81 Months Full Time RVing: September 2021 Report

The Distance: A big travel month for us as we drove 1,890 miles from Spokane east to the Yellowstone area and then back nearly to the Pacific coast, visiting several fantastic places along the way. Total mileage for the year is 7,727.

As long as it’s not moving much, PKM is pretty relaxed around water, in this case the Salmon River in Idaho.

Incidentally, here is a fun (or tedious, depending on your nerd quotient) google maps limitation I stumbled upon while trying to make my usual monthly route picture. Google is quite good at keeping up with seasonal road closures and will automatically route you around them and will not allow you to “force” a route through them by any means I could discover. But what if you are planning a future trip, or recreating an old route, outside of those closure windows? Google has an option to set the date of your travel (via a “Leave now/Depart at/Arrive by” drop down menu) but only for a two-point solution, i.e., a starting point and a destination.

As soon as you add another point drop down menu for the trip date option goes away. I could not find a clean way around this limitation for this month’s route map other than simply breaking it into two, and even that solution took a lot more work for the first half as I forced the route through Yellowstone National Park while artificially including the stopping point along the way. You see what I go through for this blog? And the little nuggets of wisdom I pass on?

The Places: We started the month with our lengthy stay in Spokane, splitting time between the Fairchild Air Force Base Family Camp and the nearby military owned Clear Lake recreation area. From there we headed east to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks, two places that we had visited all too briefly in 2015. We stayed at Colter Bay and Gros Ventre campgrounds like we had during our previous call, but also discovered a free national forest area campground in the process.

Some of the hot springs in Yellowstone National Park.

Working our way back west, we stopped at Craters of the Moon National Monument before returning to the Salmon River and Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho, one of our favorite destinations from 2015. From there we made a four-leg run almost all the way back to the Pacific Coast, ending with three nights at The Laughing Alpaca. We closed out the month in Northern California with a two day stay at Big Lagoon in Trinidad and four days at Glass Beach in Fort Bragg.

The Lava Flow Campground at Craters of the Moon National Monument.

During this month we spent 8 days at military campgrounds, 13 at public parks (10 national and 3 county) and 9 at private facilities. We had full hookups for 14 days, partial (electric and water) for 4, and dry camped for 12.

Sunset at Chickahominy National Recreation Area, a one night stop on our run back to the Pacific Coast.

The Money: 73% over budget. Yeah, a tough month, but that’s what happens when you have an $1,100 car repair (Loki’s fan belt assembly and a few other things) over $1,100 in gas from our nearly two thousand RV miles this month, and a nearly $250 tire for the motorhome, all with no markets at all to offset things.

Sea glass in one of the coves in Fort Bragg, aka “Glass Beach.”

The Drama & Improvements: As we mentioned in our San Juan Islands post, our Geo Tracker had a bit of a melt down when the harmonic balancer pulley dropped into the of the road while driving, and that repair along was a tough bill to swallow given how much we have already put into the vehicle. We also ended up finally replacing the tire that we had plugged back in June. Tires for our big rig seem to be a particular “thing” for us; our replacement rate seems a bit higher than normal, but then again we are on the road full time and putting in some serious miles. For those keeping track, we replaced three in 2021 (front two and left outside rear.)

PKM in the magnificent tree in our site at Big Lagoon County Park.