On our last highly delinquent yet riveting episode, our heroes had barely caught the ferry from San Juan Island to Anacortes due to the unfortunately ongoing drama with our tow vehicle, Loki, an awesome yet currently fickle 1997 Geo Tracker. It will not surprise long time readers to know that we had little plan other than “get to the mainland and head inland,” assuming as we do that time and distance would provide clarity.
Having started our day before dawn meant that even after a multi-hour ferry experience, we began the mainland drive earlier than is our custom, and us such put in a bit more mileage than is usual as well. More than six hours down the road we arrived at Fairchild Air Force Base outside Spokane, Washington. The Family Campground there is a perfectly serviceable, if not particularly exciting, full service and affordable campground. While it is not located in what one might call a high demand nature and tourism area, it would give us a safe and affordable place to settle in while we coordinated repairs to the Geo Tracker.
After some online research and a few calls, I settled on the downtown location for Performance Automotive. We towed Loki there, it’s only a few miles outside of the base, and by Monday they had a parts list available, most of them located, but had not located the main part, the harmonic balancer pulley. If you are going to own an old vehicle, it really comes in handy knowing a few of the specialty shops to go to when you are on a hunt like this, and Richard at Xtreme Zukes Offroad back in Florida came through for us. He had the part on hand and FedEx’d it to the shop here in Washington.
The entire process took about ten days, during which we made the best of it in Spokane. Having spent most of 2015, our first year full time RVing, without a tow vehicle, we had experience living with just bicycles and our motorhome as transportation. Mostly this involves a bit of advance planning for supplies and entertainment. We combined our trip off base to drop off Loki with a stop at the commissary and even a casino for a drink and some low stakes slot machine action.
It was quite hot, and thus our $25 a night full hook up site was greatly appreciated, but we knew that three days of living exclusively on the base would be more than enough, so we made follow on reservations at the military-owned Clear Lake Resort just outside of town. This is a modest lake front facility offering RV sites, camping, cabins, and water-oriented equipment rentals at the usual discounted/subsidized prices for military members, retirees, and other veterans. We were ablet to snag four days there, Sunday through Wednesday, during their last week of operation.
Catching them in their last week of operation also meant even further discounts on their already affordable boat rentals, so we rented a johnboat equipped with a small outboard motor for an afternoon on the lake. We had a great day of boating, a lunch on the water, and gathered a few challenging geocaches along the shore as well. We returned to the Fairchild Base Family Camp to await the completion of Loki’s repairs and lingered a couple more days taking care of basic business and necessities before continuing east through Idaho and into Wyoming. Next up: We return to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.