Columbia River and Mount Hood

Mount Hood in Oregon.

Dart was on the north side of the Columbia River and that is Mount Hood in the background.  If you drive on the south side of the river which is in Oregon, you drive on an interstate.  There are a few places to stop, but you are on a high speed road.  On the north side of the river which is in Washington, there is little traffic and more opportunities to pull over and enjoy the view.  We like the north side better but were not able to travel it the whole way.  There are several tunnels with height restrictions and we couldn’t go through some of them.  We went through a few and it was very close.  I was cringing waiting to hear a scraping sound.  Regis tried to drive through the middle of the tunnel where the clearance is higher but traffic coming from the other direction kept making that difficult.  We eventually had to cross into Oregon and drive on the interstate.

Following is a bunch of pictures along the river.  Once you get past the Dalles Dam (heading west) and all the kite and wind surfers, the vegetation becomes increasingly lush.  By the time you get to Portland, the flowers are amazing.   Once we crossed the river, it was VERY difficult to take pictures so I am unable at this time to show you the lush vegetation.

Columbia River.
Columbia River.
Columbia River.
John Day Dam on the Columbia River.
Columbia River.

We have a few goals over the next couple days:  clean the RV, clean the car, clean the dog, go to Powell’s book store, get Blue Star donuts (top priority), and take the RV in to see if it can be fitted with a sway bar.  For those interested in the technical details about why Regis wants to do that and whether it will work for us, I’ll let him post after he meets with the shop on Tuesday.  Amazingly, this campground will let you wash your vehicles which is highly unusual.  That means we can clean the car and RV ourselves.  I found a local place that let’s you self wash the dog, so I’m planning on taking Dart there while Regis is in the shop.  After traveling 3,669 miles across country, almost everything is due for a thorough cleaning.

We are all very happy to stay in one spot for several days.  Our next location is only 147 miles away.  That’s nothing.  Dart is going to love the next several months.  No long distance driving required!!

Just as a note, we drove 1,207 miles from Rapid City to Portland.  Because of our car issues, we had to drive without stopping more than 1 night.  We haven’t done that many miles without a break since we started traveling 4 years ago.  I can tell you that all three of us need a driving break.

Bonus Points:  Regis says he’ll give bonus points to anyone who can figure out what city is below Dart in the Where’s Dart picture in our last post.

Where’s Dart (2018-3)?

Where’s Dart (2018-3)? River and mountain.

Where’s Dart?  Can you name the river and the mountain? This little dog is quite the traveler!

Note:  Last year we purchased an unlimited data plan from Verizon and it has made our traveling life so much better.  Most campgrounds that offer WIFI do not offer a service that is useful.  Unfortunately, we have used enough bandwidth this month that Verizon has slowed us down, but it’s still workable.  At this campground, I can’t get logged onto the campground WIFI option and we have a VERY weak cell phone signal (outside a BIG city).  Regis purchased something to boost the signal.  It is working well enough.  I won’t be doing much internet browsing in this campground, but I can do what I need to do.


3,117 Miles So Far

Dart relaxing after a long day driving. I don’t think he sleeps when the motor home is moving.  

We have driven 3,117 miles in the motor home since leaving St. Augustine, Florida and have about 600 miles to go before we can start exploring more than driving.  Wahoo!  I’m sure Dart will be happy also.

Janene mentioned in a comment about how beautiful this country is and we thoroughly agree.  There is beauty in almost every place that we go.  This country is fun to explore because there is so much diversity in the landscape, wildlife, flora, and people.  It’s hard to imagine you could ever be done exploring.  Canada is also beautiful and when you add the U.S. and Canada together, I won’t live long enough to see it all.  But, I intend to enjoy every bit of what I can explore.

We drove through part of the Rockies today so there was a lot of driving slowly up a mountain to careen (well maybe not careen but sometimes it felt like it) down the other side.   It is more unnerving to me to go down the steep mountains in a motor home pulling a tow vehicle than it is in a car.

