Friday, September 27, 2013

Still in Montana

The forecasts mentioned in our last post were pretty accurate: mostly cool and damp.  There has been snow nearby, but it is all above 6,000 ft elevation while we are at about 3,000 feet.  It is close enough that we can see some at the tops of nearby ridges. 

Two weeks worth of work has been done, and now the tricky part starts.  The jobs we start next week have to be small enough to finish by Thursday.  We don’t want to leave a job partially finished.  One of our tasks will be to burn brush, etc., that has accumulated in piles around the camp.  We are all looking forward to that job!  We’ll at least stay warm!   

During the past week, the camp received official notice that they will be hosting another group of Nomads next June.  Before the week was out, half of the workers signed up to come here again.  Maybe it’s because of our neighbors (both pictures taken from inside our motorhome): 

                                                                 Wild turkeys



When we finish at the end of the coming week, our 4 rigs will be scattering in 4 directions.  It will be tough to say goodbye to everyone – it’s been a great group to work with!  We will continue west into Washington to, hopefully, catch up with one of Paige’s cousins near Seattle.

Friday, September 20, 2013

First Week is Done

Our prior post was at the end of our first working day here at Flathead Lake United Methodist Camp.  Now it is the end of our first week (4 working days plus Friday off).  We had really good weather for 3 of our 4 working days.  Only Wednesday was cool and rainy, so we did a lot indoors. But the other days saw us completing many outdoor items too numerous to list here.  Everyone in the group works hard and the new Nomads seem to be enjoying the work also.

Our day off was busy too: since we are so close to Glacier National Park, we all went sightseeing.  Mike, Dorothy, Bill and Ogie went in one car to Logan’s Pass in Glacier, Paige and Kelly went shopping just outside the park, and Bob and the camp manager’s husband, Jay, went on motorcycles through the park and out the eastern end.  Here are some views from the visitors’ center at Logan Pass on the continental divide


Tomorrow night we’re having a potluck dinner as a group with a few people from the camp joining us.  It sounds like there will be plenty of food.  We may do a bonfire and/or cards later on. 

The forecast is for good weather until Sunday and then the temps are going to be in the high 50’s for the week.  It’s not bad to work in those temps as long as there’s no rain. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

First Day is Done

The camp staff had a meeting off site on Friday, so it was better for them that we arrived on Thursday and got to review the tasks they’d like us to work on.  We then had Friday to do a little shopping and find some local things to do.  Another part of our crew arrived mid afternoon on Friday and, since this is their first project, we had a chance to meet with them and introduce them to Nomads.  The rest of our team came in on Saturday: Bill and Ogie (whom we have worked with last winter) and Kelly (another first-timer).  Something unique to this group is that all of us live full-time in our motorhomes (no one has a house to tie them down).  

We had time to get to know each other on Saturday and Sunday which was helpful, as our first day was quite busy.  We sure got a lot done in only one day.  Mainly a cabin was stripped for remodeling.

Stacks of mattresses were moved
Bunks were dismantled

Shelves were emptied
Interior walls were stripped to the studs

Mike and Dorothy also completed a small roofing project.

After we called it a day, there was time for a short nap before dinner.  The soreness of the first day aches and pains is sinking in while Paige watches Dancing with the Stars.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Back into the Mountains

Wednesday’s drive was less than 300 miles, which was a little longer than I like, but it was quite uneventful, which I do like.  We spent the night at a city park in Shelby MT, not far from Interstate 15.  It was quiet, not crowded, and inexpensive.

Thursday’s drive was shorter (just under 200 miles) but much more dramatic: from the flat plains to the Continental Divide in less than 2 hours.


We arrived at Flathead Lake United Methodist Camp by mid-afternoon and got set up.  It is a gorgeous setting.  The lake is the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River at almost 200 square miles, roughly 30 miles long and 16 miles wide.  The camp is about midway down the western shore, and covers nearly 27 acres. 

They have prepared a list of work that we can do over the next 3 weeks which is long enough to keep us busy.  We won’t run out of things to do.  That’s the way we like it.  We had an opportunity to meet the camp staff and take a tour.  As we write this blog in our rig, we have a view of the beautiful scenery.  We described it to Paige’s mother as the Whiteface surrounded by mountains.  As we wound down last night, we had several deer to watch.  We also found evidence of bear here yesterday. 

 By the way, there’s a house for sale on this lake you might be interested in.  We can see this house from our rig.  Take a look:  We’ll be staying with the motorhome for awhile!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Time Off

Last week we made better time than originally planned, so our 1 day off just became 2 days off.  Besides, this Corps of Engineer facility is very quiet, not crowded, and inexpensive.  Plus, it never hurts that we have many TV stations and good Internet access.

