Bringing “LIFE AT THE SPEED OF SANITY” blog up to speed! Installment One: January-May 2022

[Note: This is a lengthy post as it also serves as a journal for us and our family.]

JANUARY 2022 

After receiving a non-renewal of lease letter on January 18, 2022,  we devoted time to develop a plan for relocating back to Colorado. [See prior post dated January 28, 2022]

FEBRUARY 2022 

We spent the better part of February madly “rightsizing” and selling, donating, or giving to family various household treasures. Being realistic, we anticipated a smaller home in our future. Despite the frenzy, we stuck to a previously planned camping trip to Whidbey Island, Washington. It served as a calming segue to the future pace we anticipated.

We donated Grandparents’ Vale set of china to Palouse Treasures Thrift Store. All proceeds go to support persons with disabilities in the community.
We donated housewares, shoes, books, and clothing to the Goodwill in Pullman.
Housewares, sheets, and towels went to Family Promise of the Palouse in Moscow, Idaho.
We donated several items to RTOP Theatre that they can add to their boutique or to their costume or prop departments.
2022-02-17 Cap Sante Park, overlooking Fidalgo Bay, Anacortes, Washington on Fidalgo Island.

MARCH 2022 

Until the third week of March, we kept packing, donating, selling, and organizing for an upcoming move. 

Steve’s packing up our art pieces.
Furniture that we’re selling has been moved into the garage for ease of loading into purchasers’ vehicles.
Diane keeps busy sorting family archives by category and filling a recycling bin with extraneous records.

On March 23, we embarked on an abode-hunting trip that would last nearly five weeks. Thankfully, we are “old hats” at living in a trailer and traveling. Plus, it was a good way to avoid Airbnb or hotel costs as much as possible. With S’More, our 15’ Geo Pro trailer loaded, we stayed at a hotel in Butte, Montana the first night. Then we had overnight campsites in Sheridan and Douglas, Wyoming before arriving at KOA campground near Fort Collins, Colorado. From this location of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, we explored Fort Collins, Loveland, and surrounding areas. On-line we also kept tabs on Denver, Aurora, and Littleton rental listings. The traffic was intense and rental prices outlandish. In our back-pocket of planning, we kept Grand Junction, Colorado tucked away as a back-up. “Because, you just never know!”

Our one night at the KOA, Sheridan, Wyoming was a bit chilly! Because of freezing temperatures, they didn’t offer water hookups yet.
The one night at the KOA, Douglas, Wyoming provided a beautiful sunset.
It was nice to have six nights at the Fort Collins/Lakeside KOA, Fort Collins, Colorado.

APRIL 2022 

On April 1, from Fort Collins, we shifted gears and drove 90 miles to our next stay at Chatfield State Park near Littleton. We have enjoyed several stays at this state park as full-time RVers. Thankfully we were able to reserve only two months out for a 13 day stay. With spring break vacationers, this state park is quite popular. 

Towing the trailer through Denver’s early afternoon traffic on I-25 wasn’t pleasant. Perhaps we’ve been away from Denver too long! We did this drive with our larger trailer over the years too.
Our campsite for 13 nights at Chatfield State Park gave us views of the Hogback along the Front Range.

Yet despite calling and following up on oodles of listings in the Denver and Metro Area with no success, we placed our gaze and research efforts westward 250 miles to Grand Junction.  Already, we had a list of potential rental properties. Having anticipated going to Grand Junction, we opted to reserve at the Grand Junction KOA while we were in Fort Collins. It’s a good thing as there were no empty sites when we arrived!

On April 15, we left the Denver area for Grand Junction where we had a 7-day stay at the KOA campground. The weather forecast called for more snow in the mountains, so we were prepared and the Highlander did a great job of towing up to the Eisenhower Tunnel and over Vail Pass. Shifting into the manual setting certainly helps the transmission!

Towing the trailer from the Denver area to Grand Junction, we had some snowy conditions on I-70 westbound at higher elevations.

