October 28 – 25 degrees
Missoula to Pocatello, Idaho
Cowboy RV Park $37 with Good Sam discount
Nice stop, clean , easy to get into on the end spot by office. 50 amp two picnic tables, and quiet.
Holy Moly we are on our way, finally! Been 6 long exhausting days at the RV dealership! Began to feel like we were in a surreal horror film, stuck in the dealership, never to surface again. Everyday it was another high pressured sales pitch for “something we absolutely needed!” or so they said. Once we had dished over the final money and got legal possession, you’d think by what they were saying that the motor coach was going to fall apart, that is unless we purchased all the goodies they were pushing.
JUST SAY “NO”!
First it was the “protective finish for the paint” because it was going to get “pitted and scratched and sun faded”. Then it was the “protective shield finish” for the windshield that was going “to develop valleys of bugs, 1000’s of bugs that would gather and harden like cement and then we won’t be able to scrape them away with the windshield wiper!” Or, another scenario that they told us…” you might be going down the highway and get a blow out and oh my, you don’t want that to happen at 80 miles per hour!!” They also told us that we “should really, to be safe, purchase this special stuff that we will inject like a filler” into the brand new Michelein tires “to prevent any blow-outs and you going into the ditch”. None of these miraculous, but “necessary items” were inexpensive costing only a mere $1000 here and a $1000 or even more there. Oh, and don’t forget the other dangers INSIDE the coach! If we didn’t buy a special treatment the coach will mildew and sun fade. “What did that treatment entail?” I asked. They would spray some mildew resistant chemicals over everything to prevent such a catastrophy (and meanwhile I think to myself,and we would be breathing that stuff in an enclosed environment!)
They hit you with all of this (Larry calls it Snake Oil) when you are totally exhausted and weak. We had been running ourselves ragged, back and forth all week to the strip mall and local hardware stores and back, getting stuff like shelf paper, dishes, towels, tools, etc. etc., everything we thought we needed for the coach. We wanted to be ready to hit the road before the first winter storm arrived;,to get south on dry flat roads to practice our nonexistent driving skills in this big Mother Ship. The last thing we don’t want to hear was a high pressured sales pitch as you are signing the final papers, ready to take possession and spend your first evening in your brand new coach, that you need to spend gobs more money and if you don’t this expensive piece of machinery is going to mildew, crash and burn.
We were also exhausted and Larry in particular was tired of arguing with the Service Manager but that’s a whole other story that Larry will have to write about. It was a constant battle to get the tow system that Larry wanted and installed the way he wanted and then on top of it he had to promise to sign a legal waver to remove the dealership of all responsibility if it fails. I was beginning to wonder if this shiny box of metal was going to fall apart as soon as we were headed down the highway in a remote area, heck even in a populated area. My fears were building. We even had to argue with the service guy about the type of enzymes we wanted to put in the holding tank. He swore that what Larry wanted to use was not going to thrive or survive in the 130 degree temps that build up from the road heat! What? No, we should buy theirs. Where in the hell are we going that will be 130 degrees? Not sure even Death Valley gets that hot.
GETTING USED TO ALL THE NEW NOISES
Once we got legal possession and after having managed to say “no” to all the high pressured sales pitches, it seemed like we were never going to get out of the dealership parking lot. Larry had nothing but arguments with the service and parts guy about the tow system.
It was going on 6 days now living in the RV parked in the RV dealership lot. It was getting to be unbearable. There was nonstop noise as tractors were going back and forth moving what seemed like 100’s of RVs for winter storage, and trucks coming and going never turning their diesel engines off, and others like us (here for service) in the same predicament but not as lucky as we to be hooked up to power and were running their generators. We had no water hook up because they had cleared the water lines for winter so the pipes wouldn’t freeze and no pump out. I was worried about that as the days grew on.
I felt tense straining trying to listen to all the new and strange sounds that the RV made in competition with all the outside noises including the nearby Interstate HWY. Little alarms would go off indicating something or other and then the Mother Ship had a tendency to shift position like a person in an uncomfortable chair. I guess as we walked around it would sometimes cause the air pressure to readjust itself. I’m used to a boat moving around at a slip but nothing like this on hard ground. All items were normal but it was a learning experience to figure out what they were and meant.
THIS DAM TOW!
It was taking way longer than we expected to get all the lose ends tweaked but mostly the install of the “notorious” tow system. I was becoming less and less confident about the tow system. I was worried and wondering if the service guy that was taking our new Denali apart; opening panels, drilling holes through the metal and moving, cutting and adding wires for the tow system, did he really know what he was doing. Larry had been talking to them for weeks, going over how the installation should be as they were unfamiliar with it. Each day we expected to be nearing completion but there were so many excuses. Larry would be talking with people one day and then the next day those people were gone and he would have to go all around the dealership to see what was going on. We got excuses like, so and so is sick, or he’s off hunting, had to go to the dentist, then fishing, or had to pick up his kid, etc. etc.
Finally the tow system was installed and we were ready for the first test and instruction on how to use it. I took a small video because there were so many things to hook up and do in a certain order. All went fine and all the concerns I had were flying out the window until they unhooked the car so we could move the van. Suddenly the car’s transmission was frozen. If you tried to put it in another gear there was a horrible grinding noise! No one seemed to know what or why or how and were washing their hands of responsibility. Nothing we tried worked to unlock it. Finally Larry called our GMC dealer in Bellingham, WA and pretty quickly they said it needed a software update for the transmission! So we had to call Auto Club and get the car towed to the nearest GMC dealership. (Don’t you love computers and their updates? What if this happened somewhere out in the wild?)
