By: joealaska, 8:14 PM GMT on July 31, 2014

I have been back in Palouse, WA since Tuesday afternoon.

My goal has been to find a long term camp site in Montana from here. At least a couple of weeks. More like a month. It is not as easy as you may think, especially if you are a bit choosey. When a I read a couple reviews that say "the freeway noise is a problem" I move on. There is also the issue of parks filling up, especially if they are nice. You can spend a lot of time searching only to find a park is full when you call them. This was the case when I wanted to get north to Spokane or Coeur d' Alene. So I fell back to Old Reliable Palouse. I am here until Friday morning.

Tuesday I left a great campsite at BEAR DEN, in Grangeville. I headed north on RT 95, VIRGIN ROAD. Nice scenery, several nice train trestles. Idaho has so many HISTORIC MARKERS you just cannot see them all, especially dragging a Camry from your HOUSE. Wish I could have stopped at one nice trestle 15 miles or so north of Grangeville.

Coming into Lewiston I led a parade of traffic with an 18 wheeler on my tail. He had been there 30 miles or more. I was moving fine, no way was I going to speed. And there was road construction off and on all the way. There was a big downhill grade coming into town. When I popped out of the trees, I saw large burn scar on the nearby hills. Looked fresh. Sorry, no pics. Heavy traffic.

As soon as I turned onto RT 195 heading north to Pullman I started the big uphill climb out of town. I turned on my emergency flashers and went 30 to 40 MPH the next 6 miles. I actually passed a couple trucks. Then a truck was passing me. It takes a while, and he finally slid by. I waved and he was already waving back. Everyone was cool. I had to pull out to pass a VERY slow vehicle, and then another. The car behind stayed back rather than stay on my ass. Refreshing.

Near the top / nadir / summit / crescent / azimuth there was an option to stop at the top of the very steep hill and turn left across traffic for a "scenic view". I would have to cross the whole mess again again as I left, so I PASSED. (But it was a great view!!!)

And soon I was back in THE PALOUSE.

That night I went into the farm fields and tried to get lost just before sunset. It almost happened. The roads go in the direction of the topography. They were small dirt roads. Signs indicated they were closed during the winter. Eventually I went by the direction of the fast setting sun. Soon I was back in town.

Yesterday I took a ride near Spokane north of here. I was coming back knowing there was forest fire there a couple nights ago. The local news made a big deal. It was burning above a golf course, and they were still playing!! Well DUH.

I went by there, looking at the hillside. Nothing. Coming around a curve I noticed an SUV cop ahead. The only guy on the road. It was 55 mph, about to open up at 60. He got me at 68. He was cool, and booked me for 93 dollars. He said he gave me a break, writing down "5 mph over the limit." But the ticket still says 68 in a 55 zone.

Perhaps another interstate debacle? Just recently I was granted Papal Dispensation of fault in the New Jersey EZ-Pass debacle of several months ago.

I took advantage of being near Spokane (telephone signal!) and called 5 RV parks I had searched up on the internet One did not answer. One was booked due to The Blues Fest this weekend there. On had the same issue with the Huckleberry Festival. The last one I lost due to a bad connection, but it was just as well. That lady sounded like a problem from the start.

So I came back to Palouse and booked one more day (I planned on leaving today).
This morning I had my top 5 list again, and went into town looking for the weak phone signal I have used in the past. It was always barely working, and you had to walk around to find it in the first place. Today I could not find it at all.

So I took the list and drove 15 miles to Pullman, where I needed to get some groceries anyway. A mile from the store my phone came alive. I had my choices in order. #1 was not a working number. #2 and #3 were full. #4 went to voicemail. #5 was a last resort choice (literally), but it was a small place with a nine hole golf course in Odessa, Washington. The middle of NOWHERE. I made a reservation, but they did not ask for a credit card number, which is very unusual.

I did my grocery shopping and tried #4 one last time. They answered, and I reserved a spot there. Grand Coulee, WA. Right by the dam of the same name. Some of you may recall I went there a few years ago. The dam is pretty cool and I will like seeing it again. Evidently they put on a nightly laser show there. Wonder what that is all about, but I will find out.

