Friday, August 18, 2017

Day 13, Thursday, August 17, 2017 - Silver Lake Park, Maple Falls, WA

The First Campground Photo of the New Escape 21
Thursday, August 17, 2017 - Silver Lake Park, Maple Falls, WA, 14 Miles, 14 Towing Miles For the Trip

Well, here it is the first day/night in the trailer & I can't tell anyone. Here at the Silver Lake campground there is no cell service, either AT&T or Verizon. I'll put the page together, and hope to post it tomorrow when I go shopping.

It was quite a day! To start with, I have one thing to point out about the Best Western/Rainbow Country Inn. They have the worst separation between floors of any motel I've been in. A beautiful building with a central atrium, indoor pool, free breakfast, etc, but you can hear every step someone in the room above makes. Not just jumping or dropping things; every step make the floor creak. 

Anyhow, the people above me didn't get up before me, so I just had to listen to them getting ready for bed the night before (I was up at 6:30AM, far too early for us retired folks. A quick shower, breakfast & check out then over to Escape for my orientation. It went well, and I was done (and the additions to the trailer were also done) by 9:45. 

Around 10:00 we headed towards the border. As usual, I managed to get in the slowest line. Somehow at grocery stores & borders that always happens to me. The trailer went through the commercial lane and even though I had a 45 minute wait, I beat the trailer to Bob's Burgers. We switched tow vehicles & I was off for my first stop - across the street to U-Haul. 

While it was much cooler than when I loaded the U-Haul in Oswego, it was still quite a job getting everything in the Escape 21. I didn't bother unpacking the boxes at U-Haul, just stuffed them in the trailer. A 14 mile drive to Silver Lake Park & the Red Mountain Campground, Site 4. I'll be here for 5 nights so I can skip the Eclipse madness. It is a water & electric site for $31.00 per night. I thought I saw showers on the campground map, but that must have been one of the other campgrounds in the park - there are 3 of them. All that is here is a rough outhouse. Glad I have the trailer! I'm also glad I have a reservation. The campground is full over the weekend, at least according to the tags on the site posts.

I spent most of the day unpacking & trying to find places for everything. The 21 is a much bigger trailer than the 17 (well obviously 4' longer) and is wider & taller, but somehow I still had a difficult time finding room for everything. I'm sure I'll adjust to the new storage locations as I settle into the trailer. Right now I'm just trying to make enough room to eat & sleep!

I'm shot - Dinner was a couple of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches (actually homemade Oswego strawberry jam) and some chips. I didn't have the energy to dig out the grill, but I now have 8 empty storage boxes. I left them next to the dumpster in case someone else can use them.

Since there is no cell coverage within 10 - 15 miles, I suspect my postings will be a bit erratic over the next week or so.

Until Next Time- 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Day 12, The Rainbow Country Inn, Chilliwack, BC

Parked at Escape Trailer Industries
Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - The Rainbow Country Inn, Chilliwack, BC, 24 Miles, 3,307.8 Miles non towing miles For the Trip

I hung around the Windmill Inn until check out time at 11:00, then headed to Sumas to cross the border into Canada. The trailer was still parked at the Sumas U Haul, a good sign. No problems crossing the border or the drive to the Best Western of Chilliwack, AKA the Rainbow Inn. It is within walking distance of Escape Trailer Industries & I stopped by to check out the new facilities. The have a showroom with each of their 4 current trailers on display. I took a few photos of the inside of the 5.0TA. Check today's LakeshoreImages page.

After checking out the showroom I headed over to the motel & checked in. A nice room for $117.20 US ($140.00 Canadian). It does have a problem that lots of motels seem to have - very few available outlets for plugging your stuff, at least near the table or bed. I did find a few motels that had a multiple receptacle extension, including a couple of USB ports on a tabletop unit, but not here. Makes it difficult to use my iPhone as a radio without killing the battery.

