Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Day 4 ND and Montana

Day 4 has us getting up as usual, very early.  Since we go to bed early, we get up early.  It is taking forever for it to get dark now and the sun seems to come up earlier.  We are normally on east coast time and are having difficulty adjusting to the time difference.

I will get up and put on the kettle for the coffee and heat up water on the stove for face washing.  Unless we are going to be using the shower, we rarely turn on the water heater.  As I am making the coffee, Sharon is dismantling the beds and storing all the bedding materials.  We use twin sized mattress pads, fitted sheets and quilts.   All that along with our pillows is stored under the jackknife sofas mostly on the curb side.  My gigantic pillow goes on the street side.

Once the house is straightened up, we sit and enjoy our coffee and clean faces.  Then Sharon will start breakfast.  Cooking in Van Haulin is a trip.  You can stand in one place and simply rotate to reach whatever you need while in the kitchen.  The stove, sink, cabinets, refrigerator and microwave are all right there.  We've taken to making breakfast bowls.  Normally, Sharon will not eat eggs.  But, she has been eating these breakfast bowls consisting of scrambled eggs, sausage and shredded cheese.  Yummy!  Once breakfast is done and everything cleaned and stowed away we are ready to go.  The really nice thing about the B Van concept is that you don't have to go outside to put away a bunch of stuff if you are dry camping.  Maybe you might have to go out and retrieve a Lego leveling block or two.  Just jump in the drivers seat and away you go.

In the park at the North Unit is a 16 mile drive from the main road.  9 miles from the campground entrance.  This is an out and back road that takes you on a scenic drive to a turn around at the end of the road.  Beautiful vistas and scenery abound.  We are first out on the road and enjoy the solitude.  I hate to be traveling on a road like this and have somebody right behind me wanting to go faster.  I will usually pull over and let them pass, usually with a healthy dose of the evil eye.  This morning, there are no other drivers on the road.  We take our time and stop often to take pictures.

Once we reach the end, we take our time there and then start to mosey on back.  We forgot to take a picture of Van Haulin in the campground so we go back and park in our spot again.  Photos are taken and we head for the main road and turn south.  It's a pretty far piece to the South Unit of the park.  You actually have to go down to I94 and turn west for a few miles.  There is a visitor center there at a rest area.  To reach the actual park is even further down I94.  We head to the entrance to the park and show our geezer pass.  This gets us free entrance to the park.  They are doing road construction to the road that leads to the 35 mile loop road in this section of the park.

It takes awhile to get through as there is only one lane and they are even using that in between the direction changes to load dirt haulers.  There are quite a few prairie dog towns and they are entertaining.  The prairie dogs are nervous little things and exhibit some strange behaviors.  They will sit or stand on their mounds looking for danger.  The mounds are everywhere and can be dangerous to livestock.  A cow stepping into one of these holes could easily break a leg.

We finally reach the loop road and begin a counter clockwise loop.  Due to the large number of cars waiting to get through, there is quite a line ahead of us and behind us.  Not good.  My face hurts from all the scowling.  This part of the park is not as picturesque and we grow tired and bored.  We are also annoyed by all the other cars who always seem to want to go faster.  What's the rush?  We reach a turnout and decide to head back. This means another long wait at the construction site for the pilot car.  I get out and stretch my legs and go over to talk to the flagman.  He is a young fellow from Jamaica and is interesting to talk to.  While there, I spot an animal running towards a prairie dog town.  I point it out and ask him if he sees it.  Looks big like a wolf but turns out to be a coyote.  They grow them big out here.  It's too far away for a picture.

Finally, the pilot car arrives and we head out.  We take I94 west into Montana to a small town called Glendive where we pick up 200S and head for Circle, MT.  From there we take 13 north to Wolf Point where we rejoin Hwy 2 and point Van Haulin west once again.


As the day wears on, we find ourselves looking for a place to stop.  We use the Allstays app and other paper maps to navigate and locate services.  I gave up on both of my GPS devices earlier in the day.  The Nexus 7 tablet using a GPS app with off line maps worked great but the charger couldn't keep up and the battery would run down.  According to my research the tablet will get hot running the GPS app all the time and then the battery won't charge even if it is plugged in.  The Garmin 2595 I brought will not run off the USB cord and dies right away.  I looked at bringing the cord for it but decided against it.  This is the type cord that plugs into the 12vdc outlet on the console.  So, we are back to 20th century technology.  Oh well, gives Sharon something to do.

Anyway, we see a small town called Saco, MT and there are several options there to spend the night.  There is a campground down on the river and also an RV park.  Both of these are just west of Saco on Hwy 234.  Not really a highway, but a road.  We decide to go down to check out the campground at the reservoir but the road looks really rough.  We turn around and go to the RV park which is called Sleeping Buffalo Resort.  There is a campground, restaurant, small store and an indoor hot springs.  They have showers, full hookups and laundry.  Our site cost us $36.  More than we typically want to spend, me being a cheap SOB, but our options are limited and we are tired from the drive.  It was hot this afternoon and had to turn on the a/c.  Thankfully, the freon has not all leaked out and the inside of the van is comfortable.

While checking in, a fellow was local regaling us with stories about the area's mosquitoes.  He said they were rated as having the worst mosquitoes of anyplace in the USA.  I am from south Louisiana and scoff silently at this notion.  Who could have more mosquitoes than New Orleans?  So, we check in, park the van and hookup the electricity.  We turn on the a/c and get the van nice and chilled.  The camp store sells beer and we buy a box.  We have been reduced to drinking beer from cans as the bottles take up too much room in the refrigerator.  What have we come to?  How much further will we go before hitting rock bottom?  First paper maps and now canned beer?  Shower gear is removed from storage and we head back into the building and find the showers in the pool changing area.  Feeling refreshed, we relax in our a/c cooled van and hoist a couple of cold ones and decide what to do for dinner.  Soon, we are ready for bed.  Sun and all.  By drawing all the blinds, and putting up the shades for the from area and sliding door we can get it pretty dark in there but there is always some light that comes in.  We don't care, soon we are fast asleep.

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