Tuesday, July 30
While walking along the shore, the crew and I meet John from Laurel, Montana (west of Billings). He’s camping here at Delmoe Lake Campground with his wife who, at present, is “running up the mountain.”
“What? Your wife is running up the mountain?”
“Yep. She’s a marathon runner.”
John and I talk while Bridget and Spike play around on the sand.
John explains the best way to drive out of the mountains to go to Whitehall.
Later I meet John’s wife, Niki, when they stop at our campsite on their way out. She’s run in several marathons, including the Boston Marathon. Niki, as one might guess, is perky and trim, not an ounce of extra fat on her.
“You must have to eat an awful lot of food,” I comment.
“Yeah,” she responds, smiling. “That’s one of the perks.”
John and Niki want to full-time someday.
They show some interest in my set-up so I blab about the BLT, the PTV, the solar panel, my tires, blah, blah, blah. A light rain begins to fall. We say goodbye and they board their Class C motorhome. John and Niki have to rejoin the rat race.
As John explains wistfully, “We have seven years to go.” Probably seems like a marathon to him.
Wednesday, July 31
Following John’s directions, the crew and I bumpety-bump our way out of the mountains.
We get on the interstate at Pipestone, go about seven miles, and exit at Whitehall. First order of business is propane. At the same place — Whitetail RV Park — I fill up several one-gallon jugs with drinking water.
I have a couple hours to kill before our appointment at the auto repair shop.
I go to Whitehall’s IGA store and buy the non-perishables on my list. Then I park in the large parking area next to a long strip of grass and picnic tables running parallel to the street and the railroad tracks. I walk the crew. I go online. I eat. I drive around. Time drags. I go back to the parking area.
I leave the crew in the PTV, cross the street, and enter a little shop.
The shop (I forget the name!) sells new and used clothing. I’m greeted by a cheerful hello from the interior. A quick browse scores me a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans in excellent condition ($9, on sale for $6).
Donna is the proprietor, a pretty, vivacious lady in her early fifties.
I’m the only shopper. Immediately Donna and I find ourselves deep in conversation about our lives and what we see for our futures. Before I leave, Donna gives me directions to dispersed camping along the South Boulder River, further up into the Tobacco Root Mountains from the location of her home. “You can camp along the river,” she says. I give her directions to Delmoe Lake which she’s never seen.
RVSue Tip of the Day . . .
Never pass up an opportunity to ask a local where to go for good dispersed camping.
It’s almost time for the auto repair shop.
I know I’m not going to feel like grocery shopping after hanging around the repair shop. I drive us back to the IGA store. Bridget and Spike have another walk-around before I run into the store, pick up the perishables we need such as milk (in two containers — one for the fridge and one for the freezer), along with a bag of chipped ice. I put the food in my Coleman cooler and poor the ice in also.
I pull into Cliff’s Auto Repair.
After a brief check of the blog while sitting in the PTV, the crew and I sit in the much cooler waiting room. It’s about 90 degrees outside. Spike falls asleep on the cool, concrete floor, right where employees have to step over him to get behind the counter. No one seems to mind. Bridget is a good girl, of course, and stays under my chair.
Eventually the mechanic gives me the news.
The resistor for the blower motor needs to be replaced. The mechanic tested it by hooking straight to the battery and the air conditioner worked fine. (I also had him replace the bulb for the front turn signal. I didn’t do it myself because it’s a bear to pry the orange plastic piece off and I was afraid I’d break it.)
The bill? One hour’s labor: $70. Turn signal bulb: $1.95
The mechanic says they can have a part for me in the morning.
I explain that I’m camping up in the mountains and I’ll have the resistor put in somewhere further in my travels. No way I’m making this trip to Whitehall again tomorrow!
It’s cool in the mountains.
We aren’t suffering without working A/C. I usually plan to drive in the first half of the day before it gets hot. I’m at a point in my life where . . . If I don’t feel like doing something, I’m not going to do it!
And before readers razz me for spending $71.95 and coming away with only a new turn-signal bulb, let me say this: I’m happy I have the diagnosis. I can walk into a repair shop, tell them to replace the resistor, which should be about fifty bucks plus some more labor, and I’m done.
Sure, I’ll end up paying more than if I had the diagnostics and the work done in one place. I’m willing to pay more in order to live my life the way I want.
THANK YOU, RVSUE SHOPPERS!
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Trail Shield Gaiter
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Camco RV Swivel Stik Holding Tank Rinser with Shutoff Valve
Men’s Camper Moccasin
Camco Zero Gravity Recliner