I had a wonderful trip from Idaho up to Great Falls, Montana. It was very rural and very beautiful. I drove through a green valley for much of the day and then later weaved through mountains and then ended the day at the Missouri River in Great Falls, Montana. I crossed the continental divide 3 times during my drive today.
When I arrived in Great Falls, I first went to the visitor center to eat lunch and learn about the area. It was suggested that I visit the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. I had no idea that Lewis and Clark crossed through this area. The explorers ran into a series of 5 rapids on the Missouri River around the current location of Great Falls, Montana. It turned into a huge hardship to portage on land around the series of falls and took much longer time and effort than originally anticipated. This difficult portage around the Missouri River made Great Falls quite well known in history about the difficulties Lewis and Clark experienced.
I got up early today to get the motorhome over to the Freightliner dealer by 7:00 am when they open. I talked with the service manager and the technician about how everything stopped working on the motorhome dashboard and then later started working fine as I drove into Missoula. The service manager said they had seen that before and that there was not really fix for it. I waited for 5 hours at the dealer and they checked everything possible. Everything came back great and they could not identify a reason for the dash shutting off. After 5 hours, they gave me back the keys and said to drive it as they could find nothing wrong. I was sort of happy and sad at the same time. I was happy they could find no problem, but sad they were unable to find the cause of the problem with the dashboard gauges. So the answer remains unknown!
So, I made a sandwich, ate a banana, hitched up the Jeep and headed east. I am not sure if it is faith or stupidity to start off on a desolate road hoping an electrical problem will not reoccur. Either way, I had no problems. Everything traveled great. I stopped in Bozeman for the night. One of my references described how the Bozman Walmart is very popular with RVers. I decided to give it a shot in the motorhome. There were already 20 RVs parked in the lot when I arrived and more keep coming with every hour. There is a whole city living in the Walmart parking lot. The nice couple next to me are from Colorado, but have Florida plates for tax purposes. This is going to be an interesting evening. Please do not disown me for sleeping at Walmart!
Today was fantastic. I had planned to meet a colleague (David) in Whitefish, Montana. However, since I was in Missoula waiting for my appointment tomorrow at the Freightliner dealer, I emailed him to see if he wanted to meet for lunch instead. He thought it was a great idea and I drove 2.5 hours north to meet him and his wife (Chris) just outside of the west entrance to Glacier National Park.
David and Chris love Glacier and spend two months every summer in a rental condominium and go on various hikes in Glacier multiple times per week. They thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity showing me some of their favorite places. It is a huge park, so we were limited to key places near the west entrance. I enjoyed the opportunity to take some photos and watch the clouds and light change on the landscape. It was absolutely gorgeous!
After a stressful and confusing day, huckleberry ice cream was wonderful!
I headed into Montana today. I was making good time in the motorhome winding my way through the mountain passes. However, as I crested one pass and was going downhill, suddenly everything on the dashboard of the motorhome froze and all the lights but ABS went out. I pulled over to stop, prayed like crazy, turned off the motorhome, restarted the motorhome, and everything remained unchanged. Unfortunately, I had no cell phone coverage. The motorhome started fine, I had great braking, the speedometer was frozen, but I could read my speed from the GPS, so I carefully limped down the hill. When I got to St. Regis, Montana I was able to call our roadside assistance service. The technician said it sounded like I had some type of low voltage problem and that I probably did not have brake lights or turn signals. They thought I should not drive the motorhome and that I needed to be towed to a Freightliner dealer in Missoula. I was given an appointment in two days for the dealer to check out the motorhome.
I waited for a while and suddenly a truck with two people showed up to remove the drivetrain to prepare the motorhome for towing. After a while the tow truck arrived and we started discussing the problem. They were diesel mechanics so that started checking the batteries, etc. They found that although the dash was out, that I actually did have brake lights and turn signals on the back of the motorhome. We also tested the motorhome generator and it operated fine. Basically, they thought there was some problem within the “brain” in the dash, but that the motorhome was ok to drive. The reconnected the drivetrain and I headed down the freeway to an RV park in Missoula while awaiting my appointment at the dealer.
While checking into the RV park, the host told me they would be serving free ice-cream at 7:00 pm. After my stressful day that sounded absolutely wonderful! Yogi was there and the kids loved seeing him. This is a great Rv park for kids as they have a swimming pool, water splash fountain, miniature golf course, game room, pool table, etc. While eating my ice cream, I enjoyed watching so many kids having fun and running everywhere.