Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Spring is Nature's Way of Saying "Let's Party"

      After completing our very short 11 day turnaround at home we depart NW Michigan once again heading west towards Seattle and ultimately north to the Alaskan Highway.  (I'm happy to say that dewinterizing the house this spring did not result in one single maintenance issue, something we haven't been used to.  We leave it intact for the folks who are renting it this summer)  This trip isn't about sightseeing or leisure.  We have done it many times before.  This is a very long commute.  During early spring this trip can be very unpredictable with mild temps, rain, sunshine, freezing weather, blooming fields of flowers, and YES even more snowfall.    We plan on 6 days of reasonable, but long driving to make the 2400 mile trip with 3 boondocks and 2 nights in campgrounds for services. 1490 of those miles we travel the more direct route on 2 lane roads, depending on the local county road boys to keep them cleared. We cross 4 mountain passes in the Rockies and Cascades.  We journey through Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and finally Washington.  The title for this blog chapter comes from a Robin Williams quote and is pretty much 'spot on'.
      We are fully loaded in both freezers and other supplies for the trip.  We carry extra fuel cans (both unleaded for the generator and diesel for the truck), diesel oil and DEF for the truck, as well as an extra spare tire.  Expect the unexpected (and it would come true).  On this type of trip we don't even unhook the truck from the RV.  It keeps arrival and departure quick and easy.  Simply jumper from the solar/battery bank to the RV and we have all the power we need.  Meals on such travel nights are simple and don't require much prep or dish washing.  They are usually frozen leftovers from previous larger meals; easy to reheat.  Depending on circumstances if we do need to stay extra nights we will do it at a park with services (i.e. convenience, shopping, supplies).  
Day 1:  406 miles, boondocking at WalMart in Ironwood FREE
102 miles of freeway and then many miles of good road and beautiful scenery throughout the Upper Peninsula.  The Marquette-Negaunee-Ishpeming area are the biggest cities enroute with services.  Today was a mix of rain/snow from Marquette to destination.  Driving wasn't bad.  12 mpg
Day 2:  346 miles, camping at Red River Valley Fairgrounds w/hookups $25
This entire day consists of good 2 lane roads with plenty of farmland and forests.  Duluth, Brainerd, and Detroit Lakes are the only large towns with services.  Woke up to snow, but quickly melted.  Pretty easy drive, but long.  12.4 mpg.  Got the only site left at the fairgrounds. 
Day 3:  352 miles, boondocking at Flying J Truck Stop (free water and dump) FREE
A freeway day......easy, maybe a bit boring, but very flat.....usually very good  mileage, but the wind WAS NOT in our favor today....11.4 mpg.  Did see 17 pheasant.  Jamestown, Bismarck, and Dickinson all have good services.  NOTE:  If you plan on drinking in ND get your alcohol beforehand.  They have some pretty screwy rules as to beer.  Liquor store or not?  In a store it has to be cordoned off at 10 p.m. etc. 
Day 4:  387 miles, camping at Malmstrom AFB Fam Camp w/hookups $24
40 miles of freeway and then lonely 2 lane state roads with plenty of prairie.  Lewistown is the only town with services enroute, but on arrival Great Falls is a good sized city with plenty of services.  Pretty uneventful day, 13.4 mpg today.
Day 5:  341 miles, boondocking at Cabelas (free water and dump) FREE
Half day of 2 lane roads, the other half freeway, but BEAUTIFUL MOUNTAINS and 3 mountain passes  NOTE:  This time of year requires a close watch on the mountain weather or a divert may be possible.  Lincoln, Missoula, and Couer d' Alene have the only real services enroute.  There is a rest area on Hwy 200 just east of Missoula at Clearwater Junction with FREE RV dump and potable water.  12.8 mpg today.  BAD NEWS:  When we arrived our bedroom slide worked fine, but the living room slideout would not open.  Departed on time the next day with an advance call to Camping World for when we arrived. 
Day 6:  343 miles, arrival at Mom's house (free moochdocking as long as I cook
The final leg is mostly freeway prairie except 1 pass over the Cascade Mtns.  Moses Lake, Ellensburg, and Yakima have services.  The longest day of the trip (9 hours), due mostly to the terrible roads over White Pass.  NOTE:  State of Washington has several freeway locations for free water and dump

      Meals (frozen-quick-reheat-leftovers) for this part of the trip included: 
Ham w/Taters n Veg
Spaghetti w/Blue n Gold Meatballs n Garlic Bread
Wild Boar Apple Roast w/Taters n Veg
Serbian Chicken Eggplant Soup w/Crusty Bread
Usually a meal out (i.e. truckstop café or anything within walking distance)

Just over 2400 miles
Boondocking days 3, savings $90
Full hookup (RV Park) days 2, cost $49
Net:  Saved $41
Diesel used:  206 gallons averaging 12.4 mpg $539 total
Average price $2.61 with a low of $2.48 (Wakefield, MI) and a high of $3.03 (Ritzville, WA)

Well, I have an appointment for next week for the RV slider motor.   They'll no doubt have to order parts and we'll see how much that costs and/or puts us behind schedule.  This weekend we're off to the beach for some long overdue clam digging!  From here we begin our journey north into Canada and eventually, Alaska. 

"If life gives you limes, make Margaritas" 
Jimmy Buffett

WiFi courtesy of Verizon MiFi

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