Freedom and Liberty

Freedom and Liberty
I travel in Freedom but sleep in the security of Liberty (not only on the road, but in this amazing country of ours)

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Walmart RV Resort and a Nice Restful Lake

This post will be for three locations:
1st: Walmart Parking Lot; Laurel, Montana (elev. 3,300 feet)

2nd: Walmart Parking Lot; Sidney, Nebraska (elev. 4,250 feet)

3rd and current: Hunters Cove COE Campground on Harlan County Lake; Republican City, Nebraska (elev. 2,000 feet)

all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 cell phone

Thru Stops 14, 15 and 16
Well, I've fallen behind on posting to the blog. One reason is a good reason in that I was camped in Walmart parking lots for two nights in a row. I could have gotten online and made a post but I didn't. The second reason is that once I got to a real campground, I was just too danged tired to cull through the 100 or so pictures. But, since moving day is tomorrow, I need to make a post to get caught up.

This post will have more pictures than usual (3 days worth). Most are travel pictures used to show the different landscape from Idaho thru Montana and Wyoming to Nebraska.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was looking forward to over-nighting in a Walmart parking lot. It was something I've never done in all of my RV travels. It's not something I consciously avoided doing, it just never came up. But, on this trip, it all came together. First, I didn't have any campgrounds for a thousand mile or so that I wanted to stop and explore the area. Second, the weather was great with the temperature dropping into the low 60's at night. Third, I was in the mood for some "long-haul thinking driving" (two-500 mile driving days, back to back).

I'm sure a lot of people are wondering what I thought of the Walmart RV Resorts. I thought they were great. I got to the first one after dark because I was delayed by a couple of hours when I was leaving Idaho due to a wreck on the highway. Sitting in traffic for two hours isn't fun, but since everything happens for a reason, there must have been a reason for delaying everything by those two hours. The delay meant arriving an hour after sundown, but that was nice. The temperature had already dropped below 70 degrees and there was a cool breeze blowing. About six other RV's were already parked so I found a nice open spot that looked kind of level and stopped. Although I was sure it was OK to park for the night, I still went in and asked for permission. The guy said "sure, not a problem just park out of the way of any route our delivery trucks will take". I told him I was parked on some stripped out parking spaces and he said that would be fine. I walked around the almost empty store and picked up a few things. After visiting with the cashier for a few minutes I walked back across the parking lot to Liberty, crawled into bed and went to sleep. I slept good and got up early to get a shower so I could hit the road since I was looking at another 500+ mile drive. Then I realized what I didn't like about over-nighting at Walmart,,,, no electricity means no coffee.

Idaho,, the four lane between the casino and Coeur d'Alene.

A view of the lake and mountains in the distance

Since the casino was electric-only. I needed to find a place to empty Liberty's tanks and take on some fresh water before the long hauls. Luckily, I found this excellent 4-bay dump station in Coeur d'Alene and it was only a few miles out of my way. It is a free dump station but has a box for donations. I started to drop a five dollar bill in the box but remembered the extra high parking price I paid to park in the city parking lot at the boat tour. So, I pocketed the fiver and called it even. 

More Idaho landscape. It is pretty country.

The trees were nice while they lasted.

A bare slope that stood out like a sore thumb. I assume there must have been bad soil to keep things from growing on the slope, but I'm not sure and there wasn't anyone to ask.

I sometimes take for granted what I'm doing. I'm usually reminded of it at rest areas when I'm walking back to Freedom and Liberty. I stopped and took it all in and snapped a picture. 

That's the Clark Fork River. We criss-crossed paths several times.

Another typical view of Idaho and western Montana

The trees are getting more scarce.

Another bare slope. It was strange one side of the river was bare sloped and the other fully wooded.

I crossed the Continental Divide on I-90 at Lookout Pass near Butte, Montana. Somehow it felt nice being on the eastern side. It was a strange feeling.

What goes up must go down. Going up the passes, Freedom would just drop into lower gear and climb the grades. If it was a steep up hill grade she would usually drop into 3rd gear and steadily climb at about 40 to 45 mph. Going down, she would again drop into 3rd gear. If the downgrade was long, I would have to use the brakes just to get her speed down some before letting the engine brake do its job. Freedom did great, of course, Liberty just followed.

You get a long view when you top out over some of the hills.

A nice partially rainbow came out to keep me company. I got lucky and took the picture with it coming down on the Rest Area sign.

This is one of my top five pictures for this leg of the trip. Even in real life, it looked fake. The light was playing on the clouds with the ones in the middle being lighted up big time while the adjacent ones were dark. I'm glad this picture turned out.

