of fear and trepidation, we got into our car and drove into Sioux Falls. We had been told that the Department of Public Safety office, Alternative Resources, and the Insurance agency we were using were all in the same complex. Our first stop was Alternative Resources, the mail forwarding company we are using.  We met the friendly faces behind the voices we had been talking to on the phone and we also picked up our mail. Then we walked a couple of doors down to the DPS office to get our new South Dakota drivers licenses. We took a number, filled out a couple of applications, and waited. Once our numbers were called, it only took  an eye test and an exchange of $40 and we each had our new licenses in hand. Our next stop was a few steps away to get Auto and RV insurance. With that completed, we were two thirds done. The final item we needed was South Dakota license plates.

Before we went to get the license plates we made a consulting appointment with Karen at Alternative Resources. We wanted to make sure we knew exactly what documents we needed to take with us to the County Treasurers office. Her help was invaluable as we ended up going back to the RV for a couple of additional pieces of information. We headed out again and drove over to the Treasurer’s office.  After standing in line for a few minutes we were helped by a very friendly rep and in about 15 minutes we had our license plates. Almost too easy!!


And we were right.  The hardest part of the day was putting the license plates on the Explorer and RV.  SD uses two plates per vehicle whereas Michigan only requires one.  That meant it was back to the Ford dealer to buy a front license plate bracket.  Unfortunately, last year when we had installed our SMI Airforce One braking system we naturally centered everything, right where the bracket needed to go.  After relocating the air line and the safety cable, we were able to mount the bracket and plates.  The mounting bolts on the front of the RV were rusted so we had to destroy them, while getting them out, and install new ones.  A couple of hours later in 100 degree heat, we were finished.

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We are now in the small town of Medora, North Dakota. After traveling hard for the last few days we are ready to stay put and relax for a few days. Last night we went to the famous Pitchfork Steak Fondue and the Medora Musical. It had been raining all afternoon and we were hoping not to get rained out.  But the weather cleared and we had a great time.

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We are in a busy campground with a steady stream of RV’s coming and going so we are hoping to move over to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park campground this morning. No hookups and hopefully no crowds.

Jul 14, 2010


Tuesday we celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary at Spartan Chassis in Charlotte, MI. Not the most romantic spot but such is the life of a fulltimer.  Even though we did not have an appointment they told us they would try to fit us in.  Unfortunately they weren't able to get to us, but promised they would be at our coach at 7:00 this morning.  We set the clock for 6 knowing there was the chance they would have to bump us until later.

Good news!  At 7:15 a mechanic showed up and took our coach to one of the service bays.  We headed out for coffee and scones.  We had given them two items to work on.  The air bag problem and chassis AC.  The air bag problem was solved by replacing the Norgren shuttle valve.  If you don't know what that is don't feel bad, I didn't either.  What I do know is that it is buried underneath near the front axle and is not easily replaced by amateur mechanics.  They added freon to the AC system and found where the AC hoses were rubbing against some fittings.  They rerouted the lines and hopefully we won't have more serious problems down the road. 

We paid our bill and were on our way shortly before noon.  We made good time today got through Chicago with minimum fuss and are spending the night just north of Davenport Iowa.  It is very hot and muggy here and we were only able to get a site with 30 amp power.  This means we can only run one AC and little else.  We have already had the breaker pop 3 times, but I think we have our power management figured out now.

We are hoping to get to Sioux Falls tomorrow night.  If we can we should be able to get our drivers licenses and new license plates on Friday.  We need to prove that we have spent one night in SD before we can get our licenses, so if we don't make it tomorrow night we will be there over the weekend.

Until later.

Jul 12, 2010


Our final week in Grand Rapids was a busy one. We had several last minute business things to finish up.  Thursday night we went to visit our friends Chris and Teresa.  They had been with us on the Central Coast of Ca. earlier in the spring and share our love of good wine.  Teresa has been battling a serious illness for several months and we were glad for the chance to see them before we took off.

Friday night our friends Stan and Kathleen took us on a tour of their new home currently under construction and then treated us to dinner. We've said it before and will say it again.  We couldn't be doing this "full time" thing without their support.

