There’s more than one way to climb a mountain

Another beautiful sunrise . . .


Daybreak at Sidewinder Road — January 26, 2014 (unedited photo)

The crew and I have visitors to our campsite.


A Golden and a Poodle… a winning combination!

Deb walks across the desert with her two goldendoodles, Carly and Joanie.  We sit in camp chairs watching our canines and chatting until the afternoon shadows grow long.

I hadn’t realized that the camper in view from our site belongs to Deb and Ed.  I met this couple from Ontario a few weeks ago when we all camped on Palm Canyon Road in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge.

You may remember them from the photo of Joanie.  Or maybe that’s Carly . . . .


The next day Les stops by for a chat.

Les Buffham is the cowboy poet and Western lyricist I met here before Christmas.  Les is the kind of guy who weaves little stories into the conversation.  We’re looking at maps and reminiscing about our travels when Les proceeds to tell me this story.

“I’m driving a Class A motor home.  It’s about thirty feet or so, called a “Honey,”  he begins.  “I’m pulling a Ford Aerostar van behind it, crossing the Beartooth Mountains up by Red Lodge.”

“That’s Montana, right?” I interrupt.

“Yes.  I come to this sign that says ten percent grade, ten miles.”

“Ten miles.  Oh, boy, that’s a long grade, ” I remark like a parrot.

Honey Motor Home

A Honey Motor Home

“Well, I’m pullin’ and pullin’ up that grade, slowin’ way down.”

Les chuckles at the memory.

“Finally I come to a level spot and pull over.  I fix myself some dinner.  Then I unhook the van, leave the motor home behind, and drive the van the rest of the way up the mountain.”

I’m momentarily confused.  What?  He left his motor home?

Les continues, “At the top I leave the van behind and ride my bicycle down the mountain to the motor home.  Then I drive the motor home up the mountain.”

“Very clever, Les.  A simple solution.”

“Another time I’m going up another long grade.  This was near Casper.  I wanted to go up Casper Mountain.  I had tried it once before and slid off the road.  Had to get somebody to pull me out.”

“Well, I’m goin’ up Casper Mountain.  Again with the motor home and towing the van.  This time it’s summer.  It’s a long, steep grade and I don’t think I’m gonna’ make it.  Then I get this idea.”

Les pauses, adding more drama to the story.

“I stop.  I’ve got the engine on the motor home running.  I run back to the van and start it up.  I put it in drive with a stick under the throttle.  Then I hop in the motor home and go up the mountain.”

He smiles.

“It worked just fine.”

“Gee whiz, Les,” I exclaim, incredulous.  “I’d be afraid I wouldn’t be able to stop!”

“Aw, there wasn’t any problem, ” he concludes.  “It’s flat at the top.”

I’ll wrap up this post with a photo sent to me by reader, Arizona Jim.

1-Grandpa and his Brother Ross

Jim’s grandfather and his brother in front of their handcrafted trailer


Here is a picture of my Grandpa and his brother taken in 1939 after a trip out to the Colorado River.  I call your attention to the trailer because they built  it.  It was made of wood but for its time it was state of the art.  I slept in that trailer many nights as it was parked at Grandpa’s house well into the late 50’s. It had a sink and water pump, electric lights and a ice box.  They built three of them and sold two.  Just thought you might find it interesting.”   — Jim

Thanks for letting me share this on my blog, Jim!



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74 Responses to There’s more than one way to climb a mountain

  1. Wow! That’s quite a sunset and photo of the handmade trailer! Am I first? LOL. Never thought I’d see the day I could maybe be first.


  2. Mary (MN) says:

    Beautiful sunrise. Very nice Jim shared the picture of the vintage home made camper. Very nice and a nice stringer of fish too. Loveboth of the stories Les told of getting up the mountain. Ingenuity.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Mary,

      I’d love to see a photo of the inside of the trailer with little AZ Jim inside. 🙂

  3. cinandjules (snowy and windy NY) says:

    Gorgeous sunrise! Who would of thought of that combination………..Les!