Has anyone caught on to the fact that this is the WRONG DIRECTION to get to Montana? I am still heading west and north, not east. But it was all I could get for now. It is not like I have an appointment elsewhere. Once I see what there is at Grand Coulee, I will call back the best places who were too busy and try again.

Right now I will be in Grand Coulee FRI / SAT / and SUN. Monday morning I head for ….

The big combines are out cutting the wheat right now, and I was warned about all the big trucks I will see on the road. I am staying away from Spokane, and will head across country taking RT 23 from Steptoe to Harrington.



By: joealaska, 1:00 AM GMT on July 29, 2014

I ended up staying here one more day in Grangeville. Why not? It is a nice camp site. Sunday I was having trouble finding a camp site around Spokane or Coeur d' Alene. They either sounded bad, or were booked up. I finally went to Plan B. Back to Palouse, Washington. Home of the great Cat and Dogfight Debacle. No phone service. But it will only be for two days, then I will hopefully have found a longer term deal in Montana. Western Montana. Taking my time.

Yesterday I took a ride up into the mountains, heading south on Forest Road 221. I drove out past the local drive-in theatre, then 7 miles up to the ski area. Not too impressive. I continued south, climbing amongst the tall pines. No views. There was one close encounter with some big black cows on the road. I wondered where they were grazing, as it was solid thick forest. Then I came upon a group of slower moving vehicles, some type of caravan. That was all I needed, and I turned around. Another nice evening and a sunset, I had the i-Mac outside on my table well into the evening.

Today I went in to pay for my extra day. The lady who took my money was asking where I was going today. She pulled out the map of nearby day trips, and I looked at the rest of Forest Road 221. Looked interesting as it neared RIGGINS. My sister and her HUB went with me down there a few days ago on the way to the fire lookout. It is a hub for river rides on The Salmon River. Pretty hot there due to the elevation, over a hundred easy. I had hedged on going back there, since I had done it. But one thing caught my eye, the distance to Riggins. From my camp site I can pull on RT 95 and drive 45 quick miles and be in DOWNTOWN Riggins. Yesterday I noticed a sign as I drove 221 just before I turned around. RIGGINS 69 Miles. This was after I drove about 20 miles already. That had to be one crazy winding road. So I went back and hit it. Took some sandwiches and water, I was now prepared.

There was hardly no traffic today. One logger and he let me by right away. It was paved at first. Still, very winding and slow making any progress.

I stopped at an old Ranger Station. When I got near Florence, an old boom town, the pavement stopped and the gravel began. Immediately I was climbing a steep grade. The road turned into one lane, with occasional wider areas where you could get by someone. The gravel was greasy. It was easy to start sliding going into turns. I slowed down. The road was so narrow I was dreading meeting up with someone. But I never did. I drove unimpeded for about 50 miles, finally seeing another car just outside of Riggins.

Then I climbed. And climbed. I had talked to a neighbor camper, and he said this road was AWESOME with big views. Well, after almost two hours I had seen none. But suddenly I was on top of some mountain, and there was a view. I was pretty high up. Maybe 2000 feet above the surrounding forest and river. There were pullouts to stop, and I checked out a great view of The Salmon River.

I was WAY up in elevation, then there was more climbing. This road had no guard rails. The land dropped down out of sight from my drivers side window. I was driving past wide open vistas off to my left, as well as the tops of tall pines. Pine trees just to my left, but rooted a hundred feet down. The land was very steep here. One mistake and lose the road, you are a headline next year when they finally find you stuck in a tree a thousand feet below.

I am attracted to great views, and that usually means elevation. But when I am CLOSE to a drop off, I am close to having a problem. I focus on the road and all is OK. But when I glance to my left, driving on the edge of the world with no rail, I get "nervous". Even when I just stop there, it is not fun. When my sister and HUB went with me to that fire tower, they had the same feeling driving up and down there. I was fine then. This was much worse. It was so narrow I did not want to get out to document this fact. I drove VERY slow for a while, and I finally went down.

