In April I could tell this year was not going to be good business wise. Everybody is usually contacting us or we are in design for this yearís projects. The problem with this year was we that werenít in either of those. I had already decided to move my office to my home and I was going to have to lay off my two remaining employees. It was not a happy time for me. Iím not an optimist nor a pessimist but a realist, a glass twice as big as it needs to be kind of guy. So with no workload, or employees I realized now was a good time to take the trip to Alaska that Iíve wanted to do for 25 years. My plan was to leave June 15th so that I could be as far north as possible for the summer solstice. That was all the planning I had.
As with most plans, life gets in the way. Besides moving my office back into my house I had a commercial building to get ready to lease out or sell, and Sherri my significant other (there has to be a better term) decided she didnít want to teach in Gillette anymore. So we needed to get her moved back and our house there ready to sell. My vehicle for the trip would be my 15 year old Dodge Ram diesel truck with a 25 year old Alaskan Camper on it. I have taken it on many trips from Moab, the Cave Hills, and many trips to the Big Horns and Montana. I have a lot of faith in it and know it well. I have put it together to be a very simple rig yet provide basic comforts that I want. I had intended to do some improvements to the Dodge for the trip and had the parts here. Some Hella driving lights, some tow hooks, Lorenz springs, Thuren Control Arms and if I found a grill guard or heavy bumper install that. I had been steadily improving The Alaskan and I would leave it alone other than to start using a Britta pitcher to filter the water after adding chlorine to the water tank.
I just ran out of time to get any of the work done other than to buy a Britta filter. Driving lights? Itís the land of the midnight sun. Besides always be camped by 4 in the afternoon. Front Suspension? 190,000 miles and the stock suspension worked. Grill Guard? Donít hit anything. 43 years of driving and only one deer, go with the experience. Tow hooks? The ones I had didnít fit and left me with the most anguish. But Iíve been nursing that anguish since I bought this thing 4 years ago, another couple of months wonít change much. Just don't get stuck. The tires and wheels were new, so with a complete service, belts and hoses and away we go.
I did come up with a general route a week before I left. That was as far as route planning went. Trust to the ďMilepostĒ Guide book Sherri got me for my birthday and which way the wind blew. My time line was to be home in 6 to 8 weeks. I thought of getting a new GPS, but decided that my old Garmin Vista would work. Besides I am a map and compass, moss on the north side of a tree kind of guy. I have had this Vista for ages and know it. Well the Vista died on the third day. Which side was it that moss grew? The one thing that did help was that my cell phone had a compass in it which I used on a couple of no sun days and there really arenít that many roads to take a wrong turn on. Time to hit the road.
July 4th 2009
We left Spearfish at a little after 8 July 4th Sherri is following me in her car which we would leave with the dog in Missoula at her daughterís while we spent a few days in Glacier National Park. We decided to stop in Belle Fourche,SD at the Hardees for a breakfast biscuit, There was problems right away. The counter staff was yelling at the cook staff about getting the orders right. So much for an early start. The next problem appeared when we needed to go through Belle Fourche. The Fourth of July parade was setting up and that was all we needed to help speed the process of leaving town was to get stuck behind it. Shades of Easy Rider crossed my mindÖ We were waved through
Well 2 miles west Belle Fourche we did get stopped and we had to wait for the pilot car to take us through a construction zone. We then were stuck in a parade of trucks that we to Broadus, MT and left them at the weigh station on the east side of town
We pulled into Broadus to find another parade lining up. This one was not shaping up to look good. Broadus on has only 2 streets and they were going to use them both for the parade. But again we were waved through and our journey continued.
Wyoming was green and. lush. Lot's of antelope fawns out. When we drove through Hardin MT the, Bighorn River was running full, as was the Yellowstone at Billings.
I lost Sherri at the rest area before Columbus when I decided not to go into it as we had agreed to do. She did. I didnít know it at the time but her phone was dead. We were reunited in Columbus and on to Missoula we went.
It was very hot in Missoula. We went to watch the fireworks at the baseball stadium with her daughter and her boyfriend, but had the wrong night. We did catch the finale of the fireworks@ the Fairgrounds. Sherri and I stayed in the camper though I worried about the heat and noise. It was not a problem I was asleep as soon as I went to bed.
Start Mileage 195,470 End 196,051 *581mi
ē All end miles corrected 5% speedo error