We arrived at the Missoula KOA campground at 12:40.  They charged us an extra $20 for checking in early.  In four years of camping in the U.S. and Canada in commercial and public campgrounds, no one has ever asked up to pay a fee to check in early.  The campground was mostly empty, so it was aggravating.  I guess it is something I should pay attention to, but it has never been a problem to us.  I am thankful that 99% of the campgrounds we go to are not a problem or it would make our traveling much more complicated.  Had I thought about it, we would have driven to the local Walmart for 2 hours and caught up on our grocery shopping and then come back to check in.  This is our 3rd and last time at the Missoula KOA.  They certainly have a right to charge, but after driving almost 300 miles and being ready to stop for the day, it’s discouraging.

Dart, the motor home, and the Jeep desperately need baths.  We hope to get everything cleanup once we get to Vancouver, Washington.  We want to look our best when we see our son Jason again.

The Rockies

Mountains to the west of Big Timber, Montana.

At 4 something this morning, Regis woke me to remind me I wanted to see the sun rise on Devil’s Tower.  I had a hard time sleeping last night, so I’m pretty sure I finally fell asleep at 4 something minus 1 minute.  I can’t say that I cared when Regis woke me, so he went out by himself while I slowly got myself moving.  He caught this picture with the warm light from the sun rise bouncing off Devil’s Tower and the rocks beneath. It’s a shame I missed the live view!

Devil’s Tower in the glow of the morning sun.

As a result of Regis’ enthusiasm, we got a very early start.  There was very little traffic and we got to drive on some nice roads as we headed out of Wyoming into Montana.  I fell in love.  The scenery was beautiful and I never saw so many Pronghorns in my life.  We saw hundreds of them.  We also saw deer and a beautiful fox.

As we headed west through Montana, the snow capped Rockies rose in the distance both to the southwest and the west.  How could I have forgotten how big they are?  We haven’t seen them in a few years and we were both flabbergasted.  They are huge.  These are all part of the Rockies.  We are seeing the Absaroka Range (a segment of the Rockies) to the Southwest which is on the Montana and Wyoming border.   It is between us and Yellowstone National Park which is one of my many favorite places.

The Yellowstone River is 2/10 of a foot below flood stage.  The last time we went through here it was hot and dry in August.  Now, the mountains have snow on them, the vegetation is lush and beautiful, and the river is overflowing it’s banks in places.  It looks different.  The river is gorgeous, but that is easy for me to say since I don’t live next to it and have to worry about flooding.

Devil’s Tower

Devil’s Tower in Wyoming.
Dart at Devil’s Tower National Monument.

Dart was at Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming.  It was a beautiful drive from Rapid City, South Dakota to Devil’s Tower.  The grass was very green so it looked lush.  We saw Pronghorn’s and Deer on the way.

We have a great view of Devil’s Tower from our campsite.  After we set up and got lunch, we drove to the Tower.  Dart is not allowed on any of the trails, so there wasn’t much we could do besides stop and look at the Tower from different angles.  We saw several climbers.

Climbers on Devils Tower. There is one (orange) just to the top right of the Tower and another one (dark clothes) half way down.

We stopped at the Prairie Dog town on the way back from the Tower.  These Prairie Dog’s look much healthier than the ones we saw in the Badlands.  I was hoping to see some babies but I guess they are in the burrows or haven’t been born yet.  This one female looked like she’s been nursing or is getting ready.

Female Prairie Dog at Devil’s Tower. Notice her long toe nails.
Prairie Dog at Devil’s Tower.

We spent a major part of the afternoon watching the climbers from our campsite.  You need some optics to see them.  We have a scope, so Regis set it up and gave me updates on the progress of each of the climbers.  They were named by the color of their clothes.  I occasionally watched with the binoculars, but mostly just enjoyed the weather and tried to identify the local birds.

Climbers at Devil’s Tower as photographed by a cell phone through the scope.
Flowers at Devil’s Tower.

We have to be in Vancouver, Washington (just north of Portland, Oregon) by Sunday so there will be no dallying between here and there.

