The adventure continues in Bowman, North Dakota (click here for more info)

Looking at a map on my way east, I saw that Bowman was a good place for me to stop in terms of location along my route and driving distance. I knew it would be cold, so I looked up a campground in Bowman, because I figured it was best to have electricity and not have the pipes (and me) freeze.

As I approached Bowman in the late afternoon, the weather started to get nasty. When I got to the campground, it was completely covered in snow and not a living soul in sight. What is a cold camper to do?

I went into town but couldn't find the police station or the fire station. I stopped at a convenience store and they kindly gave me the non-emergency number for the police. I called them and their only suggestion was for me to go to the local truck stop - about a half a mile away - and ask if I could plug in.

Well, you and I know the chances of that, but it was snowing and I was cold, so I was willing to try anything at this point. I went to the truck stop and filled up the tank, just in case I had to use the generator tonight. The manager said all their circuits were maxed out but he said some of the hotels around here may have a place to plug in.

He took out the yellow pages, got on his smart phone, and started calling motels for me. Every place he called was full already, but he didn't give up. He kept calling until he found probably the very last available 30 amp hookup in town. And it was mine!

It was $10 for the night and just around the corner, so I didn't have to drive far. Which is a good thing because the roads were covered in at least a foot of ugly brown slush. This was not a pretty sight and as I discovered, not something I enjoy driving in. Bella looked brown, she was covered in this brown slush almost all the way to the roof. She had icicles hanging everywhere. And here she is, in the snow ...  again ...


More sad news (click here for more info)

After the kind of day I had yesterday, I didn't think things could get any worse, but as these things happen, Alcatraz took a turn for the worst during the night at the emergency vet hospital. He went into cardiac arrest and our wonderful kitty passed away at 2 am last night. I am writing this with tears in my eyes and have no words to describe my sadness or sense of loss. It is hard for me to believe I'll never see him again but I am consoled by the fact that Alcatraz is not suffering any longer. Thanks to everyone who has offered words of encouragement and support.


Frank Lloyd Wright cabin and house at Alpine Meadows Ranch in Darby, Montana (click here for more info)

Sad news in Hamilton, Montana (click here for more info)

After 2 years and 10 months on the road, after 70,000 miles, after 48 states and 2 foreign countries (Canada and Mexico) .... Bella had her first accident today.

I was leaving Hamilton and heading south to Darby, where I had an appointment to see a Frank Lloyd Wright building.

As I approached the town's main street and stopped at the corner, Mr. H in the car behind me thought I was turning left. But I turned right (south to Darby) and there he was, between me and the curb.

I heard the loud crash and had no idea what the noise could possibly be. I immediately pulled over in the right lane and got out but I couldn't find anything. Then this Mercury Grand Marquis stopped behind me. Mr. H got out and informed me I had hit him. I had no clue how it could have happened, until he explained that he thought I was turning the opposite way.

We exchanged our info and called the police. They were there in no time, talked to both of us, and took pictures. Now we have to wait for the report and then the insurance companies will take it from there.

Mr. H is a well known senior citizen of Hamilton as I could tell from all the people that saw the accident and stopped to talk to him. Mr. H was on his way home from church and wearing a suit, most of his friends were too.

No one was hurt. Mr. H's car had quite a bit of damage to the driver's side headlight (see first pic below) and Bella has some long scrapes on the passenger side, and quite a bit of plastic parts torn and broken around the storage compartments and the rear tire. The 'house' door doesn't open or close properly now.

When it rains, it pours (click here for more info)

When I called home to tell my daughter about the accident and to get her fax number for the police report, she also had bad news for me.

She had spent the day at the emergency vet with Alcatraz, our family cat, who is very sick. He has diabetes and had fluid in his lungs. They put him in an incubator immediately. The vet thinks Alcatraz will be ok as long as he is put on a restricted diet and gets two daily shots of insulin for the rest of his life.

I'm sure I don't have to tell you how upsetting this is to all of us. Alcatraz is a very special cat with tons of personality, actually he thinks he's a dog. Alcatraz chose our family. He showed up one day in our backyard and wouldn't leave until we adopted him. He is precious to us and everyone who meets Alcatraz falls in love with him. He even has his own page on Facebook, which you can see by clicking on the title of this blog entry.

