Jul 102013

Pioneer explorer Daniel Boone is quoted as saying about his journeys through the uncharted Kentucky frontier, “I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks." Boone has been one of my heroes since I was a kid, and yesterday I felt like I was following in his footsteps even though I was on the other side of the country.

We left Billings a little before 9 a.m. yesterday morning and headed west on Interstate 90 through some of the most picturesque country you’ll find anywhere. And Terry was busy with her camera all the way. The hardest part of writing some blogs for me is deciding which of her pictures to use, because there are so many to choose from.

Mountain scene

Big Sky

Road scene

Rugged scenery

There is no flat land west of Billings, Montana. It’s all either uphill or downhill. As we climbed some of those grades I told Terry there are times when I don’t miss our old slow moving MCI bus conversion at all. I was cruising along at 50 or 55 miles per hour over passes we crawled up at 10 or 15 in the bus.


Steep downhill 2

Steep downhill

We saw some amazing rock formations along the way.


Rock formation

Rock headland

Rock pile

Rock dead tree

This deep blue river paralleled the highway for miles.


River rocks

Doesn’t this look like an advertisement for an RV sales company?

Class C by river

Careful, somebody’s watching you!


We had planned to stop for the night at the WalMart in Missoula so we could meet up with our friends Smokey and Pam Ridgeley. That was about 340 miles, a long day but what the heck, we can do it.

Or not. It’s about six miles from the Interstate to the WalMart on the west side of town, following U.S. Highway 93. It was all stop and go town driving with a lot of traffic to keep us on our toes. Things got real interesting when some numbskull driving a big Class A motorhome towing a long cargo trailer pulled out of a parking lot directly in our path. Maybe his rig will stop on a dime, but mine damn sure can’t!

We expect that from people in cars, but you’d think somebody driving a big RV would know better. But you’d be wrong. We call these kind of jerks OPOPs, which stands for Only People On the Planet, because they seem blissfully unaware that there are other people besides themselves in the world.

When we got to the WalMart it was packed, with no room at all to park. We saw another OPOP there, a fellow in a motorhome setting up his tripod TV dish in the parking lot. We are our own worst enemy.

We decided to go down the road a bit and see if we could find a safe place to park long enough to hook up with Pam and Smokey, but somehow I missed the turnoff to U.S. Highway 12 west and drove about 30 miles out of the way straight south On U.S. 93 before Terry said, “This doesn’t look familiar at all. I think we’re on the wrong road.” We’ve been over this route several times, and I have no idea how I screwed up like that. But at least I wasn’t lost, just confused. Smile

We backtracked to Lolo, where there was a Pilot truck stop right at the intersection with U.S. 12 that I had missed. We stopped to top off our tank, and when Terry went inside to pay, she asked if we could park in the back of their large lot overnight. We’ve spent many nights at Pilot and Flying J truck stops over the years and always try to buy our fuel there because they are RV friendly. But not in Lolo! Not only did the clerk tell her that they do not allow overnight parking, he also refused to give her the three cent a gallon discount we are supposed to get with our Pilot Loyalty card. I’ll go a long way out of my way to avoid that place in the future.

By then it was 5 p.m. and we were tired and frustrated and said the heck with it, we’ll catch Smokey and Pam some other time and headed down U.S. 12 toward Lolo Pass, planning to stop at the rest area at the Idaho state line. Wrong again. We found ourselves caught up in a long, dusty, slow moving construction zone that went on and on seemingly forever.

Road construction

When we finally reached the rest area/welcome center it was inaccessible and we could not have made it across the traffic to get there if it would have been. So we drove and drove and drove some more, finally ending up at Lewis/Clark Resort in Kamiah, Idaho.

I must be getting old, because 530 miles behind the wheel of a motorhome, over 100 of it on a narrow two lane mountain road is a long day. Yeah, I know, that’s too much in one day. We sure didn’t plan it that way, but sometimes plans change, or make themselves up as we go along. I’m tired and headed for bed.

Thought For The Day – Regular naps prevent old age, especially if you take them while driving.

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Nick Russell

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  16 Responses to “Not Lost, Just Confused”

  1. Gheez you had to both be WIPED out…hope you got a good nights sleep. I always love you posts…you always tell it exactly like it is. That’s a lot of miles in one day…hopefully today you’ll move anywhere less than 100 ft :O)

  2. Montana is one of my favorite states. One thing I like about driving in much of that state is that many roads run parallel to picturesque rivers. The big parking area at Lolo Pass would have been a great spot to rest for the night. We saw a cougar nearby in 2010.