In Grand Junction, knowing that even their rental market was short on supply, we were up at the crack of dawn and reviewing listings on Zillow, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace. We drove around the community and past various listings. Each time we’d inquire about availability, we’d hear that the listing was just rented. Finally, we completed an application on Zillow and focused all efforts there.

Before bed we marked our “favorites” on Zillow. At 6:30am the next day, there was a response on a townhouse listing. Within 30 minutes, we had traded messages with the owners and had an appointment for a showing a few hours later. This was just what we were seeking with ample space for our household, an attached one-car garage, central air conditioning, no yard maintenance, and a very nice location.

Our campsite at the KOA in Grand Junction, Colorado while abode hunting.
There’s SO much less traffic in Grand Junction than the Front Range of the Rockies.

On April 22, a week after arriving in Grand Junction, we had a lease signed, renter’s insurance secured through a Grand Junction State Farm agent, utilities transferred to our names, RV storage reserved, and a U-Haul truck reserved back in Washington. We emptied S’More the Trailer of bedding, clothing, food, etc. and off we left towards our Pullman home.

We have our next abode rented! Grand Junction here we come!
April 22, 2022 We placed S'More the Geo Pro in RV storage in Grand Junction before returning to Pullman to finish preparing for our move.
It felt a bit odd leaving S’More the Geo Pro in RV storage in Grand Junction.

Without the trailer in tow, it only took us two days of travel to get back home. We stayed the first night in Park City, Utah. Admittedly, a big king bed felt heavenly after our bunk-size beds in the trailer. Park City brought back wonderful memories of past vacations or stays. After another long day of driving, the second night found us with some slim pickings along I-84 in Oregon. We stayed at the Oregon Trail Motel in Baker City, Oregon. It was in very stark contrast to the Marriott in Park City. Although we had a nice walk around Baker City and viewing their public art.

We stayed in Park City, Utah. It even snowed overnight!
A most unique stay was experienced at Oregon Trail Motel in Baker City, Oregon. It was economical with the room, bathroom, and bed quite worn around the edges.

On April 24, we crossed back into Washington over the Snake River. Before we knew it, we were back in Pullman. What relief! We were SO ready to hug our Pullman family and catch up with them again. 

We’re crossing the Snake River so just a bit over an hour from our Pullman, Washington home.

The next morning, we were ready to hit the pavement running with only three weeks until our move. A spiral bound notebook had oodles of notes and lists that we jotted down over the five weeks of our trip. Major checklist items: reserve a two-person crew to unload our household from the U-Haul in Grand Junction; make an appointment for the car to be serviced soon after moving to Grand Junction; resume packing; and, deep clean the townhouse before vacating the home.

MAY 2022 

Squeezing our last meals, morning coffee and conversation times, and grandbaby cuddles with our family were the essentials those last days. It was a heart-tug to leave our son, daughter-in-love, and grandbaby. We were all part of a “Buddy Bubble” for the better part of two years during the COVID pandemic. Our hearts will hold tight to those lasting memories!

One of our last walks in our NW Terre View Drive neighborhood on Pullman’s Military Hill with this beautiful view. Kamiak Butte is in the distance and one of our favorite hiking spots.

On May 13, Steve received a call that the 20 foot U-Haul truck that we wanted was not available. He had carefully planned the placement of boxes and furniture. This threw a bit of a wrench into that plan, as we ended up with a 26 foot truck with too much room. Both Pullman and Moscow are university towns, so we and many students were grappling for U-Hauls at the same time.

Steve tended to the many details of calculating space and packing the 20' U-Haul truck that he had reserved several weeks ago.
Steve tended to the many details of calculating space and packing the 20′ U-Haul truck that he had reserved several weeks ago.

On May 14, a lovely couple, Beth and Eric, who we met through our Pullman family, invited us over for a delicious breakfast complete with his home baked bagels. It was so nice to actually sit at a table with them. During COVID restrictions, all of our other contacts had been in their front yard when picking up our order of baked goods from their pop-up cottage bakery or over coffee and outdoor seating at a local coffee shop. They were very gracious.

