Scooter racing

Scooter racing
After parking for the night, we'll still have time for a little racing

Sunday, 24 June 2012


Saturday, we took off from Soo Michigan, crossed the border in under 10 minutes and were back on Canadian soil before 11:30 a.m. We had received regular reports that Sudbury was experiencing a heat wave. And sure enough, as we drove east, the temperature soared and the sky was cloudless. This caused Nui to speculate that the weather gods had been fooled, since it is a well-known fact that temperatures drop and torrential rains begin the second she sets foot in Ontario for her annual camping trip. But, of course, we had forgotten that we had arrived a day early. This so upset the natural balance of the universe that it caused the roof of a shopping mall in Elliot Lake to collapse, just minutes after we drove by that town. By the time we arrived in Sudbury, the temps had dropped and we awoke today to torrential rains and freezing temps. The gods are smiling once again.

And so ends our adventure. We met a lot of great people – Americans are among the friendliest and most helpful people on earth. Our biggest frustration was finding help when we had problems with the RV. Considering that it is a mobile lifestyle, we had expected that RV repair places would be a little more helpful in dealing with sudden problems that occur on the road, instead of telling us to come back in mid-July. We hope that people at RV service centres like Capital RV (Bismarck), Countryside RV (Jamestown), and Big Sky RV (Bozeman) think about adding a service to help travellers get back on the road. Our thanks, once again, to Chris (Moses Lake), Keith (C&T RV, Bozeman) and “the smoking man” at Crossroads Repairs (Jamestown) who went out of their way to help us. They made our trip so much more comfortable. 

We had several highlights: the mountains (although Nui had had quite enough after nearly 2 weeks), the Badlands, the 1880 Town (Murdo, SD) which had a diner in an old train that featured the best pie in the world – “sour cream raisin pie”. We’d drive back just for that pie! It would also give us a chance to take a photo of the skeleton walking his T-rex. There was the tour of the Little Bighorn Battlefield memorial, the incredible amphitheatre built into a bluff in the Badlands for the Medora Musical, the Painted Canyon, the Enchanted Highway and so much more! It seemed that every day was busier than the last and so we didn’t get to do any geocaching, metal detecting, or gourmet dining at Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (mostly because we couldn’t get reliable Wifi to let us find the places!).  But that’s not such a bad thing – it gives us an excuse to go back. 

We had a great time, great fun and a great trip.  And so Prince Porketta is back at home and Nui is preparing for her camping at Grundy Lake.  The 2 Fat People in an RV are signing off.  Thanks to everyone for reading our blog and for your comments.

Dry Dock in Michigan

We managed to make it out of Minnesota and Wisconsin without having to put pontoons on the Beast (just barely). Our last day in the USA went off without a hitch. Prince finally got to eat a Klondike Bar and Nui managed to drive on a straight stretch of road without either road work or buffaloes. There are a few cyclists that may be a bit upset because she still tends to hug the right part of the lane – oh, and Wisconsin may be missing a sign or two. (sorry) We made it to Michigan and just to add flavour to our travels, we took an RV lot at the Soo locks. We had our choice of lots…. right next to a gaggle of children who, the lady at the office reported, “seemed like nice kids”.   However, we had seen the billboards advertising how people should take their kids hunting, so we decided to take the second choice, which was on a hill, directly downwind from a sewer dumping station. We think we made the right choice.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Damp in Duluth

Planting rice this year?
We suddenly realized that we were about half way home, and had used up about 2/3rds of our available time, so it was time for a push. We left Jamestown, intending to stay in Brainerd, after taking a photo of Paul Bunyan. Unfortunately, we never did find his statue, so we moved on and planned a long driving day, ending up in Cloquet, MN for a DDD dinner. No such luck. As we approached the highway turnoff, we were stopped by the police, who told us the road was closed due to flooding and re-routed about 35 miles north. So off we went, on one of Prince’s specialties – the unplanned detour. 35 miles later, we turned east and were expecting to make it to Duluth but we were stopped again, and told we had to go another 30 miles South because of flooding. The highway person strongly recommended that we stop for the night at the Blackbear Casino, since there was no way anyone was going to Duluth last night. There was a LOT of water everywhere and all the side roads were closed. So, Prince got his wish and we camped in a parking lot with the generator running. And we didn’t gamble! Good thing we stopped because the road ahead was washed out and some people died. Today we made it past Duluth and drove into Michigan, where it is a lot drier. We stopped just outside of Marquette and finished our hunt for sapphires and garnets. Still have amethysts to sift through. We’re on schedule and may even make it back a day early. How’s that for planning?
Sapphires, Garnets and assorted pretty rocks

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Life of a Blogger is Not an Easy One.

