Thursday, 25 September 2014
Pacific Coast Loop 2014

Click here to start at the first day.

Route Description

This map from Microsoft Streets and Trips shows the loop from Nashville, TN. Our route took us North on I-24, I-57, and I-64 to St Louis. Then heading west we used I-60, US-63, US-36,  I-29 and I-80 to Salt Lake City.and on to Wendover passing the Great Salt Lake.  To get to Yosemite National Park we headed south on two lane sparsely used US-93, and US-6 to the California border. CA-120 took us through Yosemite National Park. A series of other state roads took us to our primary objective, Carmel, CA. The it was north along the coast on US-101 and CA-1 to Ilwaco, WA. As it was a holiday weekend we stayed in Ilwaco for 3 day and took side trips to Long Beach and as far North as Raymond. Our original plan was to tour Olympic National Park but we ran out of time to do that. However, there was a bonus as we headed back east via the Columbia River Gorge, Lewis and Clark country. We had seen the volcanos on our 2008 trip to Vancouver Island.  US-30, I-5, I-84, and I-90 were the highways used to get to Billings, MT. A few miles east we switched to I-94 all the way to Fargo, ND.  US-10 took us to St Cloud MN where we got back on I-94 for a visit to family in Woodbury, MN.  I-94, I-90, and I-39 then took us to Champaign, IL where we changed to I-57 and crossed our wake (as boaters say) or completed the loop on I-57 at its junction with I-64.

Trip Statistics

The Pacific Coast loop was 6,225 miles. We filled up with diesel 21 times using 386 gallons at a cost of $1,575 The average cost per gallon was $4.08. We averaged 16.1 mpg,  mostly on Interstates at 62 mph. Our mpg between fillups ranged from a low of 12.9 to a high of 18.9. Compared to our 4,000 mile trip to the Four Corners area one year ago the price of diesel was up 7.7%

Places Mentioned in the Stories

Aberdeen, WA Downtown   Lee Vining, CA Mona Lake
Albion, CA Albion River Marina & Campground   Lee Vining, CA Mono Vista RV Park
Baordman, WA Boardman RV Park   Long Beach, WA World Kite Museum
Belgrade, MT Sheriff & Fire Department   Long Beach, WA Crab Shack
Beverly Beach State Park, OR   Longview, WA Salmon Fishing
Billings, MT Mercedes Benz Dealership   Madison, WI University of Wisconsin
Billings, MT Yellowstone Art Museum   Marion, IL Sport Chassis Rally
Billings, MT Yellowstone River   Marion, IL Marion Campground & RV Park
Billings, MT Yellowstone River RV Park   Mendora, ND Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Billings, MT Moss Mansion   Mendora, ND Elkhorn Café
Bismark, ND Diesel Pump with 5 blends   Mill Valley, CA La Ginestra Restaurant
Bodega, CA Hitchcock film The Birds   Mill Valley, CA Napa Aug 2014 Earthquake 
Boseman, MT E.J. Miller Towing Service   Monterey, CA Monterey Aquarium
Carmel, CA Santa Lucia Preserve   Myers Creek Beach, OR State Park Viewpoint
Carmel, CA Reconyx Camera System   Nisswa, MN Bar Harbor Supper Club
Carmel, CA Constock Fairy Tale Cottage   Park City, UT Park City RV Resort
Carmel, CA Carmel By The River RV Park   Pebble Beach, CA Inn at Spanish Bay
Cheyenne, WY Governor's Mansion   Rockford, IL Blackhawk Valley Campground
Columbia Gorge, WA Multnomah Falls   Salinas, CA Gleason's Salinas RV
Coos Bay, OR Mill Casino   Florence, OR Sea Lion Cave, OR
Danville, MO Lazy Day Campground   Sidney, NE Cabellas Campground
Ely, NV Prospector Casino & RV Park   Siuslaw National Forest, OR Cape Perpetua Campground
Eureka, CA Carson House   Smith River, CA Ship A Shore Motel
Evanston, WY Bear River Greenway   Stanislaus National Forest Don Pedro Reservoir
Glendive, MT Green Valley Campground   Tillamook, OR Roadside Viewpoint
Great Salt Lake, UT Tree of Utah by Karl Momen   Waco, NE Double Nickel Campground
Great Salt Lake, UT Saltair   Wallace, ID Historic Town
I-80 Exit 323 Lincoln Highway Memorial   Wallace, ID Campground
Ilwaco, WA Cape Disappointment   Wendover, UT Bonneville Salt Flats
Jamestown, ND World's Largest Buffalo   Yachats, OR Drift In Café
Kearney, NE Fort Kearney State Historical Park   Yosemite, CA National Park - Ahwahnee 
Klamath, CA Drive Through Tree      
Klamth Falls, CA Trees of Mystery      
Posted on 09/25/2014 10:24 PM by Bob Duthie
Wednesday, 17 September 2014
Last Three Days - Pacific Coast Tour Sept 14-16