Dinner was a chicken wrap at the Tim Horton's next door.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Day 11, Tuesday, August 15, 2017 -The Windmill Inn Motel, Lynden, WA Day 2

Downtown Lynden, WA
Tuesday, August 15, 2017 -The Windmill Inn Motel, Lynden, WA Day 2, 0 Miles, 3,283.8 Miles non towing miles For the Trip

While the Windmill Inn doesn't make the top 3 motels of the trip, it has the most comfortable bed. The room is pretty small; while there is a table, the only way to sit at it is on the bed. No where to put stuff in the bathroom - other than the toilet cover, the sink is the only flat surface & the lip is only about 1" wide. Still, it works.

I slept late, then headed to Safeway for some non refrigerated supplies for the trailer kitchen. After that I read a bunch of journals & forums, a bit of my latest book (on, horrors of horrors, a Kindle), then drove over to the Washington State Fair. I didn't take my Nikon, so the photos are all with my iPhone, but it looks much like the NY state fair, although there is more exhibits of student work, including a large Lego exhibit. Lots of booths selling just about everything, rides, and food and large tractors. Some Fair & more downtown Lynden photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After leaving the fair I continued down main street at the suggestion of the owner of the Windmill Inn to see the main part of town. Huge hanging baskets of flowers everywhere, windmills, and false front buildings.

Dinner was an early stop at Bob's Burgers for a grilled chicken & avocado sandwich. Larger than I could eat, but excellent.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, August 14, 2017

Day 10, Monday, August 14, 2017 -The Windmill Inn Motel, Lynden, WA

Diablo Lake, Cascades, WA
Monday, August 14, 2017 -The Windmill Inn Motel, Lynden, WA, 180.1 Miles, 3,283.8 Miles non towing miles For the Trip

A beautiful drive along WA 20. While I remember it from 1996 as a "hairy" road, it didn't seem bad at all this trip. Maybe I have more mountain roads under my belt! In any case, I stopped for a few photos along the way, including the first of snow. I believe the lake is Diablo Lake, but it could be Ross Lake - the signs at the overview seems to describe both, but the dam looks more like the one on Diablo Lake. In any case, a pretty green color that usually indicates it is glacier fed. I didn't see any glaciers, but I'll bet it is cold - the air temperature was down to 48°F as I went over the pass. A couple more photos on today's LakeshoreImages page.

After the Cascades, it was a flat drive to Sumas & Lynden, where I stopped for the day. I'm in the Windmill Inn Motel & Campground for 2 nights, after which I'll head to Canada, and the Best Western across from Escape Trailer Industries.

After checking into the motel I headed to Bellingham & the LSF Marine Supply to pick up a bottle of Meguiar's Marine Wax. While more expensive than their top automotive version and more difficult to find, I found it works better on fiberglass. Could be just my imagination, but that is what I have been using on the Escape 17 for the last couple of years & it looked new when I sold it.

Dinner was a southwest salad at McDonalds.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Day 9, Sunday, August 13, 2017 -The Virginian Motel, Winthrop, WA

A Barn Along US 97
Sunday, August 13, 2017 -The Virginian Motel, Winthrop, WA, 264.7 Miles, 3,113.7 Miles non towing miles For the Trip

The Motel Oasis Inn, Moses Lake goes on my recommended list (although I only plan on using motels for the immediate future). A great breakfast, complete with a waffle maker, a nice room, oversized pool, etc.

My original plan was to take I 90 to Ellensburg, then US 97 to Pateros, switch to WA 153 to start a run across WA 20. Unfortunately, there was an accident on I 90 West that closed it before Ellensburg. So, rather than getting to Winthrop too early to check in at the Virginian Motel, I decided to take an earlier exit on I 90 that would get me to US 2 and take US 97 south towards Ellensburg. I really didn't want to go to Ellensburg, but I did want to photograph a barn that is on US 97. The last time I was here there were no cattle; it is more interesting with them (although I could do without the truck, so in one of the images I photo shopped it out).After photographing the barn I turned around and headed back towards WA 20. One good thing - notice the smoke has pretty much disappeared!

After that it was back over most of the same roads until Wenatchee, where I got to explore a new section of US 97 (not really new, I drove it during the 2014 trip). I haven't taken WA 20 since a 1996 trip, so even though staying on US 2 would have been faster, I'm still ahead of schedule, so I'm heading through the Cascade mountains & an area of Washington with strange town names. First was Twisp; I'll hit Diablo, Corkindale & Concrete tomorrow.

