I’m being Followed By A Moon Shadow…

Not really, since the eclipse was headed south east and I’m headed west, but I’ve been singing that song by Cat Stevens in my head for a few days now.  When the eclipse reached its max of about 89% where I was near Billings, Montana was about the time I stopped for gas.  I think I just wanted to connect with others in those moments.  I listened to public radio while they tracked it across the US, getting reactions, and you know, it was the scientists they spoke with that seemed the most affected and the most awed. Or at least they had words to describe how they felt.  It’s hard to explain how it makes you feel, isn’t it?  It reminds us that it’s all so much bigger than…our lives…our problems.  The universe is a big….clock.  A big time piece…running…always running with perfection, and the next eclipses are already scheduled on into infinity….

We have little to no understanding of it….why it’s there, how it works…who’s out there….

wow.          This is amazing stuff…

But anyway….the truck….Joy Ride…is doing FINE!  Over the past three days we have been gradually rising in elevation and there has been no sign of a problem.  She’s riding smoothly and there has been no misfires, knocks, chokes, coughs, or sneezes.  Not even a sniffle.  We are over 4000 feet now, in Big Timber, Montana, and I’m beginning to relax a bit.

I’ve written 2 five star reviews for the Bismarck KOA, one on the KOA site and one on the Google Maps site.

Meanwhile, the changing terrain never fails to amaze me.

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In our travels, we have quickly ( in my turtle sort of way), gone from water wonderland, with green everywhere, to the North Dakota and east Montana bad lands and plains, open or farmed land, with hay just bailed for the most part, where trees are a rarity.

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The stubble that is left after the hay is cut.

Now we are in the mountains, that rise higher and higher….it all just takes my breath away!   What an amazing land we live in!

America the diverse and beautiful.

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Silos…not so beautiful, but they have a lot to do with that line about the amber waves of grain.

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Shiloh, sees someone….couple of someones actually…..

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Curious friends we meet on our walk this morning at Forsyth, Montana.

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Our campsite just for tonight, at Big Timber KOA in umm, yes, Big Timber, Montana.

What’s this, trees and grass!  And shade! Like an oasis.

Tomorrow the plan is for Anaconda.  Yes thats a Montana town.  Then finally, Wednesday we reach Ronan, where we are going for the Casita Rally!

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Bye beautiful horsies!

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Truck Troubles, Kindness, and KOA

We are seriously traveling west now, as we leave Michigans Upper Peninsula on Sunday, August 13.  We stop at the KOA in Cloquet, MN, (nice… now that it’s not a lake as it was when we were heading east in May), Trails RV Campground in Walker, MN.  I like it, and they aren’t kidding, it’s surrounded by trails.

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This is called the Heartland Trail and it connects to the RV park.  Nicely paved!

Next is Days In RV Park in Casselton, ND (eh…)

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Finally, the KOA in Bismarck, ND, where we plan to stay 2 days and unhook for the first time since leaving MI. (A wonderful place, I’ll tell you more in a minute).

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Site 52

Here we are excited about meeting up with Colleen and Fred, and their sweet dog Daisy.  These are the friends I met at Caballo Loco Ranch, south west of Tucson, and who also let me stay at their home/farm last spring for a couple of weeks, about 80-90 miles from Bismarck.  It just so happens that Thursday is their 45th wedding anniversary and we get to celebrate together with carry-out Italian at my picnic table.

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No this isn’t the carry- out Italian!)  It’s fresh garden root veggies.

They bring me veggies from their garden and I’ve written them a 45th anniversary poem…”Ode To Fred And Colleen.”  ☺️

We talk for hours, and for awhile their daughter Holly joins us.  She brings me a bag of CJ Box books to borrow.  Fred and Colleen got me started on those!

One of the things we talk about is my increasing concern about JR (my truck, named Joy Ride).  Awhile back…months ago actually…you might remember I wrote about how it was ‘knocking’.  Now what I’ve learned is that it was ‘misfiring’ and it has continued to do it from time to time.  It happens when I’m towing and driving up hill.  The engine light hasn’t come on again but it doesn’t sound healthy, and we are about to drive into the mountains.  I’ve made an appointment at the Ford dealership in Ronan, MT where we are heading, but there is a lot of elevation between here and there  and my concern has been growing.  Fred brings me some Gumout and later as I research Gumout on line, one thing leads to another and pretty soon I’m reading about the Ford Ecoboost engine and some of the problems it’s been having.  Umm.  That would be me…

The more I read the more I realize I need to have this checked out BEFORE I head into the mountains.  I gradually come to terms with the fact that I may need to stay here longer than my 2 planned days, which would mean changing future reservations, and besides, this RV park is very busy, and would they even have a space for me to extend my stay?  I continue on my IPad checking out the 2 local Ford dealerships, and other Campgrounds in case I have to move.  I’m still at it at 1am. I don’t sleep much.

