Editor’s Updates – Page 10

Our On The Road Journal

It’s not everyday we embark on a major excursion, but (driven partially by the boredom of Covid-19 I suppose) the summer of 2020 proved to be a perfect opportunity. What we wanted to do was visit a number of our very best friends who live somewhat distant from our Northern California home, near Sacramento. To give you an idea, this roadmap:

To enlarge, right click & open in a new tab…..close new tab to return

Yeah, looks a little like an outline of a shark or something. Starting on the lower left point of the outline (Sacramento) We traveled North thru California and Oregon, then turned right (East) along the Columbia River, rose into Washington, crossed Idaho and Montana, then dropped down into South Dakota. That was as far East as we got. Then it was Southwest through Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, ending up back in California. We were on the road 36 days, went 3352 miles, saw 9 states. And enjoyed really great visits with five of the finest couples you could ever meet. Our RV Besties!

PS: If you happen to be interested in any of the roads along this route, I will be covering the highway numbers on the day by day that follows.

6/14/2020: No need for a dawn start, as we’ll be stopping at Yreka RV Park (http://www.yrekarvpark.com) just about 275 miles north. This park isn’t so much special as it is a great location when headed this direction. Nice views, inexpensive, lots of room for staying connected, and clean.

6/15/2020: Another easy day (you’ll notice I don’t often do over 325 mile days. It happens, but it’s rare.) this one stops at Lebanon, Oregon. Here we’ll spend two weeks at Mallard Creek RV Resort & Golf Club (http://www.mallardcreekgc.com), one of our very favorite golf destinations! Here we’ll be joined by our RV and golf buddies, Doug Johnston and Janet Shugart, from Nevada.

Mallard Creek is kinda hard to define. The location is somewhat “boonies” by most standards. The golf course is not what you would call “manicured”, although the greens are well maintained, and the facilities are new and polished. There are a lot of natural areas that can be testy. Losing balls is common. If it leaves the fairway, forget it. I would sum it up with “you’ll enjoy the experience” and I can tell you in my experience that almost every round will be an improvement over the last. Course management is big here. As for the RV park, it’s smallish, only 43 sites, but they are big where it matters. No pool or spa, but a nice laundry, roomy sites, (limited) WiFi, and friendly folks all around! The little town of Lebanon is neat. Very friendly, definitely off the grid a bit, but you will love it! What a beautiful place to relax!

Our friends Doug and Janet enjoying Mallard Creek!

To enlarge, right click & open in a new tab…..close new tab to return

Our site at Mallard! #19

6/30/2020: We’ve had two weeks of great golf and comfy weather with our friends at Lebanon, and now we are off in caravan with Doug & Janet. Our destination is Big Fork, Montana, with an overnight in Kennewick, Washington. This first leg, to Columbia Sun RV Resort (http://www.columbiasunrvresort.com), is a comfortable 294 miles. As for this park, Covid notwithstanding, it’s about perfect. In other visits we have enjoyed the park and it’s proximity to Washington’s wine country immensely. I sort of hoped for that on this trip, and would like to have shown Doug & Janet a good time tasting some award-winning Cabernets, but that was not to be. The wineries were open for purchase, but tasting was ruled out for while. We’ll be back!

7/1/2020: One of the prime reasons for this trip is next up, visiting Scott & Barb Campbell at their new home in Big Fork, Montana. Our journey today is a bit further, about 385 miles. On the plus side, this is an interesting drive, and when you finally get to Montana, it’s pretty cool! Their beautiful new home sits on the Swan River, just above Flathead Lake. Our two coaches fit nicely in the Campbells front yard (to free up space, Scott moved his new Allegro Bus across the street thanks to his neighbor’s kind hospitality.) Also visiting (without their coach) were Doug & Karen Petersen, from Idaho. The Petersens are also avid RVers, but at that time awaiting the delivery of their new Tiffin Zephyr! If you are keeping track, that’s 4 couples all total! Check the aerial of our group in the below photo of the deck along the river. I think we are all there!

Our group, from a drone over the Swan River

To enlarge, right click & open in a new tab…..close new tab to return

Clockwise from 12:30: Campbell’s coach (in the neighbor’s lot), Williams’ coach, Petersons’ car, and Johnstons coach…everybody fits!

To enlarge, right click & open in a new tab…..close new tab to return

This trip would not have been complete without some water time on fabulous Flathead Lake and The Swan and Flathead Rivers. Particularly when our host couple have a really big 300HP Patio Boat! Below a pic Doug Johnston took with his handy drone while we while cruising the Flathead river!

The marina on Flathead. That’s Campbells’ 28′ Tritoon 2nd on the right….Perfect!
The eagle is really there, just lucky I guess…that’s all of us in the background!

To enlarge, right click & open in a new tab…..close new tab to return

Our long-time friends, the Petersens, Doug & Karen
(roughing it without their coach this trip!)

To enlarge, right click & open in a new tab…..close new tab to return

Our fabulous Big Fork hosts; Scott & Barb Campbell

To enlarge, right click & open in a new tab…..close new tab to return

7/8/2020: Time to bid farewell to the other three couples and be on our way. What a great week it was at the Campbell’s new home!

