PART 1: We Get on the Road
PART 2: Hot Springs, Arkansas
PART 3: Adventures with Starr
PART 4: The Tennessee Loop
PART 5: The Intensive with Starr
PART 6: The Way to North Carolina
PART 7: The NorthEast Loop
PART 8: Washington D.C.

PART 9: Movin' West to Columbus
PART 10: We Cross the Great Plains
PART 11: Montana Adventures

PART 12: Oregon
PART 13: Northern California
PART 14: Central California Adventures
PART 15: Southern California Adventures
PART 16: The Return

Part Ten A; We Cross the Great Plains

Chicago Bust

In a light drizzle, we headed west from Toledo along the I-80/90 turnpike corridor. The landscape changed as we drove through northern Indiana just south of Lake. Woods and farms changed into grasslands with pockets of trees, rich abundant wildflowers/herbs and shrubs, and flower farms. As rain let up, we were left with low dark clouds hanging over endless fields of crops – corn, soybeans and hay? My favorite view is the sun on the landscape behind which are dark blue-gray clouds heavy with moisture. The contrast is yellow and rich yellow-greens highlighted in front of an indigo background – a beautiful sight!

Elkhart Indiana is the world capitol of RVs. Many companies have their factories there including the makers of our RV, Forest River. As we drove through, we could see massive amounts of RV inventory parked in huge lots on both sides of the road. Most RV’s outside of the coaches (buses) are white, so it was easy to scan the horizon for white things and find yet more RV’s. There is even an RV Hall of Fame. We didn’t stop, but noted the increase of RV’s on the road. From Gary Indiana west, the roads were thick with power lines and slow, congested traffic. It began to drizzle. We finally moved into Illinois.

Illinois, the Road Construction State! That’s what we decided must be the state slogan after spending an hour just inside the state line idling and ooching forward slowly in heavy traffic amidst the most vast road construction project I’d ever seen (at least since downtown Atlanta in the, what was it, ‘60’s?) The roads were torn up and four lanes of traffic crawled in one. There were very very few crews out working, so I had compassion for all the people who live here and probably will have to suffer through this for years to come. We finally found our way to the Emerald Hills RV Park – a pretty and remote lakeside place far south of Chicago in a tiny town called Crete. Our cell phones worked at the site okay, so I could use the place for channeling, but there were too many trees and no wifi, so we were unable to use the internet. Mosquitoes were fierce and plentiful until the park attendant, a smiling Latino, sprayed mist around under the trailers. We closed the windows and requested none under our trailer. Fortunately, we were not downwind of anyone in the site. The manager, a German woman (who spoke several languages), said they sprayed every day, and that she was sensitive to it herself. She kept up a beautiful little flower garden between the office and her residence trailer nearby. Butterflies hovered over the blossoms.

It had rained in the day but cleared, bringing beautiful weather. This must be why people live here, hoping for these beautiful summer days when the atmosphere is sparkling. My spirit cannot help but feel excited to be alive and off to do something fun. I noticed wryly that it almost always seemed to be beautiful when I had to sit inside and channel all day. At least I had a beautiful view through my room window. Before channeling, I decided to set up Saturday’s scene. I called Laurie Brady, a well-known astrologer I’d known back in my professional astrologer days. She lived on Michigan in downtown Chicago. We hadn’t seen each other in years, so we were both anticipating a pleasant reunion. We agreed to call the next day, Saturday and coordinate our schedules, meeting her at some point for dinner at the nearby Navy Pier. I then called the museum that was holding the King Tut exhibit and asked about tickets. On hold, I got a recording telling me how much service charge would be added for the tickets. It was quite a lot. When a woman came on the phone, I asked her why pay all the extra service charges etc. for the tickets? Couldn’t I buy them at the door? She said yes, they were available at the door. So I decided we could do that.

Saturday came and we headed in Aylar down to Chicago. We passed through yet more road construction, this time through the famous Chicago “South Side.” It deserved its reputation – it looked to be a hard place, filled with despair. I could feel a “weight” on me as we drove between high walls through this part of the city. It was covered with dust, equipment and debris from the road construction, although there were very few if any workmen doing anything. The interstate going through this part of town was on both sides of the metro stations. A bridge over the freeway enabled people to access the station, and people stood in the heat and dust waiting for their trains, looking decidedly unhappy. And so we went for miles in a walled canyon with areas of freeway under construction, fences, tracks, fences, freeway under construction. Over us were strung a seemingly infinite amount of electrical cables and wires. There were no trees or plants of any kind. This was one of the ugliest places I had ever seen and an image I associate with big industrial cities.