    Golden doodles aren’t supposed to shed hair. We’re still finding dust bunnies from SA…..kind of like Christmas tree pine needles in July!

    What a neat trailer! And I might add…avid fishermen!

    And how is Ms Bridget doing on her diet?

  4. Bill from NC says:

    Well yes is Bridget eating organ meat yet? That Les just is a old school tough as wang leather get er done dude!

  5. Mark says:

    I love to hear the stories. And the pictures are great.
    My father in law use to tell a similar story about starting up the car he was towing. He was working for CIT finance company. In the early years he had to repo cars. He was towing a repo that was much larger car and it was causing the tow vehicle to overheat. so he started the towed car, put a stick on the gas and put it in gear. Everything was fine until he tried to stop and could not get stopped. He decided to slow the car as much as possible then jump out and jump in the towed car as it went by. He jumped out okay but missed jumping in. Both cars ended up in the ditch.

    Salina ks

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Haha! Funny ending on your story! Not funny for your father though.

      • Don in Okla. says:

        Now that’s funny!!! I’ve pulled some stunts like that before! I was on the back of the combine one time and thought I would just jump the starter and get it started after boosting it. Well, for the first time ever, it started right up and started backing over my pickup. I was jumping up and down on the combine trying to think what to do when I finally pulled the coil wire. Shocked the puddin’ out of me but killed the combine. What a mess!!! Tore up the fender and the hood but nothing that couldn’t be fixed!! WHEW!!

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Hi, Don,

          The jumping up and down part — hilarious!

          I’ll remind Les to be sure and read your comment and Mark’s, too. He’ll get a kick out of your stories.

        • Mark says:

          Don, that must have been scary. I’m always so amazed at how much knowledge it takes to be a farmer. They have to know all about the crops. They have to be mechanics to keep the machinery running. They have to be good business men. and of course safety as you well know is a must. Glad your quick thinking kept you out of trouble.

          Salina, ks

    • Gayle says:

      Mark, I went thru Salina on a road trip on the way to Hutchinson to see the Picnic movie settings. Fun little museum at the rail station. Didn’t disappoint. Nicest people, town looked like living in a movie. (Awesome lightning storm!)

      • Mark says:

        Glad you had a good time in Ks. We have some great old towns here. Watching the spring storms roll is awesome.
        I love Kansas, but sure would love to be somewhere warm this morning. We got a few inches of snow last night with more to come in the next week.

        Salina ks

  6. Teri in SoCal says:

    Oh I just love that photo! I can only imagine the travels they enjoyed in it.

    And Les sure has some great stories.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Teri,

      That’s a photo that tells a story. One can imagine their fishing trip to the Colorado River, also the days working on the trailer . . .

      Yes, Les has great stories. . . and so are his poems and song lyrics.

  7. Bob says:

    Sue, have a friend restoring an old trlr. and was asking me about various items. Anyway I couldn’t remeber what you are using for a heater for quietness, other than the factory install. Also any other electric saving devices (LED) lights etc.

    Rocky Mtn Bob

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Rocky Mtn Bob,

      Look up at the black strip below the header photo. Click on Shopping Links and then choose For Your RV and Home. Scroll down that page and you’ll see a photo and description of my Olympian Wave-3 heater, also links to the heater and accessories for installation.

      Browse those pages and you’ll find LED lights, too. I buy LED bulbs for my overhead lights at Quartzsite.