We didn’t spend much time in Mitchell, SD. It’s biggest claim to fame is the incredible Corn Palace, whose outside murals are completely done with corn and grains. It’s an amazing site and they change themes every year. This year was dedicated to youth activities. Following that, we started to think about some of the things we had missed. We are sorry to say that we’re going to miss the Testicle Festival in Montana and the Whorehouse Days in Gilbert, ND. Prince mentioned that we had forgotten to visit the Enchanted Highway in ND, so we hightailed it north and decided to go West to see it. Along the way we were told about the amazing Medora Musical in an amphitheatre built into the bluffs of the Badlands. This was highlighted by a Pitchfork Fondue dinner, where they spear steaks on pitchforks and heave them into huge vats of oil. Naturally, we couldn’t resist. The steaks were awesome (and huge) and cooked to perfection. The Musical is really something to see – the backdrop of the Badlands just made the whole little (300 mile) detour worthwhile. The festivities were cut short by rain (of course, we were in the West), so this morning we turned around and came back to Jamestown. On the way back, we took a 32 mile detour to see the Enchanted Highway near Regent, ND. Enchanting isn’t the word. These sculptures are amazing – even more so because they are just sitting in fields, miles apart, on an almost completely deserted road. It’s truly inspiring to see what some people do with a little extra time on their hands….. 42 foot grasshoppers, for example. What was even more amazing was that the 32 mile inbound detour took something like 95 miles to get out of. Nui was getting a little concerned when some of the roads looked like they were nothing more than grass tracks and tractor trails. But she stayed on the paved parts and eventually we wound up back on the interstate. Tonight we’re camped next to an Old West fort and 3 sunglass wearing albino buffalo. Haven’t seen the buffalo yet, but we’ll try tomorrow before we leave for…….

A big thanks to Crossroads Repair Service in Jamestown, who helped us on our way by fixing the side mirrors, which were threatening to blow off, and refused to take any payment for the work. Thanks!!!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Plans have changed – we’re going West

You can never please fat people…. We’re not that jolly. We got tired of the flat terrain, warm weather and never ending sunshine, so we’re going back to the hills. If you have any questions or comments, post them here.

Friday, 15 June 2012

How to do Mt. Rushmore on a budget

Crazy Horse Memorial.... one giant head
Nui waving at other Class A drivers
We made it! From Deadwood, we took another series of long, long, long hills but we finally made it to Keystone, SD, the home of Mt. Rushmore. Since we had only travelled about 45 minutes, we decided to forge ahead before dropping anchor. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that you can see Mt. Rushmore from the road. It was amazing. However, so was the traffic jam going into the parking lot, so we decided to cruise by very slowly and admire it from a distance. We figured nothing much was to be gained by standing there watching a rock for an hour. So on we went to the Crazy Horse memorial. Again, you can see it from the road and all it is is a great big head. So, we talked our way past the gatekeepers, drove up, took a quick picture and drove back out. Then we headed for the Badlands. That generated a lot of “wow, look at that!” from both of us. What an amazing sight! We drove in, through and out in about ½ hour and made it Interior, SD just in time for a major wind and thunder storm. The whole day cost us absolutely nothing and we saw 3 of the major sights that were on our to do list. Since we’re ahead of schedule, we’ve decided to backtrack and head for North Dakota and the enchanted highway, after seeing the corn palace in Mitchell, SD.

Wow....look at that!