I really like this RV park and would prefer to stay put, so I’m at the door when the office opens at 8am.  Mark, the owner is there and ready to help.  I was impressed with his kindness when we were here in May, and last evening he came by while Colleen and Fred were here and visited while loving on all 3 dogs.

I’m about to become even more impressed….

I tell him I’m having a truck problem and may need to stay longer if possible.  First he juggles sites and finds a way to fit me in here, up into next week if necessary.  While he’s doing that he asks me to tell him about the truck.  He totally gets what I’m talking about ( probably better than I do), and when he finishes juggling, he calls the Ford service departments himself.  The first one can’t take me until Monday, which is what I figured would happen. (This is Friday).  He asks if I’d like him to call the second one.  It’s farther away, and I wonder if their courtesy shuttle will even come here.  Mark says if not, he will pick me up there and drive me back later.  Wow, talk about going the extra mile!

He gets on the phone with Devin at the Bill Barth Ford service department and explains my situation and problem.  Devin says “Have her bring it right in!”

I make Joy and Shiloh comfortable in WS ( that’s Wandering Spirit, my travel trailer).  I turn on the A/C though it’s not hot yet.  I figure the white noise and moving air will be good.  I rarely do this.  I leave the door unlocked in case of emergency.  Mark tells me if I get delayed I can let him know and he will make sure the dogs are taken care of.  WOW.

I drive to the dealership And find Devin, give him my info and keys and he calls the shuttle.  ETA…20 seconds.  I am not delayed!  20 more minutes and I’m opening the door to let the dogs out.  Now I will be waiting for Devins call.

But not for long!  Another half hour and my phone rings.  Devin gives me the news.  He’s saying many of those things I was reading about on line last night….but not the very worst stuff.  The catalytic converter is not damaged.

i won’t try to explain what I don’t understand very well but I can tell you that cylinder number 3 was misfiring ‘under load’  ( when towing) , mainly when the engine had to give extra power to go up hill.  That was diagnosed by computer…it’s not a guessing game these days, sooo….I am trying to feel confident that what they did to fix it will work. That would be new spark plugs, now coil boots, and by my request, ‘fuel induction service’, which is suppose to clean out carbon build up.  It was also time for another oil change, and they did their ‘multi point inspection’…tires, breaks, battery, etc.

The damage?  Ugh.  Labor = $405.  Parts = $266.59.  Hazardous waste disposal = $6.30.

Yes, OUCH.

BUT….if it really fixed the problem, it’s the lesser of some other ouches, like being stranded in the mountains with the catalytic converter burned up, for instance.

So when Devin calls to tell my the truck is ready, I call the shuttle guy myself and he arrives in 20 minutes to take me back to Ford.  Joy and Shiloh again stay comfy in WS’s A/C.

Now we are one big happy family back together again and we can leave tomorrow as planned.  I’ve done all I can do to fix this problem, and I have not canceled JR’s appointment at the Ford dealer in Ronan yet.  Let’s see how she does in the mountains….

And let me just say, this is one Kickin’ KOA Kampground, complete with Kindness!  Besides being comfy and cozy,   it’s clean, easy access from I-94, has decent sized sites, in the spring it’s covered with lilacs…now it’s green, has a nice dog area, besides a dog walk….but it’s the owner Mark who makes it extra special here….a truly caring guy, who went above and beyond the call of duty today to do his best to make sure things worked out for me.

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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Bismarck KOA….best KOA ever!

PS.  (Still anxious about the mountains.  Please send good thoughts and prayers).

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday Shiloh!🎂🎉❤️

August 11…And Shiloh turns 11 years old today!  Happy Birthday to my sweet boy!

I’m so thankful he is in my life!

Love  Love  Love him to pieces!  Below are some moments with him over the past 3 years:

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This one was taken only this morning.

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Playing at a dog park.

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Sleeping under the stars…and stripes.

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Diggin’ it!

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Deeper!

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Contemplating the ocean…

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And the mountains…

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And the Grand Canyon.

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Just sitting around looking beautiful!

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Saying Merry Christmas!

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Enjoying grass…

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And enjoying it even more!

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Happy birthday my sweet boy.  I couldn’t love you more! ❤️❤️❤️

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Here’s a smile for sure!