      Here’s my post with photos about the installation, including cost, of my heater:

      “Catalytic Heater Installation”

  8. AZ Jim says:

    First off that Sunrise picture is a beauty. I never get tired of our Arizona sky displays. I was shocked to see my Granddads pic with his trailer. I knew you were going to post it but not when. As to interior pictures of it with or without me, they don’t exist. I regret that because it would be a fun to bring back the memories. You have to remember back in those days photos were reserved for very special occasions only; nothing like these days with digital cams and smart phones where some people shoot dozens of pictures everyday. You know I just must say again how much I admire your independence and even bravery to take on life as you do. I’ll probably never have the luck to be the first poster but I’ll always stagger in at some point. Detta enjoys the tidbits of your journey I share with her. Her vision is so limited that she cannot read it for herself. So, keep those wheels turning Susan….

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Jim,

      You can tell from the comments from readers (and there are more who feel the same way but don’t comment) that your photo is enjoyed by many. It’s the kind of photo that draws you into a time and place as if you’re the one behind the camera. Thank you for sharing it with us.

      And thanks also for the compliment on the sunset photo. I’m using it as my desktop wallpaper . . .

      Sweet of you to call me brave. I was well prepared for this vagabond life. My life before the road was so miserable that I was willing to try anything to be free of it! Haha! I didn’t know if I’d have enough money to live on when I made the decision to buy a travel trailer and travel the West. I didn’t care! I was ready to starve just to live a new way in new places!

      Warm wishes to you and Detta . . . . and thanks again.


  9. Rattlesnake Joe says:

    You may want to give Spike Glucomacine Sulfate instead of just plain Glucomacine. You can open up the capsule and sprinkle it on his food. This works much better in my wifes opinion as she has Osteo Arthritis and it works for her. She tried the regular Glucomacine and it did nothing for her. You can get it at Walmart and it is not expensive. One capsule in the morning and one in the evening should do it.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Joe,

      I’ve been wondering where you ran off to . . . Good to see you back here!

      I’m glad Mrs. Rattlesnake has found a method that gives her some relief from arthritis.

      I’ve already purchased 120 pills of Cetyl-M and Spike has been taking them for about 5 days as I write this. Might as well stick with it . . . If it doesn’t help, you’ve given us another option. Thank you.

      • Rattlesnake Joe says:

        Mrs. Rattlesnake’s full Arizona name is…drum roll please…Desert Rat Kate. After 30 days of trying Cetyl-M if you see no improvement it is not going to work. This comes from an Orthropedic Surgeon. Kate has been on the Glucosamine Sulfate for over 30 years and still has not had to have her knee replaced like they told her years ago. My absence was that we went to see the BIG TENT in Quartzsite for a week. It was fun and stopped off at the Casita Rally at Dome Rock to visit with other “egg owners”. Back in the saddle again at Wikieup for now. It’s good to be back and the weather is super duper in the 70’s.

  10. Long-time lurker here, first-time poster :-). I spent much of my early years living in the desert, and my dad retired to Quartzsite. So your pictures and posts are particularly delightful! I’m so glad you’re loving the desert and embracing the serenity and solitude.
    Not quite as ambitious as Jim’s dad, but Dad built a camper shell for his ’56 Ford pickup and we camped in the Sierras several summers, having a great time fishing and exploring. He was a pretty good sport when I covered the back hatch with “hippy flowers”, keeping them when I moved away to college.
    Awwwe, the blessings that are good memories! Safe travels.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Jodee,

      A bit late, but here goes anyway . . . Welcome to my blog! Nice to hear from you!

      It sounds like you had a wonderful childhood with a great dad . . . living in and exploring the desert and Sierras. No wonder you enjoy my blog and photos! I wonder if your father looked at those flowers with fondness whenever he missed having you around . . .

      Yes, I am “embracing the serenity and solitude.” There’s a special comfort derived from listening to absolute silence. I love that. And when I look across the desert, the only movement is the rising sun. Priceless! But you knew that already! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by with a comment.

    • Connie & Mugsy (MN/AZ) says:

      Glad to hear that I am not the only one who garlanded one of her father’s vehicles with “hippie flowers.” Dad had an old 4WD jeep – WW2 vintage probably – that he bought for deer hunting… and he painted it bright yellow. One day I covered it with foot high flowers in various primary colors. I thought it looked pretty neat… Dad was the strong silent type… and he never said anything about it. Wonder what ever happened to it… he was still using it for deer hunting some years later.