Arriving in Chicago, we followed instructions through heavy traffic to the museum’s parking garage. We finally reached it only to witness a huge sign saying that the King Tut exhibit was sold out. So that’s why I should’ve reserved my tickets and paid all that extra surcharge. Gosh! Obviously I was a naive country bumpkin about this kind of thing! Strangely, I didn’t feel all that disappointed, and I wondered at my lack of disappointment almost as much as I felt my frustration over the traffic. But now that our afternoon plans were shot, what were we to do? We decided to give Laurie a call and see if she was home and we could do something earlier, but all we got was a message. So we went shopping at the downtown Whole Foods Store. The city around it was filled with pedestrians and had a festival like atmosphere. Whole Foods had its own garage thankfully, because there probably would not be a parking spot on a curb within a mile of there. Aylar barely fit under the roof of the garage, but it did and we found a spot, and spent an hour stocking up for the road ahead. We called Laurie again and got her message.

How about going over to the Navy Pier, park there and walk around there? Great plan, we agreed. Then we could keep calling Laurie and maybe eat dinner earlier. However, it took us half an hour to come to the entrance to the limited access Lakeshore Drive that would take us there. A sign said “do not enter” and so we ended up in a loop trying to find another way to go on the downtown expressway. We finally found a way from the other side of the Navy Pier. We took the exit for the Pier only to not see the tiny sign that pointed to the pier until it was too late. We were up far away on Lakeshore before we could exit again. We circled around and tried to re-enter. We ended up at the same spot we had before, but this time the cars in front of us went directly onto the expressway. So we followed them, realizing that the “do not enter” sign was intended for people coming from another angle to this intersection, to keep them from entering the expressway the wrong way. Like it wasn’t totally obvious which way the busy expressway lanes were going! Oh well, this was America, survival of the stupidest! And I guess we fit in that category if we obey signs that aren’t for us!

We got back on the expressway and exited for the Navy Pier and this time saw the tiny sign and actually ended up on the road out to the pier – hooray! But after several frustrating moments in heavy traffic and confusion, we reached the Pier only to find that their garage was full. The officers directing traffic sent us on a detour, but the garage was far away. We were exhausted now. We’d driven around in a very noisy and congested city in heavy traffic for over an hour. Laurie still wasn’t available and there was nowhere to park and rest. This must be another example of what Starr had meant when she said that she had taken all my resistance to success and transmuted it into traffic delays!

So we decided to leave Chicago. I called Laurie and left a long apologetic message on it for her and we slowly made our way out of the city. The traffic going out wasn’t so bad, but we could see that the traffic coming into the city was bumper to bumper. I was glad to be going in the direction we were. We were nearly out of the city when Laurie called. “Can’t you come back in and see me? I was out having my hair done.” I knew she would probably get all dolled up as she always did at the conventions. So that’s where she had been – the beauty salon. We were sorry but we were unwilling to turn around and sit in all the traffic for another hour or so. Too bad. Chicago was a bust! I was so done with Chicago. And with all the Illinois toll roads with slower speed limits for RVs and trucks.


Heading to our Northwest Passage

In fact, I didn’t want to stay in the Chicago another day, despite having already paid for two days there. I wanted to get going west. So Sunday, we forfeited one night’s stay money and started on our way NW and through the outskirts of Chicago. We’d been in all this traffic on Saturday and Sunday. What do the natives do during the week? It must be an absolute zoo! I was anticipating getting across the plains as soon as possible so that we could return to beautiful mountain nature in Montana. I was feeling nervous about being out in the boonies with our RV – something would happen – another road delay, but what? Since our trip would possibly be a month shorter, we both felt we needed to hustle a little bit if we were going to go check out potential places to live in California. And it was a long way (6 traveling days at least) between Chicago and Lakeside MT, our first western destination.

