Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Eight States & 4000 Miles in 26 Days

Farragut State Park to US-101We’ve been writing our blog for over 13 years now, and this is the longest we’ve gone without an update.  But we’ve been busy with our time as program hosts at Farragut State Park, with motorhome maintenance, and a trip to Iowa. 
Our decision to drive to Iowa was made in April when we visited the new Winnebago factory service center in Junction City, Oregon.  The two big slide-outs on our motor home have been operated for over ten years, and some of the part were worn and needed to be replaced.  I asked for an estimate to “inspect and repair” as necessary and left the rig for their evaluation.  Later that morning I got a call with the first words being “are you sitting down?”  The estimate was $5250 and four days in the shop.  I immediately called the slide manufacturer in Iowa (HWH), asked the same question, and was told that if everything worn needed to be replaced, around $800-1000.  So we made an appointment for the end of the summer.
Bear Bag PartsBack to our summer…   ..what a wonderful one it was!  Farragut State Park had all of the elements we look for when volunteering; interesting job, great staff, friendly fellow hosts, and an outstanding Pine Cone CraftRV site.  We were welcomed, given free rein to develop our programs, and given the support we needed to conduct evening programs, school hikes, and Junior Ranger programs.  We had fun cutting parts for the “Bear Bag” craft, gathered pine Fur Displaycones for the peanut butter and pine cone bird feeder, and taught the kids about Idaho predators using a variety of furs.  Our evening programs were well attended – over 1000 people a month came to see us as we taught “leave no trace”, campfire safety, and  showing of nature films on our “big screen”. 
We had pot lucks, bonfires, and evening get-togethers.  With over 40 resident volunteers, it was a large but friendly group.  Many had been coming to Farragut for years – one couple for 15!  And the rangers, from the manager on down, were part of our get togethers, supportive, and great to work with.  I usually don’t mention names, but Errin, our “Interp Ranger” is a special person – and we’ll be back to work with her next year!
In August we had a visit from our daughter Kim, her husband Bill, and Bill’s dad Paul.  Dinner at Lake HouseWe enjoyed showing them around northern Idaho, especially some of our favorite restaurants.  Sitting on the deck of the Lake House, a floating restaurant on Lake Pend Oreille, in 70 degree temperatures was just about perfect.  Bill bravely signed up for the “Tree to Tree Adventure”, an obstacle course built high in the huge Ponderosa Pines.    He completed all four courses, the last being the very high “black” course.  We knew that being married to our daughter that he had courage…..but were truly impressed!Tree to Tree
We left Farragut after the Labor Day holiday and headed east, spending a night in Missoula where we met old friends Jim, Heidi, and Deb from our volunteer days at the Lee Metcalf NWR.  All too soon it was time to make the long drive across Montana, cut the corner of Wyoming, and enter South Dakota.  We were able to spend a few days here, at a time of year when the Black Hills are the most beautiful.  We’d been here before in the fall and it’s worth reposting a few of the pictures:
Fall Colors5
Fall Colors6
Fall Colors7
Crossing all of South Dakota, we entered Iowa, turned south then east to the HWH plant in Moscow.  We dropped the motor home off early and expected an all-day wait, but were called early in the afternoon to tell us it was ready.  Picking it up, I expected the worst……and was stunned when the bill was $163!  Quite a bit different than the Winnebago quote – a savings of over $5000.  I asked a tech “what was Winnebago going to do that cost that much?”  He said he didn’t know, but obviously they’d need 4 or 5 days to do it.  My joy in the low price was somewhat tempered by anger at Winnebago – we’re glad we decided to let the experts work on our system. 
Then it was off to Forest City, the home of Winnebago, to have our slide-out Buddy Holly Crash Sitetoppers replaced by a dealer (Lichsinn) known for their good work and integrity.  In previous visits, we’d visited the Clear Lake area where Buddy Holly gave his last performance, and this time we found the site “where the music died’.  The crash site is back in the cornfield, but these iconic glasses mark the path.
Slide toppers installed, we headed back – up to Minnesota then back  the way we’d come.  An so after 26 days, almost 4000 miles, and $1385 in diesel fuel, we’re back in Bandon for a month of medical appointments, seeing friends, and resting.  Then it’s off to Las Vegas for the winter – so check back!