Wheeling to Tucson - Introduction
Sunday - September the 30th: Getting Off to a Rough Start
2000 miles and 34 hours later we arrived in Bozeman Montana.
The trip started out with several days of packing the van. This turned out to be a bit problematic as the waterproof carrier we had planned on using had a zipper which would not seal. That meant everything now had to go in the van. Ugh.
After puzzling 99% of everything in, I went out to add a few more things on Sunday morning, September 25th. This is what I found.
At first I though someone had seen all the stuff in the van and decided to break in and help themselves. But it was immediately evident to me nothing was missing or even disturbed.
I called Wheeling PD and waited by the van until Betsy brought the officer to the back alley where the van was parked. The officer told us overnight they had received 7 calls like ours.
It turned out there was a green pickup with Ohio plates and a noisy muffler marauding the neighborhood. They were amusing themselves by shooting out car windows with a BB or pellet gun.
After the officer left, Betsy and I started the cleanup.
First all the shards from the street.
Then a careful vacuuming of surface shards that were scattered all over the stuff in the back.
Then a careful unpacking and a more thorough vacuuming.
Now - what to do about the missing window. Not wanting to take the chance we could not get it replaced by Tuesday when we were leaving for the trip, I decided the hole must be sealed up ASAP.
My first thought was to do a plastic and duct tape job on it.
But the thought of listening to the plastic beating in the wind for nearly 5000 miles did not appeal to me in the least. And if anyone wanted access to the van it would be a simple matter of ripping out the plastic.
So I put my red neck gitter done brain to work and came up with this.
EEEK! Where is the window!?
This method seemed much better than the plastic and duct tape method and that proved to be the case.
It took about 45 minutes to prep the materials, then a trip to Lowe's for fasteners.
Then it took Betsy and me another 45 minutes or so to do the install.
Luckily I had all the materials except the fasteners stored in various places around the house, garage and basement.
Satisfied now this fix would last the trip to Tucson, we repacked the van and closed it up.
On Monday morning we had a call from the glass shop where Betsy had left a voice message describing our dilemma. They informed us their regular supplier did not have the needed replacement glass - a rear wing vent. However they were going to check with two other sources.
The glass shop called about noon with the not too surprising news they could find no replacement glass in the area. The only one they found could not be shipped in time to meet our departure time of Tuesday morning. Now I was feeling very glad I had taken the time to button up the window in a manner that would stay put over the 5,000 miles the route to Tucson would end up being.
On Tuesday morning Betsy and I set about the job of winterizing the house. This meant shutting off the water at the street meter and then gravity draining all the pipes.
Next was pumping RV antifreeze through all the pipes and pouring antifreeze in the toilet bowls and the washing machine pump.
The hot water tank was also drained.
Then it was "Bye-bye" to the house and grounds and we were on our way to Fort Wayne where we would stay the night with Betsy's sister and her husband Joe.
We arrived without problems. The van handled a bit differently with the load but the plywood cover we had installed over the window did not make a sound and seemed to be sealed quite well.
After enjoying a nice outside Happy Hour with Char and Joe we then feasted on grilled venison tenderloin, skewered shrimp and corn on the cob. Mighty tasty!
On Wednesday morning we departed at 7:00 and 11 hours later we were in Stuart IA.
The next day we put in about 10 hours and ended up in Rapid City, SD.
I have to say that drive across South Dakota was one of the most brain numbing drives I have ever done. It was made worse by the constant fight with drowsiness for about the last 5 hours.
On Friday, our last leg of the trip, we arrived in Bozeman, Montana after about 6 hours of driving. That part was much more enjoyable and we saw many Prong-horn Antelope in Wyoming and our old friend the Magpie as well.
We rolled into the hotel at about 2:30, unloaded and then headed down to Bozeman Brewing Company where Betsy's cousin Ryan works.
After an embarrassing case of mistaken identity, Ryan, Betsy and I had settled into the important business of taste testing the various goodies which Bozeman Brewing Company had to offer.
Then Ryan gave us a tour of the facility. Quite impressive compared to what we had see in other breweries.
After the tour Betsy and I walked the three blocks down to Montana Ale Works. Ryan had his bike and peddled along with us.
Betsy and I shared a tasty meal of Bison Potstickers: "sweet mango and garlic chili sauces, asian cucumber slaw" and Asian Ramen Salad: "with greens, veggies and sesame-fried, plum-glazed chicken or tofu" and several local beers.
After dinner we took a short neighborhood walk to a high point from which Ryan pointed out where we would be hiking the next day: Sacagawea Peak in the Bridger Mountains.
Then it was off to bed.