Return Trip Home, A More Northern Route
Part 5 of 5
A Motor Home Trip – By Kathy Maass
This is part five and the last of a five part series that describes the cross-country trip made by Kathy and Dit Maass to attend the annual Family Motor Coach Association rally. Enjoy reading about Kathy’s trip of a lifetime. Kathy is an Oregon retiree and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We took a more northern route towards OR from Michigan, and traveled hwy 54 to I-75 and then to US 23, working our way towards hw y2, which took us to Minot, N.D. We visited friends there in Minot before continuing west. The first few nights, our stops included Campers Cove RV and Canoe Livery, a beautiful Passport America campground in Michigan (located off of US 23), Driftwood Shores RV Park in Thompson, MI (5 miles west of Manistique on the upper peninsula), a casino located 20 miles west of Hurley, Wis., a Walmart in Bemidji, Minn., and the Roughrider RV Park in Minot, N.D.
At the Campers Cove RV and Canoe Livery our little dog, Heidi, began to show signs of distress and we went in search of a veterinarian. When in a strange place, just ask. Most campers are very friendly and willingly assist with information about the local area. The first veterinarian (in Alpena, MI – Lynn R Switzer) was a very reasonable $30 vet visit and seemed very competent; she said Heidi had an ulcer and gave her a shot and pills. Heidi experienced a seizure and 2 more vet visits as we worked our way west on hwy 2. One vet said she had an abscess tooth and changed her diet and gave her pills. All three vets had told us to have blood work done on her as soon as we reached home. We nursed her the rest of the way home, administering the various pills and once we arrived home, she was admitted to the vet hospital for a night to have her system flushed. Apparently she had eaten something that didn’t agree with her and she had pancreatitis.
As we journeyed through the states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, we passed an elk ranch, stopped at rest areas along the way, saw a nasty car accident, take care of minor maintenance (e.g.: John’s car battery was dead one morning), enjoyed the amenities (e.g.: swim pools, full hook-ups, and/or large shower facilities at those RV campgrounds) where we stayed, fought off pesky mosquitoes that hover near water areas, and enjoyed the breathtaking scenery.
The temperature began to warm up, and by July 26, it reached 96 degrees outside. Passing over Tenderfoot Creek near Hurley, Wis, yellow wild flowers sprinkle the side of the two-lane hwy. Using our Elk’s book for guidance, we headed towards the Elk’s Club only to discovered the Elk’s in Ironwood is not there and we stayed at a casino located about 20 miles west of the town of Hurley. We continued to be flexible with our plans and travel. The morning of July 27, the jacks on Ray’s motor home were buried in the ground and he wasn’t able to raise them. This can happen during extreme hot days, and they have to be in the up position before you can leave. At Dit’s suggestion, Ray put air into the air bags and used the coach to help pull out the jack – it worked and we are on the road by 9 am heading past the tip of Lake Superior. This is the day that our friends, Ray and Sandy Baker, will part company. They had planned on staying longer in Minnesota to visit friends. With hugs all around, we wish them safe travels.
We wound our way through the lovely old style communities and ate lunch in Floodwood, Minnesota. Stopping occasionally along the way for fuel and to give Heidi her meds, the farther west we go from Grand Rapids towards Bemidji, the lovelier the terrain. July 28 is the day Heidi doesn’t seem to be doing well, not eating, staying in her kennel while we travel and when we stopped at a rest area she had a seizure. We got directions to the All Pet hospital clinic located just a short distance up hwy 2 west of Grand Forks. She’s given more pills, a diet change and we’re told she has an abscessed tooth. Our goal was to keep her comfortable until we got home.
Once we settled into Roughrider RV Park in Minot, N.D. we called our friends to let them know we were in town. Dit and I had met Bud and Karen in 1986 during our first trip to Hawaii and have enjoyed their friendship over the years. They came right out to camp to meet Pat and John and made plans to get together the next day.
In a true mid-western hospitality, Bud and Karen came to camp in a van the next morning. They’d borrowed the van, with their son’s help, and Karen had planned out the seating arrangements and a rotation so that we would each have time to visit with others in our little group over the day as we ventured out to see the sights. As Karen repeatedly impressed upon us, there isn’t much to see in Grand Forks, N.D., however there is the lovely Scandinavian Heritage Park located right in the town of Grand Forks. Also, the Peace Garden is located on the border between N.D. and Canada. Those are two “must see” attractions for anyone traveling through North Dakota. In the evening, Bud and Karen returned to take us all out to the nearby Homestead Restaurant for pie and ice cream. This was one visit that I was sad to see come to an end.
Leaving Minot by 8:30 in the morning, we passed through farmland, and the fields are shades of green. In Montana, we stopped at the welcome center in Culbertson, and along the way we saw a lot of white crosses along the hwy, placed there as a sad reminder of fatalities. This is a common sight in some areas of the south as well – a white cross is pounded into the ground near the location of a fatality. Sometimes they are adorned with flowers. As we drive through the rolling prairie hills of Fort Peck Reservation, the fields are changing to brown and our stop for the night is at the Edgewater Inn and RV Park in Malta, Montana. Since the temperature is above 90 degrees outside, we are glad to have the electricity hook-up to run our air conditioners.
The next day, I count seven crosses lumped together on one side of the road and one cross on the other side – evidence of a disastrous fatality. We are grateful for the safe travels we have just experienced – our destination is Helena, Montana.
West of the town of Fort Benton on hwy 87 is a scenic rest stop that overlooks the beautiful lush valley and Missouri River. Two casinos in that area have been closed down and are for sale – a sign of poor economic times for that area. We drove down the 7% grade into Black Eagle as we head to I-15. Sitting high above the road in the motor home as we face down this steep grade I hold my breath. The hwy winds through beautiful scenery heading south towards Helena, MT and reminds me of the canyons in Utah near Park City. At exit 192A we park at a Walmart for the night.
We’re in the lead and it’s August 1st, another hot day with temps reaching 95 degrees and our travels take us west on hwy 12 through Helena National Forest park and over Powell county summit (elev 6,325) where we wait for John – our diesel has more power on the hills than John’s gas powered motor home, and we don’t want to lose our friend. As we take I-90 towards Missoula through beautiful wooded hills, we’re happy to have emerged from the flat farmlands into the more diverse landscape.
A mile south of Missoula we headed into the mountains, crossed into Idaho where we gained an hour on the clock and before we reach Spokane, WA, we made a stop to hug our friends John and Pat good bye. Dit and I debated if we would make a dash for home or relax in a campground our last night and have a shorter trip to our home the next day. Option 2 won out – we take I-90 to exit 221 where a LaQuinta Inn RV Park in Ritzville, WA has shaded areas and full hook-ups to accommodate RV travelers.
We’d been on the road about seven weeks for this trip and encountered illness, mechanical issues, cultural experiences, threat of severe weather, seen the sights and above all – enjoyed a great time with friends. The “road calls” to many who have chosen this as a fulltime lifestyle.