Friday, April 17, 2015

The Voyage East: Friends, Prospecting, and Pet Loss....

      We ended our visit to mom's and began our journey east.  Our first day was a leisurely drive 160 miles east over White Pass to Yakima, WA.  There was very little snow on the top; in fact the high Cascades are just the latest range of mountains with a lack of real snow pack this year.  We boondocked in Yakima overnight at the Wal Mart just off I-82.  This is a real nice place for an overnight stay.  There is some highway noise and a lot of trucks use it, but the store allows anyone to camp for up to 3 days.  There is more than ample parking room near the lawn/garden area.  One thing you can nearly always count on in Yakima......lots of sunshine.  We set up boondocking solar protocol, jumpered to the RV, and we were ready to go.  The local security patrol checks up on the entire lot, including RVs hourly and there are plenty of garbage cans along the curbs for your trash.  The McDonalds next to WalMart has WiFi with plenty of signal to use.  The night we stayed we were part of about 7 semi-trucks and another 9 RVs. 
      My purpose for this overnight visit was to visit another high school buddy, Mark Kunkler.  We had not seen each other in 44 years, but it didn't take long to fall back into the old act.  Mark is the City Attorney for Yakima and his wife Lori teaches Math at a local Adult Learning Center.  We chatted for nearly 2 hours reliving old times, catching up, and solving pretty much all the world's problems.  Another episode in a long list of friends revisited this trip......a great time! 

      The next day we were up bright and early and after our morning coffee at McDonalds on our way further east.  I was delighted to fill up at George, WA (yep, that's right George, Washington) with diesel at $2.58/gal., our lowest price since Texas.  This was welcome cause the initial headwinds today beat down our gas mileage pretty good, but in the end we perked back up to 11.3 mpg.  I do have to comment that there are many rest areas in Washington State that also have free RV dump stations, fresh water refills, and overnight boondocking available, quite a nice perk when available.    310 miles later we set up boondocking operations at the Lincoln $50,000 Bar & Casino in Haugan, MT. 

      Located just off Lookout Pass in the Rocky Mountains on the Idaho/Montana border this micro-town has a truck stop, restaurant, and casino/gift shop.  There is ample RV parking out back with  FREE ELECTRICITY and even horse corrals if you happen to be hauling livestock, which happens frequently in these parts.  Water is available at the truck stop.  This place is unique as an 'old west type' saloon, but is adorned with 50,000 worth of silver dollars throughout the bar.  We arrived to nearly 60 degree temps with sunshine and two furbabies that longed to frolic outside in the sun. 
Photo courtesy of Lincoln's $50,000 Bar

      We settled in for some Turkey Stuffed Bell Peppers, Fingerling Taters, and Steamed Broccoli.  Barb got a chance to wrestle some one armed bandits inside the casino for a bit and then bedtime.  This was just an overnight stay.  The next day we set sail once again for Ruby Reservoir near Dillon, MT. 
      Our stay at Ruby Reservoir was very nice.  The BLM boondocking area is clean and the restrooms are very nice.  We stayed 5 days (another blog chapter).  On our departure the truck digital driver's display informed me that the Emission Control System needed service and that we had 175 miles before our speed would be automatically reduced to 65 mph.  Unfortunately, within another 10 miles it then informed me that the exhaust filter was being cleaned and that the engine power was being automatically reduced!?!?  What this equated to was that the next 95 miles into Bozeman, MT we were only able to maintain about 25-30 mph on the flat lands and no more than 9-10 mph up the hills.  There are 3 passes between Ruby Reservoir and the trip took us nearly 5 hours.  Once in Bozeman we checked into an RV Park for the night.  Unfortunately, the news from the dealer was NOT good.  I had a bad injector and bad turbo.  These were ordered and best case scenario was in the neighborhood of a week wait.  Fortunately, they said everything would be covered by warranty.  I got a rental car.  Nothing like a Toyota Corolla to make you feel out of place for awhile.  We got the truck back after 5 days and it is completely road worthy ready again.  Warranty covered nearly everything including the rental car. 

      God wasn't done with us yet.  For the past 7 months our 13 year old Brittany, Dharma has had a growing cyst that was been recently re-diagnosed as malignant.  What began as a small golf ball size has grown into a tomato size sack on her right hip.  We met with a Veterinarian Oncologist at Mom's in order to find the best possible treatment to get her home to Michigan where we could decide further.  Unfortunately, Dharma's tumor sack had begun to leak blood a couple of days ago and our first night in Bozeman it became clear to us that the bleeding wasn't going to be controllable much longer.  We made the inevitably tough decision the next morning and let her cross the Rainbow Bridge.  We will take her ashes with us as we leave, but it did unfortunately damper the remainder of our trip.  She will be missed.  We'll see you soon, you big old sweetie. 
      We were treated to nearly a foot of snow our 4th day in Bozeman which we hadn't expected or wanted.  At home in Michigan the temps were in the 60s and everyone was raking up their winter yard debris and cranking up the BBQs.  Karma perhaps? 

      Finally, our cat Bodhi had been losing weight for the past 6 weeks, due mostly (we thought) to the stress of Dharma's illness.  Lately, his appetite had been seriously declining as well.  We could only get him to eat baby food and some treats, but not much.  The day after Dharma's passing we took Bodhi into the Vet for a cold he had contracted since our arrival.  We were nowhere near prepared for what we found.  He had lost over half his body weight and blood work revealed only about 15% red blood cells and virtually no platelets.  He did test negative for feline leukemia when he was a kitten, but Bodhi's issues now did seem to stem from his bone marrow.  They checked him in and put him on an IV drip for nourishment and Prednisone to try and fight this.  We checked on him every day.  He was eating their 'Critical Care Cat Food' and sleeping comfortably on his heating pad.  Further diagnosis showed that it was not leukemia at all, but a fungus or infection he picked on our journeys throughout the southwest.  It had infected his lungs and caused his weight loss from 12 to 5 pounds.  He was started on an anti-fungal/antibiotic IV. 
     Bodhi fought bravely throughout, but in the end his little body couldn't fight anymore.  He passed away peacefully in his sleep just 4 days after his sister.  Bodhi was a stray, part of a litter that was dropped off near our farm in the country.  We gave him 11 good years of a loving home and family he otherwise would have never had.  Things have been rough here this week and it will take awhile before Barb and I are back to normal.  It has just been too much pain too fast.  All the wonder and happiness of the last 12 months of retirement travel have been deeply wounded.  We will pick up Bodhi's ashes as well so he can be laid to rest on the farm he loved. 
      We will leave here heading straight home.  Time to start over. 
WiFi courtesty of Sunrise RV Park


  1. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of two very much loved family members. Jen will be devastated! Our love to you both.

    Love, The Nelsons

  2. I'm just catching up with the first wifi in a week. So sorry to hear that you lost both of your pets. That sure puts a damper on your trip. My heart goes out to you both!