I awoke to a leaden sky and what could only be called slush falling from the sky. I headed over to the casino to see if I could get internet (no), but the fellow at the front desk gave me a number to call to get road conditions. The information wasn’t very descriptive (basically “All is good on I-90 eastbound”) and did not describe what was going on at the 4th of July Summit or Lookout Pass. But I’d left the day before in comparable conditions and would have been comfortable running the passes, so I decided to pull out.
There’s an easy-access Conoco station right near the casino with prices at $3.59 a gallon (compare to $3,90 in Oregon!), so I headed there first since I only had a quarter tank left. I pulled in and was quickly boxed in by a trio of cars, the drivers of which were not content to fill up and go. No, they had to fill up, go into the store to shop, come back to their cars, scratch their lottery tickets, and finish their coffees. I was there almost a half hour! I decided to be unusually patient and not give anyone a dirty look. 🙂
Driving north to Coeur d’Alene was the first of today’s three tricky sections: a two mile long 6% grade followed by a flat stretch, and then a sharp drop with a change to 25MPH in the middle and a stop for construction at the bottom. No problem.
When I hit Coeur d’Alene I had the option of just going with my gut and knowledge and turning onto I-90, or parking Miranda at a mall and schlepping to the nearby McDonald’s for internet. It was nasty out so I decided to go with the first option.
The climb to 4th of July Summit sneaks up on you. One minute you’re zipping along at 65MPH and the next you start to lose power. I settled Miranda at about 45, took off the overdrive, slipped into D2, and smoothly crested the summit. I started down in the same conditions and the rig drove itself, with me gently guiding its slalom down to the bottom, no brakes needed. Miranda doesn’t have an RPM gauge (stupid, stupid, stupid automatic transmission dashboard design!), so I was going by sound and the engine wasn’t straining at all.
There’s a long stretch of flat between 4th of July and the climb to Lookout. That climb is a bit steeper, but I did it in the same conditions as 4th of July. Signs recommend going down at 25MPH MAX, so I started down at 20MPH in D1, but that was way too slow! I moved up to 40MPH and D2 and just coasted down, tapping the brakes twice when the engine got too loud.
As planned, I pulled into the rest area just below Lookout Pass for lunch. Unexpectedly, I was still in full possession of my nerves. I have my mojo back! 🙂
After lunch, it was a quick drive to the 50,000 Silver Dollar Bar/Casino/Gift Shop/Restaurant. There’s parking out back with dead power outlets. I wouldn’t trust them if they were live! The RV parking area isn’t maintained and it’s very snowy, but I found a flat dry spot behind the motel to spend a night or two.
Speaking of power, I’m still holding it together, but I haven’t had a full charge in days (I’ve hit 12.6 volts at best and 12.2 at worst) and I can only use one thing at a time. My inverter is driving me nuts: I can have 12.2 volts registering at the batteries and 2 amps coming in from the array, but the inverter insists my battery is completely depleted and refuses to charge my computer unless it’s off. Otherwise, all is good. My LED lights are awesome power sippers and I can keep the rig at a comfortable temperature.
The only downer is that I’m out of water and every single dump station I have passed in the last few days still had the water shut off for the winter! I have plenty of drinking water left and a gallon of clean water from a tap for washing up so I’m fine, but I sure wouldn’t mind a shower. I’m only a couple of days out of Lethbridge and aim to arrive there Saturday, so if I can find an open RV park I just may splurge on one night on FHU.
Now, if I could only get used to the time change!
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