Where do I begin… oh wait let me start where I left off from our last Blog post. A quick refresher if you have not read our post Going Up and Over…we had experienced some engine difficulty going up the mountain on I70 on our way to Glenwood Springs.. the engine QUIT! We made an appointment to have it assessed at the nearest Cummins Coach Care on our route which happens to be in Salt Lake City, UT a mere 368 miles away. Needless to say this Nervous Navigator was OVER THE TOP Nervous about our travels. My Handsome Chauffeur was a wee bit as well, but what were we to do except start heading that way and prayed that we would make it!
Off we went. The Mobile Condo gave us no indication that we would have any trouble, but then again it didn’t give us any indication the first time either!!! We decided to be optimistic and tried to enjoy the journey. My Handsome Chauffeur guided us over more mountains My heart began pounding a wee bit quicker with every site of the majestic mountains we were coming upon, not only with anxiety of breaking down, but the BEAUTY of the terrain as well! We chugged along doing our usual 65mph even though the speed limit was We are like a turtle….slow and steady we go. We have no problem with people flying by us. We are in no hurry AND with the unknown diagnosis of our previous engine failure we were not going to over tax the engine by going 80 mph.
I am happy to report the 368 mile trip went without any further trouble. We breathed a sigh of relief as we pulled into the Cummins parking lot. We made it! Although our home would be a parking lot for the next few days the views of the mountains was a nice treat.When we called to set up an appointment for service we were told it was a first come first serve basis. We arrived on a Saturday afternoon. They would not be opened until Monday at 7a.m. We would most definitely be the FIRST in line as we were the ONLY coach there waiting! So wait we did. Sitting outside in the parking lot enjoying Father’s Day
Monday morning at 6:55 a.m. my Handsome Chauffeur and the Cummins technician started the diagnosis. The technician used a code reader to see what the computer read. It was a code that stated our engine was “beginning” to get hot. No kidding it was getting hot… it was climbing a steep grade fully loaded with all of our worldly belongings, towing a full-size truck with a full dressed Harley in the bed! The best answer the tech could give us is that “perhaps” it was a safety feature to shut us down before it overheated. Well, I guess we could be happy for that, BUT…..not having a definite answer didn’t set well with me. He also told us it is hard to diagnose things when they happen intermittently. We would most likely have to wait for more symptoms or BREAKDOWN! For now we could just continue on our journey as there was nothing to fix at this time. WOWZER… good news bad news I guess! Nothing major wrong with the engine. It has been running fine since the breakdown. I guess we just wait for the other shoe to fall??? So off we head to our next home for the summer Hill AFB, UT. the shortest trip ever 31 miles!
When we were planning our journey for 2019 we agreed we would not do it on our previous fast and furious pace. We were exhausted by the end of our 2018 journey once we got back to Florida. We made reservations to stay at Hill AFB for 2 weeks. We had never been to this part of Utah. Years ago we did the southern portion …Moab, Bryce Canyon and Arches. We were looking forward to exploring the mountains surrounding us and The Great Salt Lake.
We were able to see the Great Salt Lake off in the distance from our campground. It’s the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River. On average the lake is 75 miles long by 28 miles wide, covering 1,700 square miles. It is only about 33 feet deep. The size and depth vary greatly with seasonal evaporation and precipitation. The lake has no outlet; water leaves by evaporation and because of this it leaves high concentrations of minerals (sodium, calcium etc.)left behind.
Due to the high salinity there are no fish in the Great Salt Lake. It is however home to brine shrimp, brine flies and several types of algae which make a feast for the millions of migrating birds. As we rode along the shores of the lake it was really stinky too!
I was curious about what exactly brine shrimp were. I may be dating myself, but when I was a kiddo and read comic books there were always adds in them to buy “Sea Monkeys”I found out that the “Sea Monkeys” are actually Brine Shrimp! Who knew?!
