I have just taken a new job in Great Falls, Montana. A new state and new areas to explore.
By: joealaska, 3:15 AM GMT on May 26, 2014
Starting to get into travel mode. Making plans in my head. Like I mentioned in last blog, my guess for where we end after the first days drive is CORALVILLE, IOWA along I-80. I am just going by what I estimate we can do in an average day. There are other locations east and west of there, so it is easy to be flexible. Since we will just be pulling in, eating and sleeping, and leaving next morning I figure WALMART sounds OK. Dry camping. Call ahead and make sure they allow it. Hell, it is all on a website right now, but they mention things change. The policy is up to the Store Manager of that specific location. In general, most are OK with it.
The day after is where it gets interesting. Nebraska and South Dakota. There are some awesome remote RV campsites, especially in South Dakota. Free camping if you look a little. Buffalo Gap National Grasslands. Near Wall, South Dakota. Home of the famous WALL DRUG. Free Ice Water! This happens to be next to Badlands National Park. I visited there on an epic road trip many years ago, and I saw it at dawn. The sun on those rock formations was unbelievable. Would like to see that again.
One thing I have NOT seen is The Crazy Horse Memorial, a few miles south of Mount Rushmore. It is a carving that takes an entire mountain and turns it into Crazy Horse riding a horse. They started this 66 years ago. So far they have pretty much finished the face, which is 87.5 feet tall. Now they are concentrating on the horse head. When it is completed, the sculpture will be 641 feet wide and 563 feet high. The height of the sculpture at Mt. Rushmore is only 60 feet high. Crazy Horse will be huge. Near Custer City in southwest tip of South Dakota. I want to see that.
One of the Indian Chiefs way back when, at the time they were wanting to take on the project was quoted as saying WE WOULD LIKE THE WHITE MAN TO KNOW THE RED MEN HAVE GREAT HEROES ALSO. One of the guys who worked on Mt. Rushmore was hired to do Crazy Horse. He does the work mainly by himself, occasionally using some help. He died, but his wife carried on the project. Now she recently died, but the project will still go on. Very interesting story, check it out.
Eventually, I also want to see the site of The Battle of Little Big Horn in Montana. Should have gone there last year, just did not stop as I passed nearby.
I am seeing RV locations in parks that have water and electric hookups for FREE. The clincher is you have to leave after 5 days. Must be a catch. We will see.
Having work done on both my vehicles Tuesday and Wednesday. DotMom turns 80 this Saturday, family is arriving in a couple days for a weekend celebration. Going to see THE BOOK OF MORMON.
Should be fun!
By: joealaska, 6:49 PM GMT on May 22, 2014
I played golf with the folks Wednesday. It was the first time in quite a while that JoeKY has played. He hurt his shoulder and hip last year and that was it for many months. But I was glad when he agreed to go out and play. The weather was perfect, mild and overcast.
As usual, DotMom dominated off the tee with well hit big drives. Right down the middle. JoeKY hit several fine shots, especially off the #8 par 3, which he put on the green. I could tell he was not in 100% shape as he was having trouble with his back swing and his shoulder turn. But as usual, he hit some great shots, with no warm up beforehand. But after that great shot on #8, he stopped playing as his shoulder was hurting him.. We all stopped after 9 holes. That was enough, even for me. It was fun. Glad to get dad back out. He is 91 and having ongoing issues with his shoulder, so who knows when it may be the last time he plays?. Whenever that happens, I will understand, and I hope it is with me .
After all, my very FIRST round was with him back near Rittman, Ohio, when I used only a putter and hacked around as he played real golf. Much like nowadays, sadly. That was Rawiga Golf Course.
It was all the local weather talk here that there were storms coming through later on Wednesday. High winds, heavy rains, thunder, and a lot of lightning. Cool. By early evening the storms were coming in from the north, with golf ball size hail in Indiana already.
Since I DO NOT HAVE TV, I use the local weather radar. It showed heavy storms coming in moving southeast. It looked like they were just going to miss Louisville to the north. But I was outside, and I could hear distant rumbles of thunder. And I saw the sky getting very dark. So I checked the radar again, and I was still not too worried. Maybe a glancing blow as the storm slid by. Shortly, when I went to check the radar again, as I saw things looking worse, the internet was not working. Just when I needed it the most.
