Caldwell, ID to La Grande, OR

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Home-again for the RV.
I’ve been planning to visit the factory that built my coach since late spring, but the temperatures in eastern Oregon were over 100* most of the summer so I stayed away. Now that fall has arrived and temps are in the 70’s it’s time for a visit.

We arrived in La Grande on a Sunday morning and spent the day riding on the Mount Emily Recreation area. What a wonderful place! I rode Red Apple and MERA loop. About 9 miles of sweet single-track riding. There looks to be plenty of riding on the mountain to keep a rider busy for a month or so. The trails were in great shape too. The single track is still single and there is ample top-soil, very few rocks or roots. Perfect for me!

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Monday morning at about 05:30 workers began arriving at the factory. I know this because we camped in the employee parking lot Sunday night. Around 7:30 I saw Todd, the service person I’ve been talking to for a few months now, at the RV parked in the lot next to us. I introduced myself and he took a look at the reasons I brought the coach to the factory.

A little back-story here before we go on. I’ve been trying to get the dealership Ketelsen Campers in Wheat Ridge CO to fix some warranty issues. Their response has always been “bring it in and leave it for a couple months and we’ll get to it”. That does not work for me since I’m using it all this year. Ketelsen is a Camping World owned company and they have taken on all the worst qualities of their parent. They have also taken to blaming manufacturers for the delays they create. I’m guessing it’s to keep RV buyers from actually getting any warranty work through the dealer. Like cable companies and banks – make it too hard to get anything done and people give up and go away.

Now let us contrast that with the OUTSTANDING service I got from the manufacturer! Todd has always been on top of the situation. When I have questions Todd gets me answers. When I asked him if I could bring the coach by and have him look at my concerns he said yes indeed (and he recommended the Mt Emily riding area – sweet!). The day I arrived it just happened that a customer had canceled their service visit so I got their spot in the schedule. Man! Sometimes I am so lucky it freaks me out a bit!

I gave Todd the coach in the morning and signed up for the factory tour at 10. Kevin took a half-dozen of us on a walking tour of the factory floor and we got to see how the RV’s are built. Very impressive! I have had a few campers and trailers and I figured out how they were built by working on them. This is the first time I’ve seen how they are built from the beginning and Outdoors RV’s are very well made. A lot of the info is in the brochure and on their website so I won’t go over that information here ( ttp://outdoorsrvmfg.com/) .

It was impressive to see how the components like frame, floor, walls and roof are attached to each other and to have Kevin tell us why certain parts are made from different building materials so they can flex without separating (remember it’s a house undergoing an earthquake each time it gets moved). That days tour was about 3 hours because of all the questions we had for Kevin. The tour ended about 1 pm and my coach came out of the shop at about 2:30. Not bad timing.

The afternoon and evening were spend getting back to Caldwell so I could go to some meetings on Tuesday in Boise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Picabo to Caldwell, ID

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We had a nice down-wind run southwest to Mountain Home then northwest to Caldwell. It is fall on the plains of Idaho and the grass has all gone dormant coloring the landscape tan with spots of sagebrush-green. We are hanging out at David’s dad’s house while we get some chores done in town. After several months in rural america Caldwell seems very busy with people rushing every-which-way!

 

 

 

 

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Clark Canyon to Silver Creek Campground

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Near Picabo ID
The morning started out overcast and cold. The clouds dropped some fresh snow on the mountains near our camp while the wind whipped up some whitecaps on the reservoir. The drive south into Idaho was scenic with leaves changing colors, and mountains on both sides of the interstate. Once out on the plains of Idaho we hung a right and followed the foot of the mountains south and west past farms, the Idaho National Lab, and Craters of the Moon. We stopped for the night at an Idaho Fish & Wildlife camp spot/ river access point at the end of a mile or so of wickedly washboarded roads.

Lewis and Clark Caverns to Clark Canyon Reservoir

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Near Dillon MT and like everything in these parts named for either Lewis or Clark or both. The Bureau of Reclamation built a dam and a campground (a free one at that!) so we stopped for the night and camped near the water. I let the boiz out and they got to have a little romp around camp before the wind kicked up and started rocking the coach.

Near the campground, and likely at the bottom of the lake, is where Sacajawea was reunited with her birth-tribe on the outbound leg of the Corps of Discovery trip.

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The north wind is cold and reminds me that winter is on its way. The trees are turning yellow and it won’t be long before the white stuff drifts down from the sky.

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I liked the color-contrast

 

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Clark Canyon Reservoir

 

 

 

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Tongue River to Lewis and Clark Caverns

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The caverns Lewis and Clark passed by but didn’t find is too long a name for a State Park so there we have it.

The trip from Tongue River to L & C took all day, some of it into a steady head-wind but was otherwise uneventful. The boiz and I caravaned with Jim and David and their doggies. Jim and David caught up with us near Springtime MT then we headed west to the mountains. Once we got off the interstate at Three Forks the two-lane highway wound through some very picturesque valleys along the Jefferson River. The campground at the park is a bit small and tightly wound, but it feels open enough. We though it would be mostly empty two weeks after Labor Day, but we got the last two open spots with power. If we had arrived after 4 the place would have been plumb-full.

Next day we drove the rather steep and narrow road to the cavern’s gift shop and entrance station. The tour we opted for was 2 hours long and had about 600 stairs. $12 got us a front row seat on the walking tour the caverns. We also had to chip in 2 miles of walking, climbing, and stooping.

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Jim, David, Mike

After the tour I took the mountain bike for an hour-long climb up a nearby trail. It took 15 minutes to get back to camp. Silly gravity.

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Camp-Host Wrap Up

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Clear skies
A strong northern storm pushed all the smoky air out of the area and for the first time in weeks the sky is smoke-free and clear as a crystal. All the colors are more vibrant. The air has a sweet arctic smell. Mmmm

Later that week
The clear skies were short lived. When the wind returned from the west it blew the smoke back in and the temperatures climbed back into the high 80’s

Wrapping it up!
We’ve been here for almost 5 weeks now and the first week of September marks the end of the season at Tongue River State Park. Next week we are back on the road heading for Boise ID. Our route will be back west across Montana on I-90, which will make the number of times we’ve driven that route three. Planning to stop at some of the places we skipped the first two times.

Bon Voyage
Raymond and Judy-Rae had us over for cake on our last night at Tongue River. Jim, David, and I had a great time volunteering at the Park and working with Raymond and Judy-Rae!

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Jim, Raymond, David, Judy-Rae, Mike

The boiz have not been in their travel-crates for 5 weeks so it will be interesting getting them back into travel-mode. They have been enjoying our month of sitting still and have marked out the nearby field as their territory. I underestimated how important it is for them to have a territory they can mark out and explore each day.

Pro-tip: don’t take outdoor cats on a road-trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Week 3 at the lake

The weather has had a few switcheroos this week

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We had a night of rain and the next morning the lake was foggy with low clouds

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The fire in Glacier Nation Park has all but blocked out the sun for a few days now

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Some mornings (if you don’t over-think-it) the breeze, mixed with the smokey grey sky, and the calls of the laughing gulls makes it seem as though we are at the ocean