Every time I came to a sharp curve I felt like I was going to slide through the gravel and become an airplane. Even at 3 mph.

Finally I was down and in Riggins. I was low on gas, but near home. I pushed it a bit. I had to go up the long White Bird Hill. When I checked the gas gauge it had me about 1/8 inch below empty. New territory for me. I knew a lot of that was the uphill climb. I did get to the top and the gauge returned to EMPTY.

I got gas as soon as I hit Grangeville.



By: joealaska, 1:06 AM GMT on July 25, 2014

Wednesday morning Cyber, Senor, and myself headed south on RT 95 for about an hour to Riggins. From there we took a forest road west for 17 miles. We gained 6000 feet during that stretch. The road was paved for a few miles, then went to dirt and gravel. The road was in decent shape. There were not many views until we got to the top and we popped out when the timberline started breaking up.

Right away we saw a group of mountain peaks called Seven Devils. There was still some snow in protected pockets. The peaks were very rugged looking, but they were only around 10,000 feet in elevation. Still, it was technical climbing I am sure. We drove past the Seven Devils and on up to the fire lookout at Heavens Gate. The lookout was a small structure perched on a solid base of rock and cinder block. Right away it looked like a steep climb to get up to it, even though it was just two tenths of a mile up. There were plenty of views where we parked, good enough for me.

My sister and her husband started walking up the path and I said GO ON, my bad knees and myself would be here when you return. After a few minutes I decided to start up the trail and take my time. When it got old I could just turn back. A big guy was coming down the trail, and we talked for a minute. I told him I was not sure if I would make it to the top. I mentioned the knee issue, and he pulled up a pants leg to show me a huge scar on his knee. He said he made it, and he had a bad knee too. He also said it really was not that set. Sure enough, the trail meandered around versus heading straight up and it was not really that tough. I also walked with my head facing down as I watched every step I was taking. It would only be a slight misstep that could ruin the trip.

I was glad I went up! The forest right there was an old burn area, with many burnt trees making the scenery a bit strange. From the lookout you could see parts of Oregon, Washington, and Montana. Inside the structure, there was one main room on top with storage below. It was about 20 x 20 feet big, with awesome views in all directions. There was a bed, gas stove, and other basics. An outhouse was outside.

I talked to the couple who worked there. The guy was an ex-Marine. He told me how he got the job, how much he made, and what he did. He works 8 AM to 8 PM on a typical day. One hour off for lunch. He is on the clock, and gets overtime in situations where a storm is moving through and he has to stick around. He said the lightning can be frightening. The highest wind he experienced was 72 mph (the same as when I was in Alaska). Of course, the best storms tend to be during winter when the place is snowed under and shut down.

Just a couple days earlier he had spotted a fire a few miles away called The Pittsburgh Fire. It is only a seasonal job, but the hours pile up and you can make some money over the summer.

They can sleep in the lookout if they want, or have to. But the bed is only made for one person. He also has a fifth wheel RV parked a little down the hill where they usually sleep. And he has TV.

Frankly it sounded pretty good to me. I have already made a quick look into getting that type of job. It may be too late for this year, and it is a government position where former military folk get priority. But he mentioned a nearby lookout that was unoccupied at the time, not sure why. Fire season is just kicking in. There were a couple small fires nearby, the big ones northeast in Washington.

I talked to Doug (AKA Gnu Guy) last night, keeping the communication lines open. He is not in Dutch right now, but going back shortly. Charlie's Produce, the main operation of my old company, is doing well and expanding into other northwest states. I saw an 18 wheeler of theirs on I-90 near Missoula on this trip. You never know, they may have an opening somewhere in the future that may be good for me. Probably not Alaska, although who knows?

It rained again last night late. And it got very cool. The future forecast looks clear, although tonight it will drop into the 40s. There were big storms north of here last night, a lot of homes destroyed in the mountains.