I'm in room 37 at the Virginian Hotel, a "resort" that has rooms, cabins, etc. It is a nice room on the second floor for $87.85. No restaurant on the premises, so I'll have to head out later to find dinner. I included a photo of a Twisp sign & my building. More barn photos, Twisp & my motel building at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was a Creamy Greens pizza at the East 20 Pizza & Beer. An excellent thin crust pizza & Alaskan Amber on tap - what more could you ask for?

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Day 8, Saturday, August 12, 2017 -The Motel Oasis Inn, Moses Lake, WA

Dry Falls, WA
Saturday, August 12, 2017 -The Motel Oasis Inn, Moses Lake, WA, 266.9 Miles, 2,849 Miles non towing miles For the Trip

I did enjoy my night at the Little River Motel, although while the bed in the back room was OK, if you plan to stay for any length of time I suggest adding a topper - there were some hard spots in the mattress.

I had already booked a room in Moses Lake, and planned to hang around the Little River Motel until 11:00 (check out time) but the smoke was bad enough that I left around 8:00, just after breakfast. That made my arrival time in Moses Lake far too early to check in (11:00AM). I forgot that there would be another time change between the two stops.

So, I decided to take a bit of a tour & punched Coulee City into the GPS. That added a couple of hours to the trip & let me see Dry Falls again. I stayed in the area on a 2014 trip, including a day at the city park and a couple of nights at the state park below the falls. It doesn't look and different, but I took a couple of photos anyway. They are a bit Smokey compared to the 2014 photos, but I included a panorama this time. The viewpoint still gives me a bit of disorientation standing at the end! The panorama is at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Speaking of smoke, it got very bad just across the Idaho border, then gradually cleared as I drove into Washington. It isn't gone, as obvious in the Dry Falls photos, but my eyes aren't watering.

I didn't stop at the Lenore Lake Caves along WA 17 on the way from Coulee City to Moses Lake - while interesting, they are not real caves & I already visited them last time. I don't remember WA 17 as being as rough last time, but is sure is lumpy now!

I'm in Room 107 at the Motel Oasis Inn, complete with a sofa & king size bed for $85.12. I still arrived earlier than check in time (around 1:00), but the let me in with no complaints. There is a fairly large pool outside my door - I may try to do some laps before dinner.

Dinner, well actually a late lunch, was a Subway chicken sub & my first of the trip Alaskan Amber beer.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, August 11, 2017

Day 7, Friday, August 11, 2017 -The Little River Motel, St. Regis, MT

Smoke From Local Fires
Friday, August 11, 2017 -The Little River Motel, St. Regis, MT, 328 Miles, 2,582.1 Miles non towing miles For the Trip

There sure is a difference between Super 8 motels. The last one I was in at Murdo @ $128.00 was the second worst one of the trip (the Motel 6 in Albert Lea was the worst). The one last night at Big Timber was the best of the trip @ $133.23. For the $5.00 difference, the room was nicer, including a very relaxing Barcalounger chair, and a real waffle machine making blueberry waffles!

Today's drive along I 90 found the smoke. The web site I checked stated the smoke from the BC fires was mostly high in the air & didn't make it down to the ground, there were a number of local fires in western Montana that were producing ground smoke.

While it was noticeable in the distance even in Big Timber (the road side signs pointed out mountains that couldn't be seen), it was very heavy southeast of Missoula & around Superior. I stopped in a rest area just west of Superior and took a few photos. I never saw flames, but there were a couple of places where you could see moving columns of smoke. A few more photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I'm staying in St Regis, which is currently upwind of the nearest fire, which is about 10 miles away. The smoke here isn't too bad, but noticeable. I'm in a 2 room cabin, #10 at the Little River Motel. A bit primitive, but very nice, complete with kitchen (including pots & pans, a full size refrigerator & two full size beds). Much more of my liking than the motels I've been staying in. The WiFi is too weak to use in the cabin, but there is a good AT&T as well as Verizon signal.