May 16 was U-Haul pick up day in Moscow, Idaho (10 miles from home). As soon as the truck was in our driveway practically using a shoehorn, Steve began loading boxes. In the afternoon, our son came and worked with Steve into the evening to finish loading and securing boxes, furniture, bicycles, etc. As our bed was loaded onto the truck, we opted to stay in a hotel. It was divine after a day of hard work!

The truck in the driveway with enough room for our neighbors to drive past.
The truck in the driveway with enough room for our neighbors to drive past.
Steve has the two-car garage staged to make loading the U-Haul and Highlander easier.
Steve had the two-car garage staged to make loading the U-Haul and Highlander easier.
Bidding farewell to our Pullman, Washington, Terre View Drive townhouse.
Bidding farewell to our Pullman, Washington, Terre View Drive townhouse.

May 17 was a big day. We awoke early in order to return to the house, vacuum the carpet, tie up loose ends, and load the car with the last of items. Our final stop before driving away from our community of Pullman was for extra hugs and “see you laters” with our family. Our eyes “leaked” as Steve drove the U-Haul truck and Diane followed with our Toyota Highlander filled to the gills as Pullman receded in our vehicle mirrors.

Thanks to Jeremy and Steve, our household is loaded except for what Diane has in the Highlander.
Thanks to Jeremy and Steve, our household is loaded except for what Diane has in the Highlander.

We traveled U.S. 95 south along the beautiful Palouse Hills terrain in southeastern Washington and southwestern Idaho. This was mostly a two-lane highway through a picturesque landscape that we’ve enjoyed the past ten years. The Nez Perce Reservation lends itself to meaningful native history and stunning beauty. The first night we stayed in Ontario, Oregon at a hotel needing to rest our weary bodies and emotions.

Along U.S. 95 through Idaho, we stopped to stretch with a beautiful view of the Salmon River.
Along U.S. 95 through Idaho, we stopped to stretch with a beautiful view of the Salmon River.

May 18 was a very long day of driving on busy I-84 across Idaho and northern Utah to Heber City, Utah. In all of our many miles of driving around the country, I-84 can be really busy and fast. We’ve learned our lessons from prior travels with our Nash trailer to avoid the bulk of Salt Lake City’s I-15 traffic. While we weren’t towing this time, Steve found the U-Haul to be a very rough ride and fully loaded, not something to take through Salt Lake City.

Our overnight stay at Heber Valley Hotel in Heber City, Utah was a welcomed night after a long day of driving Interstates 84 and 15.
Our overnight stay at Heber Valley Hotel in Heber City, Utah was a welcomed night after a long day of driving Interstates 84 and 15. We also have some fond memories of vacations in this area..

On May 19 we were up at the crack of dawn and on our way towards Grand Junction. The route we took was U.S. 40, a route with which we’re familiar. It brought back memories of former full-time RVing stays in Vernal, Utah and a 2014 visit to Dinosaur National Monument. Interestingly, we missed a turn and ended up on a Colorado 139. Yet, this afforded us a new drive on part of the Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway. While beautiful, it sure posed some challenges for the U-Haul truck on the climb over Douglas Pass. The Ford 450 engine of the truck labored heavily!

Our trusty Toyota Highlander and the 26' U-Haul truck at the scenic viewpoint near Douglas Pass, Colorado.
Our trusty Toyota Highlander and the 26′ U-Haul truck at the scenic viewpoint near Douglas Pass, Colorado.

Once over the pass, it was a stunning downhill stretch through the Book Cliffs and across the wide open northern reaches of Grand Valley to Loma, Colorado. We stopped at the Colorado Visitor Center in Fruita in order to call our landlords and arrange to meet them to obtain the keys to the townhouse in Grand Junction. Devoting a couple of hours to unloading what we could, we settled onto our tent camping air mattresses and slept quite comfy on the master bedroom floor.