Later one, the other end of the rainbow poked through the dark clouds.

This picture was for two reasons. One the bright white shining through the opening in the dark clouds. Second, Freedom and Liberty's shadow. I'm usually off the road by 3:00 in the afternoon so I don't see their shadow. I was still about 2 hours away from the first Walmart.

The first Walmart. Nice spot, great weather. The Walmart was super clean and it felt good just walking around inside after such a long drive. OK, ya'll can call me crazy now.
I was able to pull into a McDonald's after leaving Walmart to get some coffee and a sausage biscuit to eat on the road. The coffee was OK but still not mine. I only ate half of the sausage biscuit. I never can remember to tell them to make the sausage 'well-done'. Oh well. Another 500+miles and another Walmart. This one was smaller and filled with 18-wheelers. I found a level spot and stopped. Again, I went in and asked permission to spend the night. The lady I asked said it was OK but not to park by the Garden Center since they were doing a remodel and the workers would need the room. Of course, that is exactly where I was parked, so I moved Liberty. After parking, for the second time, I walked up the street to get something to eat. When I got back to Liberty, I didn't like the slope of the parking spot so I moved her to another location and it worked out just fine. Had that spot not worked out, I was prepared to move to the Cabelas Sporting Goods Store that a commenter, "Arrowhead Gramma", mentioned in the last post,,thanks again AG. Another good night's sleep and we were up early to get on down the road to a real campground. 

A panoramic view of the open-ness of the southern Montana/northern Wyoming

I'm not sure if Montana or Wyoming.

Looking down on the valley where the Bozeman Trail was located.

I hadn't found a bench in a while and the view was great.

The trees are all gone by this time

Pretty dark blue sky with puffy clouds.

It's called Sky Lining. Something the old west riders would avoid because it is highly noticeable. I saw this for a long way off. It is one of those metal silhouettes but it showed how easy it was dangerous to give away your position.

That strange looking circular clouds is in the general direction where the second Walmart is located. Strong storms were predicted for the area, but we didn't get any.

This was the second Walmart. I didn't like the slope of this spot so I moved to the right side in this picture. 
The real campground is a Corps of Engineers campground on Harlan County Lake in south central Nebraska near the Kansas state line. It is an excellent place to rest up from the last two long haul driving days. A nice view of the lake and 50 amps of power. The town listed for the campground is Republican City, but there isn't much there. The nearest town with a real gas station and stores is Alma, Nebraska about 10 miles away. Essentially the lake is surrounded by Nebraska corn fields. I like it. It is restful. 

This is the dark clouds that I woke up to after the second Walmart stop. Flat Nebraska.

Corn fields to the left and right. I'm not farmer but would figure harvest time is only a few weeks away. I bet these roads will be busy, busy then.

You know you're in farming country when you see this coming at you.

Campsite at Hunter's Cove COE Campground. Nice restful campsite after some long-hauling. My stay is 3 days at a senior rate of $12.00 per night. Not as cheap as Walmart, but I'm completely satisfied. 

I drove around the area on my second day. I stopped at the downstream side of the dam and was surprised to see no gates were open since the lake was very high. It was flooding parts of the campground. I was later told that Kansas, downstream, was flooded worse and didn't need any more water so it was being held here at Harlan County.

One of the few dams you can still drive across.

A nice over-look, but no benches. That is the dam on the right.

I visited with this fisherman for a while. He lives about 30 minutes away and fishes here regularly. He said the lake is up about 15 feet but down from what it was a month ago. The trees to the left of him are usually on dry ground. He caught two fish while I was there. He is walking to put one of them on his stringer. 

There is even a nice small pull-off on top of the dam. 
Tomorrow is moving day and since I'm rested, I will make another somewhat long-haul of 450 miles across Kansas to an old reliable campground I've stayed at before and said I would never stay again. It is a city-owed campground at El Reno, Oklahoma. It is a first come-first served campground but I don't think it will be filled up due to it being a weekday night and the temperature is suppose to be 100 degree that day. It is a great campground and the only reason I said I wouldn't stay again is the constant wind blowing in that area. Both times that I've stayed there, the wind blew like crazy. I'll arrive around dusk, set up, plug in to electricty, turn the A/C on high and go into town to find something to eat. I'll only be staying over-night. Some may ask why I'm not over-nighting in the Walmart again. Didn't I mention 100 degree day!!! If I'm lucky, maybe I'll stubble on a Taco Bell, although without reservations, I'll be risking getting turned away at the door by the maitre-d.

