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

 

One Year Anniversary, Speed of Sanity: July 29, 2019

Time did it again! The seconds, minutes, hours, days, months zipped and zoomed past over the past 365 days! Our trip around the sun here on Earth also had us on the move around the country. “Tranquility”, our 2018 Nash 26N trailer by Northwood Manufacturing has not disappointed us. As Steve recently remarked, “I am amazed. You build a house and every week or each time we move to the  next location, we put the house through an earthquake and it survives quite well.” Steve refers to the oft times bumpy ride where we seemingly shake, rattle, and roll along rough roads or with gusty winds. Indeed it is quite remarkable that despite a few small issues, our abode has remained solid.

Our 2011 Ford F-250 diesel pick-up has been an absolute workhorse. We have climbed many mountain passes, which “Bessie” the truck tackles with confidence. This also is quite reassuring to us as the drivers pulling the trailer to have a turbo-diesel engine ready to “get ‘er done!”

We have reviewed the year from various angles and decided to put it into a list of statistics. An expense that we still need to calculate is the cost of our campground stays. We will update the list below when we have that figure.

Year One Statistics

  • 220 square feet of living space in the 2018 Nash 26N
  • 33 storage spaces in the trailer
  • 1 large storage space in the pickup bed (it’s a bit like a garage on wheels)
    • Bicycling gear, snowshoeing gear, hiking gear, tent camping gear, step ladder, 2 recycling camp chairs, solar panel, portable/foldable grill, car/trailer washing/detailing “stuff”, and miscellaneous 
  • 3 bicycles (1 tandem and 2 singles) on trailer hitch
  • 18,000 pounds, combined weight of truck, trailer, and contents.
  • 53′ combined length of truck, trailer, and bike rack.
  • 32,759 miles Bessie the Truck drove
  • 17,000 miles Tranquility the Trailer followed safely hitched onto Bessie
  • 15,759 miles additional truck miles driven to meet up with family and friends, make day trips to visit national or state parks, various cities, and a roundtrip truck trip from Tucson-Denver-Tucson in January.
  • 89 locations where we stayed including campgrounds, RV parks, parking lots, budget hotels, homes of family or friends
  • 94 degrees Fahrenheit, highest outdoor temperature, Denver, Colorado, 9/13/2018
  • 19 degrees Fahrenheit, lowest outdoor temperature, White Rock, New Mexico, 12/20/2018
  • 9,700 feet above sea level, highest campsite, Rio Grande National Forest, Colorado along National Forest Road 390 near Tucker’s Pond
  • 196 feet below sea level, lowest campsite, Furnace Creek Campground, Death Valley National Park, California
  • $2.439/gallon, lowest diesel price, Shell, Centennial, Colorado, 1/26/2019
  • $5.049/gallon, highest diesel price, Furnace Creek Gas Station, Furnace Creek, California (Death Valley National Park)
  • 2,721.009 gallons of diesel fuel have been consumed by Bessie the truck over 365 days
  • $8,533.04 USD has been spent on diesel fuel.
  • 12.04 is our average miles per gallon
  • 325+ family members or friends visited
  • 29 states in which we stayed or through which we traveled (some more than once)
  • 21 State Parks visited and/or in which we camped
  • 9 National Parks, Monuments, Preserves, Recreation Areas, Lakeshore, Seashore, Wildlife Refuge visited and/or camped (The government shut-down diverted our plans, so we switched to enjoying many state parks).
  • 22 National Forests through which we traveled or in which we camped
  • 6 truck service appointments (oil change, tire rotation, scheduled service)
  • 3 trailer service appointments (inspection, wheel bearing service)
  • 8 haircuts for Diane in 5 different states (Colorado, Oregon, Texas, Montana, Utah) this has been a supreme challenge for Diane after years with only a few stylists. Diane visits Aveda Institutes in Denver and Lakewood, Colorado and usually Ulta Salon’s elsewhere. One barber in Oregon when desperate!
  • 0 haircuts for Steve at a barber or salon. He’s been cutting his own for years! Diane is a bit envious, but keep those clippers away, buddy!
  • 32 laundromats, campground laundry facilities, family or friends laundry rooms
  • 8 public libraries in Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Texas, Washington
  • 1 University library: Washington State University, Pullman, Washington
  • 1 Research library: Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
Dinner out on Day 365 of Year One in Grand Junction, Colorado!
We conclude Year One with a drive on the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway, which took us over Grand Mesa, Colorado.

We Have Signed Up for Year Two!

The best news is that we love this lifestyle! In fact, we have signed up for Year Two because we are living life to the fullest in our little abode on wheels! The two room layout of our floorplan really fits our needs. Having a large attached awning creates a relaxing patio space.  If we have room on our campsite and especially if we are in a buggy environment, we setup our screened gazebo. Two zero-gravity chairs make sitting outside and reading books or from our Kindles very relaxing.

We Begin Year Two with a Stay at Ruedi Reservoir, White River National Forest, Colorado.

We have no desire to settle down in one place for the foreseeable future. Of course this type of living is possible for a long as our health remains with us.

The even better news is that despite being together nearly 24/7, we still like each other quite a bit. Yes, we don’t always agree, but we work through our differences. 

We Begin Year Two with Palisade Peaches from Palisade, Colorado!

For our second year, we anticipate visiting family and friends along our travels. Spending additional time in National Parks remains towards the top of our list. And, trying to lower our diesel fuel expenses needs to be a budget priority. We have applied for a short-stint as campground hosts for a month next summer. Time will tell how that transpires.

44 years after our 1975 backpacking trip to the Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colorado, we return for an evening hike.

Thank you for hanging with us as we keep you updated. Many of the updates actually take place on Instagram. You can follow us there as @speedofsanity.

Attempting to Live “Life at the Speed of Sanity!”

Diane & Steve