Turns out it would be one BIG all-night glancing blow. Intense at times.
We were also being told that a second round of storms were due through town in a couple hours. So either sooner or later I figured we would get some action. So I built a bonfire and got out my guitar and amp for a little practice. I kept watching the skies get dark. Then the solid wall of clouds turned into several horizontal cloud layers, all rolling in quickly. More lightning and thunder, now much nearer. I unplugged the amp and stowed it away, and the guitar went inside. Next,as usual when rain is coming in, I put the easy chair and footrest under LEGGS. These are interior furniture. But they are fake leather and water resistant to a degree. One day they will fall apart at the stitchings and they will be discarded in some dumpster in a state still not known. But right now they are very comfortable when camping. It was way back in college when I learned how nice it was to have some interior furniture outside.
Just when I finished all of that, the wind started to really pick up. Still no rain, so I tried to get some pictures. But it was getting pretty dark at this point. The first squall line came through with a nice gust of wind. I looked at the bonfire and it was going pretty well. I thought about getting some water and dousing it. But the wind was now too much. Unfortunately, the wind was blowing the sparks of the fire right at Leggs. There were a couple of big gusts, maybe 60 mph. The sparks bounced off harmlessly. Then the rains came and it was a downpour. The fire was soon a non-issue.
There was a lot of thunder and lightning. Then there was one of those huge thunder claps that is just one single BOOM. Nothing to warn you it was coming. That one was very close, maybe that is why there is just a boom and no build -up and falling off. At that point Fluff went back in her NEST she has made in the back of the RV and hid. Dutchie just perked up as she was sitting by the window.
I went to bed around midnight, and the storms seemed to be slowing down. I woke up around 3 AM and it was dead quiet. But as I lay there I could hear a new storm coming in. Soon enough it was pouring again, and the thunder and lightning was stronger than ever. For the next few hours the storms kept coming. It would drop off, but build back up. Nice, strong storms.
The RV has no problems with that stuff. It does get pretty loud. You are more INSIDE the storm. And you can tell there are different sized raindrops. Some are BIG.
About 6 AM it all stopped. The morning was sunny and wet. Lots of leaves down, but no real damage. At least not right here. I saw a guy who spent the night in a tent and asked him how it was. He said they soon retreated into their car. They went back to the tent after it all stopped later, and he said the tent was not that wet. But when it all started up again, they scurried back to the car again.
He looked pretty ragged when I talked to him. He was probably thinking the same of me. You do not get a lot of sleep camping.
I noticed you can get a camera on a drone nowadays for $300 or so. Hmmm.
They were putting in wireless here yesterday when I drove by the gate. Many parks have wireless, and I guess they thought it was about time.
Less than 2 weeks until I cruise.
By: joealaska, 3:20 PM GMT on May 18, 2014
It is 3 weeks since I came to Mount Eden, the official mailing address here at the lake.
The first full weekend I was here was busy and packed. The next weekend was rained out. Just me.
Then we had heavy rain earlier this week, but it has finally stopped. But the trails here are closed due to the rain, so horse campers will not be coming this weekend. It was worse. BOY SCOUTS. A PACK of them.
Started Friday afternoon. Earlier I had noticed the maintenance guys bringing extra picnic tables to all the sites around me. Then a guy in an SUV pulled up midday and pulled into the spot next to me. He and 3 kids got out. I watched in horror as they started unloading bedrolls and tentage. Soon there were more coming in. What the hell? I still wonder what the deal was, as all these folk would fit on a nice hillside nearby set up for group camping. Which is empty right now.
The tents are crowding in, with three of them in an area I consider my turf. I stayed inside a lot.
Dutchie was excited with the new neighbors arriving, but she wanted out. She hung out under LEGGS, but something spooked her and she bounded into the nearby woods. A few of the campers saw her, and one guy asked WHAT was that? The other said a CAT or a RABBIT. It was chaos with everyone arriving for a while, and I knew Dutch would wait it out, so I did too. But every 5 or 10 minutes I would whistle to her. I had my dinner and went over toward the woods and whistled. Right away she stuck her head out. Thick foliage there, even for a cat. She was looking at me, but there were kids kicking a ball around just a few feet away as a distraction. I just told her C’MON! She bolted through the commotion and went underneath LEGGS. I opened the door and she ran inside.