Cyber and Senor left this morning after we had a great breakfast in town. They are heading toward Elk City where I went a few days ago. They will pitch their tent at a small campground along the river there for one more night, then back to Boise.

Had a great time with them.

I am here until Monday morning, heading toward….



By: joealaska, 11:16 PM GMT on July 20, 2014

Seems like a long time ago, but last Wednesday we all headed out of PALOUSE, WASHINGTON going south to Lewiston. Nice ride. Most of it still in THE PALOUSE region, very scenic. I have been to Lewiston a few times, but I forgot about coming into town on RT 95 heading south. I cannot see how I did that.

The road up until then was pretty straightforward. Some gentle turns and smaller hills. 60 mph road. When you get a couple miles from Lewiston the road turns into two lanes going each direction. We must have been coming up to the edge of a large plateau we had been riding across, because suddenly the world seems to fall away ahead and to the right. You see that you are HIGH up on that ridge, with the town of Lewiston far below. The Snake River goes through there intersecting with The Clearwater River(I think). The view is awesome, although it was a bit hazy from smoke that day. And you MUST watch the road for the next 7 or 8 miles as the road heads DOWN fairly steeply. Four miles at 7 % during one stretch. There are fairly long straightaways then 45 mph curves. I have never seen so many runaway truck ramps on one stretch of road. At the bottom they were putting them on both sides of the road for your runaway convenience.

One sign said NO FINE FOR USING RUNAWAY RAMP. I felt better.

I think LEGGS brakes were smoking by the time we got down.

RT 12 east followed THE CLEARWATER RIVER. Pretty narrow road with twists and turns. And BEAUTIFUL. The river was white water in most cases, always a nice view. At one point I had to pass an oversized load coming from the other direction. First I noticed the flasher truck coming by, but then there was a bigger flasher truck with a couple people in it. Coming at me, they pulled into my lane a bit to make me slow down. They were waving at me, OK I see you. I was already going pretty slow. Finally I caught sight of the vehicle. It was dead stopped on a straightaway waiting for us to pass (me and that big assed log truck behind me). There was a guard rail on the other side, and that load was right next to it, he was as far over as he could get. So I slowed to almost nothing and swung out off the road, still solid ground, and edged by. The only tough part was holding my GoPro camera with one hand filming, and drive with the other. Coming to YouTube soon…

We were soon in KOOSKIA. I always remember that name. It is a neat little town right on the river. Why I remember it is because it is at one end of an awesome stretch of highway. ROUTE 12. That 159 mile stretch between Kooskia and LOLO, Montana, near Missoula, is just you, the road, and the mountains. Better have a full tank, and don't expect to see any Wendy's for a while. Remote. No intersections except an occasional primitive forest road. That may be the way I leave after I see my sister CYBER and her husband SENOR SUAVE in a couple days.

After Kooskia we still follow a river, but now just a fork of The Clearwater. 10 miles later we were in the greater HARPSTER metro area. Still at 10 miles, we left Harpster, and right away we came to The Harpster Riverside RV Park. Some sites are right on the water. I am maybe 150 feet from the river. In the evening the deer are everywhere. During the day I look across the river and there are several deer sleeping in the shade by the water.

A couple days ago I road out on RT 13 to Elk City. 50 miles one way. All along the river through the tall trees and steep hills. Hardly any cars. At Elk City you pop out into some open country where you can see a few miles. It was a boom town with a gold rush long ago. Still a small town with a few stores. Coming back I rode to the top of the hills to a town called Mt. Idaho. Nice views.

The campground here is OK at best. I had trouble getting internet hooked up, finally the lady who works here gave me her password to her personal WIFI and that works fine now. But it is 10 miles to the nearest DECENT grocery store. But you cannot beat the river view. I have checked it out every evening just as it is getting dark. Deer Time.