  11. Elizabeth...aka E2/etwo in S.E. NM... says:

    Even though it is 11 p.m. here, and past my bedtime, will drop in to say howdy! It has
    been awhile since I have been able to get in a word or two….
    I like the idea of the meat and bones for the pups! My BIG Beautiful Orange & White Maine Coon Cat, Clyde gets meat from every other day, for dinner. Clydie probably
    weighs about 14 – 15 lbs. now. His belly almost reaches the floor!
    The only thing I am concerned about eating meat…. raw or cooked, cats, dogs, people,
    are the “additives” that are added for one reason or another. I am thinking mostly
    of probably toxic stuff…. like Monsanto puts in veggies. I have been a Vegan for many years at this point and feel hesitant to feed my Clydie boy just meat…..
    Anyone have similar concerns????
    Do you mean glucosamine Rattlesnake Joe?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Elizabeth,

      You must be a night person. No way I’m writing a comment on somebody’s blog at 11 p.m.! But then, I’m a low-energy type, not a firecracker like you. 🙂

      Re: additives . . . Dogs have an advantage over people. Their digestive process occurs quickly, from ingestion to elimination, so that, I hope, absorption of toxins is minimal. Also the much shorter lifespan of our pets means less time for toxins to accumulate in their bodies.

      Well, that’s my rationalization. If I quit giving Spike raw meat and bones, now that he’s enjoyed them for several days, he’d probably put out his paw and hitch a ride outta’ here!

      Always a treat to hear from you, E2 . . . .

    • Rattlesnake Joe says:

      There are two types of Glucosamines the one that works is Glucosamine Sulfate 2000 mg one in the morning and one at night. But I don’t know anything about giving it to cats. They were worshipped back in ancient Egypt and are close to a snake with snake like eyes and hiss too so you may want to consult with a vet that is not afraid of ancient cat curses 🙂

  12. Sandy from NZ says:

    Hi Sue just wanted to say I have read your blog from the start ( comments too!) and I have finally caught up to the present day. I have thoroughly enjoyed everything about it – Bridget and Spike, your photos, the beautiful South West of which I have learned so much and the way you live in your BLT. Thanks so much for writing such an entertaining blog. I have also been following The Bayfield Bunch (found on your blogroll) and am just up to the present with that too. Thanks again Sandy in NZ

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Sandy,

      A belated welcome to you! I’m delighted to see a reader from New Zealand . . . one who bothered to go back to the beginning of my blog and read it all. You were smart not to skip the comments. That’s where you find the best entertainment and information, as you know.

      I’m glad you have “thoroughly enjoyed everything about it.” That means a lot to me.

      Gee, every photo I’ve seen of New Zealand had me wanting to go there . . . beautiful country.

      Reading between the lines of your comment I suspect you’d like to visit the southwestern U.S. yourself . . . . or maybe take off in your own rig . . .
      In the meantime, I hope you’ll stay with me and the crew and do drop in again!

  13. Ron Sears says:

    Great post today…not that they all aren’t, but this one made me smile…have a great day and be safe.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Ron,

      Your comment had me thinking about the content of my blog. In the early days of writing it, I tried to touch on items of interest to a wide variety of people. What I learned to my surprise is that a wide variety of people seem to like all (or most) of it! I’m sure everyone has their preferences.

      Glad this post put a smile on your face!

      • Ron Sears says:

        Don’t take it wrong for sure. I enjoy your postings and look forward to reading them and seeing your great shots of the area. Maybe yesterdays is what I needed after a long day! Anyway I did enjoy it and look forward to the next..
        Be safe

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Oh, I didn’t mean anything negative. I just notice that some posts affect a few people more than others… and this was one for you!