We rode around Antelope Island State Park which is the largest island in the Great Salt Lake. We had amazing views of the lake, free roaming herds of bison. Unfortunately, we did not see any pronghorn antelope for which the island is named.We did tour a ranch that was established in 1848. It was a working ranch until 1981. The Adobe home that was built to be the home of a Mormon pioneer Fielding Garr a widower and his nine children. Their “Mobile Condo” was also on displayI can ONLY imagine what difficulty they must have endured going up and over the mountains! Again, I give thanks to the Good Lord above that He saw fit for me to be born in the era of Diesel engine power AND paved interstate!
As we toured the barn filled with antique farming tools we spied a sign with familiar vernacular it was cool to see something from Kansas!
We spent many days touring the beautiful sights of Utah on the Harley. The mountains are our favorite places to ride. One of the rides took us up to the Cache National Forest up to 9000 feet in elevation. There still was snow and it was much cooler. Not near the amount of snow we came upon in Colorado, but then again we were at 3000 feet less in elevationThe area a bit down the mountain is great for ATV and there were trails everywhere. We were on the search for bear. Unfortunately, we did not see any, but there were deer! Thankfully they were more interested in grazing than darting across the roadway in front of CrAzY humans on a motorcycle. The snow was melting and the waterfalls were flowingWe enjoyed days of golfing at the beautiful course on the base. The backdrop of the mountains and the fairways were like playing on lush green velvetWe have been living at a higher elevation this summer. We thought walking the course would be great exercise . Indeed it WAS!!! It proved more of a workout than we had anticipated, but we made it! We don’t walk up many mountains golfing in Florida😉😎
Our stay in Utah gave us lots of opportunity to ride the Harley through mountain towns. There were beautiful ski resorts all around. We took in some music on a beautiful Sunday afternoon at a ski resort The Base hosted a country concert for the troops with Easton Corbin and Thompson Squared that brought near to 3000 people. It was a carnival like atmosphere with free music and food! The best part was that the festivities was they were right next to our campground. We were able to listen to the great music and not fight the crowds while sitting in our own front yard!It clearly was NOT front row seating, but the music sounded great😎😉We have fallen in love with this area of Utah and will most definitely be back again. My Handsome Chauffeur is so enamored with the area he made it sound like we may someday spend a LOOOOONG time here!
Our two weeks flew by and soon it was time to hit the road again. After being stationary for 2 weeks we spread our stuff all out so packing up took a few days we kinda felt like We finally got everything back in order and hit the road. Next stop We have friends who had made the journey and recommended we stay in Arco, ID. The town is small and quaint. We were looking forward to rest and relaxation along with a bit of touring. We would be part of the community over the 4th of July. A true slice of AmericanaNot much happening there right now, but it can be a busy place when NASA comes to town as our camp host informed us!
Just a few miles away was the Craters of the Moon National Park. NASA does some training in the park because the terrain is very similar to the Moon.There are 3 lava fields and miles of sage brush steppe grasslands that cover 1,117 square miles of land.
Many lava flows are present on Earth’s actual moon, but the astronauts confirmed that most of the craters on moon are a result of meteorite impacts not from volcanos. The craters we were seeing in the park were most definitely caused by volcanos.
NASA’s Apollo Astronauts Alan Shepherd, Edgar Mitchell, Eugene Cernan and Joe Engle learned basic volcanic geology here in 1969 as they prepared for their moon missions. Now NASA is also training in the park for Mars missions.
Although the park appears to be barren there were surprisingly some delicate flowers popping through the lavaWe had just missed the explosion of annual wildflower blooms that peak in mid June. I bet that is spectacular to see!
Our home of Arco, ID is famous as it was the very first city to be powered by Atomic Energy!On July 17, 1955 all the lights in Arco were successfully powered by atomic energy! Not far from the town was the 900 square mile Idaho National Laboratory the birthplace of our Nuclear Navy and EBR-I Atomic Museum. We took the tour and learned the history of peaceful use of Atomic Energy. It was really interesting for my Handsome Chauffeur as in his previous career in the USAF he worked with nuclear missiles. For me it was interesting, but WAY over my head. As the guide was explaining things and other tourists were asking scientific questions, I felt like the character Penny on the Big Bang Theory sitting there trying to make sense of what Sheldon and Howard were talking about and looking for a glass of wine 😉😊
After touring and learning we hopped on the bike to head towards Sun Valley, ID. The area is known for the rich and famous hanging out. This was more my speed than learning about atomic fusion and energy. The ride was beautiful nestled by mountains. The city of Sun Valley is surround by beautiful ski resorts. I can see why people flock there. My head was on a swivel searching for the likes of Clint Eastwood and Bruce Willis who we were told make the area their home. Alas, we did not run into any of the famous, but I am certain we were hob knobbin with the RICH. All the shops were high end retailers and boutiques. Quite a busy little town.