As we left the urban congestion of Chicago and its suburbs, the land became flat and mostly empty of trees. Once again, we passed through an area with farm after farm (many dairy farms) with pastures spotted with cattle or endless fields of corn, their pinky-golden tassles glowing in the sun. Was this field corn or good eating corn? We couldn’t tell. The countryside gradually gained some modulations of small hills as we edged northward. The whole time, we smelled the blend of wild herbs and cow patties that was that signature “country smell.” In Wisconsin, the land became greener and more lush as we moved into an area with larger hills and valleys. It was overcast again with the sun shining through at intervals, the sunbeams dropping to the ground like shining waterfalls of blessings. We ended up driving a very long day into Wisconsin and stopping at an RV park we’d planned to stay at in Black River Falls area. No one was available, as it was after hours. After hours registration at parks are generally “find your site and hook up and we’ll settle in the morning.” Walking around to survey all the sites, we found the places were rundown, unlevel and there were no full hookup sites, unlike what was promised us by the manager on the phone earlier. Besides, the park was next to the noisy highway and filled with smoke from several enthusiasts’ fires.

So we continued on down the road while I looked up nearby RV parks in the catalogs. After awhile we took a turnoff towards the Hixson-Alma KOA RV park. Far from the interstate highway, it was situation on a hillside overlooking a valley. Beautiful landscaping with flowers and shrubs filled the place. The managers were friendly and even lent us an extra extension for our electrical hookup cable. We had only 1 bar on our cell phones and I hoped I would be able to use it for channeling the next day. We set up by dark and ate dinner. It was late but then at this northern latitude, evening comes slowly. We walked all over the park to find if there were any other sites with more bars. There were none, unless we wanted to park high up the hill in a site without sewer. Exhausted, we slept deeply until around 6:30 a.m. when several other campers left, driving by slowly in their diesel trucks or buses.

Channeling went amazingly well on one bar and we had no problems. We also did laundry in between the afternoon and evening sessions. We went to smell the washers and dryers as we usually did. The person before us had used chlorine so we felt fortunate that maybe a lot of the petrochemical fragrance had been scoured off. We were right. Between the washing and the drying, our clothes smelled great! No icky smell. Hooray! The next day was much quieter and it was cool and pleasant. No one left before 8 a.m. and even the crew was quiet. We talked to the main crew worker who’d shown us our site. He told us he was a construction worker and decided to retire easy. “You can work 20 hours in an RV park and you get your spot for free!” That included all the hookups. He didn’t want to sit around bored, so he took this job doing construction, working backhoes and the like as the park was putting in some new spaces on the next rise. Those who work more than 20 hours are usually paid something, he said, so it becomes a very reasonable financial situation if you already own your trailer and vehicle free and clear. You can live on virtually nothing! He suggested we check out Workamper News at www.workamper.com/WorkamperNews/WNIndex.cfm to find out where all the good work is.


More Magic

The weather was still gorgeous as we hit the road again on I-94 heading northwest. We decided we would stay just on the other side of Minneapolis-St. Paul. It was a much shorter drive, but then if we arrived and set up early at the park, we could pick up some of our growing list of practical items and necessities there. Daniel had misplaced his best prescription pair of reading glasses and I had been serving as his “eyes” to read all the print on small things. We arrived before 2 p.m. and went shopping. Fortunately, there was a huge shopping complex only a couple of exits away. We found nearly everything on the list in a Walmart Supercenter. Unfortunately, the vision center there could not do the one-hour eyeglass special we had hoped. It took a week to get a script in, so we said no thanks and where are the cheap reading glasses?

Generally Daniel doesn’t like the cheap reading glasses you find in every drugstore because they bother his eyes. With a prescription, Daniel could get glasses that reflected the correct distance between his pupils. If the “pupilary distance” or PD wasn’t correct, his eyes would have to work very hard to compensate and he ended up with headaches. So we discussed this with the woman who worked there and she thought Daniel’s idea of checking for the PD of a regular reading glasses pair was workable. We then went and found a cheap pair that fit, took it back to the eyeglass place and had the optometrist in the back check out the PD. It was the same – 61! Amazing! The optometrist was flustered. He’s obviously never had anyone so excited over a PD of 61. So Daniel got glasses that are all as good as prescription glasses for a tenth of the price. Although we are not poor, it is always fun to get a bargain!