A couple nights ago we were still having storms coming through. But after being stuck inside for a full day, I let her out during a calm period. I could tell by radar we had an hour or so, then here we go again. I watched her as she walked down the road here. The place was empty then, and quiet. I could talk to her as she went several hundred feet away. Still pretty much in sight. I have been try to teach her what RAIN means. And I was telling her RAIN! Every few minutes. So she was ready when the drops started falling. I was yelling RAIN DUTCHIE, C’MON! She bolted right away. A sprint toward me. She had to stop dead once, just to do it and look back. But then she came on in full bolt, tearing into the gravel to stop. We both went inside as it started to POUR again.
Finally, Saturday morning, with all the scouts possible tented nearby, she wanted out again. I watched as she ran into the woods (now a lot thicker and dense since her first debacle there). No problem. About an hour later I saw her trotting down the road toward the RV, but she got distracted with something nearby. I had to whistle to get her coaxed in. But she hesitated. I went out and talked to her, approaching slowly. That little lady turned and ran back to the woods, but stopped short from going in. Dense as it was. I kept talking and went and got her. It took a few minutes. I think she is pissed there are so many people. I understand that. By noon Sunday they will all be gone.
It got into the 30s last night, and I felt sorry for those campers to a certain degree. Tonight it is going into the low 40s. Bummer. 90s later this week. More rain Thursday.
Tring to get soon-to-be 80 DotMom and 91 year old JoeKY out golfing this week. Maybe I will finally be able to give the old guy a game. He is 91 and coming off a couple injuries. I got him where I want him. But, maybe he is just setting me up...
Saturday night here. The guys with a small boat on my left side are all sitting in that boat as it is parked at the campground.. At least 7 of them in a 16 foot boat at most. They seemed to be checking all their night lighting system. But then they headed off into the darkness. All of them sitting in that boat as it was towed away by their truck. It HAD to be illegal as hell. They had about 1.5 miles to the water. I am sure it happens all the time here. An hour later they were back
It is 9:30 PM and dark. The camp is still alive with kids and adults.
It will all be over after tonight. Will probably fire up the furnace after the last few nights of COLD. Hate to do it for one night. Tried the gas stove inside. It works fine, although I will rarely use it. Nice to be there when I need it.
After freezing the last couple nights, it was just last week where the GIRLS and I were learning the A/C system, as well as a big ceiling fan never used until then. They worked!
I know the furnace works, but not sure if the thermostat does. Will find out.
I can see my breath. Going inside.
Everyone was up at 6:30 AM, so I was too. Kids screaming. No parents telling them to keep it down. Almost everyone was gone by 10 AM. The boat boys are still play-fishing, sitting in the boat again this morning. I am sure they know there is a big lake just down the road. It is 11 AM and they are not out fishing. Does not make sense. They were just practicing their casting when one guy got his lure caught up in a tree. That kept them busy for a while.
I watched the boy scouts all line up and walk the campground in a line to police for trash. It was a good thing to see them learn. There were 20 people in an area 100 by 25 feet. They were picking up minuscule trash. Now they are gone and I see a water bottle and a hat left behind. Even better, I see they left a decent pile of firewood. 6 or 8 big logs. Somebody paid some money for that wood. I assume they did not need it and left it for the next guys. Or they just missed it. Each site here has a nice fire pit for big fires. I have not used mine yet. If that wood is still there in a while, I will move it over to my area and tonight there will be a FIRE.
Updated: 2:28 PM GMT on May 20, 2014
By: joealaska, 4:06 PM GMT on May 09, 2014
I checked the weather radar for the greater Taylorsville area, as well as the surrounding countryside. It is just a matter of time before the rain starts. A wall of precipitation is heading right for us. No big deal. Right now it is overcast and breezy. Very comfortable.
My big entertainment lately is to listen to internet radio. It is interesting to hear people from assorted locations. I had a station from Guam on recently. Right now I have on Wyoming Public Radio. Today it is 40 degrees in Jackson, with snow and rain. How do you like it there OGAL? What is the latest on that pending landslide?