Madison University of Wisconsin

Sunday we left early to visit our granddaughter at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.  She had started there two weeks before as a freshman. The campus is beautiful located alongside Lake Medota. We walked along a path beside the water to the Campus Center and downtown shopping area. Most of the downtown area we saw is college student type restaurants.  We had lunch at an Asian restaurant which provide me with a huge plate of beef for $13 or so. I would have been better off with the orange chicken that Mavis picked.  

Rockford Blackhawk Valley Campground

We left at 3:00PM and drove to Blackhawk Valley Campground near Rockford. Family owned It is well off the Interstate and in a beautiful valley beside the Kishwaukee River.


Sport Chassis Rally, Marion, IL

Monday we drove to Marion Il and stayed at another family owned very good campground, Marion Campground & RV Park. It is beside the Interstate but far enough away that the noise didn't bother us. There was a Rally going on there of the Sport Chassis Owners Association.  Sport Chassis are custom built Freightliner trucks that mostly tow 5th Wheel Trailers. They are very impressive! There were 7 when we were there. A much smaller group than our View/Navion group. I would have enjoyed talking to one of the group but they all stayed inside. The one in the middle of the photo was the leader of the group and came down from Manitoba. It was the only one with the big grill to fend off bison, moose, and deer. These grills are common on trucks in Alaska. This park gets a lot of business from Manitoba snow birds heading south for the winter.

Tuesday we put the View away in our shed in Murray, picked up the car, stopped at the boat to drop stuff off and headed for home in Nashville.


Posted on 09/17/2014 6:15 PM by Bob Duthie
Friday, 12 September 2014
Glendive, MT-Woodbury MN Pacific Coast Tour Sept 9-16

It was a cold and rainy on Sept 9th and somehow we toured the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and drove 297 miles to Jamestown arriving just after 6:00PM Central Time.

Theodore Roosevelt

I learned a lot of new things about T.R. compared to the two books I have read. He wrote more books than any other President. The ink well was used to write some of them in his cabin.  A New Yorker he took the train west to Medora and bought a ranch he liked the place so much. He loved the outdoors and learned how important conservation is to preserve the wilds. After becoming president he was responsible for starting the Forest Service, five National Parks, and 51 wildlife refuges.  The horse sculpture is the third we have seen on this trip. This one is made of wood strips. The clothes and saddle belonged to T.R..

Medora, ND

This town is all about the National Park.  It closes up for the winter which starts September 6th. We went to the Elkhorn Café for lunch and was greeted by the owner. When she found out we were from Nashville she really warmed up as she had worked there with Cracker Barrel. She was an MP in the Marines and married a Missouri State Trooper. Her husband has family here so when they both retired they came here and started the restaurant. In the summer she has a staff of 9. A waiter can make $600 per day on tips the place is so busy.  Mavis asked about Patty Melts and the owner couldn't believe anyone from Nashville had never had a Patty Melt. I had breakfast and it was great.

Oil Drilling

A few miles east of Medora there is fracking going on with new oil wells being created. If you need a job go to western North Dakota. You can test the low level of unemployment at McDonalds. They are so short staffed in Jamestown, 300 miles from Williston, you have to wait and wait to get served. One lady said the pizza shop had stopped delivering. It was the same story in Glendive 100 miles from Williston. It's the gold rush story all over again with lots of problems.


At Bismarck I filed up with diesel at the strangest pump yet. I could dispense #1 diesel, #2 diesel and three other blends of #1 diesel with% bio diesel. How anyone decides on the blend I have no idea. #1 diesel is the most expensive and #2 the least expensive.



World's Largest

There is not a lot to see once you get to the prairies so the World's Largest What Evers provide some interest.