Where’s Dart (2018-2)?

Where’s Dart (2018-2)? This is the view from our campsite.

By Regis

Another Where’s Dart can only mean one thing, the Jeep is fixed.  As we were packing up to leave, several songs were going through my mind: from the 70’s Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak”;  from the 80’s Sammy Haggar’s “Can’t Drive 55”; and of course Willie’s “On the Road Again”.

I have to give a lot of credit to Liberty Jeep in Rapid City, South Dakota.  I drove up late Tuesday afternoon.  They took a look at it and had a part ordered the same day.  From there, things went downhill.  The part and Linda’s order from Amazon spent an additional 24 hours in Commerce City, Colorado.  It should have been in town Friday but didn’t get to Rapid City until Saturday.  UPS doesn’t deliver on Saturday, so we had to hope it got delivered Monday.   When Linda got her Prime package just before noon we were hopeful.  The part was delivered to the Jeep dealer by the afternoon.  They started working on the Jeep late Monday and finished late Tuesday.

Linda spent lots of time rejiggering the travel plans as the delays piled up.

When It Rains, It Pours

Dart playing endless ball while we are stuck in the RV waiting for a part in rainy and cold weather.

When it rains it pours both literally and figuratively.

We’ve been experiencing a lot of rain since we entered South Dakota.  I always considered South Dakota a somewhat dry state, so I am a bit surprised.  It rained 2 inches in an hour last night and that was just the beginning.  There was hail.  There were rivers running through the campground.  The fire pit was almost full of water.  The next morning, I saw worms the size of small snakes.

Fortunately, after all the rain in our earlier stops in South Dakota, we went to Cabelas and I bought two types of waterproof foot gear.  I bought Muck Boots and a waterproof pair of hiking boots.  After getting soaking feet in our previous rain encounters, I was ready to do something about it.  Within two days of buying my Muck Boots, they came in handy.  What a muddy mess!!!!

My favorite new foot purchase. It sure came in handy with our astonishing rainfall in South Dakota.

So, it has rained a lot literally.  Now figuratively, we’ve had our share of problems recently.  From a recent post, you know that the Jeep is at the dealer waiting for a part.  The part was supposed to come in Friday.  Didn’t happen.  I also placed an Amazon Prime order to arrive in the campground guaranteed on Friday.  I paid extra for that even though I’m a Prime member.  Didn’t happen.  In both cases, the tracking information shows the items still sitting in Commerce City, Colorado.

Anyway, that means we are still here.  We woke up to lots of fog.  We decided renting a car and exploring didn’t make any sense since you CAN’T SEE ANYTHING.

During the explosive rain yesterday, the refrigerator stopped working.  Regis spent all morning fixing it.  It’s working now but he is not ready to claim a victory since he bypassed a circuit.  The circuit bypassed is a high temperature sensor to prevent overheating and fire.  I hope we don’t burn up tonight!  At the very least, we won’t be cold.

While we were here, Regis broke a key while opening one of the RV compartments.  We still had the rental car, so I went and had keys made.  Regis spent yesterday morning taking the lock apart to remove the broken key.

I decided that it was a good day to do laundry today.  It’s dreary and we don’t have a car.  When I put my load of wash in the dryer and put my money in, the dryer made horrible noises and the drum didn’t turn.  Argh!  (No worries because the campground gave me my money back.)

Our remote temperature sensor went on the fritz. It says it 69 outside, NO way it’s like 44!

The RV is full of mud.  Three people and one dog in a small environment, mud, mud, mud.   It is way too muddy to walk Dart much so he is stuck with playing lots of ball in the RV.

When we picked up some stuff at Walmart the other day (when we had a rental car) in order to organize the RV, we decided to do grocery shopping later after we got our car.  Now, we have no car and we’re still here.  But, we have potatoes, onions, nuts, and lots of sparkling water.  No fancy meals for the next few days.

Amazon did reimburse me the money I paid to get expedited delivery, but I still don’t have the product.  Let’s see if it shows up by Monday.