Gratitude on the Road

On Monday, November 18, 2019, we had a  unique overnight drycamping experience complete with a memorable story!

OUR STAY: Jorgensen Ford’s side lot, Richfield, Utah. No site #, no hookups, but amazing kindness and hospitality! 

Overnight Drycamping in Jorgensen Ford’s lot, Richfield, Utah

WHY JORGENSEN FORD? At 9:30am on November 18th under mostly sunny skies and mild temperatures, we were on I-70 eastbound just a few miles east of its junction with I-15 and beginning an ascent into the Tushar Mountain Range in Utah. Our 2011 Ford F-250 6.7l Turbo-Diesel truck’s engine suddenly put on a very impressive sound show and then majorly failed! Thankfully, Steve was able to pull us to the shoulder with both truck and our 2018 Nash 26N trailer clearly off the road only 120 feet past a guard rail. The engine was DONE. Kaput! 

It was a lonely looking stretch of highway!
The red marker is Beaver, Utah where we began.
The red marker is where we began in Beaver, Utah. The 31 min point is where the truck died.
Last photo as we departed the KOA Journey campground in Beaver, Utah.

From that point onward, we experienced several other amazing “gratitudes” (in bold print below):

1) Strong cellphone service. As soon as Steve had the truck and trailer pulled onto the shoulder, I looked down at my phone. Frequently in more remote areas or when entering a mountainous area, cell service is challenged or non-existent. Here we had one of the strongest signals!

2) Good Sam Roadside Assistance. Thankfully we have roadside assistance insurance through Good Sam Roadside Assistance for RVers. They were amazing for us! Steve called and within no time, was transferred to the right person to get us the assitance we needed. They called back to let us know who was on their way. Then Steve received updates on his phone.

Steve received updates from Good Sam’s Roadside Assistance as to which tow company to anticipate and its progress in traveling to rescue us.

3) Richard of Dearden Motor Company, arrived 45 minutes later. First he retrieved Bessie the Truck by tilting the flatbed of his truck, placing Bessie in neutral, and with chains and a special hoist, rolled her onto the flatbed. He leveled the flatbed. Next he extended a receiving hitch, changed out the existing ball to accommodate Tranquility the Trailer. The hitch was leveled to distribute the trailer’s weight. Then off Richard took us over the pass in the Tushar Mountain Range to Richfield, Utah, 35 miles east on I-70.

 

Loading Bessie
Tranquility is hitched and ready to be towed!
Off to Richfield, thanks to Richard of Dearden Motor Company.

4) Another gratitude was that there was a Ford dealer within 35 miles in Richfield, Utah. It’s not necessarily guaranteed by Good Sam Roadside Assistance as to where a stranded vehicle will be towed. Before Richard arrived, we did a quick Google search to find out where Ford dealers may be located in these more remote parts of Utah (again, thanks to strong cell service). Bingo! We noted one on the other side of the Tushar Range! PLEASE….we prayed, may this be where we’d be towed. When we asked Richard where we were going, he said, “Jorgensen Ford over in Richfield.” What a gratitude that this was exactly where Richard was taking us!

Richard was a Godsend as he safely transported Bessie, Tranquility, and us!!

5) We called ahead to let the service department know that we were being towed to their location. They instructed Richard to drop the trailer in the side lot and then bring the truck to the service area.  Dave & Val of Jorgensen Ford’s service department were able to work Bessie into the service schedule within two hours of our arrival.  We actually anticipated that Bessie wouldn’t be seen until the next day. We went next door for lunch awaiting a report. Over lunch we considered what might be our options, including the very real potential of having to replace Bessie if the damage was too extensive.  Unfortunately, the diagnostic report did conclude that the engine was damaged extensively, a dropped valve likely the culprit resulting in no compression in two of the cylinders. Gulp!

6) We knew that it was time to sit down with Camron (the General Manager) and Chip (Sales Associate) to explore options.