The internet remains spotty here. At times it works just fine, other times it does not work at all. I assume it will probably get worse when I hit the road, so I better get used to it. I had another blog written a few days ago but was unable to get my laptop to hook up online and post it. The Dell Dinosaur will be phased out of operation with me. With Dell abandoning me, as well as Internet Explorer having issues, it seems unavoidable.
The cats are adapting nicely. They know LEGGS is their home. Earlier this week I heard the cats wanting in, so I opened the screen door. It was dark outside, but I was able to see a third cat with them. Mostly white. That cat seemed to have an issue with Dutchie. While Fluff came right inside, Dutchie stayed underneath the RV trying to keep away from White Guy. Then there was a noise somewhere and everyone stampeded. Dutchie tore off into the gloaming toward the woods with White Guy right on her tail. They got out of sight then I heard a huge cat scream. Probably Dutchie. I went and looked for them with a flashlight, but gave up when I did not see them in the grass area.. I had seen enough of that forest.
It was a nice night, so I just sat outside and scoped out the area every once in a while with a scan of the flashlight. I soon saw a pair of glowing eyes in the distance. Later I saw it was White Guy, as he was stretched out on the road and the white color shown like a beacon. No sign of Dutchie. Every few minutes I would whistle and call for her. Then one time I called for her and she stepped out of the nearby dark and walked right up to me. I think she was nearby all along, just keeping a distance from the White devil cat.
The rain has arrived. Now inside. Some heavy stuff heading in, then it looks like there will be a break for a while. Wondering how the rain will affect the weekend camp rush. Everyone usually arrives around 2 PM or later. Last weekend one camper stayed into Monday before leaving. Normally I am all by myself during the week. But Wednesday a camper arrived and parked at the other end of the loop I am on. He came by and we talked for a few minutes. He said he was going to stay until the rain due in a couple days arrived. Today.
Last night he was walking his dog and stopped by just as it was getting dark. Dutchie was laying on the picnic table about 40 feet from where he stood and we talked. The dog was a big black guy, but he was getting old and had trouble with his rear legs and hips. So he and Dutchie just looked at each other, and there was a peace.
LARRY was a nice guy, and he liked to chat. After a while he sat down and I knew the evening was booked. We talked until about 11 PM, although at the end it was mainly him. He covered a lot of subjects, occasionally getting into religion which I am not comfortable hearing from strangers. But he never quite got to asking me if I had been SAVED...
Finally he decided to head back to his camper. I stayed up a while. Dutchie had retreated into the RV when Larry sat down at the picnic table. Now that he was gone she came out and headed off into the dark. I left a light on and went to bed. She lets me know she wants in when she gets back, I can hear her through the screen door or a window. That came around 5:45 AM. The temperature at night has been PERFECT for sleeping with windows wide open. Last night it got to the low 60s. I checked the long range forecast and there is a chance of rain and storms through next Wednesday. But what I hated to see was the night time temps are forecast to be in the 40s the last half of next week. I do not want to fire up a furnace just for a day or two. Cat pile.
I have a bunch of windows in the RV, some with screens, some not with screens. Dutchie found one open a couple nights ago and went out for a night cruise. I heard her crying outside and wanting in, which surprised me as I did not know she was out. It is about an 8 foot drop from that window. I was not sure if somehow she was left outside when I went to bed that night, even after I saw the open window. But next morning she used it again to jump out as I watched her. Working on rigging up some way she can jump back in on her own.
Since the fight with the White Guy, who came back for more next day, she has chosen to stay inside a lot more.
After I woke up and let Dutchie in this morning I went back to sleep. At 8 AM LARRY is back like a bad dream. My windows are open and I can hear him like he is standing in front of me. JOE? You in there Joe? JOE!? Judas Priest. Not the way I want to wake up. We had a short conversation which I hardly remember, something about him walking to get loosened up in the AM. I tried to close my eyes again, but I was up for good. I guess he wanted to say goodbye, because I looked up and he was driving out.
The rain was moving in and he left just like he said. Easy to do that in an RV.
Big Mothers Day weekend coming up. Have fun.
By: joealaska, 3:22 PM GMT on May 02, 2014
Camping is good. I own this place right now, just me since Sunday AM. At least what I can see in my “loop”. There are a few others here on the other side.