Our time in Arco came to an end. We enjoyed the little town. Met many interesting people and learned a thing or two. We had spectacular sunsetsbut it was time to head further north…. next stop Henry Lake State Park, ID just outside of Yellowstone.
Because of the size of our Circus Train we have found that many state or national parks cannot accommodate us…. not so with this JEWEL of a park! We felt as though we were dropped into heaven!We were again surrounded by mountains and on a pristine lake where we saw moose, Trumpter Swans, and reports that there may be bear in the area as well. We were hoping to see bear, but from AFAR for certain.
We were only 13 miles away from Yellowstone. It had been over 20 years since we visited the park. This time we would be enjoying it full 360 views from our Harley. We only had a few days in the area. The day we rode to the park was only 56 degrees and partly cloudy. That didn’t stop us! We donned all our leathers, gloves and neck warmersBRRrrrrr it was COLD, but the majesty of the landscape was warming our souls We kept our eyes out in search of bear, but no luck. We did get up close and personal to a BisonThe photo is not doing itself justice. The Bison appears to be further away than it truly was. I had learned that Bison can run at a speed of 40mph when charging. All over the park were signs telling tourists to beware of wildlife. Welllll my CrAzY Chauffeur thought it would be great for us to get close to this guy. I was less than pleased! He kept encouraging me to get a picture and assured me the bike was in gear and we would be faster than the Bison. UGH! Not even a week after we left the park the viral video of a poor little girl getting tossed in the air by a not so pleased Bison!!!! Man, were we lucky that this guy was more interested in chowing down on the grass than the stupid humans on a motorcycle!
I never tire of seeing the beautiful sunsets and the one we had on our last night at the park was beautiful In all of our travels we have seen beauty that we store in our mind and hearts. This area of the country has certainly left its mark on our hearts. As Arnold Schwarzenegger says in his Terminator movies… “I’ll be back”
As we prepared to head further north and west to Missoula, MT. I began to think about going over more mountains and my heart started to beat a bit quicker. As you have read I absolutely love living amongst the mountains, but ABHOR riding over them in the Mobile Condo! As I took a peek at the atlas I saw indeed we would be climbing them once again, but the prize at the end of our travels would bring us to visit with friends who we were neighbors with when our home was in Kansas as they had recently relocated to Missoula. I was ready to climb those mountains and prayed that our Mobile Condo was equally as ready😬AMEN ..We made it without any difficulty.
Missoula is surrounded by mountains and is lovely! We had tons of fun riding and exploring. We were still on the hunt to see a bear. I heard that there was a great place to see wild life .. primarily Bison, Elk but the person had seen bear as well and had photos to prove it! So off we go There was a slight problem in that I didn’t research fully… because of the free roaming animals AND because most of the roads are gravel through the range they do not allow motorcycles to travel through the park 🙃😞… a liability issue we were told. Sooooo we took the ride through the mountains to a park in search of bear and only got to see the parking lot and a pyramid of antlers 🤣Our goal of seeing a bear was not fulfilled in Montana but we DID get to spend time with our dear friends.We can see how happy they are in Montana! We shared our stories of what has happened since we both left Kansas and how Kansas will always feel like home. Miles may separate us physically and our hearts were filled just being with them!
Missoula was as far west as our travels would take us this year. Too soon it was time to say “see you next time” to our friends. We are turning the Circus Train in an eastern direction. One more beautiful sunset from the Big Sky Country!Back to climbing more mountains and crossing the Continental Divide one more time!
Next stop North Dakota to check another box on my list of states I need to visit! No reservations are made… We Be Winging It!