May 19, 2022 2:02pm Yay! We made it to Fruita, Colorado so 20 minutes from our new abode. We called our landlords, Paulette & Charlie, to arrange meeting them at the townhouse to get the keys and garage door opener.
It’s May 19, 2022, 2:02pm .Yay! We made it to Fruita, Colorado so 20 minutes from our new home. We called our landlords, Paulette & Charlie, to arrange meeting them at the townhouse to get the keys and garage door opener.

On May 20 and just like clockwork, the two-person unloading crew arrived at 8:00am. Within 90 minutes the truck was unloaded, furniture in place, and boxes placed in their assigned rooms! We vouched to ourselves and our family that for future moves, a crew would load AND unload!

May 20, 2022 and it's moving in day! Thankful for the two person unloading crew!
Thank you to the two person unloading crew!

Whew! This was quite the post to write!

Stay tuned for “Installment Two of Bringing Life at the Speed of Sanity Up to Speed!”

Happily Retired at the Speed of Sanity,

Diane & Steve

 

Our New Trailer Has a Name!

Our 2022 Rockwood Geo Pro 15TB has a name! We promise that it will be divulged at some point in this post. Hang with us and read along.

Assigning names to objects is kind of intriguing, isn’t it? Have you named your car, truck, bicycle, motorcycle, skateboard, airplane, etc? If you have an RV, have you named it? As those who’ve followed our former full-time RV lifestyle read from early posts, our first trailer was a 2018 Nash 26N made by Northwood Manufacturing. We named it “Tranquility”. Not only were we anticipating some tranquil times on our travels and surrounded by the beauty of our country, we also recall watching as youngsters the Apollo 11 Lunar Module landing in the Sea of Tranquility on the Moon. Our first truck that towed the Nash trailer was named “Bessie”. My paternal great-grandmother was named Bessie. When my great-grandfather John first laid eyes on Bessie, she was seated on a buggy at the reins of a spirited horse. As she zipped down the country road, my great-grandfather asked his friend who this young woman might be. An introduction was made in short order. We could envision our 2012 Ford F-250 being at the reins of “Tranquility” and spiriting us on our way around the country.

April 2018 – Tranquility the Trailer with Bessie the Truck

Naming provides identity. It also insinuates a type of bond. Perhaps the bond is related to a particular activity to which your object is tied. For example, my parents adopted the 1963 Chevy Suburban that first belonged to my aunt, uncle, and cousins. It was a battleship gray. They called it the” Gray Goose”. The Gray Goose went on many adventures with my aunt, uncle, and cousins and came to us with that history. So, we kept the name. It would be the first vehicle that became our primary wheels for getting to and from school when my younger sister, Char, and I didn’t take the school bus, especially with after school sports and clubs. The Gray Goose also had numerous adventures, including a 1973 girls’ trip to go camping in Wisconsin. There were other escapades reflecting some immature teenage choices. (I won’t go into details). Needless to say, Gray Goose was a fun and happy name!

August 1973 The Gray Goose, our old 1963 Suburban, en route to camp in Wisconsin with my sister and two friends.

Fast forward a few years with a growing family, Steve and I had one of the first mini-vans made. It was a 1984 Toyota Van Wagon. In fact, we read about it in a car magazine when we needed to replace our Datsun B-210 Hatchback. Then we visited the local Toyota dealer to ask about the Van Wagon.  Interestingly, they didn’t even know about the Van Wagon. We showed them the magazine article. We placed an order and waited a couple of months until it arrived. While we didn’t assign a name immediately, over time as our kids became older and more movie aware, they thought that “Yoda” from Star Wars would be a good name. You know, ToYOTA sounds a bit like YODA. Yoda took us 200,000+ miles of road trips, car pools, camping, bike trips, and more. We should have been a poster family for this vehicle because it was such an anomaly at the time. Countless times during the first years that we had it, we gave strangers a tour due to their curiosity. Top question: where is the engine located? Our answer: beneath the driver’s seat. They couldn’t believe their eyes when we’d unlock the driver’s seat, lift it, and show them the engine!

