The CoolRVers are actually a couple of retirees, Judy and Luke Rinehimer and our 5 year old German Shepherd Dog, Miss Shady Lady. We are "extended-time" travelers with a home in Cool, California. Thanks for following along with us as we travel North America in our "rolling condo", enjoying the RV lifestyle. Your comments are always welcomed.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011


Tuesday, August 16, Day 88 of our trip, started at Fairchild AFB, just west of Spokane, Washington. The previous week in our travels had allowed us to get caught up with our former Cool, CA neighbors and it gave us time to “recover” from the Alaska trip.  The weekend also allowed me to hop a jet from Spokane to Oakland, CA for an emergency kid-sitting session with the grandkids. (See our previous blogs.)

Now it was time to connect with our “RV family” – the Escapee Boomers – in Sturgis, South Dakota.  This gathering, called a “Boomerang”, is our second time to the Black Hills area.  We were here back in 2008 when our national club held its major rally in Gillette, Wyoming.  That rally will be held again in Gillette starting next weekend so the various subgroups within the club use the time for pre-rallies where members get together for pure socialization.

What is great about being a Boomer is that everyone is pretty laid back, flexible in scheduling, and always willing to share whatever.  We knew we had over 900 miles to travel, but no problem… we’d get there when we got there.  Boomer {{{ HUGS }}} would be waiting for us.

Traveling from Spokane to Sturgis would be a straight shot on I-90.  Yes, there are other routes we could have taken, but this trip was strictly getting from Point A to Point B. 


Crossing Idaho didn’t take long at all.  I-90 crosses the northern panhandle of the state for a total distance of 74 miles before reaching the Montana state line.  Originally we had planned to spend some time in the Coeur d’Alene area, but this day we would have to settle for drive-by photos.

Lake Coeur d’Alene provided miles of beautiful scenery as we whizzed by on I-90.


I snapped this photo of a statue along the way that intrigued me enough to do a little Google search and found another blogger, Linda W., who also wanted to learn more.  You can read her blog for more details. photographer


 …the whimsical statue by David Clemons that sits out at the end of Lake Coeur d’Alene Drive at Higgins Point on the Centennial Trail. It’s an old time photographer nicknamed 'Leopold', his camera poised to capture the beauty of the lake all year round."


Montana sign

We have traveled through Montana on a few occasions so we knew we would not have much to look at.  Our destination for the night was Missoula, MT.  Our odometer trip mile counter read 202 miles for this day – perfect!

One of our all-time favorite campgrounds is Jim and Mary’s RV Park, located just one mile off the interstate on the western edge of Missoula.  We’ve learned the hard way it is best to have reservations.  I called around noon and we used our credit card to hold a 30 amp E/W pull-thru site.  Good thing, too.  When we pulled in about 3 pm the “campground full” sign was already out.  (When we’ve missed getting in before, we stayed at the Jellystone Campground – great for families, but too hectic for an overnight rest for us ol’ geezers.)

What’s special about this campground are the flowers, statues, shade trees, and openness of the sites.  Once we were set up, it was time to let Star roll in the grass, grab a cold bottle of water, and sit outside with a book.

IMAG0507Jim & Marys RV flowers

IMAG0497Even the dog walk area was inviting.




Tuesday night the park had free live entertainment followed by an ice cream social.  The lead singer was LeGrande Harvey who has two claims to fame:  his brother Alex wrote “Delta Dawn”, “Reuben James” and other country hits, and LeGrande is the writer and composer of Montana's Official State Ballad, "Montana Melody".  He was accompanied by “The Professor” (didn’t get his real name), who shared his family history as a Native American and performed a tribal marching song. 

Montana performersdrummer


While we managed to drive 200 miles on Tuesday, Wednesday was a longer driving day – 299 miles.  We had an invitation from SKPs JerrieLea and Ron Hopf to stop at the Old West Campground,  a small Passport America park in Reed Point, MT.  We settled in next to them and then went out to dinner at the IMAG0508Waterhole Saloon.  The menu was limited to those items you can take from the freezer directly to the deep fryer so the food was not memorable.  The company and story-telling, however, was outstanding.



We had managed to drive more than 6500 miles through Canada and Alaska before we got our first windshield rock chip just two hours before leaving BC.  We IMG_6809weren’t back on I-90 more than an hour on Thursday when we got not one, but two rock chips from cars passing us in our own direction of travel.  We figured the rocks had been dropped from trucks working a nearby construction zone.




Once again Luke was out cleaning the glass surface and apply scotch tape over the chips.  Our taped windshield looks sorry, but the chips have not spider-webbed.  We’ll get them filled at Escapade.



Our dash East continued on Thursday when we racked up another 292 miles and made it to Gillette, Wyoming. 

We will actually be back in Gillette for the 2011 Escapees Escapade (national rally) starting next week and will write more about this area then.  This stop-over was just for the night so we could make it to Sturgis, SD on Friday.

Escapade2011%20Low%20ResEscapade Directors Molly and Bob Pinner and their “Advance Team” have been onsite at the huge Cam-Plex rally site for a couple of weeks.  The Cam-Plex can handle thousands of RVs for rallies, but, they do NOT have overnight parking for “transients” like us.   We decided we did not want to overnight at the ever-popular local Walmart, so we booked a space at High Plains Campground located across the street from the Cam-Plex.

After dinner I left Luke to recuperate from his long driving days (for us) while I took the toad across the street to say Howdy to the Escapade gang.  They had just returned from a Mexican dinner and were praising the Margaritas.  After introductions and SKP Hugs, I was off to Walmart where I knew SKP Boomers Ann and Mick Meilicke were over-nighting.  We were both headed for the Boomers Black Hills gathering in Sturgis and I just wanted say hello.

walmart_logo_214x54My “excitement” for the night was going shopping at Walmart where I filled the cart with some basics and then lots of “goodies” to share at the daily Happy Hours we would be having over the next couple of weeks.  Pleased with my selections, I dutifully loaded the conveyor belt at the check stand only to discover I did not have my wallet with my credit cards.  Embarrassment 101!  The cashier was very good about it and said it happens all the time.  Thankfully, I was the last customer for that aisle so I didn’t hold up other patrons. She said she would continue to scan, bag, and store the items while I went back to our rig (5 miles away) to get my wallet.  When I returned she spotted me, directed me to her check stand, retrieved my cart, scanned my credit card and I was on my way within five minutes. 


IMG_6835Friday’s drive to Sturgis, South Dakota was only 122 miles after stopping at the Gillette Flying J for fuel.  We thought it would be wise to fill the tanks now, rather than wait until all the RVs roll into town the next couple of weeks.

We did take a driving break at the Visitor Information Center just inside the state line.  Winds were gusting pretty good (see the flags standing out) and Luke thought he’d be fresher pulling into our campground ready to set-up after a little siesta.  We’ve stopped here before so we didn’t really need any more literature so I limited myself to taking photos and walking Star.



rush no more

Because of our Alaskan travels, we had not pre-registered for a campsite at Rush No More Campground, home of the Boomer Black Hills Boomerang II.  Host Betty Anderson and the campground staff assured us getting a site would not be a problem.  We were escorted to our site and knew we had a challenge.  Rather than being on the main row, we were given a site on the tiered hillside.  Luke was able to move our 40-footer into the space by utilizing an open site in front of ours.  IF another unit pulls in, no way will we be able to get out.  Oh, and there was mud, a rock wall, and a drop-off slope to deal with.

On Saturday we would change sites!



We arrived in time for the Boomer Happy Hour and {{{ HUGS}}} all around.  Life is Good with friends on the road.






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