Stay tuned for Joys  birthday next month!

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Three Years Later…and Future Plans

Yup, three years ago, after minimizing to the max, On August 10, we left our little life by the Monterey Peninsula of California, to….just wander.  There was a full moon that first night, which was important to me.  I know this is a silly picture but here is the full moon just a couple nights ago…three years later:

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We certainly were not lacking in wonderful walks or local scenic beauty where we lived…..see below:

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Walks on the empty beaches of Monterey Bay were our routine.

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The happy rolling habit began in the sand there.

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Big Sur, my favorite place ever (still!) was just a half hour drive.

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I’m not kidding I’ve probably taken a thousand pictures of the Big Sur area.

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And there were lots of wild flowers.  California Poppies in this case….

And yet, I needed to wander, because….oh, just because.

With very little camping and no RVing experience, I didn’t know how it would turn out.  I figured if it wasn’t working, or if at some point it was no longer fun, I’d just settle somewhere.

That is still the plan.

And though everywhere I camp I think about the possibility of staying and living in that area, it seems like when I settle it will be back somewhere near where I came from in California.  That’s home, and the more I travel, the more I know it.

I’ve also found that I love simple living.  No not without comfort or off the grid…but just living simply.  The less ‘stuff’ the better.  I hope that someday I’ll be able to find a tiny home of some sort.  And space for a garden.

But….for now….WOW, have we got plans!

When we leave Michigan in a few days we will trek straight west across Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota, retracing our steps to Bismarck, then on into Montana to a Casita Rally!  After the rally we will proceed to the west side of Glacier National Park and spend a couple of weeks there.

Next we head south through Idaho and Utah, right down to the White Mountains of Arizona.  Hopefully we will have timed it right to be able to see the fall colors there.  Then we move on to the Prescott National Forest, also in a mountainous area ( read ‘cool’…maybe cold by this time), until it’s safe weather-wise, to head to CLR…Caballo Loco Ranch, south of Tucson.  That will be our winter place again, except when we leave to spend some holiday time with family, yup, in the Monterey area!

I’ve been working on this plan a LOT, for a few weeks now, and I’m excited to get underway!  And yes, we have reservations for every single stop.  For whatever reason, I’ve found that’s the way I like to travel.

These have been 3 amazing years.  For now, this lifestyle suits me and I’m so glad I made the decision to wander!

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Off we go. 🐶😁🐶

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Our Last Michigan Stop

Plus, A Close Call and

One More Visit With An Old Friend

We are approaching Iron Mountain, which is a town, not a mountain, by the way.

It has been a rainy, windy day, but not so much as to make driving difficult.  Suddenly, in front of me, from the opposite side of the road, a huge birch tree comes crashing down and falls all the way across the road, and then some!

It all seems to happen so quickly, but what I remember is that a big empty logging truck that was coming from the opposite direction, just made it under the descending tree without being hit.  The car in front of me swerved off the road on the grass beside the road, to get around the length of it, and in shock, I did the same.  I could see that the tree had completely uprooted itself.

I knew within a couple of minutes there was going to be a traffic jam because oncoming traffic had no way to get around the other side, and there was no way to see over the tree….so I was thinking, GO….get out of the way.  And nope, I didn’t get a picture.

My next thought was, if I’d left my last stop 10 seconds sooner, or driven a tiny bit faster, the 3 of us, JR and WS would be flattened on the road.  You never know.

You just never know.

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Here’s a lovely birch tree near my camp, standing.  I hope it remains so.

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Here is a closer view of it.  So beautiful…

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Having survived the drive, we arrive in Iron Mountain at Summer Breeze Campground.

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We stayed here a day or two on our way into Michigan.  I liked it so much that I reserved some time here as we leave the state, too.  The campground is as nice as the name sounds.

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Our spot….beside a leaning birch tree.  Yikes.

We have an old friend in the area!  Syd was the manager ‘extraordinaire’ of the community I lived in near Monterey, California for most of 17 years.  He actually managed the place for 23 years and did a remarkable job.  However, he was born and raised near Iron Mountain and when he and his family decided it was time for a change they came back to the area.  That was around 2 years ago.

I get in touch with Syd via text about a week before we arrive here and he plans to come see us.  Joy always loved Syd and when he pulled up at our campsite she about came apart at the seams, as she greeted him.  That was one Joyful Joy!

It was really REALLY good to talk to Syd and find him content with his new home and job and life.  I can see this is his ‘home place’ and he’s happy to be back.  Seeing him peaceful gives me peace too.  He deserves this.