October 1984 – Yoda our 1984 Toyota Van Wagon

Okay…change of subject. Raise your hand if you like s’mores? Hands-down we LOVE them. All of the years of camping, our marshmallow roasting sticks remain a staple in our camping kitchen. Steve has such a knack for building wonderful campfires. He’d get a nice roaring campfire going. Then Jeremy, Stephanie, and I exercised patience as we gradually watched the flames give way to the perfect embers for roasting marshmallows. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a s’more or two or three.  Graham cracker square topped with a Hershey’s milk chocolate square, topped with a hot, roasted marshmallow, and lastly topped with another graham cracker square, Gently press to get a bit of oozing from the roasted marshmallow. OH YUM!

May 2021 – Roasting Marshmallows over a Campfire, Dworshak Reservoir State Park, Idaho.
Essentials for S’Mores (plus new roasting sticks)!
Ready, Set, Go for S’more Making!
February 2019. – Steve roasts a marshmallow at City of Rocks State Park, New Mexico.
June 2005 – Diane roasted a PERFECT marshmallow, Grand Lake, Colorado.
March 14, 2020 – It’s PI Day. We made a S’More Pie at Kartchner Caverns State Park, Arizona.

So…why tell you about s’more making? We invite you to take a good look at the photo of our 2022 Rockwood Geo Pro 15TB. Our imaginations say, “Hmmm….it’s the shape and white like a marshmallow!”  Does your imagination see a marshmallow?

Check this out carefully!

Then we look closer at the decals on the side of the Geo Pro. There’s two horizontal stripes, black and gold. Then there are swooches much like giant parentheses at each end of the side. Do you see a side view of a square of Hershey’s chocolate? This is the black stripe. Now how about the gold stripe beneath it? It sorta, kinda looks like a side view of a graham cracker square. See it? Now stay with me here. The half-circle decal swooshes at either end of the trailer’s side look a bit like a roasted marshmallow being squished as if pressed down. Well, this sure sounds like a S’MORE! 

Folks, meet our new trailer named S’more! With S’more, we can make SOME MORE memories. Plus, it will help us SEE MORE states, state parks, national parks, perhaps the southern tier of Canadian provinces, plus family and friends! What we’ll look forward to doing is sitting by a campfire at some point, roasting marshmallows, and making luscious, gooey, melt-in-your mouth s’mores. Even better would have you join us at our campfire! Stay tuned as 2022 brings some camping trips and we’ll share more of S’mores travels. Now…what to name our Toyota Highlander SUV…any thoughts?

Take care everyone ! Cheers to s’mores and S’More! May you have a Happy Thanksgiving next week.

Diane (& Steve)

 

We Have Our New Trailer!

Well, we did it! We now own a 2022 Rockwood Geo Pro 15TB! These little trailers are extremely popular and quite the challenge to locate them. RV manufacturers of most any brand and type of RV across the country are working frantically to meet the demand. Of course, we anticipated this when we sold our 2018 Nash so quickly back in late August.

We're ready to drive away from D&D RV Center in Helena, Montana with our new 2022 Rockwood Geo Pro 15TB by Forest River.
On October 26, ready to drive away from D&D RV Center in Helena, Montana with our new 2022 Rockwood Geo Pro 15TB by Forest River.

A few days after we returned from our late September road trip to scout out potential trailer brands, we began creating a spreadsheet for RV dealers who carried Forest River’s Flagstaff E-Pro 15TB or Rockwood Geo Pro 15TB. (15 indicates the interior length of 15’ and TB means Twin Beds). Both of these are essentially the same trailer except for the exterior decals and interior decor. The primary filters for this research were distance from home, prices, and approximate delivery date of the unit from the factory.

Geographically speaking, we decided that we would consider Colorado, Montana, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. As we applied the filters, it appeared that the larger dealers and those in the Seattle area may end up with the higher prices. We sat down with the spreadsheet and what jumped out at us was D&D RV Center in Helena, Montana. Why? This is where we purchased our 2018 Nash 26N by Northwood Manufacturing in April 2018. We already know the quality of their service department. They gave us a thorough tour of all systems of the Nash before we could even leave with it. Additionally, their website indicated that they had a 2022 Rockwood Geo Pro 15TB on order. There was nothing about “Sale Pending”, which would mean that someone had already ordered. This meant that it was up for grabs and looking for a buyer!

