Monday, July 19, 2010

Wyoming and then Montana and more issues


We departed from our campsite at the Angostura Reservoir near Hot Springs, South Dakota on Friday morning at 7:15.  Because we did not have water or sewer hookups at that park we needed to stop at the dump station on the way out to empty our black and gray tanks and to take on fresh drinking water.  We had the place to ourselves, which was good, because it takes a while to fill our 110 gallon fresh water tank.  I got started on taking on fresh water.  Sandy took care of dumping the waste water tanks.

The fresh water supply hose was well separated from the dumping area and the supply end of the hose was actually suspended in the air so that it could not make contact with the ground.  Just to be safe, I always spray the connection between our hose and the camp ground water supply with a solution of bleach before connecting the two.

Our destination was 342 miles to the northwest, not very far over the state line between South Dakota and Wyoming.  At 11:30 we pulled into a Rest Area for lunch.  While Sandy made sandwiches, I took Trixie out to check out all of the animal smells.  She likes that.

The last 20 some miles were on an unrelenting steep mountain grade where we climbed from around 4,000 feet to 8540 feet in about 30 to 40 minutes. The road was filled with more twists than a Greek belly dancer can perform.  Sudden death would be the result of one wrong move.  Often  the right lane was a few feet away from a drop of thousands of feet.

Most of the road was two lane with no room to pull over -- except for the occasional turnout for drivers with overheated engines or overheated brakes.   Suddenly we get a beeping sound and a warning light on the dash that said:  SHUT OFF ENGINE.  Luckily for us we were in a construction zone with a wide spot where we could pull over to let the engine cool down before resuming our journey.  I later found out that I was over working the engine by not keeping it in a lower gear.  We are still learning as we go along.

That night we stayed in a pine forest at 8400 feet very close to a small mountain lake named Sibley Lake in Wyoming.   It is the kind of location where  commercials could be filmed.  We talked with several campers and people fishing and met their dogs.  Almost everyone who camps has dogs.

A fishing couple told us the temperature would probably fall to 46 that night.  They also said that it once snowed on July 4th where we were at.   It only got into the low 50s, but that cool mountain air makes for great sleeping.

This was our primitive and beautiful campsite in a Wyoming


Saturday we got up early to drive 326 miles to the Red Cliff Campground in the Gallatin National Forest.  Because this is a U.S. Park, we get to use our "America the Beautiful Pass" and got two nights of camping for only $27.  Not bad.

Some days are more "exciting that others.  Saturday was one of those days.  Remember that twisting Wyoming road we drove up and overheated the engine?  Now we had to come down it.  Long story short.  We pretty much lost our brakes.  Fortunately, about four miles down the mountain we decided to pull into one of the turn outs to get a few pictures and to let the brakes cool off a bit.

As soon as I got out of the coach I could smell HOT brakes.  When I touched one of the real aluminum wheels it burned my fingers.  We called good friend and White Knight Gary Omel, waking him at about 7 a.m. in California.  Gary told us what to do and we followed his directions.  What we needed to do was keep the transmission in first or second gear with our retarder control pulled all the way back to keep our road speed to 30 MPH or under.  Gary's directions worked like a charm.

We continue to learn.

But wait there is more. The last 25 or 30 miles to the campground has safety turnouts about every two miles.  One of my legs was cramping so I pulled into a turn out to stretch my legs.  We were there five minutes and pulled away.  As soon as I got back on the road we got a shrill beep, beep, beep from our tire monitor indicating low pressure in one of the rear tires.  Long story short.  We made it safely to our camp ground in the Gallatin National Forest. We have a leak in one of the rear tires.  We have to wait until sometime Monday before our road service -- Coach-Net -- can get someone out to fix the tire.  These tires are only about 3 months old so hope it is nothing worse than a nail in the tread.

While at Red Cliff we checked out the countryside.

Found these wild flowers 

Sandy liked this stone formation

This beautiful home is on the Gallatin River in the Gallatin 
National Forest in Montana and only a five minute walk 
on the trail from our camp site.

And this unique cat window was custom built by the owner 
of an RV next to us in the Red Cliff camp ground.  He was a 
retired aerospace engineer.


Coach-Net sent Tire Rama to fix our tire.  Turns out the problem was the tire valve.  It was not adequately tightened when installed three months ago and it worked loose, allowing air to escape.   Shows you how much we are at the mercy of someone doing their job properly.  We were only
inconvenienced.  It could have been far worse.

We are now in Deer Lodge, MT until Wednesday morning.

More later,


  1. I'm jealous George :) You guys are where we were supposed to be this year - in the cool Montana & SD mountains. Family issues forced us to stay in FL and it's HOT!

    Yep - keep those gears low and the Jake brake on to help going up and down the hills. Nice & slow :)

    Stay safe,
    Steve & Kathy Burnett

  2. Wow, I was sitting on the edge of my seat just reading about your travels up and down that twisty road. You must have nerves of steal to have a drop off of a thousand feet on the right side of the coach. Seems like you guys handled everything're no longer newbies!!

    Mike & Gerri (happytrails)

  3. Wow! All I can say is I hope your "exciting days" slow down for a while. :)

  4. Glad you came through the downhill OK. . .gotta love that Allison. George, two days of 300+ miles each??? Our travel days usually cover 150-250 tops. . .we don't have to go home to go back to work! Far be it for me to give unsolicited advice; so I'll let one of my favorite authors offer his...
    "Remember when traveling is that the trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for." -Logan Sackett in "Ride the Dark Trail" by Louis L'Amour.

    But, to each their own. -Jeff-

  5. Welcome to the world of 'our youth' WY/Mt:) oh should use low gear going over the Bighorn Mts!!:) Harold'd childhood days spent at Camp Bethel (across from Sibley) - we lived in Buffalo WY, traveled weekends across mts to Powell:)-our hometown. didn't take the 10% grade road down/into Lovell? ahhhh - 'next time' advise taking the Shell Canyon/ Greybull route. oh - did I sure & go slow/use low gear:) Enjoy Deerlodge (take in the ranch). carol & harold tberry