Today I went to Grangeville, about 10 miles south. I looked at Bear Den RV, where I will be heading tomorrow. It is only about 15 miles, but about 6 of that is steep uphill narrow road. Logging trucks use it all the time, but they are struggling going up. Grangeville is up on that plateau, wide open vistas in a couple directions. Still very close to the forest and all that related crap. My sister and her hubby are due up there Tuesday and Weds. I may leave with them on Thursday, or I may stay a week. Need to get a general game plan when I loop north than east for a spell.

Just don't know yet.

Yesterday FLUFF and Dutchie were puking after I tried some new food. They are not eating the stuff I have fed them forever... Dutchie was OK, but FLUFF was down all day. Not eating, still puking. Today she is much better.

Dutchie spends almost all day out, as well as evenings. First day I saw her within a foot of that river. I let her out this morning around 4 AM. It is getting light at that time. She came back around 8:30 and was pretty wet. Wonder what that story is?



By: joealaska, 5:52 PM GMT on July 14, 2014

Sunday started quietly. Mornings are usually spent with the computer and coffee. I usually head out later for whatever. While I enjoyed the morning I noticed my neighbors were disappearing one by one. One minute they are there, next minute gone. Suddenly I noticed I was the only camper remaining. Shades of Taylorsville, Kentucky.

I took a ride through the countryside north to Spokane. Another college town, here it was Gonzaga. The Palouse seemed to be pretty weak around there. I admit I have been a little disappointed since I arrived looking for the Palouse scenery. Don't get me wrong. It is beautiful here. But I have been through before, before I even knew there was a NAME to the region. And I saw a few BIG hills that I have yet to see this time. Hills that got steeper as they got higher, until the hill rounded out at the summit. Almost like a rounded off volcano. I specifically remember noticing how the farmers plowed as high as they dared before it was too steep. I remember seeing cows grazing up on those hills, so steep I wondered WHAT ARE THEY THINKING? Wondering how often a bovine slips and tumbles down into a ravine.

Those extreme hills are out there, nearby. The zealous is a big area. I cannot see it all in the short time I am here. I could check out the specific routes I have driven through before and repeat. I think they may be south of here, near Lewiston, Idaho. That is a nice town. Will head that direction next. I would like to head north searching for some coolness. Route 2 still has not been explored like I wanted a few years ago. The Dakotas are waiting. But first I want to see my sister and brother-in-law. Then it is north time.

Last night I took another sunset ride out into the countryside. But there were some rare clouds coming through. It was getting dark early. I took a few pictures and came back. Meanwhile another camper had showed up and was parked a couple campsites away. It was a couple, with three dogs. Two were big, some type of hounds. One was a small white hairy thing, probably for comic relief. They kept to themselves and set up their site. Fine with me.

The evening was perfect. The clouds kept it cool, and a nice breeze was blowing. I sat out on the easy chair (and ottoman) and relaxed. Dutchie was nearby sitting, and Fluff even came out and was sniffing around close to the RV. In one second it went from pacifying to chaos.

Suddenly those two dogs were busting into the campsite (actually all three were there, but who cared about the little one) and chasing the cats. The dogs appeared from underneath LEGGS, so there was no warning. The cats scattered, but went into avoidance mode, running in many different directions versus a straight line to the nearby warehouse. Or inside the RV. It was a vortex of fur. Hard to tell at one point who was chasing who. Dutchie was circling back and forth, with a big dog close by. But she was always in control. Shortly she grew tired of the chase and sprinted to the warehouse where she slid safely under the building.

Meanwhile Fluff had seemed to avoid the main assault. She had stayed nearby Leggs mainly with a strategy of dodging versus full out running. Once Fluff reaches peak speed, it is harder for her to quickly change directions with her massive girth. It is simply a matter of momentum. But once Dutchie disappeared, Fluff became the focus of attention.

It was hard for me to stop the whole thing. I was right in the middle of it, but the best I could do was slow down the dogs. I kept yelling at them to GET OUT. I jumped in front of them as a cat ran by.

I do not remember sensing this was a life and death deal. The dogs did not seem to be hell bent on blood. Could they have been actually playing to a point? What would have happened if they caught a cat? The dogs made no move to me, and they had plenty of chances.

