More Improvements

Everything worked in this new to us Winnebago Aspect but there were some things the Cowboy felt it needed.  We will be pulling a small cargo trailer and the motorhome did not have trailer brakes.  The Cowboy has installed trailer brakes on countless rigs but this one had him buffaloed!  We have the wiring diagrams and could see where the wires were located but those wires were connected to other things and the Cowboy wasn’t going to indiscriminately start cutting wires.  So, he crawled around under that coach all. day. long! on Thursday without success.  Friday morning he made the decision to run totally new wire from the connection on the rear bumper to the brake controller on the dash.  That took him all. day. long. and then some!  Whew!

When we lost our minds and purchased that R-Pod we joined a Facebook group for R-Pod owners.  We learned a lot, cringed a lot and chuckled a lot.  When we brought home the Aspect we joined a Facebook group for Aspect and Cambria owners.  Right away the Cowboy noticed the discussion about rear air bags. On some of the longer models rear air bags are an option.  He was concerned about the low rear clearance on our 26 foot rig.  So, as he had just installed air bags on our Ford pickup for hauling the truck camper, he decided air bags were a good idea for the Aspect.  Amazon to the rescue!  Saturday the Cowboy was once again crawling around under the Aspect installing air bags only to find at the end of the day one of the bags has a leak.  We will call the company Monday morning and hope they will ship us just a bag so he doesn’t have to remove everything (the dual rear wheels have to be removed to install airbags) and ship it back to Amazon.

Saturday I quilted–it’s been along time but it was a day for quilting.  We had the strangest weather–a high of 65 degrees, windy and low hanging clouds all day.  I even made a large pot of spaghetti sauce–comfort food on a chilly August day.

Today the Cowboy dumped the tanks on the Aspect, hooked up the trailer and mounted the trailer spare tire in a different place–he’s taking a trip soon–joining some of the guys from his high school days to ride ATVs and soak in the hot springs.  Emmi and I will hold down the fort.

It was warmer today but still a gorgeous day–you can feel fall in the air.

 

It’s A Revolving Door

Tuesday was yoga day and a special day–Shirley’s birthday.  Usually on Tuesday’s yoga is practiced with the accompaniment of a DVD but our yoga teacher Julia made a surprise visit in honor of the birthday.  After yoga we feasted on brunch food–most definitely YUM! I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen  to make a breakfast casserole.  Even though the dish was good it needs something–maybe sausage??

Our friend John said it best in his comment on the last blog, “……..You guys are not the bedroll beside the car types.”  I just wanted to have fun with the previous blog to see if anyone would notice we went in the car and then boondocked.  And no, the Cowboy and I are not the bedroll beside the car kind of folks.

And yes we have another new to us RV.  That truck camper wasn’t in the driveway even two days before the Cowboy was searching Craigslist again–to be fair, he’s always searching Craigslist and what should pop up not one but two Class B RVs with a dedicated bed and in our budget.  Why a motorhome you might ask.

  • We both love motorhome travel and haven’t been happy in any RV since selling our Country Coach 40 foot motorhome.
  • We wanted to be small–26 feet or under–and those motorhomes are difficult to find when you have a budget and want a dedicated bed.  When friends Paul and Nina moved to France and purchased a new RV they wanted the same thing, “Plus we really didn’t want to be “making the bed” every night. Many smaller RV’s get around the whole bed issue by having lounges that convert into bedrooms at night. We just knew that would become old real quick.”      Now, you won’t find king size beds in US made Class B’s that you “don’t have to make every night” but you occasionally do find a dedicated bed.
  • A dry bath.  We’ve done the wet bath thing with several campers and weren’t doing it again.
  • We wanted a slide–it makes small spaces feel so much bigger.  The truck camper we just purchased has a slide and even in that small space the slide does help.
  • I wanted a kitchen with some counter space–why do RV manufacturers install such HUGE sinks taking up all the counter space in tiny RVs???  And don’t get me started on the new trend–ROUND kitchen sinks!!  We boondock most of the time and conserve water–you don’t need TWO sinks!
  • I drove the Country Coach but was never really comfortable.  We wanted a rig I felt comfortable driving.
  • The Cowboy’s additional list:  Ford E450 chassis, Ford V10 engine, and low miles.