This post is longer than normal but I wanted to get my thoughts about Walmart camping down in a post for future reference. All in all, it worked out great. Will I do it again? Sure, if the temperature and location works out. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.      

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Streetlights Are Almost On,,, Time to Go Home

Location: Coeur d'Alene Casino; near Couer d'Alene, Idaho (elev 2,600 feet)

I'm not sure if this post will have pictures, but if there are any they were probably taken with a Nokia Lumia Icon 929 cell phone.

"The streetlights are almost on, time to go home". Sometimes it was also porch lights instead of streetlights but either one meant the day of playing was about over. During the summer and weekends, we kids would have been outside playing for the entire day. Maybe going home around noon to grab something to eat if we were in the area. The limits of our playing was how ever far you could ride your bike and still be back home by the time the streetlights came on.  People of my generation will remember that feeling, that feeling of the adventure is just about over. We never felt like we were guaranteed another adventurous day and it seemed like we lived day to day, weekend to weekend, season to season. 

For the last couple of weeks I've been trying to figure out where to go after reaching my destination of Coeur d'Alene. I'm now at the end of my stay here and need to be moving on. I thought about going to the Oregon coast and then circling south through California on my way back to Louisiana but a lot of that would be retracing some of my old route. So I figured maybe go into North Dakota since I hadn't been there before. I googled and about the only thing to see was the National Grasslands and that didn't excite me too much. I've  been to the National Parks around here so those visits were out. I thought about re-riding the Beartooth Highway and then it hit me why I didn't want to repeat things. When I rode the Beartooth Highway a couple of years ago it was a fantastic "wow", one of the best of my travels. I rode it right after it was opened up from the winter. But, I worried that if I re-rode it and it was less spectacular, would that tarnish/taint my older memories, my "silent echoes". In the future as I would look back on Beartooth, would I remember the first "wow" or the secondary, possible let-down, "oh well" ride. And that is why I believe I have been hesitant about re-tracing some of my older routes that had "wow's" on them. That doesn't mean I will never go back to places I've been. One example is the Rocky Mountain National Park which I've visited twice. However, the second trip was specifically to ride an old road that I was unable to ride the first time. I doubt if I'll go back to the park since Colorado raised the price of camping in their state parks. When I checked about possibly staying in Boyd Lake State Park, the price was $44.00 per night. That is just way too high for any state park. Perhaps for a family with little ones, but not for an old man wandering around by himself. 

I haven't counted them up lately but I've stayed in around 250 different campgrounds since I started traveling back in April of 2014. The gauge on the dash in Freedom says we've towed Liberty almost 45,000 miles around this country. I've been coast to coast and border to border. I've seen the sun rise from the Atlantic Ocean in Maine and set in the Pacific Ocean off the Oregon coast. As I think about directions to travel, there is more often than not a thought of "I've been there before", and the feeling passes. 

So, with all of that in mind,,,,, the streetlights are almost on and it's time to head home. I'll pull out tomorrow heading for home in Louisiana. Yeah, I know it's still hot but it'll be OK. There is one thing I haven't done in my travels that I will do on the way home. I've never over-nighted in a Walmart parking lot. I'll do that tomorrow night and the next night in the Walmart lots of Laurel, Montana and Sidney, Nebraska. Both days will be about 500 miles of towing along the interstate. To me, that means excellent "thinking driving". I've checked both of them out and they seem good to go. If I arrive around 9:00 pm or so, the outside temperature should be in the upper 60's to low 70's. When I bought Liberty, I specifically chose a floorplan that would allow me access to the bed, toilet, shower, bathroom sink and my Lazy-boy recliner without having to open my slide-outs. That was done for nights like the upcoming two nights in Walmart's parking lot. I'll just pull in, unplug the electrical connection between Freedom and Liberty, maybe walk to a restaurant near by, then crawl in bed for a good nights sleep. I always carry water in Liberty's tanks, so with her new water pump I'll get a nice hot shower in the mornings before hitting the road again. The hot water for the shower comes from my water heater that runs on either electricity or propane. I'm looking at the Walmart stops as adventures within themselves. One more thing to do before I,,,,,,,,,,.

Tonight's picture is from five years ago when I was camped on the shore of Lake Superior. Every evening, around dusk, most of the people in the campground would go down to the shore to watch the sun go down. These ducks were swimming to shore to roost for the night. I guess they saw "the streetlights coming on". 
Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road. 