The weather was so beautiful as we headed out from Minneapolis, I kept saying over and over “what a beautiful day!” I sang the song from the musical “Oklahoma” which goes “Oh what a beautiful morning! Oh what a beautiful day! I’ve got a wonderful feeling, everything’s going my way!” We continued northwest on I-94 towards North Dakota. The greens gradually disappeared, replaced by the colors of tans, beige, pinkish red of the earth, and charcoal gray. It became quite hot as we entered the flatlands. If you are towing a trailer, you might want to consider ignoring Minnesota. The roads all through the state are made with concrete slabs that give a very bumpy ride. Jerking forward and backwards in teeny tiny shifts is extremely tiring over a span of hours. Imagine how stressful it probably is for tires! We have found that usually we encounter this type of road in cities. Miami has one, and it’s bumpy even without towing. But often, the roads change over to asphalt in the countryside – a layer or two of asphalt over the concrete slabs or just asphalt by itself.

Suddenly we heard a loud bang and felt a shift. Daniel looked out the window and saw debris flying, so we pulled quickly over to the side of the road. Not just a flat tire this time, but a full blowout! We now had added a strip of rubber to all the other tire pieces we had seen on the swales. Just stepping out into the burning sun and high dry windy heat, we sweat ourselves into a drench immediately. In this heat, Daniel got the spare on and I replaced the blown tire in the clever spare hookup under the front of the RV. My nervousness was well founded evidently. I had had this type of discomfort with the first flat tire incident in Georgia near the beginning of our trip. Once the incident had happened, the anxious energy vanished. As we drove on towards the next biggest town of Fargo, I noticed that my nervousness was indeed gone.

At Fargo, we stopped at a Flying J Truck Stop. We like fueling at truck stops because they have air hoses we can use that can get the pressure up to 100 pounds the way our tires require. I suggested that we could ask inside the store part where would be a good place to buy a new spare tire. Just as in Georgia, the guy said “across the street” and nodded behind us. Turning around and looking out the window we could see the big letters “Goodyear” written there. What good fortune is this? When we pulled into the Goodyear place, we noticed several men who had been just sitting around suddenly jump up and come out eagerly to greet us. Evidently they were not busy! Daniel backed the RV into the huge bay easily and the tire was replaced within 20 minutes and all was ready to go. The manager said that it was rare to have this lull in their day, so we knew good magic was helping us, regardless of my road delay karma! I even had time to talk with the guys about the RV, as they examined it closely with huge interest. Most people who are interested in vehicles and mechanics are very curious about the additions we have made to the hitch to smooth out the ride. They are fascinated with the center point suspension that kept us level even with a missing wheel back in Missouri.


The Dry Hot Boring Dusty Part

We continued onward through North Dakota. It was getting late in the day because we had chosen to do a longer stretch to reach Jamestown ND where there were a couple of good RV parks. North Dakota was flat, but not as flat as Kansas. That’s why I wanted to come this route. The small rises and falls of the land supported mile after mile of harvested fields of hay or straw. Huge round bundles scattered over the shining bright yellow-white fields glistened in the sun. It was as if the land had been scraped. The brightness of these fields contrasted with the green grass and green (soy again?) fields bordering them. More infinite corn, stretching as far as the eye could see, gave way slowly to infinite pastures. At one point I saw llamas rather than cows. Occasionally, we’d see field after field of sunflowers. There were the traditional flowers with the big bright yellow heads and dark centers facing the sun. I’d always thought of sunflowers being 6 feet or higher so I was surprised to see that they were only a foot or a foot-and-a-half high.

The land became flatter with “bumps” – small hills that resembled a small camel hump. In the subtle and gentle undulations of earth, each rise and each dip would reveal different wild herbs and shrubs living there. I could see myself as a plein aire painter capturing the many hues of the land and plants here. I listed the colors I’d use for my palette. They were taupe, cream, rust, tan, violet, gray, blue (many silvery blue), several greens and gold. The gullies sported scrubby greenish silver trees and grasses covered the earth everywhere. The ripples and movements of grasses in the wind were very relaxing to watch. These were the northern Great Plains. I could imagine how bitterly cold and windy it could be here in the winter with no high hills or trees to give resistance to the cold fronts when they move through.

When we approached the few towns along this almost deserted stretch, there would be a few big trees but not many. Mostly the people here planted evergreens. I would too if the place was so cold much of the year. The style of architecture is simple, square and sturdy with small windows. Looking at the buildings, planted protectively around each other, you just know it’s a very cold climate. I’d seen buildings and towns like this in pictures of Nova Scotia or northern Scotland. We were in Big Sky Country, on the trail of Lewis and Clark. It must have been quite an ordeal for the famous team to endure winter here!