The Cowboy found two identical Winnebago Aspects 26A motorhomes within driving distance–sort of!  One was in Kalispell, Montana at a dealer and one was in Torrington, Wyoming–a whopping 517 miles away.  After communicating with the owner of the one in Wyoming we made the decision to drive that far to look at a motorhome.  Our original intent was to drive the jeep and tow it home but the more we thought about riding 517 miles in the jeep wrangler, the more we dreaded the trip.  So, we took  my Cadillac and drove down in comfort.  We were absolutely positive that if we didn’t like the RV we would turn around and drive back the 517 miles in the Cadillac–we dreaded the thought of having to make the round trip in the jeep if the deal did not happen.

What a pleasure to deal with honest, friendly folks!  We arrived at Rex and Mary’s home about 10:30am Sunday morning and Rex walked us through every single system of the RV to demonstrate everything worked.  The refrigerator was running with a thermometer inside so we could see how cold it ran.  The air conditioner was blowing cold air, the generator started right away.  He had a step ladder available so the Cowboy could access the roof.  It was an amazing experience!  The water tank had water, the propane tank was full as was the gas tank–Rex should go into the business of selling RVs–he knew how to do it.  And the rig was clean!!!

So, what did we buy–a 2005 Winnebago Aspect 26A with 25,000 miles on the odometer.  It drives like a dream and I am totally comfortable behind the wheel.  It has a dry bath, counter space and a dedicated bed.  It has all the items from the Cowboy’s list. The toilet and shower area of the RV is tiny but we have both taken showers in the rig and it works well.  The Cowboy has been busy making this RV ours.  He is installing a propane line from the tank so we can use the grill without hauling an extra tank.  He’s manufactured a rack to hold the grill which hangs from the larger storage bay.  More projects are in the works.

Weight is a concern to us when traveling in these smaller RVs and Wednesday I began loading the rig with essentials–dishes, silverware, towels, linens, etc.  When I was finished I had added only 111 pounds to the RV.  Much of the stuff we carried in the Country Coach is still in storage.  We’ve ordered some items to make life easier and those will arrive on Friday and Monday.

The previous owner had used this funky rope and swivel snap system to hold open the RV door–it was definitely funky.  He showed us this small aluminum rod with rubber coated ends which looked like the rod you use to pull out the awning.  Rex called it a “mini awning puller.”  Well, we joined a Facebook Winnebago Aspect owners group and I asked the question, “how do you hold the door open?”  Most RVs use one of these–

Winnebago Aspects use one of these–a mini awning puller–

Life is good!

A Party, Road Trip and Cute Grandchildren

We will start with the cute kids–I didn’t take these photos–Laci or Katie did I’m sure and did a great job photographing what this Mimi thinks are the cutest kids!

On Friday evening lots of friends and neighbors gathered at Max and Dave’s for a wonderful summer evening.  Max and Dave’s son Kyle grilled for all us older folks and daughter Kelly prepped, crafted and served. We all contributed to the menu and no one went home hungry, that’s for sure.  I love gatherings like that–good friends, just good people!

Saturday morning bright and early–not so early–we jumped into the loaded car and headed down the driveway then east once we reached Big Timber.  We landed in Casper, WY for the night where things kind of fell apart but we recovered!  I have a few Marriott Rewards points left over from my traveling days and enjoy staying in Marriott Residence Inns.  For the most part, these Residence Inns are all pet friendly.  When booking the room I made sure to check their website for the “pet friendly” notation which I found.  Checking in about 4pm Saturday evening I was asked if I had a pet.  Yep, an 11 pound miniature schnauzer.  This is where it starts to go downhill.  The clerk tells me there is a $100 non-refundable pet deposit charged per stay.  I said, “you have got to be kidding!!”  That’s highway robbery!!  I declined the robbery and requested my points be re-deposited in my account.  And, we left to find another room.  We went to three other hotels before finding a pet friendly hotel which only charged $10/day.  Not the greatest hotel or stay–our air conditioner struggled all night long and we didn’t sleep well but at least I wasn’t being robbed!  We ordered pizza delivery which we often do when we can–pizza doesn’t get delivered where we live so far out in the country.  The pizza was delicious–just a couple days ago the Cowboy said, “I haven’t had a good pizza since we left North Ranch.”  This pizza from the Pizza Ranch in Casper, WY was the best!!!