I'm not sure why, but my Mobley AT&T modem will not connect to my 1&1 ISP. It works fine for reading forums, etc and will let me post to them, but won't do an FTP connection. This has happened at every stop, so it isn't just the current tower. My Verizon Jetpack has worked fine, but since I plan to use AT&T as a back up, that is going to be a problem.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Day 6, Thursday, August 10, 2017 - Super 8, Big Timber, MT

The Badlands
Thursday, August 10, 2017 - Super 8, Big Timber, MT, 312.4 Miles, 2,254.1 Miles non towing miles For the Trip

I always felt that I 10 in Texas was a long road at 878.6 miles in the state, but even though I 90 is only 554.10 miles long in Montana, it feels much longer. Maybe the preceding part in Wyoming adds to the feeling. In any case, it was a long boring drive through rolling hills & very few trees in sight.

I originally set Matilda, my Garmin, for Bozeman, MT which was about 374 miles from Gillette. At a rest stop along the way I dug out my iPad and went to to check what was available in Bozeman. All were well over $200.00. I checked out some other towns along I 90, and the Super 8 in Big Timber was about the only motel within a comfortable driving distance that was under $200.00. So, I made a reservation at the Super 8 for $133.33 for the night. I checked out the motels in Missoula where I was planning my next stop, and they were even more expensive than Bozeman. I'm now booked for tomorrow night in a cabin at the Little River Motel in St. Regis, a few miles beyond Missoula. I can't wait to see what I get for $112.20!

Speaking of Missoula, I was listening to NPR along the way, and Seeley Lake (just outside of Missoula) has so much smoke that they are evacuating the residents. I hope I can get through the smoke from the British Columbia fires, but it looks like the entire northwest is covered with it. Since I'm booked for 5 days at the Silver Lake Campground in Maple Falls, WA, it may be a smokey week!

Since I arrived at the motel early in the day, I decided to do some spreadsheet work. I keep a spreadsheet of the camping & fuel costs for many of my trips. Now I've always been one to dispute the fact that you save money buying a RV compared to staying in motels. There are plenty of reasons a RV is better, but I never believed cost was one of them. Still, since the cost of motels on this trip was higher than I expected, I sat down & did the math.

Over the 6 years I traveled in the 17B, I stayed in 1090 campgrounds with an average cost of $21.42 per night. That makes a impressive total of $23,347.80 spent on campgrounds. Now, apply that to motel stays for the same number of nights at $100.99 (the average so far on this trip) and you get $110,079.10! That would buy a pretty fancy Escape 21, even many models of Class A motorhomes! Even at the average cost of motels on my 2011 trip to pick up the Escape 17, the total for staying in motels instead of the trailer over the last 5 years would be $67,111.30, still enough for a couple of Escapes.

No photos today, so I used another one of the badlands photos from yesterday. Dinner was a chicken fried steak at the Country Skillet next door to the motel.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Day 5, Wednesday, August 9, 2017 - Badlands National Park, SD & Gillette, WY

Badlands National Park
Wednesday, August 9, 2017 - Badlands National Park, SD & Gillette, WY , 296.7 Miles, 1,941.7 Miles non towing miles For the Trip

A short drive, but one with a couple of stops. The first was at the Minuteman Missile Historic Site. It is located at the exit from I 90 at the East end of the Badlands Loop (SD 240). The exhibit brought back memories of the "duck & cover" days of the 50's. A couple of photos are at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I then took the Badlands Loop through the park. I bought a National Parks Senior Pass at the entrance station. While I already have one, if it has to be replaced, you pay full price. It was $10.00 today; at the end of August it goes to $80.00. Still a good deal for the number of National Parks & Monuments I visit, but why not save $70.00?

I stopped to take a bunch of photos, including some panoramas, which seem to show off the park well. Check them out at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I wasn't even tempted to stop at Wall Drugs at the western junction of SD 240 & I 90. I had to look at the hundreds of signs all along I 90 over the last 500 miles, and I stopped a number of years ago; once is enough!