Coming to another flat and nondescript town known as Jamestown, we exited the highway and made our way to the RV Park along an access road, billowing dust behind us and around us. Even with the windows closed, I smelled it. We soon found a spot in this sparsely populated campground where we could put up our satellite dish and get internet. It’s great having email in remote locations. I feel somehow connected to my network despite the surroundings. This park was a pleasant stay – no upwind campfires. But everything was covered with dust, and our RV was getting to be a pretty dirty color.

The next morning, we went into the small town to see the local tourist attraction – a white buffalo. The white buffalo is part of a Native American prophecy that says when the White Buffalo comes, then there will be peace on the land and the Redman will be powerful and free once again. Or something to that effect. The Buffalo Museum charged admission to their museum and the little valley behind the store where there were some trees. But since no buffalo were visible down there as they were already hiding from the heat, we didn’t see any reason to pay and wait. The gift shop was interesting. It was filled with Native American art, crafts, postcards etc. Outside the museum was another peace pole, very similar to the one at the vortex in Toledo. Good to see!


Medora and Painted Canyon

Another long day of travel down a straight road through softly modulating hills or flat desert revealed fewer and fewer farms and more wildness. We arrived at Medora, a town near the western boundary of North Dakota. At the entrance of the town, we pulled over to the “Overlook” site to see the Painted Canyon. This is part of the Roosevelt National Park here and the reason I chose Medora. The scene and setting were stunning – a Grand Canyon of the Dakotas. The RV park was up next to the Railroad tracks. “Oh no!” I groaned, knowing that there was only one other RV park in town further ahead and it too would be nestled against the tracks. Besides, that one was booked up. Nothing to do but be here – yet another “sleeping lesson” coming? We sat with our truck and RV in line to check in. The place was busy, a strange contrast after seeing so few vehicles and people through our day. On the porch outside the office check-in building, a costumed man and woman were playing country western classics on their guitars. About a dozen people were sitting around in swings and on benches and chairs, listening intently or singing along. As we registered, I asked the clerk-owner, “how often do the trains go by?” He answered “I’ve been here so long I don’t hear them anymore, so I don’t know. People tell me they come through day and night.” I thought ruefully that the catalogs of RV Parks should include noise conditions, but then most parks are quite noisy and most people don’t mind the noises that I do. I sighed. Tonight will be a challenge!

Indeed, as we were setting up, a train went by. Very very loud! I counted 5 whistles. There was absolutely no way I was going to be able to sleep through that! I was in a direct line of sight to the crossing. What got me was that the train honked after it had already gotten to the road, despite there being no more crossings in this town going east and the next crossing was far away if the train was going west. If the people waiting hadn’t heard it before, it was too late for them then! The check-in fellow said that the park was going to be full and it was. RV’s continued to descend on this place into the night, until every space was full. The space behind us was taken by a family on vacation. The mother and father were both young, almost too young it seemed to me (an old fogey by now) to have had the four kids with them. Maybe one of the boys was a friend. The oldest was probably 12, and all were boys except for the youngest, a girl about 5. They immediately set up a game to play. There was a rack with three rungs and each child took turns swinging a rope with golf balls attached to each end. With a good pitch, the rope would land on the top rung and the balls, swinging around, would effectively loop the rope there. The middle of the top rung got the most points down to the outer areas of the lowest rung. The little girl valiantly tried to play in the competition, but even by getting much closer to the rack, she was unable to land any good swings. I watched this from my window as I worked on the computer. I had a flash of concern and prayed that this little adorable blond girl would survive unmolested into her teens.

Night came and for several hours there were no trains. Nevertheless, I still felt the suspense. I did everything I could to buffer the sound of the trains. I put boards and pillows up against my windows in an elaborate jury-rig. Indeed, I did wake up for every train, if I wasn’t already awake and lying there in the bed. I counted 5 trains. Daniel counted 4 but then he’s a better sleeper. Although the night was pretty busy, I got enough sleep for the day. We headed out to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park (see info at www.nps.gov/archive/thro/home.htm) just north of town. This area is very rugged and is known as the “Badlands,” but there was no stress for us. A 30 mile drive wound through it with exits for special viewing places. On the way, we saw bison, horses, and few other tourists. The landscape was awesome and colorful. Many buttes were horizontally layered in subtle desert colors, a treat for the artistic eye. Even though I love trees and there were few here except in the valleys by the streams, the journey through the badlands satisfied my need for wild nature. We picked a few leaves of the wild Silver Sage for a fragrant smudge stick (although I don’t like smoke so we’ll probably never light it).