And when walking Emmi the next morning I see the evidence of why so many RV parks and hotels are either totally refusing pets or charging such astronomical fees for pets.  The hotel where we stayed–Main Stays–provided a pet walking area and bags.  The area was disgusting–poop everywhere!  But I still don’t like being robbed!

Sunday morning we continued east to Torrington, WY, met a delightful couple then turned around and headed back toward home.  Sunday evening we were boondocking alongside the Tongue River outside Ranchester, WY and slept like babies!  We are now home and unpacked, relaxing and enjoying these absolutely fabulous August in Montana temps–75 degrees!!!

Emmi is such a good traveler!!

A Birthday and Demolition

Five years ago Wednesday we were awaiting the arrival of this sweet, sweet little girl.  We were on our way to Alaska with Geri and Larry, staying in a RV park in Great Falls.  Lora arrived in the evening–a tiny blond, blue eyed girl who looks so much like her mom! Lora has become a world traveler–she lives in Germany with her mom Laci and USAF dad John.  We are so glad she was in Montana for her fifth birthday.  Cousins Millie and Brooks joined in the action and Lora graciously let them.  John and Laci do not live on base in Germany and their neighbors are also their landlords.  They have also become family.  There was a box of presents for Lora, Brooks, Millie and the rest of the family sent all the way from Germany–good people.

Monday bright and early before the crack of dawn I was off to Billings for another root canal appointment.  Same root canal, second appointment with a third scheduled.  I am going to do a separate post on my Mexico dental experiences at a later time.  There will be no more Mexican dentists for this lady.

Demolition–YIKES!  We’ve lived in this house with a full basement for 18 years. The Cowboy has been thinking our driveway was sloping too much toward the house due to years of mud accumulation. He decided we needed some dirt work and drain pipe to drain any rain water away from the house.  Now it’s an obstacle course out our back door!  But, the Cowboy is quick–it’s what he did for a living for many years.

Tuesday we went to Bozeman on a wild goose chase.  Photos in Craigslist ads are deceiving!  The Cowboy saw a used fifty inch wide Polaris RZR for sale for a reasonable price.  The ad stated it only had 1200 miles on the odometer and it was a 2011.  Well–if that odometer was correct someone rode that poor RZR to death in a short period of time!  It had been rolled on its side, it had been ridden over some mighty tough terrain and looked it! Needless to say, we passed!

Today I went to yoga–more than a week ago I tweaked my knee– I fell while spraying weeds.  I have avoided yoga but as the knee wasn’t getting much better I decided yoga couldn’t hurt.  I was careful and did only the stretches and exercises which didn’t aggravate my knee–it was good to be back!

Glorious weather today–a high of about 75 degrees–life is good!

 

Dog Days Of Summer

Some of you may have noticed a really, really short post from me early Sunday morning. Well, I obviously hit the “publish” button instead of the “save draft” button!! Wasn’t quite finished–must not have had enough coffee!

There’s not much going on around here except for the normal and routine chores of summer.  Pond cleaning, garage cleaning, house cleaning.  The deck needs power washing and sealing–ugh!  We have managed to have a bit of fun too–Friday evening we went to the farmers market and brought food home for dinner–absolutely delicious tri-tip sandwiches–all the more delicious as I didn’t have to cook!  This photo (borrowed from Facebook) is of our friend Joan who raises beautiful flowers and sells them at the market.  We also scored tomatoes and sweet corn.  The market gains new vendors every week and it’s fun to see and visit with friends.

Saturday we were both couch potatoes–too much work on Thursday and Friday! The Cowboy has started his air bag install on the pickup–

My first day lily–

An American Kestrel (I think!) My camera amazes me at times–it is a Nikon Coolpix P600 with a 60x zoom.  It is a fully automatic camera with a few adjustable settings.  It’s hard to hold a camera steady with the zoom all the way out but sometimes I get lucky.  Look at the detail in the limbs–you can see the worm tracks and this dude was WAY up at the top of a huge cottonwood tree.