Todays journey will be a slightly longer one, about 410 miles, to Billings, Montana. There we will be jacks-down at the Billings Holiday KOA www.koa.com/campgrounds/billings . Our route will be pretty straightforward, south on #83 to US90 then East across Montana. As it turns out, we just missed a ‘Microburst’ the day before that took out several large trees and damaged 30 coaches. Nobody was injured, but what a mess!

To enlarge, right click & open in a new tab…..close new tab to return

The big mess to the right is the root bundle of a large tree!
By the time we saw the result they had been cleaning up for a day or so….

7/9/2020: Having made it safely thru the night amidst the clutter from the freak microburst in Billings, we are off pretty early for another fairly full travel day, (329 miles) this time to our furthest destination for the trip, Rapid City, South Dakota, and the home of another RV couple and 46 year friends, Tom & Lynne Distler! The Distlers built their Rapid City home about 4 years ago, and moved from the Sacramento area where he and I enjoyed careers together with a large regional wholesaler, Slakey Brothers.

Jacks down at the Distlers’….top of the world!
The view out the coach door…I think those peaks in the background (center) are the backside of Mt Rushmore
The view out the windshield. Slightly to the left, and in the distance, lies The Badlands!

What’s to do? I honestly cannot think of a destination that offers more than the Rapid City area! The Black Hills area, with several historical towns like Deadwood, Custer, Keystone and Sturgis....yeah, THAT Sturgis, are a must-see! Want to try something really neat? Take the Needles Highway to Mount Rushmore (it’s my favorite route; South on #16 thru Hill City, turn left onto #244 to the park.) CAUTION: Don’t even think about taking your RV on this road! And, it’s really iffy in a pickup! NO DUALLYsNO WIDE MIRRORS and VERTICAL CLEARANCE is LIMITED!

One of several tunnels on the Needles Highway. Believe it or not, when you are in there, it’s not as big as it looks!
Downtown Deadwood. History so intense you will feel it!
Hill City. Yup, this is during the Black Hills Rally, so……
This would be Sturgis, during the Rally. It’s not as scary as it is fun and exciting!

Some notes before we leave Rapid City and the Distlers, for our next stop. The story here began about four years ago, when Tom and Lynne bought this property to build their house/ranch and relocate from California. The picture below (the gate) sits in front of the barn (the first structure built) and the house was in plan-stage. The Distlers are avid RVers, and their beautiful London Aire is enclosed in that big barn. You can see where this is going, they lived in the RV right here while the house construction was underway. The next picture is from this year’s trip, home and garage (garage not shown, but complete) The total project represents a monumental effort. My hat is off to both Tom and Lynne for what they have accomplished! They can really be proud!

This was before the fence! I helped Tom mount the closer!
The Distler’s new home, designed & built by them! (with some great help, of course!)
The Distlers, Tom & Lynne!
Priceless friends for 46 years and counting! Our hosts in Rapid City!

7/15/2020: On the road again….We are off to the Cheyanne KOA www.koa.com/campgrounds/cheyanne in the Southeast corner of Wyoming. This will just be a one-nighter, as our goal for this leg is Heber City, Utah. As KOA parks go, Cheyanne was pretty good, and in an area not noted for a lot of fine RV resorts, I would probably recommend it.

7/16/2020: Today’s drive to Heber City is 436 miles. For us, that’s just about the daily limit. Interstate 80 is good road though, and we got a really early start! Once we are “Jacks Down” at Mountain Valley RV Resort www.mountainvalleyrv.com in Heber City, we’ll be off in our towed “Poco” for Park City, Utah to look up our friends (and winter neighbors in the California desert) Tony & Beth Mahon. Why are we staying in Heber to visit friends about 20 miles away? Mountain Valley is just a great RV resort. If you have not done so already, please take a moment to check out our review of this exceptional park on this website, under Utah Parks.

Tony was expecting us!
Falls on the Provo River near Park City
Tony & Beth Mahon. Our valued friends (& tour guides) in Park City!
Carlie and I, having fun on a rare hike near Park City with the Mahons
Whoa! When we returned to Heber City that night…
This forest fire is less than a mile from our park! It was out the next day!

7/18/2020: Our stop in Heber & Park City was great, but we reluctantly headed out early this AM for Winnemucca, Nevada (392 miles) Our plan is to stay on I-80 all the way home, so tonight will be our last stop. There’s not much in the way of RV parks here, but New Frontier RV www.newfrontierrvpark.com is pretty darn good. Having said that, I might point out that this season they have had something of a problem with Morman Crickets. Nothing to dampen our spirits though!

Morman Crickets. Not so bad around the sites, but in places they were noticeable

7/19/2020: Our trip this morning will put us home (290 miles) in the Sacramento, CA area. Our past 5 weeks were truly awesome, covering 9 states, spanning 36 days, and over 3350 miles of the western US. We saw a lot of beautiful country, and got to do a lot of fun things. Most of all, we enjoyed the priceless opportunity of visiting over a dozen of our very closest friends! If there is a better reason for RVing, I sure don’t know what it is! Thanks for reading.