Here are some pictures. The first two are of the lay of the land so you can see the “Grand Canyon” look. We got up close to a bison for a picture, and enjoyed the antics of a prairie dog village (one of the official stops on the tour). Finally you see the beautiful Silver Sage.

The next morning, we had had enough trains. I dismantled all my elaborate protections and we were about ready to break down when I heard the children screaming next door and a lot of pounding on the RV. It was an intense hailstorm! It was so intense we were afraid one of our windows might break. I was glad our awning wasn’t out. We didn’t know how strong that plastic was, although we didn’t see damage on anybody else’s. After a few minutes it was over. The ground was covered with hailstones, some the size of quarters. Weather is certainly intense here!



Part Ten B: To the Mountains’ Edge



Welcome to Montana!

Within a few miles of Medora, we entered Montana. The colorful buttes gradually became fewer until we were in a barren desert once again. We could feel that the winds were high and pressed on the RV, so holding the road took more focus. A few farms were here and there but otherwise, we saw no sign of civilization for many miles at a time. Few people live here and with good reason. This must be very inhospitable in the winter, even though it’s pretty bad in the summer! Once again, I got nervous about getting gas. We were not going to be able to get to Billings, the first good-sized town, so I was relieved when our book said “diesel” at a small town 40 miles east of Billings named Custer (obviously after the famous last-stand guy). The gas station was small and we had a big rig but it worked. I had a delightful conversation with the sales clerk about the wild weather in these parts. Seemed there had been a fire two years ago that had come through and destroyed the trees. That explained the dead and black fields and wild areas around town.

As we finished, another truck came in and waited for the diesel pump. Daniel wanted to move and let him in, so we headed slowly out of the station. As he turned the RV towards the street, we felt a bang and a scrape. Oh no! We got out and looked. The whole back wall had separated from the RV. Evidently, we had hit the back corner (our “tail”) on the cement buffer block near the pump and it had dented the fender and pushed everything off. This was a big deal now – a major repair. Would this end our trip? A old fellow appeared with a big crowbar and leveraged the back wall back over and inside the bumper. Nails were sticking out and there was still maybe an inch between the back wall and sides. The widest gap was at the bottom and most of the back wall was still attached at the top. The back wall lights were destroyed, so no brake lights or signals. With a file folder, tape and a magic marker, I made and attached a big sign on the back of the RV. “Warning! No brakes! Do not come close”, it said. Then we drove slowly to Billings because we didn’t have the brake working in the RV, so only the truck could stop the whole 10 tons we weighed. We stayed far back from the vehicles ahead of us and used excess caution.


Billings is at the End of the World

Billings had a lot of RV activity. One of the biggest repair places around was here – Pierce RV. We followed directions in the catalog and drove into the parking lot just minutes after they had closed. It was Saturday afternoon. The supply store was closing too, but we talked to someone there and they said that all the service people were gone. No one could do anything before Monday. Yikes! Yet another traffic delay! I was getting tired of this “curse” from Starr! However, the friendly woman continued, we could stay for free in the parking lot where others were waiting to get their RV’s fixed. There was a full hookup available to us in the first spot. We decided to stay here rather than go find the RV Park we had reserved a spot with that was on the other side of town.

Once Daniel starting setting up, I went about taping duct tape on the back and top wall gap. It looked like it would rain in a little while so we needed to do this before we went inside for the night. I thought we could plug the floor inside with spare towels to avoid drafts when we were done with the taping. And then we were going to have to wait until Monday. How much resistance do I have? This is too much. Musing about this, I began to crawl up the back wall, precarious now because the only way to reach the top was on the ladder which is of course attached to the back wall that is unattached. Not a stable situation! So to avoid accidents, I used the ladder only to brace myself as I worked my way taping up the sides. The sky had gotten darker and the wind had picked up before I noticed how suddenly cool it was. Looking across the field next to the Pierce complex, I saw the sky was dark and clouds swirly, suggesting a tornado. The wind was blowing harder and harder and it was taking more strength for me to hold onto the ladder and stay upright. It soon began to be virtually impossible to brace myself with the ladder, tear off a piece of duct tape (which required both hands) and place it just so over the crack or other tape due to the cold gale force winds. The storm was getting spooky and heading our way. Would I be able to tape everything up in time before the storm hit?