At Jamestown, ND we saw the World's Largest Buffalo outside the National Buffalo Museum and a whole valley of grazing buffalo.  The Frontier Fort campground we stayed at is right beside this attraction.  Another World's Largest is at Frazee, MN. There are two sculptures here of the World's Largest Turkey. One is painted colors, the other is larger, all black, and is beside a very large turkey farm.


Bar Harbor Supper Club

On the 11th we stayed on a friend's driveway in Brainerd. That evening we went to the Bar Harbor Supper Club in Nisswa, MN with friends and had some fabulous scallops. Sorry, no photo.


Return to Murray

Friday, September 12th we drove to Woodbury, MN and are visiting with family.  Sunday, September 14 we head for Murray with a stop in Madison to visit our freshman granddaughter at the University of Wisconsin. We hope to get to Murray on the 16th, pick up the car and return to Nashville.

Posted on 09/12/2014 9:10 PM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 9 September 2014
Billings- Glendive, MT Pacific Coast Tour Sept 9

Not Again!

I walked the RV Park's nature trail to the Yellowstone River before we left this morning. It's a swiftly moving river with lots of water.  The park also had the most beautiful dump station we have ever seen. On the way out of the park the View's engine surged a few times and had some other peculiar behavior. I decided I wasn't going risk having another breakdown on the highway so we went back to the Mercedes Benz shop. Another View was in the shop waiting for the mechanics who were out being photographed. We had a nice talk with the View's owners who were from Ames IA. There problem was a wheel speed sensor. When it broke they got lots of warning lights, but only lost use of the cruise control and the ABS brakes.  A part had to be ordered for them so they had to wait till Wednesday. I suggested they visit the Yellowstone Art Museum. Our unit went in next and after an hour or so the news came that there was insufficient transmission oil. It seems that we had lost so much oil that various cavities had not yet filled with oil on Monday. After another road test we were back on the highway at 11:30AM. This Mercedes repair center gives priority to travelers and we only had to wait a few minutes to get service.

I-90 in Eastern Montana

I-90 runs beside the Yellowstone River for miles. The scenery is mostly wilderness except near the river where the land is often irrigated.  Our speaker at the YAM on Sunday had photos of abandoned farm buildings. What impressed him was how the machinery still sits intact beside the buildings.

Green Valley Campground, Glendive, MT

 Instead of going as far as Medora in North Dakota, I decided to go to Glendive, MT. Wnen we arrived the RV Park I had chosen using no longer existed. The next choice was Green Valley Campground. This park sets a new standard as the junkiest park ever. The only site available was behind a trailer that was not being used. I had to park sideways so I could reach the power outlet. Since we are now close to Williston, ND every available site is occupied by fracking oil people and others building the infrastructure. You take what you can get and consider yourself lucky. Tomorrow, I hope we can get far enough east to be able to find lots of campsites.  We hope to visit the Theodore Roosevelt National Park Visitor Center in Medora tomorrow morning.

Posted on 09/09/2014 7:22 PM by Bob Duthie
Monday, 8 September 2014
Billings, MT Pacific Coast Tour Sept 8

An Incident

In the last post I forgot to mention an incident that occurred on Sunday morning waking us both up at 5:15 AM.  This is not our normal time to get up. A vehicle of some kind was creating a mud pot in the land behind our View. It made all kinds of noise revving up and spinning around. I finally called the Billings Police and asked to have a squad car sent out. By the time the officer finished his report the vandal had left. The photo shows the mess made in the grass.

Billings Rotary Club

 I decided to do a make-up at the Billings Rotary Club that met at 12:00 downtown in the Crown Plaza Hotel. Arriving in good time and spending 15 minutes to find a parking space, I learned that today's meeting of all things was at the Yellowstone Art Museum (YAM). I extracted the car (with no charge due to the short stay) and headed for the Museum. The speaker was the Director that we had met yesterday.   Lunch was a buffet. The man beside me was the architect that designed the Mercedes Bend building.