That little dog just watched as he stood in the middle of the action. I could have footballed him outta there, but passed.

It reminded me of a similar incident a couple weeks ago when I was in Buffalo, WY.
A big dog from the next camp site got tired of having Dutchie watching him, and suddenly charged. Dutchie was ready and started a circling routine, where the dog got close, then Dutchie would suddenly change direction and be free. I watched from the doorway of the RV. A couple times Dutchie was coming around and I figured she would bolt inside and be safe. But she ran right by the stairs and kept moving. One time she was running right toward me and I yelled for her, but she seemed to choose NOT going inside.

Now Fluff was in the same dilemma. And she chose to run inside. I was outside only a few feet away, and was totally surprised when that big dog followed her right up the stairs… It was here that the dog suddenly stopped and realized he was not supposed to be there. And I was in the doorway blocking him. I did not want to BLOCK him, but I had to get inside to get him out. We stared at each other for a second, Fluff was hiding under the drivers seat. It was here I wondered if the situation was really dangerous. The dog was cornered, and he could have been aggressive toward me. But I moved aside and yelled GET OUT, and he did immediately.

Maybe Dutchie knew that running into LEGGS could be a DEAD end.

Fluff was safe inside, Dutchie was safe in her own little world. So I walked around to look toward the camp site they had come from, and the owners were rounding them up and getting them inside. They never said anything to me. I watched the lady walk by in a few minutes as she went to check the bulletin board at the camp site. She saw me and said nothing. I just sat and watched her finally leave.

They were in their camper until about 10:30 this AM when they finally came out. The guy had both big dogs on leashes, and the lady had the little dog loose with her, but she was carrying a leash if needed.

Thinking about it, I have seen many situations where dogs chased cats. I do not recall one of them ever catching the cat, though. I am sure that can happen, and it could be ugly. I HAVE seen situations where it got close, and the cat stops and has a face off with the dog. Usually the dog backs off.

Playing Palouse Ridge Golf this afternoon in Pullman.

My last full day is tomorrow here, and I think I will go to Palouse Falls west of here. I feel like I have already been there, after seeing the photos online and from other campers. Seems like there is one spot for the photographic MONEY SHOT, and I have seen it several times already. Hope it has a few more angles.

Then I need to figure out where I head Wednesday.



By: joealaska, 7:12 PM GMT on July 11, 2014

My second full day in The Palouse, camping in Palouse, WA.

Yesterday I took a exploratory drive to see what was nearby. First I headed east to Colfax, about 15 miles away. Nice landscape on the way. You enter town taking a 10% downhill grade, dropping into a town you really can't see until you get down to it. The Palouse is like that. Many hills and valleys.

Colfax is a little bigger than Palouse, but not much. There is a nine hole golf course there. I went by. The place looked pretty basic. One of the holes had a green right by the clubhouse. There was a huge fence to protect the building from badly hit golf balls. Not that that ever happens. The course was crowded with old guys playing their regular games with the guys. I left, but I will return later in an afternoon when the course is more open.

Next I went south to Pullman, college town with Washington State. I drove through the campus and it was impressive. Modern and clean. There was road construction that really messed traffic up. The signs said FLAGMAN ahead. But there were many flagmen. Guys standing all around the work area motioning to vehicles when to proceed. It seemed to work.

My GPS was on searching for golf courses. It had no listings for golf in Pullman. Pullman is not that small, especially with the campus there. NO GOLF? Seemed weird, even though Moscow, Idaho was only a few miles away and it had a couple courses. So I headed to Moscow to see what they looked like. Just then I saw a sign for Palouse Hills Golf Course. I had vaguely heard of this course, it was affiliated with the university. So I drove by to see it. I was really impressed. Just the type of course that gets me excited. Built on the hills and ridges that makes The Palouse interesting. Each hole is set by itself, with no holes running next to each other. No houses to ruin the views, of which there were many. Fairways placed at crazy angles to the hillsides where your ball is going to do some rolling once it lands where you hit it. Tall wispy rough that is tough to escape, but it is located only where you really ought not be, and you deserve the punishment. Finally, it seems like a place that is always windy, and is always a factor to consider. I talked to the guys in the pro shop. There was a big tournament there that day, but I still could have played in about an hour and a half. I really did not expect to play that day, so I plan on returning Monday afternoon when I was told the place would be all mine with few players. It looks like a course where there will be some nice photo pops.