We were pretty depressed that night, I wasn’t confident that the RV place didn’t install something wrong and ruined our transmission on the car. Larry was up at the crack of dawn to the GMC dealer and to my surprise called me a few minutes later saying it was FIXED!. Now we can GO? So we were on again to get the car back and hooked up and out of here.
FINALLY, CAN WE GO? NO!
It was pretty nerve wracking thinking about driving this big RV down the highway let alone towing the big GMC behind it. We didn’t even get a driving lesson but didn’t care. We were so sick of this place we just wanted to leave. The thought of driving this thing didn’t faze Larry one bit though. He always seems in control and confident.
We didn’t even tell the dealership we got the car back. Larry immediately pulled the RV out into the street alongside the curb and told me to pull the SUV up carefully behind, lining it up to hook the tow up. Larry hooked all the “tow lines and rods” and here comes the big moment to test the transmission to see if that was the fix. Oops not working again!! DAM!
I can’t stand it. This RV thing was supposed to be fun. Will we ever get out of this place I wondered? Larry walked down street to get the mechanic to come see what was wrong. Thank goodness it was a simple mistake, Larry hadn’t pushed one of the plugs in far enough! That solved the problem instantly and we were ready to go and the transmission lock up problem seemed gone too!
We got in the motor coach, engine running and ready to go. Larry unfortunately decided to take a quick bathroom break. It was just a couple second delay that caused us a two hour delay. Larry was just coming out of the head when the Service manager was knocking on the door. What the hell?
I invited him in because the temps were below freezing. He did a little chit chat, like where were we headed, etc. and I thought how nice but not now as we are leaving. But, no, he didn’t come by to be friendly and wish us a good trip. What he really was there for was to get Larry to pay for more stuff that he (the parts guy) had ordered but Larry didn’t want. Also, he said, don’t forget you have to sign a legal waver on the tow.
Larry had been arguing with this guy for weeks now and this was the final straw. We had been there for a week and now he comes to argue these items as we were ready to leave? In fact, Larry went in to the office to settle up yesterday but he was gone (off sick) so Larry had someone else finalize the bill so we could take off early in the AM. Larry walked back to the dealership with him, his arms waving with exclamations as he I’m sure was giving him a piece of his mind. They were gone for a long time. I stayed in the coach with engine running, waiting and wondering when we’d get out of here. I waited and waited and waited and was getting very worried about why it was taking so long. Finally I see Larry coming back with a tall man and woman and I can see him again waving his arms in exclamation even more exaggerated than before, and his mouth was going on something whcih I knew was not good. I rarely if ever see Larry get like that so knew he was furious.
Turns out he had to wait for their attorney to draw up the papers for the waver and then if that wasn’t enough, it had to notarized, so they had to call a notary to come. Larry later told me that they wanted me to come in to sign it but he told them “if you want it signed by Jayne you can walk down the block, she’s in the motor home!” So here they come in short sleeves in the freezing cold (25 degrees out!).
They apologize profusely for the inconvenience but somehow it didn’t make us feel any better about what we had been going through there. We were so glad to get out of there.
ON THE ROAD! FINALLY!
There was no time to dwell on the frustrations of that place as we were headed out in this mammoth piece of machinery going down the highway at 68 MPH! It was nerve-wracking right off the bat as an alarm was occasionally going off. Once we figured out that it was warning you every time you get too near or go on the white line on the highway, we relaxed. It was annoying but right now it was a good training device to keep us in check.
We had originally planned to go to Polcatello, South of Idaho Falls but now that we were leaving so late we were thinking of going to Dillon for the night, a 2 1/2 hour drive. I had made some peanut butter and jelly sadwiches to tide us over. As we drove and became more confident we decided we’d make a long day of it so we could get further south and beyond the mountains. (Maybe because it was easier to keep going than to stop? :))
After getting used to driving this thing, we relaxed and got into the momentum of the highway. We actually could enjoy the beauty around us and with such a big window! You are up high and have a grand view with such a large window!
What beautiful place Montana is. We rolled past vast vistas of golden grass covered hills and yellow leafed trees that gathered along the winding streams. The colors of fall were still in full view with yellow leafed trees and mauve, burgundy and pink brush everywhere. Unlike a few weeks ago when we were here to see Yellowstone, the flat vacant valleyed grasslands which were then empty of livestock are now filled with grazing cattle for the winter, moved down from the higher elevations. Large hay stacks like huge buildings scattered the prairies ready to feed the cattle for the winter. The highway naturally seems to either follow along the railroad route or the slow meandering river. The sky is robin blue with streakd white clouds.
In the distance now we see the mountains of Idaho covered in snow and decide it is a good idea to keep moving. That is now our goal today, to get past those mountains. We don’t want to deal with icy roads or rain with our inexperience driving this rig. So onward we go with our frequent alarm going off nagging us to keep in the center or our lane.
What a strange feeling it is not being able to stop when we’d like. We have to consider what the turns are like off the highway now, etc. so it keeps us moving. We pass old wooden barns and homesteads now abandoned from the 1800s. Rustic farms and ranches with their name and brand proudly shown mounted on their lodge pole entrances. I love this country. I wish we had time and weather to see more of it.
OUR FIRST DOCKAGE
We made it easily, but it was a long day, our first day, to Pocatello, Idaho. We settled into our first RV park and interestingly called Cowboy RV. No cowboys or cattle or horses to be seen. In fact we are smack dab in the center of a modest residential section of town. It is late in the day and begins to rain. We settle in, make our first dinner and enjoy a quiet restful night. No thought of visions of the next day and what trouble we can get into.