It took exactly 9 days to get from Sudbury back to Vancouver. This was something of a surprise, since we weren't rushing all that much. I'll let Prince update on his return trip with Sparerib and Shortrib by way of Canada, via the West Edmonton Mall.
After we left Wisconsin, we headed for Minnesota by way of several detours. A 2.5 hour trip lasted almost 7, but the scenery was nice and the park we stayed at (Money Haven Creek in Houston) was great. However, the charms of RV camping were wearing a little thin for S&S, who went and found a restaurant with air conditioning (via a couple more detours).
The next day, we were off to Mitchell and the Corn Palace again. All new murals - and they are spectacular. I especially liked the little cheerleaders made out of corn.
We then headed off to Murdo and the home of the 1880 Towne where we hoped against hope that we'd find sour cream raisin pie. Sadly, we were too late and they were sold out. But, our tale of woe over the hardships of the trip touched the chef's heart and she very kindly shared her grandma's recipe with us. Thank you again!!!
After seeing a minimum of 100 signs telling us we HAD to go to Wall Drug, we went to Wall Drug. I even got a bumper sticker to say so! Neat place - and a great oasis of A/C in the 104F heat! At this point S&S informed us that RV life wasn't for them. They put in a valiant effort, but the call of the motel rooms and reliable showers was too strong. So, Prince and I headed for Sturgis and S&S headed for Mt. Rushmore and Deadwood.
The ride into Sturgis was somewhat bumpy.... probably because we blew a tire about 15 miles from the RV park. At first, I thought it was a ripped canopy, since it sounded like flapping material. There was no shimmy or any other indication that it was a tire. But it was..... and I'm just lucky I didn't lose the whole side of the RV! But CoachNet came through and within an hour I had a nice new tire and a big hole in my credit card balance. Sigh.... Oh well, a tire is probably cheaper than a canopy.
Our last big push (for some reason, the GPS routed us through a secondary Hwy) was to Reed Point again and we finally got to ask a real life cowboy about all the cows we had seen. Turns out, they don't all have to be milked. This is a good thing because that looked like it would not be a fun job. What we took to be a beautiful sunset was actually the reflection of forest fires in the distance. It was beautiful....and just a little scary.
Phillipsburg, MT, was next by way of the Anaconda Pass. You may remember that this is the pass where we had encountered snow on our outbound trip. Well, there was no snow - but the pass is named for a snake for a reason! If they can put a man on the moon, why can't they blast tunnels in the BOTTOM of these stupid mountains?!?! Anyhow, we reached P'burg in mid-afternoon and the smoke from forest fires nearby was so thick that the sun looked red. We headed for Gem Mountain's store where we purchased a number of bags of dirt. Why, you ask? Well, these bags contain sapphires. All told we got 12 bags - 300 pounds of wet gravel. It'll give us something to do on those long winter nights.
The next morning, Prince, Sparerib and Shortrib and I said our goodbyes and they headed off to Edmonton, while I headed off into the mountains. An overnighter in Coeur d'Alene and I was off again, blazing a new trail down Hwy. 2 in Washington.
At this point, I would like to tell the people who told me how scenic Hwy 2 is that they were right - for the first 20 miles. After that, it lost its charm pretty quickly. What's the point of nice scenery if you can't look at it because you're spending all your time trying to maneuver 50 feet of RV+Toad down narrow, winding, never-ending two-lane mountain roads?! I swear, the engineers added curves just because they were psychotic. Add to that the fact that this was the Labor Day weekend, it was hot and sunny and there were country fairs on both sides of the road at every village and town for 200 miles, and you can see why I'll never do hwy. 2 again. Oh yeah - and the doghouse in the coach kept blowing off, leaving me with scalding hot engine air blasting my shins until I could find a pull-out. Probably just as well, because the brakes were burning anyhow.
I was going to spend the night in Monroe but encountered 2 huge fairs, so I gave up and headed for home, arriving just after 7 p.m. I must have had a crazed look in my eye, because the customs agent just waved me through within 2 minutes.
And so ends the Big Beastly Adventure of 2012. Prince is back home in Sudbury, S&S got lots of shopping done and the Beast is back in the corral, waiting for next summer's adventures. I'm back at work (feels like I never left) and dreaming of hitting the road once again.... especially flat roads. Maybe I'll move to Saskatchewan.