“You can find your way across this country using burger joints the way a navigator uses stars.”
We had a fairly challenging summer at home, what with the myriad of insurance, home maintenance, lawn tractor, and RV replacement issues confronting us. We did depart as planned, however, and begin to pursue our next chapter.
The first leg of our journey takes us west this fall. Departing Kalkaska we made stops in:
Ironwood, MI, We had planned on boondocking at the WalMart, but it was laden with construction so we stayed overnight at the village campground. www.ironwoodchamber.org/ironwood_mi_camping.html Full hookups for a reasonable $20/night
Fargo, ND www.redrivervalleyfair.com/campground Newly renovated campground full hookups $30/night.
Fallon Bridge, MT (boondocking/free) before setting up camp once again at Ruby Reservoir near Virginia City, MT. Got a few Montana Moss Agates here....
I did weigh our rig at a truckstop in Superior, WI. Total trailer weight came to 7840, which is still 160 pounds below max with current tires. I was carrying 1/3 tank of fresh water. Cheapest diesel was at Christmas, MI $2.35. We averaged 14.2 mpg during this leg. Gas mileage can be quite the variable these days as I have discovered that keeping the fresh, grey, and black water tanks empty until just before arrival at a destination significantly improves mileage.
We camped at Ruby Reservoir back in April for 5 days. The reservoir has been drawn down throughout the summer as the water source for many hay farmers throughout the Ruby Valley. This time of year it exposes many more acres of terraced shoreline which in turn reveals increased opportunities to prospect for Garnets or their larger, purer cousins, the Ruby. There is a free campground located on the NE side of the reservoir that contains a nice improved vault type toilet setup and camping is pick and choose wherever you like to boondock right on the shores of the lake. The campground is located 8 miles south of Alder, MT where you can find any and all the supplies (water, groceries, gas, propane, firewood, bar, cell service, etc.) you might need.
As I was always the first out of bed with Roux in the morning. I made it a habit to enjoy my coffee with some spectacular Rocky Mountain sunrises. I love SW Montana!
Barb graduated to the role of experienced prospector finding Garnets of all sizes this trip. In fact, she found about 3 ounces, including about 2 dozen gem quality stones that she can have faceted.
I took my own path to relaxation this visit as I gathered my camera gear and traveled the 20 miles further up the road to the end near Cottonwood Campground/Trailhead. This is just west of Yellowstone NP and very close to the Idaho border as well as the Continental Divide in some of the most rugged country in the state. This upper area of the Ruby Valley hosts some of the finest elk hunting in all of Montana. I enjoyed looking at the scenery and the ranches for sale (none of which I could ever afford). The birches and aspens are nearly at peak color along the Ruby River and I stopped several times to enjoy the beauty of fall, my favorite time of the year.
We stayed at Ruby for 5 days. Heading west we boondocked at Lincoln's 50,000 Silver Dollar Bar & Casino in Haugan, MT for a night, where there is free camping with water/electric. www.50000silverdollar.com This is one of our regular stops. From here we traveled on to Hayden, ID to visit my favorite Aunt Lillian.
One of the finer things that should be enjoyed by anyone growing older is visiting those folks that made an impact on our lives as we grew up. My Aunt Lillian is one of those people. During my typically traumatic teenage years she and her husband Bob were people who I could talk to even when no else helped. Lillian is in her 90s now...her husband, Bob, passed on about 13 years back. Aunt Lillian remains as one of those folks that is a force in my life.
We head further west now, to sample the delicious fall fruits & vegetables available in Central Washington before we arrive at Mom's. We look forward to trying out a new boondocking site along the Yakima River near Yakima. Paved spots with picnic tables and vault toilets; price.....free. http://www.blm.gov/or/resources/recreation/site_info.php?siteid=261
Plenty of sun in that Yakima Valley to power our journey.