Sunday was very rainy. Hard rain at times, periods of no rain. But it rained all day. There was lightening and thunder.
The cats were hiding the first day. But Dutchie was staring out the door and murmuring and God knows I know what that means. Let her out. It only gets worse. But I was ready. I had bought a couple cat harnesses. In the past the ones I bought were like six straps covering the chest and neck, pretty unescapable. The best I found recently looked like sports bras, with holes for the front legs.
I tested them on the cats. Fluff was a tight fit for that ONE SIZE FITS ALL, and Dutchie easily fit the same harness. Possibly too easily. I carried her out for a chance to look around. I had 50 feet of rope on her.
I put her down and it was DUTCHIE TIME. Magical, mysterious. She just wriggled out of that harness in about 5 seconds. Now she was back to panic-kitty mode, and she sprinted off in a random direction. She had no idea where she was, and only had a possible glimpse of what home looked like. But something kicked in, and she stopped and came back. I was talking to her and trying to keep her calm. But she has issues with us moving AGAIN, evidently, and just turned around and bolted for the nearby woods, about 150 feet away across a green grass field.
I knew it was a problem right away. OH, I knew she would be OK, I would get her back. She is a smart cat and survives. She spent a day in a hurricane in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, outside and hunkered down. Probably with a couple foxes. In that case I came back to the duplex hours later and eventually she came back when it was safe.
And now, a couple years later...here we go again.
SO, I followed her. She was in the woods before I could see where she entered. There was a distinct woods line. Cut grass versus dense woods. I figured she would stop in the first line of woodsiness... Therefore I did not go into the woods. I stood there and whistled and yelled her name. It was dense at the edge, but walkable further inside
No sign, and a new storm was moving in. It started raining hard and it was every man/cat for themself. I went back to LEGGS just as it was getting dark.
I knew the kitty game. The rain would make her find shelter and hunker down. Dutchie was a PRO at this. So I figured all would be OK. But I pulled up the weather radar, and it was not good. Solid rain for a few hours. Just as it was getting dark, I went back and looked. Light rain. Now I heard some far away cat cries. Hard to tell where from exactly. I stood and stared into the woods looking for movement. I walked for a ways
Then, like in a dream, I saw her jump through a clearing ahead of me. She was not responding to my yells (too pissed) and then I averted my eyes to walk over some logs. I looked up and I had lost sight. She was crying off and on, I knew where she was - roughly, but she was not coming to me. It was a game that I was not wanting to play. Again I went back to the RV. I kept whistling for her, and I knew she knew where I was. Eventually she would get tired of being wet in the woods. Sure enough, later I heard her crying nearby in the dark. I whistled again. Finally she appeared under the RV. She was soaking wet, and went right up the stairs and inside.
She slept very well after I dried her up. Next morning I thought she was broken in, she knew where her home was. She wanted out again, and it was finally sunny and not raining. When I open the door, a couple of stairs extend outward. When they came out, Dutchie panicked and bolted. This time she was not doing the bounding thing, she was sprinting. Right into the woods again. But this time I knew where she was, and so did she. Eventually she came back, and things have become a bit normal at this point.
I have hooked up the water now, the refrigerator at first was acting up, but it is fine now. The AC and heater work, although I really do not need them yet. It DOES get very cool here at night.
I hesitated extending out the awning as it has been pretty windy the last few days, but last night I finally got that done.
Most of my meals are cooked on the grill outside. Yesterday that fancy HINGED LID on the grill proved to be a problem. It is top heavy when the lid is opened, and the wind caught it and blew it off a picnic table I have here. Hot coals everywhere, but I just picked them up with a utensil and built the fire back. Put a couple burgers on, and left the grill on the ground for now. Soon, the wind knocked it all over again. The burgers remained on the grill even as it lay on its side. In a few minutes I was having lunch.
I bought the tow dolly Wednesday. I had them check my tires. The rear end has double tires on both sides. They found that the inside tire on the drivers side had blown out. There was a big hole in the side of it. Right now the spare is on, and I will return in a few weeks for a new tire and other possible work. The tow dolly worked great. Easy to put the car on and get it off.
Kentucky Derby this weekend, tomorrow. Today is The Oaks, a big race for people who want to see a race, but who may not want to fight the crowds Saturday.
Thank you for your time.