It is definitely the dog days of summer in Arkansas and my family takes to the river sometimes–and also to try out Trenton’s (my nephew) new boat.  These photos were taken by my sister-in-law Vicky (Trenton’s mom).  Vicky has a photography business–Candid Captures and she has the eye, taking some gorgeous photos! Clayton is driving and Trenton (the older brother and owner of the new boat) is making sure he does it right.  It’s hard to believe these boys have grown up and are now such good looking, good men.  Love them!

Homemade pizza for lunch and I just may get in some quilting this afternoon.

Beautiful Sunsets

The Cowboy survived his MOHS surgeries on Tuesday.  The skin cancer spot on his nose only took one slice; the one below his lower lip took three slices.  MOHS surgery was developed in the 1930’s by a general surgeon, Frederic E. Mohs, but it wasn’t until the 1970’s that MOHS surgery became the leading treatment for skin cancers. During the surgery, after each removal of tissue and while the patient waits, the tissue is examined for cancer cells.  There is a lot of waiting involved, the actual procedure probably only took 15-30 minutes but the wait while each tissue slice is examined may take up to 30 minutes, more if the clinic is busy.  We were in and out in about two hours.  When Nat was having all those MOHS procedures I can remember them taking all day long!  The Cowboy looks as if he’s been in a fist fight and is sore but not in pain.

Kathy stayed with Princess Emmi again and they seem to be getting along well.  Kathy makes sure to have plenty of treats for Emmi and she plays outside with her a lot–what’s not to like!

Monday the Cowboy worked on the truck camper most of the day and now has the slide working well.  Soon it will be my turn to clean–have we ever purchased a clean RV?????  Monday afternoon I ran to town for errands–dog food (geez Princess Emmi is expensive), banking, etc.

We have a fire between us and Big Timber–no particulars as of yet but we could see the smoke when coming home from Bozeman Wednesday afternoon.  Every afternoon we have thunder, lightening and a bit of rain.  I’m surprised a fire hasn’t started before now!

Well, I was wordy in the last blog, this one is shorter!  Hard to believe tomorrow is the first day of August.

On The Road Again

Those of you who read the blog regularly know we were currently RV-less.  Well, not any longer.  What kind of RV did we want–well that was harder to decide than the question of what we didn’t want.  After the R-Pod we knew we did NOT want a RV which required putting away the bed before you could sit down for your morning coffee.  We wanted a bed which stayed a bed if that makes sense?? We also wanted short which the R-Pod fit but its bed situation was awful–we thought we could make it work but couldn’t.  Many short Class B’s have couches which fold out as beds at night–that’s not what we wanted.  The Cowboy wasn’t thrilled with the look of Class C’s and one of those long enough to have a bed was too long.  We looked at short Class A’s but in the end decided we needed to focus on the fact that we didn’t need a rig in which to live–we needed a camping rig.  A RV which we will use for travel back and forth between Montana and Arizona and for camping–not for living.  So, smaller is better.

And this setting is the exact reason we purchased yet another slide in truck camper.  I was not thrilled with the idea of another truck camper–I didn’t want to “crawl” up into bed and making that bed is a chore about which our friend Angie said, “I have to have a nap when I’m finished.”  But, it’s a camping rig, not a living rig.  And, it’s short–we are 25 feet long when the camper is on the truck.  This is a 2003 S & S truck camper–manufactured in Kalispell, Montana.  We seldom seem to find RVs within easy driving distance and this one was no exception.  The Craigslist ad was for a 2008 Ford pickup and this camper located in Thompson Falls in the northwest corner of Montana.  The owner would sell separately.  We talked about it on our Friday morning walk and called the owner when we got back in the house making arrangements to drive to Thompson Falls Friday–a 378 mile trip one way.  Whew that was a long drive!

The Cowboy has been considering a newer truck and would have purchased the one in Columbia Falls–the price was right–but after getting advice from friend John and from Lonn we decided against the pickup.  We were very careful in our examination of this truck camper–we’ve been burned twice lately with the “everything works” concept.  All in all for a 2003 the RV is in great shape and we purchased it for several thousand dollars less than book value.  So, off the owner’s truck and onto ours.  The previous owner is flying to Florida on Tuesday to purchase sight unseen a Class B–he was encouraged when we told him our friends Nina and Paul sold their motorhome this way–folks from California flew to Florida and purchased their rig.