  14. chas anderson says:

    Have you tried baby aspirin with Spike? I had my pooch on glucosamine for a year with no results.After a month of baby aspirin she is as good as new.Might have to cut in half because of Spike’s size.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Chas,

      No, I haven’t tried baby aspirin consistently. Occasionally I gave him a half-aspirin to ease his aches in the evening. He’s on the Cetyl-M now. I’ll keep the aspirin in mind if the Cetyl-M doesn’t help.

  15. Diann in MT says:

    Hi, Sue,
    Thanks so much for the sunrise photo. Very gorgeous! It’s a keeper. I love Les’s stories of taking on the Beartooth Pass with rig, bike and truck! What an enterprise. You have to see that pass in order to truly appreciate his story.
    Actually, the Pass is where I spend my summer hiking with the Red Lodge Hiking Club. It is sooo serene up there once you mentally get past the FS reminder billboard “This is grizzly country”!
    I would not recommend pulling a rig up that steep and windy grade, but you can definitely get to the top via Cooke City and Silver Gate through Yellowstone Park. There is a FS campground about a half mile beyond the Top of the World store. The scenery is amazing.
    Once there, you can unhook the BLT and use the PTV to go over the top and down into Red Lodge, a quaint homey ski town in the winter and a summer haven for out of towners in the summer.
    Casper Mountain in a big rig??? What a guy! Either of those journeys with a big rig would be heart-stopping.
    I love your stories, Sue. And the comments of your kind and thoughtful readers.
    Take care.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Diann,

      Wow! This post must’ve “come alive” for you, having explored the places in Les’s stories.

      Your comment has me looking at my Montana and Wyoming Benchmark atlases. Beartooth Scenic Highway looks like a devil . . . squiggly hair-pins on the map.

      I see several campgrounds on that highway — Sheridan, Parkside, Limberpine, Greenough Lake, M-K, and near the Top of the World Store. . . Island Lake and Beartooth Lake. My map shows there was a landslide in 2005 . . . ooh, scary!

      I’d love to see all that. Mountain roads do make me nervous. I’m getting better at facing them though . . . What a summer that would make, camping all along the highway from Yellowstone to the Red Lodge area . . . I wonder how crowded the campgrounds are in the summer. (I’m hesitant about boondocking in grizzly country. Have to keep the crew close by, for one thing.)

      Your comment has me dreaming over my maps. Thanks!

      • Diann in MT says:

        All the FS campgrounds on the Red Lodge side are very popular during the summer. Sites may require reservations. However, dispersed camping exists. Check with the Ranger District in Red Lodge just out of town on the Beartooth HY. I have never stayed at Island Lake campground, but have run in and used the vault toilets. Looks like nicely spaced sites. The little trail behind that CG is well traveled and a pretty stroll. Across the road and down some are dirt roads that lead to trailheads with decent parking and perhaps dispersed overnight stays. I prefer camping among a number of others while in bear country, and always having a hard -sided to rely on.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          I’m with you re precautions in bear country. I can’t imagine sleeping in a tent with grizzlies roaming around. Grizzly bears are very real to me ever since I looked into the eyes of a mama grizzly while she looked into mine!

          • Diann in MT says:


            • rvsueandcrew says:

              This happened near Brooks Lake between Dubois WY and Yellowstone. She and her two cubs were walking parallel to the road on the shoulder. I stopped the PTV and the three of them walked across the road by the hood of the PTV like good pedestrians. Mama stopped the procession to stare at me. I’d heard not to stare back but I couldn’t help it! The cubs mimicked Mama and stared also. Of course, that was one of the rare times my camera battery needed charging . . .

            • Chuck says:

              Yep, Geris’ camera batteries are notorious for this!!!! Or the camera is in the trailer….