We are just so grateful our Alcatraz will be fine, with proper care, and all the love we have to give him.

Wisdom, Montana (click here for more info)

After leaving Darby, I headed east on MT-43, a pretty lonely road and a very scenic drive, with lots of beautiful country.

On a long, flat stretch of road that followed a river down below, I thought I saw something red move ahead by the side of the road. As I got closer I saw a figure climbing up towards the road, wearing a red sweatshirt, and I moved into the other lane as not to hit them. As I passed them, I saw their vehicle down below by the river and saw skid marks on the road.

I immediately stopped and parked by the side of the road. I grabbed my cell phone and went to see how I could help. The car in front of me had also seen the accident and turned around. They got there before I did.

The driver of the car offered to take the girl in the red sweatshirt back towards Wisdom, the town I had just passed, where she said her parents live. She was a very young girl, not even 20 years old - would be my guess - wearing neon light green nail polish, and she was very shook up. She seemed ok, at least physically, and I thanked the driver for stopping and taking her home.

I offered to call anyone she needed me to, but they informed me I was in the Big Hole, where there is no phone service of any kind.

Then I heard on the radio that 45 people died in the recent storms from Oklahoma to Virginia.

I honestly don't think I could handle one more bit of bad news today. My nerves are frazzled, I am exhausted, and I am tired of crying today. I know the sun will shine tomorrow and I send a prayer to the girl in the red sweatshirt and to all the families of the victims of the storms.

A guardian angel in disguise (click here for more info)

When I called to make the appointment to see the Frank Lloyd Wright house at Alpine Meadows Ranch, the owner told me they were closed for the off season, but that I could talk to Mike, the ranch manager, to see if he could give me a tour.

When I called Mike, he graciously agreed to show me the place on the date and time that was convenient to my travels through Montana, which happened to be this Sunday afternoon.

I left early to give myself plenty of time to get there in case I got lost (easy for me to do) and on the way to the ranch, is when I had my accident. I called Mike to tell him why I would be running late, and it turns out he had just driven right by the accident and saw my RV,  but of course, had no way of knowing it was me.

Mike said no problem, to just let him know when I was on my way. After the police were done collecting all the pertinent info and taking pictures, I called Mike to let him know I was coming. He offered to drive to the main road in his pickup truck and meet me there, so I could ride with him to the ranch, and not have to drive Bella the two miles to the ranch on the narrow dirt road. Believe me, when I saw the condition of the road, I was very glad I didn't have to drive Bella there.

Mike not only showed me around and answered all my questions about the place, but he inquired about my accident and patiently listened as I babbled and rambled nervously, since I was still pretty shook up.  Mike, whom I believe is a guardian angel in disguise, proceeded to show his wings by doing the following:

- Mike gave me some much needed therapy. He told me to go with my feelings, not deny them, to feel sad if I was sad, feel angry is I was angry, but that I needed to deal with my feelings and not hide or fight them. He told me not to make any big decisions in the next 24 hours and all sorts of other wonderful things, that were exactly what I needed to hear.

- Mike offered to fix my turn signal, which the police officer noted was not working while taking down the accident info. Mike said he couldn't send me back on the road with that blinker not working. The auto parts store is closed on Sundays, so we ended up going to two different places to get two different size bulbs. Unfortunately, no matter how much he tried, the blinker could not be fixed, and there was no mechanic available this Sunday afternoon.

- Mike would not accept payment for the tour of the ranch, which the owner had indicated to me that I should pay directly to Mike. Not only would he not accept payment for the tour, he wouldn't even let me pay him for the two packets of bulbs he got for me.

As I'm sure you can tell by now, Mike is an extremely kind and generous soul and I am very lucky to have met him on this day, of all days. Even though I was a complete stranger to him, he treated me like an old friend. I'm sure there are many other things he could have done with his Sunday afternoon that did not involve watching me break down and cry. But Mike truly didn't seem to mind.

He made sure to give me good directions to make sure I knew where I was headed, so that I wouldn't get lost. Later, he called and left me a voicemail, just to check to see how I was doing. 

Angels walk amongst us, we just can't see their wings.

Randomly interesting things along the way

Bella the RV - home is where I park her