The photo above is why we wanted short and small–just outside Thompson Falls Friday evening as daylight was leaving and the deer were jumping across the road in front of us, we found a USFS road and our parking place for the night.  Sweet!

Three hundred and seventy eight miles later we pulled into our driveway Saturday afternoon late.  UGH that was a long drive! The Cowboy immediately took the camper off the truck and started puttering with a couple things he wanted to improve.  He spent all of Sunday doing the same thing–improving.

For my part I’ve been researching easier ways to make that bed–guess what–there are none! 🙂 🙂 But I did read how one lady puts three clean fitted sheets on at once so she only has to wrestle the mattress once very third sheet change instead of every time.  I’m doing it!

We are looking for a new mattress because of course the one in the camper is awful–have you ever purchased a RV with a good mattress???  The Beaver motorhome we just sold had an excellent mattress but it left with that rig.

I’ve not done much of anything today–I did weed the flower bed in the back yard, mow the grass and grill us a steak for lunch but for the most part, I’ve been a bum.

The Flathead River; photo taken through the windshield. There is a large forest fire burning nearby, thus the haze.

We stopped in Drummond, Montana for a burger at Parker’s–a spot with a reputation for great burgers and they were.  Next door was the Cotton Patch quilt shop and I wandered through–gorgeous store and fabric! Across the street I spotted this sign and had to chuckle–

Life is good.

 

Just A Touch Spoiled

Emmi has always suffered from separation anxiety and it seems to have gotten worse since her three night stay in the veterinarian emergency clinic this past winter.  Our friend Nina and her husband Paul love and carefully care for their three four legged family members–if Nina recommends something you can be assured that product works.  Nina and Paul recently moved to France to be with Nina’s father.  As you can imagine the plane ride was stressful for everyone–Polly is a medium sized dog and had to travel in the hold.  Among other products Nina recommended Licks-DogZen.  It’s an all natural ingredient calming liquid–smells awful–but it worked!  Even though the directions said I could give Emmi a whole packet I only gave her half to see how she would react.  She gobbled up the nasty stuff, got in her chair and went to sleep–not zonked kind of sleeping but calm and comfortable.  We went to dinner that night and I gave her the other half of the packet before we left.  When we came home she seemed much, much calmer than her usual manic–“you left me, you left me” howling.  It worked–thank you Nina!

And on another Emmi note–we approached our friend Kathy about dog sitting and she was happy to do it.  She only lives about six miles from us and wanted to come to our house.  Kathy and Emmi spent the day together on Tuesday when we went to Billings and it was a success!  We have another long day away from home coming up. We knew we couldn’t leave Emmi home alone for that long and it wasn’t possible to take her with us.  We are so glad Kathy is willing to dog sit for us!

As I said, Tuesday we made a run to Billings–haircut for me, lunch, Costco and Walmart.  Our favorite Walmart in Laurel just outside Billings started offering grocery pickup–yea!  That service is such a time saver for us!

Wednesday the Cowboy installed our new to us evaporative cooler–what a difference it makes in the temperature inside our house when it’s dang hot outside–88 degrees yesterday–yep, summer has arrived.  And the best part–you leave the windows open.  I sprayed weeds, vacuum packed the bulk meats we purchased on Tuesday and puttered.  Today I sprayed weeds again, did some laundry and this afternoon I even quilted for a bit–one of mine–

This is just one of the blocks and not a very good photo.  The pattern is called It’s a Dog’s Life and it’s been years in the making.  I used wool for the applique and cotton and homespun for the borders.  Much of the hand stitching was done while sitting by the ICU bedside of Chuck–my Mom’s husband–in summer of 2016.

Almost every evening we have a thunderstorm and it rains a bit–last night it rained about two tenths.  Parts of Montana haven’t received near the rainfall we have and fire season has started–just small, lightening caused fires and most are under control.  The wind blew today and our humidity dropped–fire season has definitely started.  We are grateful to have had so mild a summer so far.

