After a night of rocking blues in Billings, Montana to celebrate the completion of our engine rebuild.. it was time to hit the open roads! It’s been quite a bizarre feeling mixed with excitement and daze. I can only imagine it’s similar to a young bird getting kicked out of their nest to go explore the world on their own.
We left Billings with really no plan other than heading west towards Oregon for our lighthouse hosting gig at Cape Blanco for the month of September.
Bozeman & Garrison
We decided our first stop would be Bozeman to visit a Camp Nomadia friend, since we won’t be seeing him next week at Burning Man.
We had fun wandering the downtown streets of Billings, and quite appreciated the RV-friendly neighborhood where we felt at ease street camping in front of his place for the evening. Especially since all the Bozeman campgrounds we inquired about were full for the night.
In the morning we called ahead to Bernie & Sharon’s Riverfront RV Park (our review) in Garrison, MT. I’m not quite sure why we were attracted to this location – as we were considering several routes across Montana.
But this park had decent reviews, was only $27/night and it was a nice 140 mile drive – which we’ve found to be a comfortable day’s drive for us.
We were surprised to discover the park is owned by a fellow 4106 bus nut! We had a fun time exchanging tours and Bernie was rather lustful for our shiny new engine!
He assured us that there’s lots of wind at the park overnight, and not to worry if we heard a bunch of noises that might sound similar to an engine swap out.
Polson, MT & Glacier National Park
The next morning, we decided to head on up to Polson, MT – where our friends Clarke & Elaine were parked after their Canadian & Glacier National Park touring. We last saw them in Billings when they stopped in on their way northward early on during our rebuild.
They were staying at Flathead Lake RV Resort (our review), and the only indication of price we could find online was $42/night on a review site. We were shocked to arrive to find the price was $56/night! We’ve paid some of the highest daily rates in the past couple of weeks.
It was a nice enough park, and we enjoyed a couple days hanging out with friends checking out the quaint town.
We contemplated taking the bus up to Glacier, but reality was setting in – if we were going to make it to our lighthouse gig, we weren’t going to have a ton of time to spend in all the places we wanted to stop along the way.
Glacier just wasn’t enough of a priority this time around to do it right, but we did want to make it up there to visit our friends Betty & Mike, who we connected with when they also got their RV towed to Interstate.
Calculating the fuel costs, even at the $56 nightly rate – it just made sense to keep the bus parked in Polson and then take the Mini up for a daytrip.
We had a fun day hanging out with Betty & Mike.. and then taking the Mini on the epic Going To The Sun Road.
Fun, but long day.
Leaving Montana & Hope
After returning to our spot in Polson, it was time to say our ‘Until Next Times’ to Clarke & Elaine and continue heading west – with one goal…
… finally leaving Montana! We only intended to cross into the state for a few days. Whew.. what a detour an engine breakdown can be!
Once we crossed into Idaho, we had held hopes that we’d be able to score a nice scenic campground, perhaps even on the water. Seeing as it was a Friday night, our hopes weren’t too high.
At first we checked out the Sam Owens forrest service campground outside Hope, ID – to find it completely full. But next door at Beyond Hope Resort (our review), they still had spots available for $40 +tax per night. (Wow, what is with the high prices up this way?)
They just had a last minute cancellation on a front row spot with a water view – which sure beat the packed in, no view spots available elsewhere in the park for the same price. Score!
We enjoyed an afternoon swim in the lake, and then returned to the bus to discover that the electricity at the site was barely functional. Heck, it was actually dangerous at times reading as low as 98 volts. Which meant conservative A/C use off our inverter & batteries to beat off the last of the remaining daytime heat.
Our spot was also situated in the midst of a multi-family campout – making the time at home a bit less than serene (mostly the socializing parents, the kids were quite well behaved.) It’s great that folks are getting out and enjoying this beautiful area, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we want to live in the middle of their vacation.
So we decided to check out the campground’s onsite restaurant to distract ourselves and were quite astonished to be greeted with ‘Do you have a reservation?‘
What? A reservation? For a campground restaurant? Turns out, this is actually a classy gourmet place with amazing sunset views – what a contrast to the campground itself.
We took some seats at the bar and ordered a pitcher of Lime in the Coconut (if you’ve ever tried mine… I have to say, they do them right here, complete with lime rinds!) It took us straight back to our days living in the Virgin Islands!. Our bartender was beyond fabulous, and really made our evening a delight.
And the sunset? Yeah. Epic. A perfect way to celebrate finally sleeping in a new state again!
We were awoken way too early the next morning by the puttering about of our neighbors getting ready for the day… and decided it was time to continue onwards.
We are continuing westward towards Portland via the Columbia River Gorge route, where we’ll arrive on Wednesday – and we’ll be there a week. We don’t have any specific plans for our time in Portland other than catching up with friends and exploring. As always, we’re open to invitations to meet up or alerts to awesome stuff going on!
We need to be to Port Orford by August 31, so we’ll meander south to catch up with more friends on our way. And then we’ll be hosting Cape Blanco for the month of September.
Live Video Chat – TOMORROW!
Join us tomorrow evening for a live video chat where we’ll show off Zephyr’s newly overhauled engine, talk about the rollercoaster ride of the 6-week rebuild process and share about our performance results from her first 1000 miles of traversing mountainous terrain. As always, we’ll have an interactive Q&A session at the end.
Topic: Zephyr’s 8V71 Engine Rebuild
When: TOMORROW! (Tues, Aug 20)
Time: 6:30p PST / 9:30p EST