Suck it in and Suck It Up

That’s our cue to hook up and get going: suck in the slides and haul up the jacks and away we go. We’re getting quite good at packing up in a hurry. After leaving Yellowstone, we headed east and happened upon the Little Bighorn Battlefield. This again proves Nui’s contention that we really should be looking at some of the brochures people keep handing us. The memorial came as quite a surprise – we thought it was further east. So we stopped and had a great tour and were impressed by how well marked the site is. For $8.00, the tour is well worth it. Prince finally got a chance to kick the grass to look for rattlesnakes but it was too hot for them to be out. Too bad we weren’t there the day before, since a lady told us she had seen a big one. From the Little Bighorn we crossed into Wyoming and stayed at a smallish town called Sheridan. There again we took a tour but it was a whole lot different. The driver careened around the town while playing a nearly inaudible tape which described scenes and locations that weren’t anywhere near where we were. The highlight was when he whacked his mirror on a road sign and had to stop. Too bad it wasn’t near a historic site. We slowed a little near the Sheridan Inn, which is the home of the Buffalo Bill museum. The reason we stopped here is that Prince’s son was graduating from Sheridan College in Ontario and we thought it was most appropriate to watch the convocation from Sheridan Wyoming. Prince’s eldest daughter graduated from St. Lawrence College today as well, but we didn’t see the town of Lawrence on the map until after we’d arrived in Deadwood, SD. Again, proving Nui’s point that we should be looking at brochures. Deadwood is really, really high!

Sorry we’re late with the reports. We not only couldn’t get Wifi, we can’t even get the GPS or cell phones to work. This is odd, since we are several thousand feet closer to the satellites than we normally are. So here we are in Deadwood, after a 4 hour trip up one mountain after another, culminating in Strawberry Ridge, which nearly brought the Beast to its knees. We are at roughly the same altitude as we were in the Rockies. Nui is convinced that there is no such thing as the ‘prairies’ and that it is just an urban legend meant to fool people into driving around endlessly in these )(*&)&* mountains. Does this country never flatten out?! Prince is finding that his oxygen levels go down the higher up we go. For this reason, he has decided to abandon his trip to climb Mt. Everest. Deadwood is a great little town and we took a local Texan’s advice and went to the Mineral Palace restaurant and casino in the heart of the town (actually, the old red light district). Another interesting spot. We ordered a really nice steak to share, since we were told that the portions were quite large. Fortunately, there was an elevator to take us downstairs, since neither one of us was capable of walking after that huge meal. The town has over 60 casinos and all the gas stations have been re-purposed into some neat little shops, such as the Chubby Chipmunk chocolate shop. We may go visit that tomorrow before we suck it up and suck it in and head for Mount Rushmore.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Wow....Look at that!!!

  You can’t turn a corner in Montana without saying that! They have cornered the market on scenery. Yesterday, we set up at Reed Point RV, a great little place, and almost doubled the population. Seriously, this is the closest we’ve been to a wild west town. The population is 96 and all the buildings look like a movie set from a John Wayne western, up to and including the grain elevators and the herd of sheep right next to the RV park. We thought we had a sewer leak, but it turns out to be the sheep. Thank heavens, because we’re getting kind of tired of plumbing problems. The sheep can worry about themselves. We spent a beautiful afternoon doing a loop around small towns nearby and visited the home of “Liver-eating Johnson”, a local legend who killed the Crow Indians and ate their livers raw. This was the background for the movie Jeremiah Johnson. We got lost in the town of Nye, which seems impossible since it consisted of a house and a saloon. You just can’t trust a GPS! Today we hit the road at the crack of 9 and drove through Yellowstone from the North Gate through Mammoth Springs. It occurred to us that none of the literature on Yellowstone mentions the smell of sulphur. It was a very odiferous day. We meandered through one scenic loop after another, taking turns saying “Wow! Look at that!” We made it to Old Faithful (along with about 2000 other trekkers) and it was spectacular…. And on time. We kept seeing signs about wild life on the road, but the closest we came was a suicidal partridge and a curious groundhog. That is, until we started on the return trip and were stopped by a herd of buffalo roaming across the road. Boy are they big! After they moved on, we just kept driving to the West Gate, saying wow at regular intervals, and coming across more and more beautiful scenery. Really – they should lend some of this to less fortunate states. Prince was somewhat disappointed in it all because he really wanted to go into the bush and kick around looking for rattlesnakes, but, alas, some dreams you just have to abandon. So, after 10 hours, we saw deer but no antelope playing, buffalo roaming and lots of homes on the range. Kinda makes you want to sing. If we weren’t so tired we’d head for the saloon but we have lots of miles to do tomorrow.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Memories of Montana

