RV Problems – the rest of the story.

This is the second time I’m typing this story in. The first time I had to disconnect the cell phone for Tom and thought I had saved the whole story… nope. Oh well, we learn from our mistakes.
We left Yakima Wednesday morning and headed out on State highway 12 towards Mt St Helens. We had several areas where the road was closed to one lane because of rock slides. They had huge dozers out moving rocks. We found out later that the blasting crew may have made a slight miscalculation. Instead of blasting out 20 tons of rock they may have blasted 200. What a beautiful area this is; blue skies, mountains circling you on all sides, towering pine and cedars, aquamarine waters dancing over rock strewn riverbeds. Did I mention blackberry bushes? Everywhere. Tall beautiful bushes with berries so thick and big that you could fill a coffee can without moving your feet. This state is a berry pickers paradise.
We found our campground west of Packard and dropped the camper. This is a great campground with 700 big sites, some wooded, some in the open and some along the golf course. We headed off for a look at the volcano. We drove about forty miles up to Windy Point and got some great photos of the still smoking volcano as well as the damage it did back in 1980. The pictures of course will not do it justice.
The next morning we packed up and started out of the campground with plans to visit the Mt St Helens visitor center on the other side of the mountain and do a little hiking. This is where the blackberry story really begins. We were slowly weaving our way out of the campground through a wooded one lane road admiring the blackberries when suddenly we hit a stump with the back wheel of the fifth wheel (fw). We bent the front of the two axles. We called Keystone our manufacturer and found the closest Montana dealer in Tacoma about sixty miles away. The tire was turned out slightly but we thought we could limp our way there. We made it about thirty miles before the tire blew. We had turned onto highway 7 as a shorter route to where we were headed. Along came Walker who lead us into the town of Mineral. Our first good samaritan of many. We parked at the community center parking lot and checked with Gary (owner-manager) for permission to stay there while we got help. This town of about 500 is nestled at the base of Mount Ranier and has no cell reception or WI FI but they do have heart. This little town turned out to be the poster child for all that is good in small town America. We headed for the dealer in Tacoma about 40 miles awway and were told that they could not come to Mineral to work on the fw. They were really great about it and did have parts that we could take with us if we could get someone to do the work in Mineral. They called a tire place and made arrangements for them to come out and replace the tire and hopefully tow us into Tacoma. Back to Mineral we went to wait for the tire guy, Mike. Late afternoon now and Tom is alternately napping and reading in the truck. I’m knitting and pacing. Along comes Gary to check on us and see if we need anything. He pops a cold one from his stash in his car and decides to hang out with us. A truck drives by and Jim stops to get the scoop on us. They both decide that what we ought to do is drive the unit across the street after the tire is changed and they’ll have their friend Russell replace that axel for us. Walker from thie morning rescue stops to see if we need anything on his way home. Tom and I are looking at each other and thinking why on earth would we let these guys work on our unit and how much could they possibly know.
Mac stopped by and agreed with Gary and gang. Now we are getting nervous because these guys are pretty insistant that they can help us. Mike showed up and changed the tire and the concensus from all of us is that we’d have worn out and blown the new tire within thirty miles. Mike couldn’t tow us on a flat bed because we wouldn’t make bridge clearances. So we decided to take the local boys up on the offer to stay the night and think through our narrowing list of options. We hooked up and pulled the fw across the street to Jims shop and backed into one of his bays. They hooked us up to electric and water. Beers were opened all around and the wives wandered over to meet us too. It was decided that in the morning we’d drive up to Tacoma and get the parts and when Russ got home that night he’d replace the axel.
We got back from Tacoma about noon and Russ was waiting to help us. Several hours later and with supervision from all the buddies we had a new axle, a new spare tire and some great new friends. None of these people would take any money for helping us. We had talked about our travels and our Habitat For Humanity friends and projects with them. Russ said we do that because we can and he would replace our axel because he could. Faith in mankind reaffirmed.

RV Problems in Mineral, Washington

Have we got a story for you! It all started as we were looking in amazement at the blackberry bushes growing wild. They were so full of berries that you could have filled a coffee can with berries without taking a step. The most amazing thing was that they weren’t nearly ripe or ready to pick and yet they were so big.

Let’s back up a little. I didn’t really tell you alot about the Yakima Valley several days ago. The town of murals was Toppenish, Washington. We have found out since that this sleepy little town is not a place that you want to visit at night. Seems that there is quite a bit of friction between the native Americans and the Mexican population. The wineries we visited were Desert Sand and Hogue. Hogue has sold out to someone and so the wine has changed. This whole valley is filled with fruit orchards, grape vines, hops vines and fields of produce. We have been eating fresh Mount Ranier cherries and apricots.
Stay tuned for the rest of the story….

Greetings from Yakima, Washington

We spent the day wandering around the Yakima Valley and admiring the endless fields of produce, vineyards and orchards. We started in a small town just south of here that has over a hundred murals painted on the buildings around town. Some of the buildings have windows painted that look like people in different activities. Artists submit proposals and if approved then recruit helpers to do the actual walls. Very impressive! Here’s a trivia bit for you. The Yakima Valley is the second largest producer of Hops in the world. We saw fields of it everywhere. Next we visited several wineries and did a little tasting. Tomorrow we are off to Mt Ranier and some hiking.

Seattle Bound

We left Wisconsin Thursday afternoon and headed west. We spent our first night in St Clair, Minnesota. Friday we traveled a little past Bismarck. Saturday we drove to Billings and had a great visit with C’s Uncle Bruce and Aunt Betty. We left there in the evening and drove to Bozeman. Spent a few hours there Sunday morning. What a neat town. Very hip kind of downtown. We visited the museum and saw the King Tut display. Tickets $9.50/per person. Eat your heart out if you saw it in Chicago for the big bucks.

Three sheep for everyone person in Montana. Mountains everywhere. Tom and I are currently reading the book Blind Your Ponies. It was written about this area and has added a new dimension to our traveling. Found a really neat quilt store in Bozeman but alas, it was not open on Sunday. Tom was secretly cheering.

After we left there we continued along I 90 west. Soon got into the area east of Missoula and saw some of the forest fires up close. They had started a few feet off the edge of the road. We watched helicopters dropping chemicals on the flare ups. We also saw trees burst into flame and burn in an instant. Pretty scary stuff. We felt really bad for all the firemen that have to put themselves at risk. We are in St Regis, Montana tonight. Will leave in the morning for Yakima, WA.