Yesterday we walked to the information center where we saw a movie about Lewis and Clark’s travels through this area and signed up for a tour of the hydro-electric power plant.  It has 5 generators with a total capacity of 185MW for those who are interested.  In the afternoon, we went back to see a movie of the construction of this dam which is the largest hydraulically-filled dam in the world.  The Missouri River backs up into a lake over 130 miles long, with more than 1,500 miles of shoreline.  It is quite impressive

Today is another day for quiet relaxation and reading.  Tomorrow we will continue west-bound, almost to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  We have been in contact with the camp where we’re going to be working and they are expecting us to arrive on Thursday.  We will have a meeting with the camp staff on Friday and have some time to investigate the area also.  The rest of our team will pull in on Saturday so we will have time to get to know one another before we start our work on Monday.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Now in the West

Saturday we crossed most of North Dakota and watched the scenery change from Prairie to Plains.  We stopped in Minot at the edge of their “oil patch”.  Today we saw even more of the Plains.  Now that we have also crossed into Montana and the Mountain Time Zone, we can officially say that we are in the West.  Most of our clocks have been reset, with just a couple left to do (of course, Paige always stays in Central Time!).

Something else we saw were the ND “man camps” – lots of RVs, mobile homes, modular housing, etc., packing available space near truck depots and oil well sites.  The western end of ND is filled with them, and they are filled with guys.  Because of the oil drilling, grain harvest, and major road construction, there is almost no unemployment.

After 3 straight driving days, we are staying put right here tomorrow.  We are at a very quiet Corps of Engineers facility at a dam on the Missouri River; Lewis and Clark country.  Seniors like us get a 50Amp site for $9/night.  We will tour the power plant and do some surfing on the Internet, after sleeping in a little more than normal.

Paige is also taking this time to create a treat for us.  We bought some huge Colorado peaches while getting the tires fixed in Virginia, MN.  It was a fundraising sale.  These peaches are delicious but huge – one peach is enough to split for both of us for breakfast.  In order to use the peaches before they spoil, Paige found a recipe for Peach Crisp today.  It’s in the convection oven now and smelling good in here!  Yum!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Back on the Road

Once again we are “Ramblin’”, having closed up the cabin and hit the road.  It’s always a bit sad to leave our MN friends and family.  Seems like we have two great lives; MN in the summer where we get to see friends and family and the rest of the year when we travel and see new places and meet new people.   

Our departure was delayed a little bit this morning when we found we had to add air to the same 2 tires that were low a week ago.  Rather than repeat this exercise at every stop, we found a truck tire shop in Virginia MN, just a little off of our planned route.  The staff at Taconite Tire (look for Goodyear sign) did a great job for us and got us on the road again with minimal delay. 


About halfway across the state, we stopped at a wayside to take a short walk.  While there we took a new photo to be used as our header for this blog.  The Saturn Vue was a good “tow’d” for many years but it was accumulating high miles and was a little cramped for tool space.  We found the 2010 GMC Canyon in Minneapolis back in May and got the baseplate and braking systems added in June.  Now we have lots of room for NOMADS tools and materials.  The back sure came in handy when hauling building materials to and from the cabin this summer.

We crossed Minnesota all day (from the Iron Range, through the lakes and forests, to the western prairies) and at about 5:30 we pulled into a campground on the MN/ND border, within sight of the Red River.  This place used to be a residential neighborhood, but it flooded during too many spring thaws so the houses have been removed and it is now used as a campground.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Status check

Last week was our final busy-time in the Minneapolis area (final motorhome maintenance, shopping, doctors, family and friends, etc).  We were able to spend time with Brett, Jen and kids, Dave and LeJoy, our grand-niece Leah, Pam and Ron, and Aunt Lu and her family. Paige’s Mom came with us and we kept her busy!  We got back to the northwoods before the peak holiday weekend traffic and had time for a quiet Friday night fish-fry at a nearby town on the Iron Range.  We also got to the local “happy hour” here on the Whiteface Point for a last get-together with our summer neighbors before we hit the road again in a few days. 

David and Valentina came Friday night and returned to Minneapolis on Sunday morning.  She was driving on her learners’ permit as they left.  Grandkids grow up so quickly!  Grandma Joyce came up for the day on Saturday so we got a 4 generation picture thanks to Bob!

For a holiday weekend, there is not much activity around here, but the weather might be the cause of that.  The heat of August ended rather suddenly, to the point where we are wearing long pants and sleeves once again as it is only 60 today. 

We’ll be enjoying a few more days here and in Duluth before we head to Montana later this week.  It’s been a great summer!  We promise to publish blogs in a more timely manner now as we will have more to communicate during our travels.