Montana has spectacular scenery…. lots and lots of it. They also have lots of cows and lots and lots of mountains. One mountain after another as far as the eye can see… and as high as the transmission can carry. If I had been an explorer, I would have stopped at the first set of hills and called it a day. These people must have been smoking some pretty high-grade sage grass to want to trek up and down these mountains to establish a lot of “historic” places. Almost everywhere you look in Montana, something is historic. We haven’t quite figured out what, exactly, but if it made it to Montana, it was obviously good enough for the history books. Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame) has a lot of places named after him. Lewis, on the other hand, didn’t fare so well….. we haven’t even found a creek with his name yet. Even Sakajawea has a casino named after her! We were a little concerned at the top of one particularly high pass, when the sign warned us to beware of bighorn sheep. You know you’re too high when that becomes an issue. We were lucky to even be able to read that sign, because a snowstorm had whited out most of the others. Nui was not impressed. We stopped in the little town of Philipsburg and took a side trip up to Gem Mountain and met the owner Chris, who very kindly sold us a heavy bag of dirt. Because that’s what you do in Montana. Today, we took our bag of dirt to the local Gem Mountain store where Kenzie showed us how to find sapphires. Lucky for us, she spotted them, because that bag of dirt frankly looked just like a bag of dirt to us. In the end we came away with 17 carats of sapphires – which sounds like a lot but isn’t. The weather continues to be very cold and rainy (except when it snows) but there is promise of better weather ahead. Somewhere. Maybe. Tomorrow we are off to Yellowstone, after more quick repairs to the Beast, whose plumbing has given up the ghost.

Friday, 8 June 2012

The wonders of Wallace

What a great town! Prince and I had a leisurely breakfast, then he had a nice hot shower. I showered second and discovered that the hot water tank is just not as big as I thought. The morning was capped off by breaking in our brand new 15 foot sewer kit. What a thrill! Everything drained, all systems are working and the two of us smell like roses. You would think that would be the highlight of the day, but noooooooo….. Off we went for a tour of the Oasis Bordello, complete with a tour of the Madam’s main room including several wigs made out of feathers, a list of prices for various (ahem) services and even a chart showing the Canadian exchange rates. The bordello was a going concern from 1895 to 1988 when the feds cracked down. The ladies were given just minutes to get out and left everything from cigarettes in the ashtrays to clothes and even a bag of groceries on the counter. The tour guide explained the accounting practices, which would put the internal revenue service to shame. From there, we crossed the street to the Railroad station museum which was also very interesting and, we’re sure, provided many of the customers for the Oasis. We then took a very brief trolley tour and saw the sites of downtown Wallace (pop. 960). This took approximately 15 minutes. The downtown area looks much like it did in 1910 after the original town was destroyed by fire. It’s absolutely beautiful! Oh yes – and it’s also the Center of the Universe. We know because the signs tell us so and they even have a manhole cover to prove it. To round out the adventure, Prince and I then drove 8 miles to Burke, which is a ghost town. It was the most populated ghost town we’ve ever seen. The hotel was fascinating, since it had to be built over the creek and had 2 railway lines running through it. It was adjacent to an active mine and we didn’t wander around – for the very simple reason that the thing looked like it was about to collapse. All in all, it was a very good day. The torrential rains stopped as we got into the car and didn’t start up again until we got back in the late afternoon. The concept of dryness is beginning to take on a certain amount of importance in our lives. We may abandon the eastward trek and start driving south to try to find some heat and sunshine. Death Valley is beginning to sound very appealing.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

We found Wifi!!! Let’s hear it for McDonald’s! We caught up on a few emails over breakfast and then we were off on a short hop to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. What a nice city! The lady at the Visitor Centre was very helpful and gave us a lot of ideas of what to do in Coeur d’Alene. Unfortunately, most of these involved extensive walking which the Prince’s oxygen levels will not allow. We are regretting not bringing a mobility scooter, since everything we do is far or uphill. Nui isn’t exactly a gazelle either. The lady highly recommended Wallace, which was on our itinerary anyhow. On the way, we stopped at Cataldo, which has a mission era church on a hill. The church is stunning – all hand hewn wood, peg and post design, no nails, hand carved statues and even the original wallpaper from 150 years ago. Nui actually went into a church voluntarily and lightning did not strike. The tour guide/caretaker was very informative and pointed out several mysteries in the construction and decoration.

