North Dakota continues to surprise. The trip down from Garrison was a pleasant drive on very good roads. Oil has a way of generating money and it is obvious in this part of ND that oil has contributed a lot to the local economies. Without comment on the source, it is nice to see vibrant small towns with wide new streets and roads, farms with big new barns and homes and people working. Medora is a vacation tourist town with all the usual attractions.
Boots campground is about three miles out of town back in the hills. Probably better know for its cabins, the campground qualifies for ok. Water, electricity, sewer and good wifi are about the total amenities here. The National Park entrance is right downtown and is open. The loop road is partly closed due to landslides and damage; however, the rest of the park is a great visit when splendid views. Buffalo are present around a lot of the road as are the Prairie Dog towns that lie on both sides. The buffalo are very accustomed to cars and trucks, ignoring their close proximity for the most part. There were some absolutely beautiful wild horses. The images of them are not all that good but the horses were much more concerned about us than the buffalo keeping a good distance. The landscape is interesting and greener than the South Dakota Badlands. Scout and I walked the trail to the top of the Buck Hill trail where he posed on the rocks.
Saturday we drove the 70 miles to the North Unit of the NP. This is a 14 mile one way drive along the Little Missouri River through the badlands. Pretty country and remarkable as to how the land goes from being rolling grassland to a mud and clay canyon with the river running through it. Lots of buffalo here in herds that were quite a ways from the road. We did see one huge male just along the ridge and there were the every present reminders that they were here earlier. Peg, Scout and I took the overlook trail at Oxbow overlook where Scout made friends with a young man. It was a great view and lots of fun. Of note are the images of River Bend Overlook and the “Cannon Ball” formations.
Being on the road is an adventure that is filled with challenges both good and bad. The Carefree awning on Gracie has failed again. We were at Turtle River State Park when the awning refused to close all the way. After a lot of help from the campground host, park personnel and a call to Carefree, we loaded up and drove to a Carefree dealer in East Grand Forks, MN. We were fortunate that they took us in right away and unfortunate in that they and Carefree could not fix the awning leaving us traveling with our awning secured so that no further damage can occur but unusable. For those of you not familiar with the RV world, repairs are not readily available this time of year. All the RV dealers out West are booked out full through the rest of the summer.
Peg and I have been out here for the best part of 6 years now and are very aware of this from past repair needs. This is one of the reasons we went to Iowa to get the awning repaired in the first place. In Apache Junction the closest Winnebago Service Center is LaMesa in Mesa. LaMesa did the recall work on Gracie over the winter and that experience is instructive of the other repair scenario you run into. Because we did not buy Gracie from them we were scheduled almost two months out (this was ok in for us in December and January). Once in their hands it took them two days after the appointment date to look at Gracie after which they called me stating they had to order parts and the work would be done in a couple of weeks. At the end of that time, LaMesa called and said they had a problem with the repair and was calling in one of their experts to complete the work. For two recall items LaMesa had Gracie for over 6 weeks for 4 hours of billable work. This is a lousy business model but a lot of RV companies operate this way. Regardless they were the first people I called when the awning failed up in Heber. They were two weeks out for taking a look at it and we really wanted to get out of the desert in Arizona. Peg and I talked it over and decided we would just take it back to where we bought it LichtsInn in Iowa. LichtsInn is a wonderful dealer and we have always had excellent experience with them. They fixed the awning and a punch list of warranty items in one day and we were on the way West. The awning worked fine for the first few days before failing again. In our current situation, Carefree is going to replace the entire awning under warranty. Winnebago is supporting this fix. The challenge is finding a Winnebago service center that will perform the work this summer. The upshot of this is I have spent a lot of time on the phone trying to get this set up.
We will be heading toward Devil’s Tower Wyoming tomorrow then up into Montana before heading to Rapid City, SD and Dakota RV (Winnebago Service Center) for a July 31 awning replacement. I consider us lucky to get in then. In the meantime, we are enjoying ourselves and the sites. Peg and I enjoy seeing new places and finding new experiences. Hope you all enjoy the images.