  3. Congrats granpa because NO WAY is this old fart able to do so many miles anymore.

  4. So many of your blog posts closely parallel experiences that we and many of our RV friends have also experienced.

  5. Sorry to hear about your day. We had the same thing happen to us at a Pilot in CA. Ed called the headquarters and complained. Don’t know if it did any good, but at least Ed felt better. You should have at least got your 3 cent discount. Beautiful pictures by the way.

  6. I have been to that Pilot/Flying J. The whole company has the most screwed up discount program that could ever be devised. Part of the problem is that some stations are company owned and some are franchises. The franchises are not required to follow the discount programs – and there are several discount programs offered. The consumer never knows which stations offer the discount, which pumps offer to discount or whether the staff knows how to handle the discounts. I can drive my RV into practically any regular gas station in the country and pay at the pump with my credit card but not necessarily in my RV at Pilot/Flying J. On top of that it appears that the management are crooks and are involved in a criminal investigation about cheating their trucking customers out of a contractual discount program. For all these reasons and more I have stopped using Pilot/Flying J.

  7. wow what a very long day for the two of you. Sorry that Pilot was such a bunch of crap, we had a similar experience with a flying J in Texas this summer, We think it is terrible since so many RVers use them for the convenience of most having the special fuel pumps for big rigs that are both gas and diesel. Hope you do not have the same problem on your journey today stay safe

  8. Daniel Boone was the founder of the BooneDocks clan.

  9. I have a list that I am building of towns/businesses to avoid. Looks like I am going to have to put the Lolo Pilot/Flying J on that list. Great pictures. Have you ever noticed how many faces you can see in rocks, animals and humans? Found a whole bunch in one of the pictures Miss Terry took. So fun to look at.
    Sounds like you need some down time to recoupe your long day. Stay safe!

  10. We would have been exhausted and at least one of us cranky!

    Don’t much like those big name stations (Pilot/Flying J/Loves, etc) anymore. Their prices are so much higher.

  11. Been there, both along those highways AND confused for a while. Love the highways, don’t like confused.

  12. Was there a full moon last night or something? We had an ‘interesting’ experience but at 2 a.m. this morning!!! Due to an RV problem earlier in the day we drove longer than we like and didn’t stop until about 7:30 p.m at a Flying J in Luray, OH which is late for us. We had tried several other truck stops along I-70 starting at about 6:30 but some were full, some were all back ins and we had hoped not to unhook. Well, at this particular Flying J we found a ‘corner site’ way in the back (we did have to unhook) and it allowed us to put our slides out onto the grass. There were NO ‘do not park here’ signs anywhere but at 2 a.m. this morning we had a LOUD knock on the door, then on the wall of the rig when we didn’t hear him at first (since it was so noisy around us with all the engines running). He told Dick that this was the ‘turn around’ area for the big boys and they were starting to complain that they had to back out so would we please move. Of course, now we’re awake so we got dressed (it’s pouring rain) and we just decided to hook up and continue on down the road and either keep going for the day or stop and try to get a little sleep. We found a WalMart about 50 miles down the road, caught a couple hours of sleep and drove through rain all day today to Winchester, VA where the sun is out. No problem with not parking there, but Dick told him they needed to put some sort of sign out there. Long two days……

  13. Nick;I love that stretch of highway between Billings and Missoula. If those pictures of that river were taken along route I-90,then you were following the Yellowstone River.It is the last remaining undammed river in the US and offers many recreation spots and some great fishing.

  14. There was a great RV park we stayed at in Lolo MT. It was the square dancers RV park but anyone could stay and there prices were about $20 or $22 / nite last year. Great spit. Maybe you can park there sometime. Good Luck with the rest of your route.

  15. Montana is noted for being unfriendly to rver’s who want to boondock overnight at any place other than a campground, isn’t KOA headquarters in Montana? I think so and that might have something to do with the anti-boondocking attitude out there. It is a state of natural beauty.

  16. Mark, the Snoqualmie and the Skykomish rivers in Wa. don’t have dams on them. That is just off the top of my head this early morning, i bet there are more.

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