DDD finally

On the advice of the friendly people at Moses Lake, we pulled up at Medical Lake just outside of Spokane in a beautiful RV park called Ponderosa Pines. True to form, we just could not get away from water – we were assigned the only lot that was nearly submerged and had that swampy look about it. And we all know you can’t get Wifi in swamps. So, we unhitched and off we went to Spokane and the first Diners, Drive-ins and Dives – the incredible Hill’s restaurant. We were greeted by Rhonda, the Surly Server (just kidding) who told us what Guy Fieri had tried and recommended a few dishes. We were treated like Royalty! Rhonda introduced us to Steve, the manager and co-owner. Steve very willingly posed for a photo with us. Then the Chef, Dave Hill, came out to talk to us and we had our photo taken with him. Prince decided to be his usual adventurous self and we ordered clams as an appy. Nui, being a south seas goddess, had had them before and enjoyed them. Prince, however, found that clams are an acquired taste and he didn’t quite acquire it before our entrees arrived. The highlight of the appy was that they came with the best, freshly baked, warm bread, baked by Chef Dave. Nui tried to persuade Prince to buy several loaves to bring back to the Beast, to no avail. But those entrees!!!!! Wow!!!!! We both had the Chicken breast with the fresh pancetta in a brie cheese sauce. The pancetta was made by Chef Dave as well. So was the excellent seasoned salt. We asked him if he even raised the chickens but he said no. We finished it all off with home-made huckleberry ice cream (also made by Chef Dave – surprise!) We had toyed with the idea of the habanero vanilla ice cream but felt it would have been too much after that delicious meal. This was one of the best meals that either of us has had! We certainly recommend Hill’s Restaurant to everyone! After that a quick trip to Walmart to buy supplies and back home to relax in the swamp.

The Parting of the Waters

Tuesday (Day 2) – we hitched up under cloudy skies and that was pretty much the last time we were dry. Torrential rains hit us as soon as we left the Casino and did not stop until we got past the Snoqualmie pass…. Probably because it was so cold there were still 10 foot snow drifts on the ground. Nui was convinced we were going to need snow chains, as the road signs indicated. However, even the snow was replaced – this time by unbelievably strong winds in the Vantage area, which greatly improved our mileage as they were coming right behind us. We almost got to see a petrified forest, but had to be content with a couple of stumps and a stone dinosaur. The views of the high plains were outstanding. In fact, we still have a tumbleweed stuck under the Beast. A few miles later and we were in Moses Lake, at a very nice park (Pier 4). And like Moses, the waters finally parted and we had a beautiful sunset. The people have been very friendly so far – perhaps because they sense our desperation since we are flying blind as we STILL can’t get reliable Wifi access. The water problems were not quite over, however. The shower taps both went at the same time, which caused non-stop dripping for 2 days. We had a bit of a linguistic hurdle but soon learned that taps are, in fact, called faucets here in Northeastern Washington. This was reminiscent of the Jug/Pitcher incident that Prince endured in Fort Lauderdale. This minor setback resulted in a 4 hour delay in Moses Lake, while the faucets got replaced. And then we were off to Spokane.

Friday, 1 June 2012

And We're Off

Finally, the big day has arrived.  Today, we bussed Babe and Buddy in the Beast to the Border, where we promptly got searched because of a banana.  We then drove the Beast to Blaine, Washington, followed by lunch at Bob’s Burgers and Brews.  Then off to  Bellingham  where  we bid Buddy and Babe bye bye.  Boy what a day.  A quick one hour drive to Arlington, Washington brought us to the Angel of the Winds Casino where we were assigned the only RV parking spot that does not have Wifi.   Our luck didn’t hold out much better in the casino itself, where we not only couldn't get Wifi but also lost a significant amount of gas money.