Daniel dropped what he was doing and both of us focused on getting the taping done. I tore off the tape and gave it to him to place. Even though both of us were working as fast as we could, the cold wind was slowing us down. Finally we taped what we needed to avoid water damage inside the back wall. Scared, we both ran inside. The RV was weaving back and forth and one of the hatches had banged open so hard it had broken a piece off of it. The sky was dark. We hunkered down and waited. Heavy rains followed with the winds howling. After a short while, it abated and then quickly stopped. We peeked outside. It was a pleasant, albeit cool, day with a light breeze. The storm had passed. What was that we wondered! Later we heard that this was a fairly typical plains storm and that tornadoes were extremely rare here. I felt that I had been through a tropical storm or hurricane – the winds must have been around 60 or 70 miles an hour for a short while there! The storm gave us yet one more reason (which we didn’t need) to not want to be in the plains or desert.

We were exhausted so we decided to go out to dinner. Billings is a strange town. We didn’t find a real downtown area but several shopping areas scattered here and there. No cohesion, no center, just haphazard sprawl. We got the sense that Billings had grown very erratically because the zoning as we were used to was nonexistent. Some areas were busy, and other areas nearby were deserted fields. We saw a porn shop near a school. A real hodgepodge! We were recommended a good restaurant, but because we didn’t have a reservation, we had to eat at a bar sitting on barstools. This was obviously THE restaurant with decent food in the city. Nevertheless, it was good to eat warm food others had prepared when we were so tired and getting cold with the post-storm cold front moving in.

Sunday we had the place pretty much to ourselves as Pierce was closed except for the parts store until 3 pm. There were about 8 or 9 other RV’s parked in the lot next to us, all waiting to be repaired or looked at. Most were empty, just being stored there. An older man next to us in a big coach kept to himself but the woman of a young Mormon couple with their two girls was talkative. They were staying in the last trailer. Her husband was working locally, she said, so it was okay to stay here for free for the time being. They were waiting for a part to repair their sewer tank. Once it came in they could get onto the schedule, probably at least two weeks before the repair would be done. Other than talk briefly with her and enjoy watching the two sisters interact, we relaxed. Daniel got meditative and gave me a fabulous energy healing. I lay on the bed and he breathed here and there and held energy here and there in my deepest tension-ridden areas. I had no idea how relaxed I could get with all my hyper nervous condition, but I drifted deliciously away and felt gentle and sensual the rest of the day. This was great energy healing! I’d heard others say how good Daniel was, and I knew he knew how to do good things for me. I’d relied on it. But this time was special, way beyond just a moment of work here or there. This was a deep relaxation and healing experience - and I’ve had very few in my adult years. My emotional body was lighter and freer too. Thanks Daniel! If you want some good work done, check him out for yourself! He can do work over the phone as well as in person. Call him at 954-321-5565 if you want some work.

After a casual dinner in the RV, we took a walk around the place. The weather was pleasant and cool now, a relief after the heat of the previous days. Pierce RV was one of several Pierce businesses here. There were pre-fabricated homes – double and triple wides that looked virtually like solidly built houses. They created a neighborhood-like setting where customers could walk down a charming sidewalk with attractive landscaping from one pre-fab trailer to the next. We had just sold a good size house (at least for 2 people it was) and could see the ease is getting a couple of these pre-fabs ourselves to plunk on a nice lot we would buy somewhere. An inexpensive and quick solution! Other Pierce businesses included a flooring store and a RV rental business.

Rest days were rare. Obviously it took a major road disaster like this to force us to stop and relax a day. We resolved to take other rest days in the future to recuperate from our exciting and stressful life on the road. So Monday we were all re-invigorated and wanting to get something done. A couple of guys came out and looked at the RV. Even the insurance fellow came by. The opinion by the Pierce mechanics was that they didn’t want to do something this major in the summer. Generally, they did other smaller things in the summer and then in the winter when no one was traveling much, they would do the bodywork. If we waited until Thursday, they said, they would saw off the nails sticking out, crowbar the back wall up some to get it into place better, and then screw the bottom area of the wall into the RV floor frame. In winter, they could order a new back wall and do the job thoroughly and correctly so that there would not be a gap any longer at the floor of my bathroom.