So I headed back toward Moscow. I had heard about a course The University of Idaho had the last time I came through the area. I pulled in and went to the pro shop. I was asking when I could come out and have an open course (almost always the answer is mid afternoon). He said the course was not real busy, and that I could go out right then if I wanted. I told him I was not thinking right THEN, but he pushed a bit and I said what the hell? It was about noon and I had all day. The cats were in the RV sleeping in the AC.

The course was scenic, trees and hills and lakes. I played terribly, especially at first. But it got better, and I still had a good time. There was a guy riding a cart around who worked for the course. He had a tank on the cart and was spraying for weeds here and there. He had a pair of earphones on too. Tough job! At one point he was nearby and pulled up. He took off his earphones and I said THEY PAY YOU MONEY TO DO THAT?! We talked a few minutes. Nice guy.

I played on. All of a sudden I caught up with another golfer. That was bad. Normally a single player moves fairly quickly. Unless you are ME, playing badly therefore hitting more shots. Plus I was taking pictures. I was slow, nobody behind me. So when I caught up with this guy it meant he was even slower. I saw right away he was playing several balls. He was spending a lot of time searching the weeds for one of his balls. When you play more than one ball, you forget where they go. He looked up and saw me and hurried to finish and move on. I took a few minutes and let him move away. But after another hole, there he was again, looking for his ball in the weeds. He waved for me to go on through. Whenever I do that, I hit a couple bad shots and start to hurry and it gets worse. So I just skip the hole and drive through. It is not like I am ruining a great score I am in the middle of! I played the next hole and noticed he had just finished looking for that ball. Must have been made of gold.

Later I caught up with a FIVESOME, 5 guys playing together. Normally this is not even allowed, as it slows down everything. I was prepared to play VERY SLOWLY for the last five holes when WEED GUY drove up again. We started talking again, he was asking where I was from, yadda yadda. He started telling me about all the things to see and do. Pretty interesting. Plus, it helped me kill 20 minutes and let that MOB OF 5 lumber ahead. Still, I caught them with 2 holes to go.

On my 17th hole I was having to hit over a pine tree about 40 feet high. The ball caught a branch and fell down. A branch that looked like a human hand held upward "caught" the ball with its "fingers." The ball remains there. I could have thrown something up and knocked it out, but somehow I felt it was in a better place up there.

Better than drowning.


JULY 4th

By: joealaska, 12:30 AM GMT on July 06, 2014

The 4th of July in Dutch Harbor was unique in several ways. Because they had to wait for darkness to arrive just to start the show, most if not all of the fireworks were shot off early July 5th. It had to be the last fireworks display in the USA every year, unless they were doing something of the kind in ADAK. Plus the setting was perfect when seen from Haystack Hill, above the fireworks with the town and bay stretching out in front of you. Loved it.

Well, yesterday I saw how it is done in Philipsburg, and it was pretty unique also. Just like everywhere, there were random fireworks during the day. I noticed the guy who lives right across the street from the camp. He was maybe 18 or 19 years old. He was setting off firecrackers. Putting them under things like a shoebox, then lighting and running. BOOM. Big deal. I watched and wondered if he was really having fun. I guess he was, he kept doing it for quite a while. Turns out he was just warming up for the big stuff later on. Like everyone.

One of the campers had told me to just pull out a chair (and matching ottoman) and sit by the campers. When I asked where they set off the fireworks, he pointed in several directions.