I continued on I 90 to Gillette, WY and stopped for the night. This time I used to make a reservation at the Gillette Quality Inn, the least expensive on line motel in Gillette. It seemed to work - $79.66 for a single. A nice room, and I'll be able to cook a waffle for breakfast!

By the way, the construction phase of my new Escape 21 is finished. It is now in Quality Control for final finishing and preperation. I added a page with all the photos Escape Trailer Industries sent me during the build.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Day 4, Tuesday, August 8, 2017 - The Mitchell Corn Palace, Mitchell, SD

The Mitchell Corn Palace
Tuesday, August 8, 2017 - The Mitchell Corn Palace, Mitchell, SD, 383.9 Miles, 1645 Miles non towing miles For the Trip

I didn't quite make my usual 400+ miles today, but it doesn't really matter; I'm at least one day ahead, and I left a spare day or two so no rush. All of today's drive was on I 90.

I stopped at Mitchell, SD to photograph the Corn Palace. I've done it before in 1996 & 2011 , but since it changes every year, why not? A couple more photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I did survive the night at the Motel 6, but it is far from a favorite. Tonight I tried a different number, a Super 8 in Murdo, South Dakota. Not as inexpensive as I remember from the last time I stayed in one, but that was years ago. $121.00 for a single. I'm sure I could do better making an on line reservation. Maybe I'll try that sitting outside the next motel. So far, the Red Roof Inn has been the best combination of quality & price, but there doesn't seem to be any ahead of me, at least for the next couple of days.

Dinner (For a change, I haven't been telling you what I ate every night - I'll start in earnest once I have the trailer) was a chicken sub from Subway.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, August 7, 2017

Day 3, Monday, August 7, 2017 - Motel 6, Albert Lea, MN

The New Escape 21
Monday, August 7, 2017 - Motel 6, Albert Lea, MN, 445 Miles, 1261.1 Miles non towing miles For the Trip

Another day, another 400+ miles towards Chilliwack. I made it through Iowa, and would like to give a thanks to Iowa Dave for the invite to stay with him & Rita. The problem is I drove by his location at lunch time, and didn't want to quit early for the day. Maybe another trip!

Another mostly interstate day, on I 74, I 80, I 35, and almost to I 90, where I'll spend a couple of days. I stopped for the day at the Motel 6 in Albert Lea, MN, just across the Iowa border. Should have filled the gas tank in Iowa - gas in MN is $.20 per gallon more. The room is not as nice as either Quality Inn or Red Roof, even though it is more expensive than Red Roof at $66.51 for the night.

I posted a couple of photos of the partially finished inside of the trailer at today's LakeshoreImages page.  Everything looks to be on schedule.

That is about it for the day.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Day 2, Sunday, August 6, 2017 - Red Roof Inn, Champaign, IL

Sunday, August 6, 2017 - Red Roof Inn, Champaign, IL, 412.2 Miles, 816.1 Miles non towing miles For the Trip

I guess 400 miles is my limit for the day. I'm slowing down a bit since I was doing 500 per day on the trip to Chilliwack to pick up the 17, but I am towing a trailer this time. Speaking of the trailer, it sure doesn't put much of a load on the Tacoma. Much smaller frontage area & weight than the 17; I'm getting close to the same mileage I'd get without it (20.1 MPG).

So, today's drive was along I 71, then I 70 & I 74. Maria, my GPS gave me a tour of Indianapolis, thinking that the city streets were faster than the interstate loop (they aren't). Other than that a smooth trip.

I stopped for the day around 4:00 my time (and since I crossed into central time, only 3:00 local time) at the Champaing, IL Red Roof Inn. Quite a bit cheaper than last night's Quality Inn at $58.97, and the room doesn't look any different. Of course there won't be a waffle maker for breakfast, but I'm not sure that was worth the $87.61 difference.

I walked across the parking lot to Alexander's Steakhouse around 4:30 for dinner. It is an interesting place. Not sure if it is a chain or an individual restaurant, but in the center of the room is a 6' X 20' charcoal grill. You pick out your steak, then can either have them cook it for you or grill it yourself. Even that early there were a few customers gathered around the grill cooking steaks, burgers, toast, etc. As I said, and interesting concept.