October 8, 2021 THIS RV IS ON ORDER...this caught our eye!
THIS RV IS ON ORDER…this caught our eye!

On Friday, October 8, Steve called D&D to inquire about the Geo Pro on order. D&D didn’t have a buyer yet. Within 15 minutes, Steve told them that we would like it, thus a sale pending situation was established! They would notify us when our 2022 Rockwood Geo Pro 15TB arrived from the manufacturer in Indiana. They had no idea when that would be. According to a Geo Pro 15TB Facebook group, some people were waiting several months for their unit to arrive from the manufacturer.

October 8, 2021 SALE PENDING! Because we called and offered to purchase it!
SALE PENDING! Because we called and offered to purchase it!
October 8, 2021 SALE PENDING TO WASHINGTON....this means to us!
SALE PENDING TO WASHINGTON….this means to us!

In the meantime, we tried to wrap our brains around 79 square feet of interior living space versus the 250 square feet that we enjoyed in our Nash 26N! Folks, this is a really big deal. The game we’re playing is trying to recall the days of tent camping (just four short years ago). We had the two-person tent, our Toyota RAV 4, and during the last year of tent camping we added a Coleman screened gazebo that was larger than the tent. The RAV 4 hauled everything. Now we shift our brains to this small trailer hauling much of everything. The Highlander will still need to carry some items due to the lack of storage in the Geo Pro. For instance, the zero-gravity recliners and folding Zamp solar panel that is stored in a special suitcase. Bicycling, hiking, and swimming gear will likely join those large items in the Highlander.

Just five days after calling D&D, Steve received a call from them on October 13 that the trailer had been delivered and would be ready for pickup the following week. Unfortunately, our schedule was such that we had to wait until October 26. This gave us time to continue sifting through our stash of trailer accessories and purchase some essentials in order to hit the ground running.

Keeping an eye on the ten-day forecast and knowing that we’d have several mountain passes during our trip, Steve purchased two pairs of snow chains for the Highlander. We had clothing, kitchen items, bathroom items, bedding, camp chairs, and some food all packed into the Highlander. It was a very stark reminder that we no longer had a massive pickup with a topper enclosing the pickup bed. From just behind  the front seats to the tailgate, we were loaded. Thankfully Steve is a packing whiz!

We left on Monday, October 25, and drove to Helena. The drive on I-90 and U.S. 12 was gorgeous! Once in Helena, it was nice to have a night in a hotel for a good night’s rest. Plus we ordered for pickup from a favorite of ours, MacKenzie River Pizza. Between splitting a small pizza and a delicious salad, we were all set for the night. There’s nothing quite like watching a movie while eating in bed.

The Larch Trees were in their glory along I-90 in Idaho.
Larch Trees were in their glory along I-90 in Idaho.
MacKenzie River Pizza & Salad dinner in bed at the Hampton Inn, Helena, Montana
MacKenzie River Pizza & Salad dinner in bed at the Hampton Inn, Helena, Montana

On the 26th we had a noon appointment at D&D. After breakfast that morning, we found a trail at Nob Hill to hike, which was refreshing and provided beautiful views. We knew that once we had the trailer, there’d be no time for a walk or hike.

The View from Nob Hill Trail, Helena, Montana
The View from Nob Hill Trail, Helena, Montana
Heading into D&D RV Center in Helena, Montana.
Heading into D&D RV Center in Helena, Montana.

At D&D, we were completely finished by 2pm. Completing the sales transaction and resulting paperwork, touring the trailer (really much less involved than the Nash), purchasing several essentials using the $100 store credit at D&D, and hitching up. Before we left the parking lot, we called our State Farm Insurance agent’s office to provide the details on the trailer and make sure it was covered. Unfortunately, Good Sam Club’s Roadside Assistance was experiencing technical difficulties so we had to delay contacting them until Wednesday.

