After hanging out in Washington for longer than originally planned, we are now on our way East, heading to Idaho, Montana and beyond.
Our followers will have read how significant delays at the DMV in processing my driver’s license has prevented us from entering Canada, where my interim license is not recognized. The delays, as we waited and waited, also caused us to abandon our travels to Alaska, the original destination of our trip.
While extremely disappointed and even frustrated, we refuse to allow these setbacks to put a damper on this amazing journey we are on. We have come to love this lifestyle of traveling, not really knowing where the next stop will be or what the next location will bring. There is a saying among the motorhome folk that states “Home is where you park it”, which is starting to ring very true to us.
So, after the delays, we enthusiastically researched destinations that lie to the East of Washington and that is where we are now heading. Frustratingly, I do still not have that driver’s license, but the interim one is fully legal in the US so we are off.
We left Anacortes, WA and headed east on Hwy 20, the most northern hwy that goes east/west. We travelled right through the North Cascades National Park, then through towns with unusual sounding names like “Twisp” and “Okanogan”. Our first stop was Omak, an unexpectedly lovely town. While seemingly in the middle of nowhere, it was awesome. The RV Park we stayed at was quite outstanding! Right next to the Okanogan river, large, spacious sites, 50 Amp hookups for the motorhome, perfectly clean and modern facilities. Right next to the RV Park was a stadium where a local barrel racing event was going on. For those not aware what barrel racing is (which until that night included myself), it is one of the events at a Rodeo. The event is for women riders, who navigate a circuit through 3 barrel drums on horseback. The winner is the rider with the fastest time.
We walked to the stadium and watched for a while, marveling at the speed and agility of these girls and their horses. I had never seen this live before and found it not only fascinating, it also felt very appropriate watching this in an area known for cowboys and cowgirls.
After Omak, we continued east-wards, determined to get into Idaho for our second stop as we were keen to leave Washington. Please realize,we mean no disrespect to Washington, it is a beautiful state, but we just wanted to get on with our adventure and felt that being in another state would make that “real”.
So we continued east on Hwy 20, through the towns of “Republic” and “Kettle Falls” to “Tiger” where we headed south to “Newport”. At Newport we crossed into Idaho. Yay! Feelings of “relief”, “excitement” and “adventure” flushed through us again. That excitement we originally felt when we departed Sacramento was back! It was a welcome feeling! To further heighten that excitement (and this may sound really strange), we decided to overnight, not at an RV Park, but in the car park of a Walmart! Yep, you read that correctly. Strange as that sounds, it is something we had not yet done with our motorhome. It meant overnighting without a hookup for water, electric or sewer, instead relying on all the capabilities of our motorhome. We were pretty confident this would not be an issue, but, as it was our first time, we had some apprehension.
We called the Walmart in advance to ask permission (we had learned this was the appropriate thing to do) and were assured we were welcome, but to please park around the perimeter of the carpark. So we did, and were ultimately joined by 9 other campers that night. Our motorhome did just fine by the way, we have a residential refrigerator which is the biggest power consumer (it is always on), but we also used the microwave, boiled water for our tea and coffee, ran the lights, water pump, water heater and heater. Our batteries held up perfectly fine, dropping to 55% by the time we left. We could have done better though as we made the mistake of not switching our water heater/heater to diesel, which would have saved some of the battery power.
What WAS a problem, was the battery of our Subaru Forester. It was as dead as a doornail when we got there 🙁
This has happened to us before, so we should not really have been surprised, but we were. Let me explain. When you tow the Forester you need to turn the key to the “ACC” position, which turns on all the electronics inside the car and that, of course, drains the battery. We estimate we can tow for about 5, maybe 6 hours. Max! That is one day of towing and the arrival at Walmart came at the end of our second day towing. Note we knew this, so ran the engine of the Subaru for quite some time at the end of the first day, then again before we headed off in the morning. Obviously, not enough.
Needless to say we were disappointed, frustrated and annoyed. Feelings that turned even stronger when our “go-to” car-starter pack completely failed! The battery was THAT dead. So, on the Walmart carpark, I started the motorhome’s onboard generator to get 120V power, then plugged in my battery charger to charge the dead battery. This of course worked just fine and we were back in business soon after. However, it was another mark against our Subaru. We learned (after we purchased the Subaru) that most other cars that can be towed, have a “Disconnect” feature, which simply disconnects the wheels from the drive train. You do not even have to “turn on” the switch as the wheels turn freely. This means the battery is not taxed at all. When we purchased the Subaru we were told “Absolutely, you can tow this vehicle behind you motorhome”, but they failed to tell us “but only for a few hours”. We live and learn I suppose.
We actually love the way the Subaru drives, we love the All Wheel Drive, we also love the comfort and “zippy” engine, but she is just not suited to be towed behind a motorhome. We will continue “as is” on this trip of course as we have little choice, but, sadly, she will be traded in for something else upon our return home. A costly exercise, but we feel we have little choice.
After leaving the car park instead of an RV Park, we set out and entered Montana soon after! Excitement hits us again and the whole Subaru “thing” was pushed out of our conscious thoughts.
We found a site at an RV Park in Columbia Falls, just 15 minutes outside of Glacier National Park.
Upon our arrival, they only had a 30Amp site available, which we took. Then moved to a 50Amp site a few days later, relieved as we have hit some unusually hot weather with temperatures hitting the mid-90s. In Montana! With the 50Amp connection we can adequately run our A/C units. You can tell we are really roughing it in this motorhome 🙂
Here is a view of the roads from inside the motorhome . . .