After that it was back to the room to relax & read a few forums & blog (and, of course, post this one!)

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Day 1, Saturday, August 5, 2017 - Quality Inn, Brunswick, OH

Saturday, August 5, 2017 - Quality Inn, Brunswick, OH, 403.9 Miles, 403.9 Miles non towing miles For the Trip

I managed to get out of the house by 9:00AM, tossed the last minute stuff into the truck & trailer, and headed west. Much of the drive was on I 86 (the old NY 17) then I 90 & I 271. I started getting tired of driving around 4:30, asked the GPS for a motel, and ended up at the Brunswick, OH Quality Inn. The last time I stayed in a motel was in 2011, and they sure haven't gotten any less expensive! $146.58 for a single room. At least they remembered me & gave me points that I'll probably never use. I guess I'll never complain about campground prices!

Dinner was a Cobb salad at the near by Bob Evens. Not much else to report other than I did get a new batch of pictures of the trailer. They are installing appliances & finally added the wheels! I'll post some with the next batch.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, August 4, 2017

2017-18 Trip, Getting Ready!

Not Even 1/2 Full!
Harborfest is over and I'm leaving on my "Avoid the Snow Trip" early. This trip is starting out a bit different from the last 4 or 5 - no trailer. I sold the Escape 17B, and will be picking up a new Escape 21 in Chilliwack, BC on August 17th. So, I'll be staying in motels for the first 3000 miles! I'm a wimp & refuse to go back to tenting.

I decided that since I usually travel with a fairly full truck bed (it is only 5' long in the short bed Tacoma Off Road), and I wanted to bring most of what I carried in my old Escape 17B for the new Escape 21, I'd need a trailer for the trip to Chilliwack, BC (Where I'm picking up the new trailer). I checked with the local U Haul dealer as well as the one in Sumas, WA (the nearest US town to Chilliwack, BC) and reserved the smallest U Haul enclosed trailer (a 4'X8' Cargo Trailer). Another reason for the trailer is I'm bringing a case of local upstate NY wine & 4 six packs of Bear Naked Adirondack beer for rally beer & wine exchanges. This is far too much to bring into Canada, and the Sumas IGA that provided locker rentals has closed.

One way to Sumas from Oswego is $415.00 & I have 12 days to get there. I plan to arrive in Sumas on the 16th, drop the trailer at the U Haul dealer, cross the border with the truck & spend the night at the Best Western motel across the street from Escape Trailer Industries. I have an orientation scheduled for 8:00AM on the 17th.

During the orientation they will install a pneumatic table mount, and a couple of Umbra Hooks that I brought with me, and set up the weight distribution hitch. Unlike with my 17, picked up in 2011, you can no longer import the trailer yourself, so after orientation I'll head back to Sumas. Escape will haul the trailer through customs & I'll pick it up in a parking lot, head to U Haul to transfer my stuff, then head to a campground.

While I was told the trailers don't leak, just in case, and to make it easier to move the stuff from the rental to the new Escape, I've packed as much as possible in plastic bins. I'll give them away after putting everything away in the Escape 21. I've already reserved 5 nights at Silver Lake Park in Maple Falls, WA, a short drive from Sumas, to put stuff away, check out the trailer, and avoid the solar eclipse madness (only 90% where I'll be, so it probably won't be too bad).

While I don't have a trailer to give the starting statistics, when I sold the 17B I had slept in it 1090 nights, and towed it 85,846.6 miles. If interested, here is the page I made up to sell the trailer.

For this trip, all I have is the starting mileage of the Tacoma: 20,208.

I picked up the trailer around 2:00 & spent the rest of Friday packing. Of course it was 85°F and 96% humidity. I think I lost half the trailer weight in sweat! At least the rain held off until I was done packing. The plan is to leave tomorrow morning, heading west & avoiding toll roads. I will probably end up on the interstates since I need to do more miles per day than I usually do. I'll try to start posting daily updates, but that depends on the availability of the internet & how tired I am at the end of the day. There is one more photo (of the truck & U Haul) on today's LakeshoreImages page.

Until Tomorrow -