Our first stop was Walmart before heading off to camp. For the week prior to this trip, Diane had a growing list for a Walmart stop. Because we’ve purchased a trailer in Helena before, we knew that the Walmart was conveniently a few blocks from the RV dealer. Parked safely in the back of their big parking lot, we went into the store to grab what we’d need for several meals and anything necessary for the trailer.

Drawing on our full-time RV experiences, we knew that between late September and late October, many campgrounds have closed until the traditional camping season next year. Because we needed to have access to electric, water, and sewer in order to adequately test out the new systems on the trailer, Diane checked to see what KOA campgrounds within an hour of Helena might still be open. When we bought our Nash in April 2018, we stayed at the Canyon Ferry Lake KOA between Helena and Townsend, Montana. Thankfully they are open year-round and if the temperatures held, we would have a water hookup. 

Our mirror extenders work great!
Our mirror extenders work great!
The Missouri River swells into the reservoir, Canyon Ferry Lake, Montana. The Big Belt Mountains are shrouded in clouds.
The Missouri River swells into the reservoir, Canyon Ferry Lake, Montana. The Big Belt Mountains are shrouded in clouds.

Off we went to the Canyon Ferry Lake KOA. Diane reserved for one night. Although high wind advisories were forecasted overnight and into the next day. That night the wind buffeted our little trailer, rocking us to and fro. With no foresight on our part, it just so happened that the nose of the trailer was pointed into the direction of the wind. Thus, we really were spared worse wind gusts.

First night set-up was accomplished as the sun was setting behind the mountains.
First night set-up was accomplished as the sun was setting behind the mountains.
Cheers to successfully setting up camp!
Cheers to successfully setting up camp!
OTucked into our sleeping bags on our twin beds, we watched The Pirates of Penzance that we checked out from our local library.
Tucked into our sleeping bags on our twin beds, we watched The Pirates of Penzance that we checked out from our local library.

The 27th arrived and we double checked the wind forecast and sure enough, it was going to be relentless the rest of the day and into the night. As KOA wasn’t busy, we were able to extend our stay by a day. This was a perfect situation as Diane’s sister, Laurie, drove up from Bozeman for a visit and to see our tiny trailer. We saw Tom and her back in June when we were in Denver on a trip and they just happened to be traveling between Montana and New Mexico. While both visits were short, they certainly were sweet.

Yay Sisters!
Yay Sisters!

As it turned out, It’s a good thing that we stayed a second night. Evidently, Diane dropped her trailer key either in the Walmart parking lot or inside the store. Plus, the new 15 foot sewer hose was too long to fit into the hose storage beneath the trailer. Whew! Steve discovered this before using the hose! After Laurie left to visit friends in Helena, we soon followed and headed back to Helena too. Thankfully, a kind individual found the key and we retrieved it at Walmart’s Lost and Found. Fortunately, D&D had a Rhino Flex brand 15 foot sewer hose that really compresses nicely into the hose storage tube. To end the day, Our Creator provided a magnificent sunset to soak up.

The sunset, sky, mountains, and high elevation vegetation made for a perfect photo.
The sunset, sky, mountains, and high elevation vegetation made for a perfect photo.

On the 28th, we became more acquainted with breaking up camp and hitching up this little Geo Pro to our Highlander. While we consider ourselves seasoned RVers, when working with new equipment, not everything goes as planned. We shook our heads as we rolled out at noon!  In order to go to our destination of Missoula, we returned to Helena. Stomachs feeling hangry and the fuel tank nearing ½ full made for a timely pause for fuel, lunch, and coffee before hitting the road towards Missoula. Once our appetite was satisfied, hot coffee was tucked into the cup holders, and the gas tank topped off, Diane drove us on U.S. 12 West.

Looking good and looking little! Canyon Ferry Lake KOA
Looking good and looking little! Canyon Ferry Lake KOA
We're beginning our climb towards MacDonald Pass!
We’re beginning our climb towards MacDonald Pass!