We simply didn’t want to wait until Thursday, so we decided to do the repair ourselves. We went to a nearby Lowe’s and got the right length long screws and saw blades, plus other parts we needed. Daniel fixed the back lights, then sawed off the exposed nails, except for one we couldn’t get. I borrowed a crowbar from the mechanics. While I held the back wall in place, Daniel used his power drill to fasten the back into the frame. Then we thoroughly taped the whole thing. Thank God for duct tape! When we were done, we returned the crowbar and told the guys what we’d done. Laughing, they said that they would have done pretty much the exact same thing on Thursday.


Tired of Tires

It was mid-afternoon on Monday and we set out from Billings, continuing west on I-90. About 20 miles out, another BANG! This time another tire blew. We pulled over to the side of the road. This was the third tire of the original 4 tires on the RV. Evidently these tires were not handling the hot and bumpy road. Both blown tires had done damage to the underside of the RV, so there were more fix-it projects ahead for us. This time, the blown tire was on the side away from the center of the road and there was more weight to lift with the jack. Daniel lay on his side in an awkward position and worked at cranking the jack. Slowly, way too slowly, the RV lifted. He had to stop several times. This was testing his strength limit and his arm was beginning to give out. We were both getting concerned that his arm wouldn’t make it. But after a long while, it worked and the spare was on. Whew! Daniel was exhausted and his arm ached.

Now we needed to buy another tire, so we chose a larger town (but still small overall) named Columbia not far down the road to stop for the night. We checked out both of the local tire shops but neither had a tire in stock that would work. One said he could order the tire from Butte and in two days we could continue. However, we didn’t want to wait in the desert for nothing. So we found where he ordered his tire from in Butte and called. Yes, they had them in stock. We reserved 2 tires because it was obvious that the original tires were cheap and we should replace the remaining one as well. We parked in the local RV Park next to the highway. It seemed to be threatening to rain but never did. We discovered that this rain, in dry climates, never makes it to the ground. You can see it rain but never feel any. It’s called “Virga Rain.”

Here’s a picture of it and also of the local beautiful wildflowers.

The next day, we headed out gently as possible to get to Butte. It was a fairly good drive of 185 miles, so I talked to the tires and told them to hold on and not blow. The remaining old tire “assured” me it would stay strong. So here I was, talking to tires. What’s next? We had no center point suspension in the back now since the blast from the second tire had messed it up. So we felt more bumps on the road. We wanted to stop and buy some food but we passed a WalMart Supercenter before we were able to turn off. Darn! The WalMart Supercenters had the best non-health-food-supermarket food. The landscape began to change. It was still dry and barren, but now the small bumps of hills became larger bumps and real hills. In the distance we saw blue mountains. We climbed in altitude. One of the odd things was the amount of water available in the midst of the dry and barren desert. The roads generally followed the rivers. I felt it was part of the divine plan to have water available for wetlands that supported birds and wildlife within the greater desert. A balance.
Here’s a picture taken from the car of the river we followed through the dry valley.

Finally, we arrived in Butte and found the tire place. It was late in the day, but the mechanics were there. The manager said he was no longer expecting us, but he was glad to see us because he had just promised our tires to someone else. If we had arrived a half hour later, there would not have been any tires for us! Thanks to the support team of spirit helpers that we didn’t stop at the WalMart! Soon we had all new tires on the RV and the spare was topnotch too. Daniel had to stay on top of the guys because they were about to put the tires on when they hadn’t balanced them. So much to pay attention to! He had to think of everything, including the shafts and other details my brain doesn’t seem to ever remember. The tires were reasonably priced – much cheaper than in South Florida. And Montana doesn’t have a sales tax so everything is some 6 or more percent cheaper than in other states.

Next door was a Safeway supermarket and we got food supplies there as soon as all the tires were on. Turns out the old tires were Chinese. Cheap tires at half price but they just don’t last. We had found that out the hard way. We left town feeling secure. Was the resistance over? I felt very clear now and safe on the road. I was excited too. We were on the cusp of the great mountains of Montana. Finally, we were across the plains and ready for the next level of adventures that I had anticipated throughout the whole trip. That night we stayed at Deer Lodge and I slept great!