On Saturday our daughter Melissa and her girls Emma and Ella came to spend a couple of days with us.  Obviously there isn't much for two little girls to do on a 40 foot motor home.  But we did have a plan.

First Grandpa took them to see Toy Story 3 and then a carousel ride.   Then when we returned, Grandma and Melissa took them to the pool.  Grilled hot dogs provided supper, then a quick trip to the ice cream shop for dessert.  Grandma even had coloring books and stickers to occupy them until bedtime.

Sunday included a trip to the Childrens Museum and then Grandma took them to the pool again.  Jonathan, Laura and little Harrison joined us later for dinner.  Laura made a Tres Leches cake and it was even better than the version we had in Mexico.  So Grandma got a final fix with her Eastern grand kids.  In a few weeks she gets to see her Western grand kids. 

This morning Melissa and the girls left about 7:30 and then we got packed up to leave. Leveling jacks went up, but the air bags wouldn't inflate.  Now you understand the Lemons.  After checking everything, it was time to call in the experts.  First call was to American Coach.  They gave me a couple of things to try and said that if that didn't work to call Spartan Chassis.  So after trying their suggestions with no success, I called Spartan.  They have great phone support and gave me several things to try.  Unfortunately with the coach sitting almost on the ground I couldn't access the part they wanted me to check.  Fortunately the local Coach Care Cummins center was able to send someone out to help.   He was able to get the bags to inflate manually,  so we could at least leave the campground. Unfortunately the Cummins center could not fit us in for 2 weeks to fix the problem permanently. 

We also had a slow leak in a rear tire, so our next stop was a truck tire center which was only 2 miles from our campground.  While they fixed the tire we went to our storage unit to pick up a few additional items to deliver to our kids in Portland.  We went back to pick up the coach and they had it fixed.  Just a leaky valve stem.  We hooked up the explorer to head to our next destination.   Since we were located only 1.5 hours from Spartan Chassis and they have a very nice area to park and even provide power hookups, we decided to head there.  They have promised to try and fix us up in the next couple of days.  So I guess we'll just have a big glass of lemonade while we wait.

Until later.

Jul 7, 2010


The month of June went screaming by and what a month it was.

Our house was on the market for only 13 days when we received a full price cash offer. This was great, but the value of our house had gone down significantly in the last 2 years and we were not going to make any money on the sale. We just recently heard that home sales in Michigan were down in June so we feel very fortunate that we were able to sell when we did.

With closing set for June 29th we knew we had a busy month ahead of us. We contacted an estate service to handle the sale of all the stuff we wanted to get rid of.

We removed the few pieces of furniture and important items that had special meaning to us and put them into storage.Then we sat back and let the estate service handle the actual sale. We weren’t present during the sale, they didn’t recommend it, but we  heard that a lot of people showed up and bought stuff. By Saturday evening everything was either sold or removed, the house was almost empty, and the only thing in the garage was the motorcycle.

Wow, I guess this is really happening!!

Tuesday, closing day, arrived. We both half expected something to come along and delay the closing but, it too, went off without a hitch. Also that day we received a call from someone interested in looking at the motorcycle. We had it listed on Craig’s List for a couple of weeks without any bites and we did have someone put a low bid on it during the estate sale. He looked at it on Wednesday and bought it on the spot .

So we are now house-less, but not home-less. We think of our RV as our home. After all, we have been living in it full time for the past 8 months.  But I suppose now we are officially full-timers. We now have a South Dakota mailing address and when we arrive in SD next week, we will have SD license plates and drivers licenses.

We plan to get together with some of our family and friends again this week and then pull out of here on Monday.

There have been times in the last couple of weeks when we have wondered if we are doing the “right thing”, but what we do know is we are happiest when we are in our Rv out exploring.  We are very blessed to have business partners who are willing to help us live out our dream. 

We are both anxious to get on the road again, to explore this beautiful country, and continue the life of full-timers.  Today we saw a 5th wheel tow vehicle with the slogan “No where to be, all day to get there” . Sounds good to us.

Until later.