View Repairs & Outcome

We hoped today would be our last day. The parts should arrive, the hoist would be clear, and we would be underway.  At 8:00AM they were checking out the parts situation. We packed our bags in case we would have to stay the night in a hotel. Finally at 1:30 PM they hauled the View out of its parking place and into the service bay. It then took 3 men to push it into the hoist position and work began with two mechanics. We sat around in the show room. At 2:30 I asked the mechanic if the repairs would be done today and he replied with no hesitation, "Yes it will be ready today".   By 6:00pm we were almost ready to give up and everyone but the service manager and the two mechanics had left. At 6:00PM the View started up and the mechanic took it out for a hard test run. He came back checked for leaks and found none. I swapped the Mercedes E350 key for the View key, paid the bill, and we were off. The bill was $816 which seems pretty reasonable. Tonight we are at the Yellowstone River RV Park and Campground which is very nice beside the Yellowstone River and a high bluff. There are tall cotton wood trees everywhere. The weather is perfect with a nice breeze and no humidity. Tomorrow we will head for Medora and the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.  Having had to skip the Rally in Grand Morais we are back on schedule.

Posted on 09/08/2014 10:48 PM by Bob Duthie
Sunday, 7 September 2014
Billings, MT Pacific Coast Tour Sept 4-7

We are stuck in Billings waiting for the View to get repaired. However, having a courtesy car we have used it to visit two of the major attractions in Billings.

Moss Mansion

We visited this attraction on Saturday. This is a red sandstone 60 ft square, four story, mansion built in 1903 for Preston Moss who was a banker and serial entrepreneur that amassed a large fortune. His family lived in the house until the mid-1980s.  I was surprised to learn that no interior photos could be taken with or without flash. This is a very old fashioned concept for historic homes, museums, and art galleries. Not allowing photos hurts the marketing of attractions like this. It is an old idea that by banning personal photos they can sell more postcards.  We are now in the Internet age and marketing has to change.

Yellowstone Art Museum

Sunday we spent a couple of hours in this really interesting gallery. Photos are allowed but no flash.  Modern cameras take much better photos without using flash.  The gallery collection has many western paintings and even a 1985 Deborah Butterfield horse sculpture made mostly of rusty sheet metal.  We have now a photo collection of three Butterfield horse sculptures.  We were invited to hear a talk by Leland Howard, a wilderness photographer that has spent the last few years photographing Eastern Montana.  The pictures were spectacular and of places few people have visited. He camps in his truck at times for days to get just the picture he wants.  He is seen here signing his book for us. Now we wish we had time to see some of the parks in his photos.  The third exhibit we toured was by lawyer-turned-artist, Nathan Sawaya. Each of his sculptures is made of Lego blocks glued together. Some have as many as 100,000 pieces!






After the gallery we went to the movie "The November Man" staring Pierce Brosnan. It was a pretty violent spy story but very good and not a complicated plot.  Tomorrow we learn the fate of our View and a better idea of when we can continue our adventure.

Posted on 09/07/2014 10:43 PM by Bob Duthie
Friday, 5 September 2014
Breaking News Update Sept 5

We got the word this afternoon that the parts required to fix the View will not be in Billings until Monday. That means there is no way we can make the Rally in Grand Marais since the earliest we could leave would be Tuesday. By the time we could get there it would be over. I am really sorry to disappoint our many friends that are attending as I won't be able to present pictures of our latest adventures. The only good news is the dealer has loaned us the dark blue Mercedes E350 in front of our view. They moved the grey Mercedes in the previous post to another slot so we can now get at our outside bins and run the generator when we need the microwave.  We used the car to buy water which we were able to pour direclty into our water tank which now has a removable port on top.   

Posted on 09/05/2014 6:23 PM by Bob Duthie
Thursday, 4 September 2014
Breaking News!! Sept 4

This morning at 9:30AM on I-90 at mile 297 the power train went crazy with some loud bumps on the chassis, no transmission and a dead engine.  We coasted to a stop on the shoulder of the Interstate.  I called Coach-Net our roadside assistance provider and after the operator took down all the details and a technician agreed we would need a tow, we waited. Then I went outside and looked under and found fluid dripping down I thought was diesel. I called them back to show the urgency of our situation and they said the fire department had to come out before they could authorize a tow. 

Fire Truck

Since we were near Belgrade, Montana, the fire truck with a crew of 3 and a local sheriff's deputy showed up with some kitty litter. They put cones out effectively shut down one lane of the highway. They poked around under the engine and discovered the serpentine belt had broken and wrapped around the fan with pieces of belt that nearly severed a control cable with maybe 10 color coded wires in it. In addition there was oil driping down. They spread the kitty litter and went back to the firehouse.