Option 1: Replace the engine for $20,000, which could potentially take several weeks or more. This option also meant that we had a trailer in the back lot with no way of getting anywhere. The KOA Campground in Richfield isn’t open year-round. We could pay to have someone transport the trailer, but to where? We would have to rent a car, possibly stay in a hotel if it would be necessary to store the trailer. We had 10 appointments scheduled for our two-week Denver area visit beginning on November 21, some of these appointments could not be rescheduled until January or beyond.

Option 2: Look for another used Ford F-250 6.7l Powerstroke Turbo-Diesel  truck that could accommodate towing our trailer. As they looked at their used inventory, they noted a red truck, a white truck, and then a shadow-black 2016 Ford F-350 6.7l Powerstroke Turbo-diesel with 33K miles that came in on a trade the day before. Hmmm….recently we had remarked about the amount of mileage added to Bessie just since March 2018. It was highly likely that within 2-3 years we’d need to trade it for our next truck. Of course, the 2016 came with some sticker shock, given that for obvious reasons, it was more than the $20,000 to replace Bessie’s engine.

6) Off we went for a test-drive on the interstate and around Richfield. With just 33K miles, it’s pretty much like new. Dave, the Service Manager, ran a report on the truck. It had a clean title, had been in for regular maintenance since its purchase from them, and actually considered gently used. Another amazing gratitude is that the 2016’s exterior color and truck bed dimensions were exactly those of our 2011. Why is this important? Our custom ordered Snugtop topper on Bessie’s truck bed would match and fit the 2016!

7) From our vantage point in Tranquility the Trailer that evening, one by one, the employees of Joregenson’s went home while we were comfortably situated in their back lot.  We sat over dinner trying to absorb what took place the prior 10 hours, from leavin)g the KOA Campground in Beaver, Utah, to staying in a Ford Dealer’s parking lot without a tow vehicle! We had very grateful hearts that first and foremost, we were safe.

8) The next day by mid-afternoon, with financing approved, topper moved, trailer hitched, off we rolled 30 hours after the sound show in our shadow black 2016 Ford F-350 6.7l Powerstroke Turbo Diesel!  

Indeed, we have hearts filled with immense gratitude and thank our Great Protector for watching over us. If you ever need to have a Ford product serviced while traveling through Utah, please reach out to Dave, Chip, or Camaron at Jorgensen Ford in Richfield. Kudos as well to Good Sam Roadside Assistance for getting us the help we needed and extraordinarily quick. And, Richard of Dearden Motor Company did an fantastic job of getting us safely to Jorgensen Ford! To our fellow RVers, be safe out there!

“Living Life and Seeing America at the Speed of Sanity”

Diane & Steve

The Itch-Inducing Tick Hike

On June 10, 2019 we went for a hike in the Lolo National Forest in Montana. We were interested in putting our feet “in the single-track tread where the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the Nez Perce Indians put theirs.”  (USDA Forest Service, Lolo National Historic Trail, retrieved from https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/lolo/learning/history-culture/?cid=fsm9_021409&width=full September 30, 2019.)

The Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail and the Nez Perce Nee-Me-Poo National Historic Trail in Lolo National Forest, Montana

We picked a section of the trail near where we were staying, at the Square Dance Center and Campground west of Lolo, Montana. (Fortunately for us, they accept non-dancers at the campground. When Diane and I are ready to learn square dancing, we will definitely head back to the Center.)

We are at the trail head getting ready for our hike on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

The Lewis and Clark expedition traveled this trail in September, 1805. We were walking the trail in June.

Steve leads the way on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

Unbeknownest to us, May and June are tick season months in the forests of Montana and Idaho! We were aware of ticks, and knew to check for them when hiking. However, …

About 30 minutes into the hike Diane noticed a tick on her pants. We stopped to brush it off and then kept walking. At our next pause we noticed a few more on each other.

A tick on Steve’s shirt!

Heedless of the danger we pushed on. Our next stop was at an overlook that we barely noticed for our attention was on the ticks appearing fast and furious. As quickly as we could pick them off our clothes, more would appear. We turned around and hightailed it back to the trail head. During the return we stopped frequently to check for ticks and remove any we found. 