  16. Gayle says:

    Interesting blog today Sue. I really enjoyed the chat with Les & the old photo from Jim. A couple of characters entertaining I’m sure. Beautiful sunrise shot too.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks, Gayle. I do enjoy Les’s company. He’s a very cheerful man which, of course, spreads cheer wherever he goes. I notice he has a habit, whenever he’s about to drive off in his pick-up, of saying something out the window that leaves me chuckling. Can’t remember any of it now . . . . something silly. . .

      I enjoyed Jim’s old photo, too. I bet a lot of folks envied his grandfather and great uncle for that nifty trailer.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Interesting what people can make when they put their minds to it!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Elizabeth,

      One has to admire people who create things of practical value. That trailer they made was a ticket to much enjoyment . . .

  18. Darlene in MN. says:

    Been on the Bear Tooth Pass and can’t imagine trying to do it with a MH. We stayed at the KOA in Red Lodge and made the trip up the pass several times during our stay there, we had a travel trailer at that time. It sure is a beautiful place.
    Cold as can be in MN. love seeing your temps on the weather gadget. Says high of 78 today, wish I was there.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Darlene,

      Your comment and Diann’s has spurred my interest in the Red Lodge area — Custer National Forest and Beartooth National Forest. Maybe someday I’ll make it to Beartooth Pass.

      I enjoy looking at a map, reading the names of places, and wondering about them — places like Hell Roaring Plateau, Calamity Falls, Piney Dell, Lily Lake, Quintuple Peaks, Sheepherder Lake. Oh, so much to see, so little time. 🙂

      Believe me, I appreciate the weather in the Yuma area. Thursday’s high is predicted to be 82 degrees as I type this. I wish I could send you some warm days.

      Thanks for writing!

      • Darlene in MN. says:

        Custer and the Black hills area is also one of my favorite places, I always say if I can’t get to the big mountains the black hills will take their place.

  19. Marcia GB in MA says:

    Great stories today!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Marcia…

      Yeah, this was an easy post… Deb, Les and Jim provided most of it! Glad you enjoyed it.

  20. Louise says:

    I love Les’s story! I grew up with a swarm of men who were like that, always able to figure out a way to make it work. I miss having that around. The kids think I’m resourceful — but that’s because they never knew my elders in their prime!

    The trailer brings up memories. The first ‘RV’ I ever slept in was a shell my father made for his pickup. We had a good time with that! Later he made a different kind of shell so that we could use the back of the pickup as a horse trailer for my pony.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Louise,

      I know what you mean about those men “always able to figure out a way to make it work.” My father was one of those men. I miss him too.

      If Les tells me any more stories, I’ll share them here. Seems like they are well received!

  21. Barb George says:

    Hey there Sue!
    Ya know, Miss Sherry shared your photo on Facebook today of the guys and the fish… so cool!

    To Jim… ARE YOU CRAAAAAZYYYYY? AGH! He scared me!!!

    Hugs to all from a breezy, damp Hoquiam,

  22. Jean/Southaven, MS says:

    Loved your posts lately. Too many comments for me to post too, but have learned a ton and really enjoyed it all. My dad was resourceful also. He grew up in a time when you had to be to survive. Love the stories everyone.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Jean,

      Oh, there are never too many comments…. always room for one more! And I bet there are posts where you have something to stay, maybe a story of your own, that the rest of us would enjoy. I liked hearing you had a resourceful dad, too.

      Thank you for letting me know you’ve been loving my posts. Positive feedback is very encouraging.

  23. DeAnne in TN says:

    Woo hoo! There is an RV show this weekend in Nashville (45 mins from my home). I can’t wait to go peek and poke at all the goodies they will have there. Maybe this will help me get out of the slump I’ve been in lately. Actually, that and your words from earlier, Sue. My rv life may be uncertain right now, but I know (from your experience) that it will be better.

  24. Edie says:

    My Dad was one of those infinitely resourceful people also. I miss him!
    Enjoyed the post and pictures as always Sue.

Comments are closed.