The smoke from the Western wildfires is quite visible outside our room window of the Bozeman Hilton Garden Inn. Our room?
August 6th, we departed Portland on the way to Pendleton…the first stop of many on our way East. As we untethered the Jeep from the Behemoth (our RV), one arm of the tow bar got stuck and wouldn’t budge. A full day of driving did little for my patience; I wanted to relax and unwind. I grabbed the arm and shook it vigorously; it decided to bite back. I quickly and quietly made my way into the RV to see how bad the cut was. I turned on the water pump to wash and investigate the wound. I opened my fist and saw nothing but blood. I rinsed out the wound and knew as the blood kept flowing that I’d need treatment. I put some gauze on it and returned to help Joey finish disconnecting the Jeep, saying nothing about the finger. I had plans; I wanted to relax.
We set up the RV and began to unwind for the evening (if listening to a political debate on the radio can fairly be categorized as “unwinding”). Afterward, I suggested a walk over to the casino. We walked through the park and made it most of the way to the casino, when I sheepishly said, “I think I need stitches.” Joey asked why we were walking over to the casino instead of going to straight to the Emergency Room. I replied that it wasn’t in my plans; I had just wanted to have a relaxing night. Needless to say we went to the Emergency Room and on the way had a good discussion about the importance of taking care of our health on the road.
Pendleton has nice ER facilities and medical staff by the way…should you ever need to visit them…if you can find them…which proved to be its own adventure. As it turned out, there’d be no stitches. The wound wasn’t really stitch-able per se, which apparently happens when you take a chunk out of your skin. On the upside, we were introduced to a new vocab word: avulsion (if for some reason you have the crazy impulse to google images for avulsion, which I do not recommend, rest assured mine was a super mild injury compared to these).
After a good night’s rest, sporting sufficient gauze, and a current tetanus shot, we were back on the road headed to Boise for one night, and then on to Arco, ID to explore the lava fields of Craters of the Moon.
On Tuesday August 11th, we moved on to the Aspen Acres RV Park in Ashton. With wooded, roomy spaces and an onsite golf course, it provided a really comfortable landing pad for the treks we planned to make to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone over the next four days, before heading on to our next stop in Hardin, MT.
Wednesday morning, we drove to Grand Teton National Park. Gorgeous doesn’t even begin to describe it!
We walked a trail beside Jenny Lake, saw moose – from which we kept a respectful distance – and on the drive to and fro’ we took in the amazing views of huge sky and farmland near our campground.
After taking a couple of days to relax and unwind at our campsite, Saturday morning we were excited to make the drive over to Yellowstone. We loaded up the Jeep: lunch, snacks, water, and binoculars. Upon hitting the first of the many mountains passes, the check engine light came on. I turned the Jeep around, heading back into town to find a mechanic. We visited a shop in town and they said it looked like we needed a tune-up. Neither they, nor the local dealership had any openings until at least Thursday. We decided to call the next closest Jeep dealership in Bozeman, Montana, who said they could fit us in to an appointment on Monday. So, we headed back to Aspen Acres to enjoy our last night in Ashton and get ready to head out in the morning. That night, we shared a bottle of wine and an impromptu meal with really fun couple we’d met from England, Sally and Roy, who travel the U.S. and Canada in their fifth wheel roughly 6 – 9 months a year.
Given the new situation with the Jeep, our upcoming reservations for a one night stopover in Livingston (on our way to Hardin) clearly needed to be changed. It looked like just one stay would be cancelled and the next shortened by a day – no worries. A one day change in plans was an easy thing.
Our trip to Bozeman was a learning experience all in itself, as it was the first time I’d really driven the motorhome in the mountains. I maneuvered the rig over the Continental Divide! It was a little nerve-wracking at times, but left me with greater confidence about handling mountains in the future.
We arrived safely in Bozeman, and since the Jeep dealership had graciously offered that we could dry camp in their lot, we settled in for the night. After a very windy and slightly restless night, we awoke to a beautiful sunny day. We passed the morning in the customer service lounge, delighted to finally have access to wifi again. After a 6 day wi-fi drought, we had a lot of business to catch up on. Around noon, the service rep came in to let us know that the spark plugs looked very dirty and there was a question of whether the head gaskets or the head itself needed to be replaced. He said they should be able to have someone look at it and get more information for us later in the week end…and that it could take up to two weeks to get parts.
What? Whoa! Screech of brakes. “Later in the week. Two weeks?!?” What about our plans? I made a lot of plans. We had reservations, and each one hinged on us having enough time to see sites at the last and travel to the next. Clearly I needed to change the reservations, but to what? After some discussion, and several calls to cancel reservations at our next four stops, we decided to use some of our ‘points’ to pay for some time at a hotel.
We were fortunate to find that the hotel is on the free bus line – and that Bozeman is a great little city. We’ve been able to travel around and experience parts of Bozeman that we would not have otherwise known about, had our “plans” worked out. Thus far we have experienced: the tail end of a car show, the Museum of the Rockies, Montana State University (Go Bobcats!), MacKenzie River Pizza, and lots of great local craft beers.
With plenty of free time on our hands and our motorhome parked right outside our hotel room window, we’ve been able to figure out more about how to use our inverter for boondocking. Also because we’ve been at a stable address, we’ve been able to order some needed supplies from Amazon and have them delivered to our room. We are in the hotel until early next week, when we will move with the RV somewhere else in Bozeman or down the road. We have not planned that far ahead.