|Sun, 23 Jun: Back on the road again. After a week at the Wyoming Cam Plex center in Gillette it was time to move. We enjoyed the FMCA rally and we'll be back at the end of this week for the Escapees rally, also at Cam Plex.
Meanwhile, we have to go, so go we did. But, first of all we had to figure out how to negotiate the muddy quagmire in front of our coach. Yesterday's rains left standing water and it is now standing mud!
Fortunately, it was dry behind us. So, when the folks behind us left we were able to back through their space to the street behind. No problems. Whew! By the time we got Dinkum connected and ran through our checklist it was 1015 when we rolled wheels.
We had an uneventful 120 mile run from Gillette to east of Sturgis, SD. We were near here a few weeks back for the Full Timers rally, and we're now at the Freightliner Chassis Owner's Club (FCOC) rally at a nearby campground. The run was uneventful and very educational.
Educational? Yes, educational in that we learned a great deal about how our engine and transmission interact and how to best use them. We bought a Silver Leaf Vehicle Management System that interfaces with the Engine Control Module and Transmission Controller—the "computers" that run everything.
Anyway, this gives us much more information than we get from our instrumentation. For example, while pulling up a long hill at 55mph in second overdrive (sixth gear) we sat right on the peak torque point. Downshifting to fifth increased our RPMs, manifold temperature, and fuel consumption without a change in speed. In short, the engine prefers to run at the lower RPM. We sensed that was the case, but now we know for sure.
We arrived at Elk View Campground a bit after noon and were settled in by one. There are a large number of coaches already here even tho the rally doesn't start until tomorrow. To make us feel welcome the rally organizers are serving dinner tonite. What red-blooded RVer can turn down dinner?
We'll be here till Friday and have activities planned. On Wednesday we're taking chartered buses to Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse Monument. Breakfast and dinner are included every day. Just hope the weather cooperates and the thunderstorms stay away.
Tue, 25 Jun: First off, we send Ray & Cathie Bailey Anniversary wishes. The Baileys celebrated their Anniversary yesterday. Many, many more happy and healthy years guys...
Sunday evening's dinner was that all American favorite; burgers & pups with all the trimmings. It was tasty and everyone seemed to enjoy theirs. When everyone was fed and the "seconds are available" call rang out the scrum was a sight to behold. Guess they were good...
Yesterday, Monday, was a busy day. Breakfast was served from 0700 to 0830 and we enjoyed our eggs with trimmings almost as much as we enjoyed visiting with our tablemates. One of the positive aspects of his rally is the communal meals with unassigned seating. Every time we dine we also make new friends and/or revisit "old" friends.
Following breakfast we drove into Box Elder to pick up our mail at Americas Mailbox. Their campground is bursting at the seams with RVs. The Escapees Solos group is holding its pre-rally there so the joint is jumping.
Our mail was waiting for us and we visited with Don & Barb Hume for a bit and then headed to Sam's Club for some victualing. Then a stop at Wally for produce and such. We had lunch at Quaker Steak & Lube. Sandi ordered the hot wings with the Supercharged sauce, and this time the sauce was really hot! She ate five of them and got a good endorphin "buzz" going. The rest are now in the fridge awaiting another go.
We returned to Elk View Campground and the Davilas dropped in for a visit. Domingo had a dentist visit at the VA clinic at Fort Meade so they were close by. They're staying in Box Elder as this rally was sold out. As always, it was great to visit.
The remainder of the day was pretty laid back. Dinner was catered and well received. The folks from Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp were here in force, including the CEO Bob Hardin. We got a chance to chat with Bob one-on-one and let him know how impressed we are at the way FCCC assumed responsibility for our recent engine overhead problems.
Trivia (we lost), 50/50 drawing (we lost), and a raffle (we lost) rounded out the evening. Back to the coach for feet up with our Kindles and crosswords until beddy-bye time.
Which brings us to today. The wind kicked up during the nite and by dawn it was really huffin' n' puffin'! We read that a microburst went through the Sturgis Campground a few miles to the west of us. An event tent was blown down and parts scattered among several rows of parked RVs. Several were damaged.
Breakfast was again provided, breakfast burritos. We're now back in the coach playing with our computers and busying ourselves with our full retirement schedule. There is a "Know Your Chassis" seminar after lunch and then dinner again. We may need to squeeze in a nap somehow, but it isn't looking very likely. Such is the burden of retired life!
The "Know Your Chassis" discussion was excellent. There is nothing quite like talking face-to-face with the folks who design and build a product in order to understand how that product works. We always enjoy these sessions as we always learn something new and reinforce lessons learned.
Dinner was pork, and it was very good. The catered dinners have been very well prepared and we can always find enough to satisfy our needs despite our diets. It is getting easier and easier to stick to our diets as we learn what we can and cannot eat. Life is good!
Thu, 27 Jun: Yesterday, Wednesday, was our chartered bus trip to sightsee the Black Hills. We filled two large tour buses, and it was a long and busy day.
We left the campground a bit after nine and drove to the Crazy Horse Monument. Our bus driver, a self proclaimed "surver dude from San Diego", was so busy gabbing on the PA system that he missed the turn and we ended up in downtown Rapid City. No worries, it was a nice tour and we eventually made it to the monument.
We had never been to Crazy Horse so it was a new and novel experience. The sheer scale of this project is daunting. The viewing area is more than one mile from the carving, yet it still appears massive. In fact, we were told that all four Mt. Rushmore presidents would fit on Crazy Horse's head.
It is still a work in progress as shown by the artist's conceptual model and the mountain itself (see pix). Because it's different every time you visit there is an incentive to return.
Next Mt. Rushmore. We've been here several times so for us it is mostly a matter of finding a new camera angle or lighting situation (none found). We did take the perimeter walk to the sculpture's studio and back. We also had lunch (and National Park Service Concession food sticker shock) at the Monument.
We got tangled up in construction traffic on our return journey, making us an hour late. That seriously cut into Happy Hour, an unforgivable sin! Dinner was on time and consisted of chicken.
Today we joined the "gang" for breakfast and then took off on our own to Rapid City. We had a case of "overstuffed laundry bags" so our first order of business was a visit to Laundry World. With clean duds in hand we tended to some "residency issues" at the Pennington County Sheriff's Office. No, we are not miscreants, just law-abiding citizens seeking a permit from the sheriff.
We rendezvoused with the Davilas at The Firehouse Brewing Company for lunch. As always, an excellent lunch and inspiring company.
We're now back home, laundry sorted and put away, bed made, and free until Happy Hour. Just our kind of retirement day. It is pretty toasty out (eighties) so we're enjoying the air conditioned comfort of home.
Plans are to head back to Gillette tomorrow morning. Early parking for the Escapees rally is tomorrow and we've signed up as "early birds".