Monday, August 12, 2019

Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Location: Coeur d'Alene Casino; near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho (elev. 2,600 feet)

pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 cell phone, Google Pixel 2XL cell phone and Nikon (something 00)

Stop #13. This is as far north
as I'll be going.
Well, Coeur d'Alene was the destination I chose a little more than one month ago when I was planning this trip. There wasn't anything special about it, it was just a place that I hadn't been to and might as well go see it. In the back of my mind, I hoped to get a feeling of my father while here since he was briefly stationed here during the war. Sadly, that didn't happen. 

The trip up here from Kennewick, Washington was surprising in how much the landscape changed. Ultimately ending in tall trees everywhere. It was a very nice change since I hadn't been around trees since leaving East Texas several weeks ago.
As I mentioned in the last post, I picked up a new water pump for Liberty. Sure enough, the old one went out the morning I left Kennewick. I arrived at the Casino Campground soon enough to install the new one. It took about 30 minutes. I'm glad the makers of Liberty put the water pump in a convenient location.

About half way between Kennewick and Coeur d'Alene

These nice looking trees showed up about an hour before getting to Coeur d'Alene. The rain showed up too.

About 30 minutes from the campground. One thing I noticed about this area is that every farm-able piece of land is used for either growing a crop or raising animals. 

Casino Campground campsite. I got a nice site on the end.

My view out the door of Liberty.

Lake Coeur d'Alene dominates this entire area of northern Idaho and eastern Washington. It is a very large natural lake that averages about 100 feet deep. Before cars, trucks and railroads; steamboats did the work on the lake. They were packed in by mule trains in the late 1800's and assembled locally. They hauled timber, mineral ores and people all over the lake. The St. Joe river located at the southern end of the lake is also naturally navigable for quite a ways. It is supposedly the highest navigable river in the world. But, I haven't checked that out, so take it with a grain of salt. When the steamships wore out or were put out of business by the railroads, they were purposely scuttled and sunk. Some were set on fire as part of the the fourth of July celebrations. 

There are scenic boat cruises on the lake. Several of the cruises are 90 minutes long but I chose the six hour tour. It is offered only on Sunday and includes a lunch. The price was right so I signed up online and printed my ticket. When I showed up for the tour, I was surprised by the public parking near the dock. The parking price was $3.00 per hour. I thought that was a little bit high but since I didn't know the area and I didn't see any other parking lots, I had no choice.  Oh well, I would have still signed up for the cruise even if I had known about the parking price. I did think the cruise company could have mentioned the parking price on their web site. The weather was not nice. It was raining off and on with low hanging clouds and mist everywhere. The temperature was in the upper 50's. Most of the pictures look as if they were taken in black and white. Even with the bad weather, the cruise was nice and so was the fried chicken. I enjoyed both.
The day of the cruise with overcast skies. I had to turn on a space heater in Liberty to warm up after a shower.

Low hanging clouds. I hadn't seen this since I was in the Great Smoky Mountains a few years ago.

A view astern.

Nice flag flying

Those are the cheaper fishing camps. Cheaper compared to some of the multi-million dollars estates along parts of the shore.

An old railroad bridge with a swing span that has since been locked in place. The bridge and the railroad track bed has been converted into a bike path. Part of the "Rails to Trails" thing.

This is at the southern part of the lake. The cruise went about 5 miles into the St. Joe River.

One of dozens of Osprey nests on the lake. The boat captain said there are more Osprey on the lake than most anywhere else.

An old house that had no road leading to it. Boat access only.

Remnants from old piling along the shore. Timber was stationed here to be picked up by the steamboats. Some of the piling was close to 100 years old.

An older lady lives here by herself. The Captain said she usually comes out and waves as the cruise boats go by. I guess the weather kept her inside during this cruise.

My vacation home after winning the lottery. Condominiums with 7,000 square feet, boat slip and country club membership for two. 

A true floating island green at the gold course. After teeing off, you get in a boat to ride to the green. They can move the green in or out to vary the yardage. 

A look back at the boat, parking lot and weather as I was getting in Freedom. It was a good day. 

Needing something else to do, I googled what to do in Coeur d'Alene and discovered there was a "scenic byway" that passed along the eastern shore of Lake Coeur d'Alene. I drove it and was about half-way disappointed. The road is hilly and curvy, so taking pictures through the windshield was too dangerous. There were only a few pull-offs and most of those were grown up with trees blocking the view. Overall, it was a nice drive, but far from scenic.

A nice view of the lake on a better weather day.

I was able to take a couple of pictures through the windshield. 
Moving day will be Wednesday, two days from now. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.