Tow Truck

Another couple of calls to Coach-Net and they said the nearest place the View could be fixed was the Mercedes dealer in Billings, MT, some 152 miles away. E.J. Millers towing service from Boseman, 11 miles away would come and tow us.  The View was put on a flat bed and with Mavis and I in the front seat off we went at 12:30PM.  The picture shows how easily we could fit under bridges. We had lots of time to talk to Joe Miller. He grew up in the towing business and at one time had 7 employees and all kinds of truck. In around 2005 he decided to shut it down and bought a 34 ft motorhome he took to Alaska.  His wife wasn't interested in doing Alaska again so he went back in the towing business with just himself. We were lucky he was available because he was a real pro at towing safely.


Mercedes Benz

We got to the Mercedes dealer at 3:30PM and the View was unloaded into the back lot without scraping the Mercedes.  A team of mechanics and parts experts came out and made a list of parts and said the oil was coming out of a hose that runs between the engine and the transmission.


More to Come

We are now in the View, have power from a long extension cord, and where we planned to spend the night. We have water in the tank, lots of propane so we can survive a couple of days wait.  We have no idea yet how long we will be stuck here so plans for visiting in Brainerd and the Grand Marais Rally may have to change.  Its 971 miles from Billings to Grand Marais which would take a minimum of 2 days. We will know more in the morning.

Posted on 09/04/2014 6:42 PM by Bob Duthie
Wednesday, 3 September 2014
Boardman-Wallace Pacific Coast Tour Sept 2-3

Wallace, Idaho

Yesterday was a three state day travelling in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.  We stayed overnight in Wallace, Idaho. This  is one of the best kept secrets in the USA. It is a thriving tourist town and the last American town entirely listed on the National Historic Register. It is also a mining town. Our campsite was right beside the town and the elevated highway. However the rushing stream beside us drowned out any noise from the highway.  

Walking Tour

Walking into town was like going back in time. There was large antique store where I was able to acquire an historic Hamilton Beach ice cream scoop for just $6. It is solid metal. A big surprise was to find a Laundromat with at least 10 machines. We got up early and parked right in front. Mavis filled 4 machines. Then I walked over to a saloon that served breakfast. It's the building with the awnings out front.  I was invited to join the Chamber of Commerce that was meeting there but declined due to the time it would take. Breakfast was great with sausage links that are rarely seen in the south and I was able to use the saloon Internet to read USA today on my iPad.


Posted on 09/03/2014 2:38 PM by Bob Duthie
Monday, 1 September 2014
Ilwaco-Boardman Pacific Coast Tour Sept 1

Kite Flying

After publishing yesterday's post we went out on the beach and watched some spectacular kite flying. Here are a couple of photos of that scene.



I-84 Shut Down

We are now on our way back east. We were away at 8:15AM and took the bridge across the Columbia to Astoria.  Two lane US-30 is a very good road and took us back over the Columbia to I-5 at Longview.  The current in the river is so strong that moorings are provided in rows on the river for salmon catching. The photo shows at least 10 rows.  We went around Portland until the Garmin GPS announced that I-84 was closed down. It then re-routed us on city streets that ran parallel to I-84 and then back to the Interstate at the next on-ramp.  We were really impressed and I am sure Garmin saved us hours if we had stayed on I-84.  The website news from a local TV station said a man waving a gun tried to carjack motorists on the highway. I-84 was shut down in both directions for four hours.


Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area

This is a spectacular area beside the Columbia River with high mountains on both sides and a roadway and railway track cut of the mountain sides.  The best known attraction is the Multnomah Falls.  I had read many descriptions in the RV magazines. Seeing the real thing was very rewarding. There were hundreds of people that also thought the same thing. However, very few took the opportunity to have a fine lunch in the Lodge at noon. Built in 1925 if is very handsome and like lodges in other National Parks. It never had more than 2 lodging rooms and those were used by railway workers. We had the special ham and cheese with salad. The property is owned by the Forest Service and operated by a private company.  

As you drive east the forests disappear replaced by desert and brown mountains. Then suddenly the mountains are gone and there are irrigated fields of crops. Tonight we are in the small town of Boardman (population 3,335) that owns one of the best RV parks yet; large sites, full hookups, beautiful grass and trees, large sites, a marina, and walking path beside the Columbia.

Here is a photo of the Multnomah Falls. Click to enlarge.


Posted on 09/01/2014 10:50 PM by Bob Duthie
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