View from Lewis & Clark Trail at turn around point

Do you know how ticks land on you, or any animal that happens to pass by? They “quest.” Which means they crawl up vegetation, usually grass, and wait for a host to pass them. They hold on to the grass with the rear six legs and extend the front two legs waiting, or “questing.” Using a variety of techniques, they react to a potential host and grab on as the host brushes past. Once on the host the tick will start to climb up. All of my research indicates that the ticks do not drop from trees or other higher vegetation, but we were finding ticks on our backpacks, on our hats, everywhere! It was a windy day, so maybe the ticks were blown off their grassy ambush places and finding us. It is a bit creepy to think of all those ticks attaching at calf level and then scampering all the way to your head!

Reaching the trailhead we stopped in the middle of the parking area, which we had completely to ourselves, did one more check to remove our unwelcome hitchhikers. Diane removed her hat, only to find one crawling around the inside!

A tick inside Diane’s hat!

When we arrived back at our trailer we stripped outside except for bare necessities and left most of our clothes in a pile. Then another thorough inspection and into the shower. After our showers, we also filled a plastic tub with water, dumped all of our clothes into the tub, and left it outside our trailer overnight.

Despite the thorough inspections and the care in removing the ticks, at the end of the showers we discovered drowning ticks on the floor of the shower. Also, the next morning, the tub of water with our clothes revealed even more ticks floating on the surface!

The good news is none of the ticks had a chance to sink their teeth into us. (Do ticks have teeth? I read where they use their ‘mouth parts’ to bore a hole and then insert a tube to suck the blood!) Our checking and rechecking paid off. However, our skin still crawls whenever we think of this hike!

What tick story do you have?

-Steve

Year One Campground and Lodging Expense Summary

I promised in my early August blog post that the calculations would be forthcoming for the campground and lodging expenses for our first year as full-time RVers. Admittedly some of the information was entered into Google Calendar entries for each stay, but much of the information was lacking. I’ve spent roughly 20 hours gathering and entering data in the fields. Hopefully I’ve learned a lesson to keep the information current so I don’t have to hunt down credit card statements, go through a stack of papers (nearly all have now been purged since I nabbed the info needed), or search on Accuweather for the temp data and Google for the elevations.

I created a Google spreadsheet to track data in the following fields:

  • Name of Campground or Lodging
  • Address
  • Site #
  • Hookups (Electric, Water, Sewer)
  • Number of Nights Stayed
  • Fee Per Night
  • Total Cost of Stay
  • Elevation (over 9,500’ is where our frig/freezer won’t work with L.P. Gas)
  • Day/Night Temps (forecasted by Accuweather on day of check-in)
  • Notes

We now have all of this at our fingertips. Google Drive is even accessible from our phones. Now it’s easy to just review the spreadsheet when planning future stays. In the notes section, I have included some of the pros or cons of a stay, who we visited, what activities we enjoyed, etc.

Here is an example of a recent stay! The West Yellowstone KOA was just 10 minutes to Yellowstone National Park. The KOA had full-hookups and beautiful views!

Year-One Totals for Campground & Lodging Expenses

The grand total for Year One Campground & Lodging (includes seven budget hotel stays with truck-trailer combo in their parking lot) was $8,723.18. Our average nightly stay was $31.15, or $726.93 per month. In 95% of our campsites we’ve had electric, water, and sewer hookups or along with just an electric hookup there’s access to water fill stations and dump stations. We’ve paid roughly $25 during the year in dump station or fresh water fill station fees. Two gas stations provided a dump station for free. When we don’t have direct hookups for water or sewer, most city, county, state, and national park campgrounds have free water and dump stations. 

Most importantly, we SO appreciate the family members and friends who extended their hospitality whether enjoying their guest rooms or in two cases, staying in their homes during their absence. We were the recipients of 74 nights thanks to your generosity!!

Numerous times these stays included a space in the driveway or nearby parking for the trailer. In one instance, our trailer went to storage for nearly a month.

Future Data Capturing

If you think of a category that we could add to our data capturing, which may picque your interest, please provide your suggestion.

We are currently in the state of Washington enjoying areas for the first time! May Autumn continue gracing you with nature’s beauty!

Living Life at the Speed of Sanity with Steve by my side!

Diane