One of those thunderstorms brewing over the mountains.

Up the Boulder near Blue Lake.

 

Summer Has Arrived

Saturday dawned clear–yep, clear–no clouds all day except those pretty, fluffy white ones and just a few of those.  The Cowboy raked the hay he cuts for a neighbor early.  We decided to take one last ATV ride and rode up the East Boulder to Moccasin Lake.  It was a very chilly, windy day so jackets were in order–I’m loving these cooler July temps!  This ride is a low key, easy, close to home one we always enjoy.

We’ve never seen such a profusion of wildflowers on this trail as we did Saturday–massive amounts of wild geraniums, Indian paintbrush, columbine–beautiful.

Saturday evening we ventured into town for dinner at the Grand and declined dessert so we could have our ice cream at home.  🙂 🙂

Sandy took these two photos–Tom and Emmi enjoyed the summer day and sunset light illuminating our house.

All those rain clouds we’ve had do make for some gorgeous sunsets!

Sunday morning we said our “see you later” to friends Tom and Sandy.  Good friends are one of life’s greatest pleasures and we so enjoyed their company.  Come back any time Tom and Sandy!

A meadowlark singing his heart out on top of one of those “finally” finished hay bales.  Sunday was another glorious Montana summer day–blue skies, breeze, and only a high of 74 degrees–but the heat is coming, it’s on it’s way!

Sunday we installed a roll out awning I had purchased hoping it would provide some shade on our south facing sunny deck.  It may help some but not as much as I had hoped.  Monday temps were warmer–I guess it is July 22! ;)–summer may have arrived.  The Cowboy hauled hay bales today and I did some weed spraying, weed whacking and mowing–whew!

 

And Life Is Indeed Good

When we lived at North Ranch in Congress, Arizona we developed close friendships with a great group of people.  Tom and Sandy live summers in Minnesota and winters in North Ranch.  They are out and about doing some traveling this summer and we are so glad they decided to include our place in their stops.  Tom and Sandy arrived Wednesday afternoon and we’ve been on the go!

Thursday morning we headed up the Boulder stopping to pick up friend John from his place along the main Boulder River and the below photo is his and Diane’s spot–quite relaxing I would say!

Our destination was Blue Lake.  It’s one tough, rough and steep road with three miles taking an hour to travel but it’s worth every single bounce and jar along the way.  With all the rain we’ve had there was an abundance of water and mud.

John and Tom doing a little road maintenance—–

Old mining cabins John made it through the spot  which concerned us most–very, very muddy!A local guest ranch owned by distant relatives of the Cowboy bring their guests to Blue Lake in this unique vehicle.

Down to the lake for our picnic.  As usual, the mosquitoes were rampant and incessant–but we were prepared and had doused ourselves in repellent.  You can see by our attire the temperatures were not warm!  The lake is situated at almost 10,000 feet.

Lots of snow around the edges of the lake.  In spite of the mosquitoes and howling wind we thoroughly enjoyed our picnic by the water.  I never, ever tire of this trip up the Boulder and are always glad to share our piece of paradise with traveling friends.

The lake itself is located in the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness so there is a short hike down to the lake and of course a climb back to the rigs.Off we go, back down the trail–that’s Sandy and Tom.  Back home we slapped hamburgers on the grill and enjoyed our evening.  It rained once again and the hay is wet, once again.  The sun was out Friday morning and the temperatures warmed enough that the Cowboy was able to rake and bale the hay here on our place.  Finally.

Friday morning while the Cowboy was haying I took Tom and Sandy to Natural Bridge.  In times of normal water flow all the river water flows into a natural hole in the limestone tumbling out below.  In times of high water the river water flows “over the top” and creates a 100 foot waterfall.  At times logs and other debris partially plug that hole too.  But, this year there has been speculation that any debris inside the hole released or that erosion has enlarged the hole.  At no time this spring during high water did the water flow “over the top.”

This photo was taken in May, 2018.

Sandy and I played in the quilting studio this afternoon and the guys and Emmi took and jeep ride up Elk Creek.  We all enjoyed another great dinner–spaghetti and homemade bread.  Stay tuned for more adventures–life is indeed good.