We drove this route from I-90 to Helena on Monday so we were familiar with it. It follows the Little Bigfoot River and affords such beauty between the canyons, valleys, ranches, river, and BNSF railroad tracks. The autumn colors were probably 75% spent, yet there were swaths of golds and russets. The most remarkable aspect of the drive from Helena to where U.S. 12 intersects with Interstate 90 near Deer Lodge was MacDonald Pass. The average percent grade was 8% and a long eight mile stretch to the summit of the pass. Diane had the Highlander at 52 mph with 5200 rpm for a brief period, where the transmission shifted up and down from 4200 to 5200 rpm. After having first a Ford F-250 and then a F-350, both turbo diesel engines with the Nash, towing the Geo Pro with the Highlander was tested. With the Highlander, we can enjoy 26 miles per gallon without towing. We soon dropped to 10.5 miles per gallon the three days of towing the trailer on this trip. Thankfully we take regular gasoline rather than diesel.

In Missoula, we stayed at the Missoula KOA. It reminded us much of the KOA in Salt Lake City since we were within walking distance to stores and restaurants. Many KOA’s are located near major roads and railroad tracks. This one lived up to the rumble of trains. As they’d experienced colder overnight temperatures, we didn’t have a water hookup. We filled our fresh water tank back at the Canyon Ferry Lake KOA, so we were all set.

Itsy-Bitsy Trailer and Tow Vehicle, Missoula KOA, Missoula, Montana.
Itsy-Bitsy Trailer and Tow Vehicle, Missoula KOA, Missoula, Montana.

On the 29th, we were up and on our way to Pullman. This would be our longest day of driving. We had two ascents and descents, Lookout Pass on the Montana and Idaho border and Fourth of July Pass in Idaho. The grades were more manageable than U.S. 12 at MacDonald Pass. This was still a good test because now on the interstate, the traffic tends to be heavier, speeds are higher. As it turned out, we had heavy rain, resulting in standing water, and risk of hydroplaning in many spots. Steve drove the passes in order to get a feel for towing. He really gripped the steering wheel at times. We’d been keeping tabs on the weather forecast and knew that rain was forecasted. Even more importantly, was noting the upcoming temperature overnight lows, which could easily have snow on the passes instead of rain. Friday was our window of opportunity to get home without concern of snow.

We made it up Lookout Pass at the Montana and Idaho border.
We made it up Lookout Pass at the Montana and Idaho border.
We stopped at the historic Snake Pit Restaurant in Kingston, Idaho, for pie and coffee to go.
We stopped at the historic Snake Pit Restaurant in Kingston, Idaho, for pie and coffee to go.
The Snake Pit Restaurant, Kingston, Idaho.
The Snake Pit Restaurant, Kingston, Idaho.

With daylight hours diminishing this time of year and especially more evident at our latitude, we were relieved to gain an hour coming from Mountain Time to Pacific Time. Happily we can report that with very little effort, our new trailer at 16’4” exterior length fits readily on one half of the driveway at our townhouse. Because it’s not as wide as the Nash, we can easily pull the Highlander onto the other half of the driveway and into the garage.

Unhitched and it fits on the driveway!
Unhitched and it fits on the driveway!

The past five days have been a flurry of activity. The trailer interior has been thoroughly cleaned. To continue tackling the off-gassing odor, an air purifier ran for three days and we ran the furnace and fan. We’ve sifted through the many items from the Nash to attempt to reuse as much as we can. For what we need, we shop locally when we can and then order on-line those items that we cannot find.

On Monday Diane arranged for RV storage and Steve moved the trailer to its spot. The next few days we’ll season the outdoor griddle that came with the trailer. We’ll move the trailer back to the driveway early next week to get it loaded up and fresh water tank filled. Our goal is to head out to camp two or three days next week, weather permitting. It will be good to get even more acquainted with our little Geo Pro and appreciate a much smaller space.

Because there was much to commit to “paper” for this 12mph.com journal/blog post, we will delay sharing the name of our new little trailer until our next post. Hopefully it will be penned in just a few days.

“Happily Retired at the Speed of Sanity”

Take care everyone!

Diane & Steve