The show started just before dark. It was hard to keep waiting. I still am not sure if the city put on a show. The thing is there were several shows. Many shows. All going at once. Several seemed professional, at least in the way they put on each of their finales. Big bombs and all. But there were many semi-professional displays going on, still some big bombs and explosions, but one at a time. Some guy lighting a fuse. It all amounted to pyrotechnic chaos.

In a good way.

So I sat by Leggs and looked east toward town and the mountains. There were at least 11 and probably 12 different shows going on. Stretching left to right. I had a great view. Sometimes I just had to laugh. So much going on. Then there was the neighbor across the street. With all the shows going on, he still threw a firecracker or two that was usually lost in the noise. But every few minutes he pulled out the big stuff. I would see him walking further out into a field and light something. It felt like I was right under it when it headed up and exploded. He had gotten some real pro stuff. Huge explosion of sparks, but some were not that high, and some of the sparks were coming down to the ground.

It all went on until about 11:30… seemed like forever. There were points where it all seemed to end. But there was always someone starting up again, maybe four or five at once. Almost like, HEY, WE FOUND SOME MORE! There were many finales, I could hear cheers from that neighborhood when they finished. I ended up going inside after I reached a certain point.

Dutchie was outside during the whole deal. Fluff was inside and panic-attacked. I was wondering where Dutchie was, maybe scared and running off into the wide open spaces. But when it calmed down I called her and she was right there.

I have done some exploring of the old mines. Probably the most interesting was The BI-METTALIC. It was huge. There are a couple of photos of it on the internet. It was pretty impressive for the 1880s. There was a huge amount of info there also, very interesting how they ran those mines up in the mountains. It made its owners a lot of money. Some years ago, after the facility was no longer operating, the owners burnt the place town, trying to maintain safety. The plant had a massive granite foundation, and a lot of metal on it. So a lot of it remains. It was too big to get in one photo, but I took a few pics for posting.

Went up in the mountains to the west today. I had a route I wanted to take, but it got a little confusing based on directions I was given, and what was actually out there. I missed a turn I was looking for. No signs, had to guess. The road got rough here and there, but was OK. I was going down, and I was on the side of a mountain. I figured it would eventually lead to Route 1, which paralleled that mountain. It did. On the way I saw a couple of elk crossing the road as I came around a curve. Nice.

Tried the local BBQ place (UPNSMOKIN') for dinner last night for a change, very good. Trying another place tonight. Give the grill a rest for now.

Great weather today. The evenings here are very quiet. Except last night.



By: joealaska, 7:15 PM GMT on July 02, 2014

Today I headed out of FAIRMONT RV PARK and went through Anaconda one more time. Just an hour west then north, I now sit in downtown Philipsburg, Montana. It is a small old west town where I have booked a week camping at Philipsburg Inn and RV Park. I am sure the town is typical tourist trap, but it has a lot of history and stuff to see nearby. Mining was the big thing. It started as gold, but then they started finding gems. Sapphires, rubies, and more.

There are many small ghost towns nearby, as well as old mine sites.

Last year I spent the 4th of July in Jamestown, ND. This year should be very interesting. There will be plenty of time to soak up the local color and enjoy the holiday.

I am now in the SLOW DOWN phase of the journey. Less driving, more camping.

I played 3 days of golf in a row in Anaconda, as there will be no courses near Philipsburg. The closest would probably still be Anaconda. Of course, I could always come back to Anaconda. That would probably not happen, given the forest roads and mines right in my back yard to explore.

Yesterday I took a ride up into the mountains near my camp. German Gulch was an old gold mine circa 1864. I took the road up to it, but it was closed before I was able to see anything. Although the scenery was pretty good!

It is pretty warm now. Looks like I will need to turn on the AC again. It has been a while since I used it. Here it is July, and I still have used the heat almost every night of the trip.

So I have just arrived. The RV is hooked up, now I have to unstrap the Toyota and take a little ride to see what is here and make a game plan.

I have a bunch of photos, will post later. The 4th of July will mark my one month of being on the road.


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About joealaska

I have just taken a new job in Great Falls, Montana. A new state and new areas to explore.

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