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Our selfie.

 

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The Keweenaw Peninsula

Onward and upward we go, to the Keweenaw Peninsula of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  If you look at a map, it’s the ‘finger’ part of the UP that sticks out some 60 miles into Lake Superior.

Actually the area beyond The town of Houghton is misnamed.  Once we cross the bridge there, the rest of the ‘finger’ is actually an island, and we have just crossed the only bridge that leads to it.  Indeed, I later find that the locals call the area ‘Copper Island’.

Mining was the name of the game here beginning in the mid 1800’s.  Oh sure, the Indians knew about the red metal in the earth long before that, and though they found ways to use it, they didn’t exploit Mother Earth.

Some of the oldest exposed rock in the world is here, at 1.1 billion years of age.  Even longer ago than that….about 2.5 billion, give or take… lava flows brought copper and other minerals close to the surface of the earth.

There were literally 100’s of mines here at one time, mostly copper.  The population and wealth expanded with the mining , until the copper became harder to find.

As the mining industry faded, the people and the money faded away as well.  Now you have nature, in all her glory.  You have trees and water and more trees and more water, and don’t forget the wildflowers.  And lighthouses…always old lighthouses.  You have mine tours, and mine museums , and many old mines….holes…where rock hounds find treasures, big and small.

While we are here we stay at Sunset Bay Campground.

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And here’s an example of a sunset here….

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I find myself comparing this place to a Yooper-style Deetjens Big Sur Inn…(if Deetjens were a campground) (and I realize you have to know Deetjens to know what I’m talking about), it’s quaint and funky and eccentric.  It’s got character.  It’s got old hippie vibes that go back long before the hippie era.  The same family has owned this place since 1944.  I feel really comfortable here.

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On Thursday morning early, as I sit with my coffee (in that red chair above), the camp host stops by and tells me there has been a bear in her yard the last 2 nights.  I find that news exciting rather than frightening….however it wouldn’t make me happy if I were camping in a tent.

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The office.

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Morning, before the full sunrise.

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The rocks with part of my shoe for size comparison.  I kept that striped one.

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I was privileged to see a storm while we were there.

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Moody Gitche Gumee.

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The lighthouse at Eagle Harbor, 10-15 miles up the coast from the campground.

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We take a ride up to Copper Harbor, which is as far north as you can go.  My fearless girl.  Gosh, she has trouble walking but she never lets a chance go by, to take a dip.

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Or to swim.

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It’s a blurry picture but a good example of how Shiloh always try’s to keep his tail out of the water. 😊

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Red rocks of Copper Harbor.

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A Copper Harbor Beach with some of those billion year old exposed rocks.

What a lovely time it’s been here on the Keweenaw!  I’ve really enjoyed these 5 days.  Yes, winters are brutally cold and snowy. Summers are short.  Nature gets her way a lot, keeping the area remote and absolutely beautiful.  I mean…if you like trees and water, rocks and wildflowers!  I do! I do!

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I like pretty sunsets too!

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Wandering Through The UP

Most of the license plates I see in campgrounds here are Michigan plates, but if people are touring their own state, that’s not a bad thing.  It’s a beautiful place to see and there are lots of young families out here.  These are not the kids that will end up as gang members, high school drop outs, or prison inmates.  I mean…for the most part.  There is such a need to get underprivileged kids out into nature.  Nature and wildness are such healers….menders of broken lives, hearts and minds.

Henry David Thoreau said “In wildness is the preservation of the world”.  I might add, and everything in the world, including humans.  Come to think of it, I’m thinking a good number of  our political leaders could use a long hike in the mountains as well.

Anyway…our wanderings take us from Newberry, to Paradise at Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Rivermouth Campground, to a campground called Michihistrigan near Gould City, to Ishpeming, with a stop in Marquette too.  Now we will be moving on to the Keweenaw, a Peninsula of a peninsula.

It has been beautiful, flower filled, and relaxing for the most part.  I’m beginning to plan out some autumn adventures now.

Here are some pictures from over the past week or so:

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Point Iroquois Light Station.

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Some of the 72 steps inside that I climb!  Almost straight up…which of course, lighthouses are….

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View from the top.

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Some old fashioned Hollyhocks are planted here.

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Our campsite at Michihistrigan Campground.  Only a few campers here, and lots of open space for the dogs to run….

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And sniff….IMG_5529

And roll…

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And run some more….!

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You know travel plans are getting serious when the picnic table looks like this…

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Heading to the Keweenaw now!

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