Our final day at work was the last working day in August. It was bittersweet, we worked with a lot of people we really liked and the work could really be interesting. Diane wasn't sure how much longer her health would let her work and with our relationship it would drive us both crazy if only Bill was working. As I write this in 2006, we do not regret quitting work.
Once we got our motorhome back from Eric's RV we made a last attempt to get the dash air conditioning fixed with a local repair shop, but the wrong part was sent. We gave up for now on the dash air and packed to head to the rallies in Kansas. Pete and Mary headed east after Labor Day, they were going to Indianapolis and then to New England, so we would not be meeting up with them.
We had originally set things up to take three weeks off work, in case we didn't follow through and quit. Since we did quit working we decided this trip would be two months so we hired a house sitter and took off on September 12th, staying the night at the Wal-Mart in Chehalis, WA. It was a hot day when we packed the motorhome.
On the 13th we were up early to visit IPD in Portland, OR. Wayne of IPD installed the last prototype of their front sway bar for the Workhorse W-22 and was glad we came in since it needed one small change. The install and sway bar were free, Wayne was glad to have us come by to get it and was willing to do the install before noon on a Saturday so he would play golf. Now he and his company could send units to dealers and start making money.
On I-5 heading south to Portland we noticed that the motorhome no longer felt like it was being dragged into a semi truck when we were passed, we just felt a looseness in the steering. Once the front sway bar was installed the looseness went away. All the suspension changes had made a real difference and they made the motorhome ride much nicer. The rear end was also raised a few inches since the changes made the chassis sit up better in the back. It is hard to see in pictures, but the backend is a bit higher than the pictures from when we got the tow-bar installed in February. These pictures were from Eastern Oregon. In the second picture you can see the RV Underskirt Bill installed to prevent rock damage to the car.
From Portland we drove I-84 to Hermiston, OR and checked into a campground where we could flush the fresh water system. While the motorhome had sat in Sequim it developed mold in the water line going to the ice maker. We had to drain the whole fresh water tank, put a dilute bleach solution in it all, including the ice maker line, and leave it sit for a few hours. Since Mara had a litter box and good water we left the air conditioning running and revisited the area around Hermiston, it was still quite hot. We had lived across the Columbia River in Richland, WA for years so we were both familiar with the area, but it wasn't a very exciting place to be. After having dinner we came back, flushed the bleach solution as well as we could and re-filled the water tank. It took two days of running the ice maker to get rid of the bleach smell in the ice cubes.
The next day, the 14th, we drove over the passes in Eastern Oregon in 100 degree heat and the motorhome handled it fine. We landed at a campground just inside Idaho, in Fruitland with a huge campsite:
We realized we did not have very good maps and such so we decided we could either get them in Boise, ID or Ogden, UT. We opted for Ogden and took our time going to Declo, ID via the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway. Here is the Snake River:
Here are some shots of some of the Thousand Springs:
At the campground in Declo the first campsite had a dead electric box so we moved. When we stayed at the same place in 2004 we also had problems with our campsite, we will probably avoid the place again.
The next day we drove quickly to Brigham City, UT, setup before noon and drove down to Ogden to get maps and such at both AAA and the Visitors bureau. We now had maps of the next few states. We also bought local fruit and toured around, Brigham City is more interesting than we expected. When we came back we found our campsite had a nice view of the mountains:
We were now feeling like we were running late on our trip to Kansas so we zoomed across Utah, here is a picture of the Devil's Slide on the rise into Wyoming on I-80:
The weather had cooled a lot and we were in wind when we stopped for lunch at Fort Bridger, WY. We looked back and realized storms were coming so we made an attempt to outrun them and gave up about Rawlins where we stopped for the night to camp. Just as Bill was finishing the outside setup the rain hit, we didn't move until morning. We checked the weather forecast and it was not going to get much better for a couple days. Rawlins didn't have much so we moved to Cheyenne the next day and stayed for two nights. We were able to do some shopping and make phone calls from Cheyenne, our phone was going to roaming when we got to Nebraska and Kansas since we had a west coast plan. (We changed our cell phone to national calling in the spring of 2003).
The storm was over so we started heading east again and realized we did not have to be in such a hurry. At the campground in Cheyenne we were told to go to the big "camping store" in Nebraska. The camping store was Cabella's, which is a big sporting goods store and didn't have much camping equipment. One person had a t-shirt that said, "go out and commune with nature, then marinade it." This fit the philosophy of the store and we decided to think of Cabella's as "REI for carnivores". We did have lunch at their lunch counter, but nothing too interesting. On we went further into Nebraska and it was flat and unexciting. We decided to camp at a small campground in Roscoe, it turned out to be a converted pasture with 12 large full 50AMP hookups:
The campground was not very busy and was about one block from a very busy train track. The owner took our money and gave us some nice tomatoes from her garden. It was still a noisy night and the motorhome shook from the close trains. We use this campground as our benchmark of how loud trains can be.
Of course now that our cell phone was roaming we got a voice mail. We drove into town to use a calling card and found the message was from our next door neighbor so we called and found out they were getting their driveway resealed and if we did too we got a discount. Since we had marks from the motorhome skid wheels going up and down the driveway I agreed and we would pay them back when we got home.
We figured out we were only a two day trip from our destination and had five days before we needed to be there so we landed at Grand Island for two nights. We drove into Grand Island to buy some groceries and found that the downtown was dying, but the big box stores on the highway were doing well.
We drove back west on I-80 to see the Platte River Museum that spans the freeway at Kearney. They had metal bison sculptures by the road into the museum:
We were disappointed with the museum. You paid, put headsets on and went through a set of dioramas and then you were done. Here is a view of I-80 from the museum window, which is much like it looked for miles and miles:
Here is how the museum looks going over I-80:
Since this museum hadn't impressed us we decided to see the Stuhr Museum in Grand Island, as was recommended by the campground manager. We wished we hadn't wasted the time going to Kearney and spent the entire day here. We ran out of time. They had displays, nice gardens, a recreated railroad town with docents playing old roles, native earth lodges and artifacts, the place was really nice. Click on their website for more, but here are a few pictures we took. This is the main museum and a shot of the grounds:
Here are pictures around the railroad town:
The Pawnee tee-pee and earth lodge:
On the 23rd we drove down to Salina, KS to hang out for our rally two days later.
12th: Woodinville, WA (home) to Chehalis Wal-Mart; 104 miles
13th: to Portland, OR for the morning and then on to Hermiston, OR: 270 miles (long day)
14th: to Fruitland, ID: 200 miles
15th: to Declo, ID: 241 miles
16th to Brigham City, UT in morning and lots of time in the car: 122 miles
17th: to Rawlins, WY: 307 miles
18th: to Cheyenne, WY: 153 miles
20th: to Roscoe, NE: 186 miles
21st: to Grand Island, NE: 199 miles
23rd: to Salina, KS: 171 miles
Total miles to Kansas: 1953 and we were not in Washington anymore.
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