Upon stepping back into the great room of our house two things hit me in the face: how massive it felt after trailer-living for so long; and that I missed it so badly that I immediately got tears in my eyes. In six days, I had gone from the Yuppies and mountains of Bend, OR, traveling 2188 miles back to the rednecks and deer stands of home.
The trip was long and a little arduous with weather but overall things went well with no close calls and courteous drivers for the most part. Several sections in Montana brought on some anxiety—a pass between Idaho and Dillon which required 4-wheel drive and the six-mile-long 6% grade coming out of Butte which is so steep and curvy that even the semi-trucks have a 25-mph speed limit. With the features the Chevy provides on the ability to both downshift and use the built-in tow haul and grade braking, all went well with not having to use much braking to remain in complete control.
A couple of foible’s: my backing skills are non-existent at this point and the first campground I had in mind in Parma, Idaho had just one spot available and I could not for the life of me get the trailer backed into it. In frustration, I pulled up all other area campgrounds and happened upon a fishing access free camp near the Snake River which thankfully had several pull-thru spots. As it turned out, by nightfall all the fisherman left and I had the place to myself. It was a bird haven and I heard their calls and the frogs croaking long into the night and very early the next morning.
The second night was equally frustrating as I got led on the grand tour of downtown Idaho Falls with the GPS thinking I had wanted N Yellowstone Ave instead of South. I finally arrived at South Tourist Park, a very well kept city park right on the river, offering water, dump, garbage and a free one night stay. Everything went well until late in the afternoon when I was bothered by cars which kept circling the parking lot. They would park for awhile then take off circling again. There was one other motorhome there and a few tents (in pouring rain??) but I was beginning to wonder if I had stepped into a gang or drug exchange area. Finally, I had it, and called the non-emergency police number and shortly an officer arrived. He stopped one of the cars, the other fled and then came over to have a conversation with me. It seems during the off season this park becomes a haven for gay pickups and collusions and it only got worse after the officer left. There were some highly suspect people who would drive in and park for several hours and although I was never directly bothered or approached, I would not feel comfortable ever staying here again. All the reviews I had read of this spot did not mention this aspect either: a lesson in not fully trusting online reviews!
Save for one stay in the Billings, Yellowstone RV Park at an outrageous $50/night, the rest of my camps were at WalMart, always a trusted source. The bad weather forced me to abandon my first routing from Billings of going through Wyoming due to its snow and then high winds for several predicted days, so I opted for the northern route through the oilfields of North Dakota then across Minnesota. I managed to hit the travel through Minneapolis-St Paul very early on a Sunday morning so it was a relative easy two-hour drive through. Then back into blessedly, rolling green, beautiful Wisconsin.