Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Little stop on the prairie

We are at a free camping area overlooking the Fresno Reservoir, just west of Havre, Montana (map). The campground, provided and operated by the Fresno chapter of Walleyes Unlimited, is really just a dirt parking lot with a handful of picnic tables and grills, plus a vault toilet. Just down a flight of stairs is a pavilion with more tables and a large fireplace, and there are boat ramps on either side.

The reservoir, which impounds the Milk River, is operated by the Bureau of Reclamation, and right now in spring flood is cresting the spillway to a depth of two feet, quite impressive to watch. It has been very relaxing here, quiet and dark at night, with only an occasional neighbor or two, and even the power boats and ATVs during the day have been reasonable. With temperatures in the 60s and 70s, we've enjoyed sitting outside with a coffee or glass of wine, at least when the wind has not been whipping through at 20 knots. The view of the lake is quite serene, and the skies (which I'm told are big here in Montana) have been spectacular.

After we left the truck stop in Shelby, we noticed the coach was riding high on the left, and a quick check of the suspension at our provisioning stop in town confirmed my fears: occasionally, a check valve leading to the left front air bag starts leaking, causing the bag to overfill, even as the ride-height valve desperately tries to empty it. We can compensate for this while driving by setting the height at that wheel a bit lower with the leveling adjustment, but once this starts, the leakage will continue after we park, causing the electric air compressor to run nearly continuously to keep up.

We stopped again in Chester, at the local hardware store, where I picked up a few parts to install the new hot tub controller. Sometimes the leakage just fixes itself as we drive, and I was hoping for the best. No such luck this time, and we proceeded across town to the city park, where our guide said there would be water, which we would need for our stay here. That was a nice level parking spot, where I could try one of the tricks to free the stuck valve, which is to dump all the air out of the suspension, then refill. That did not do the trick either. We made one last stop in town, for diesel, then continued east, hoping more driving might cure it.

Unfortunately the leak was still with us when we arrived here, and so I spent an hour or so Friday evening crouched in the wheel well behind the tire, with all the air out of the system, to remove and rebuild the valve. We've gotten quite good at this, having done it now four or five times, but this time it took me two tries. I don't know how much longer I can keep the 25 year old rubber diaphragm inside the valve working. One of these days, we will need to find some kind of replacement for the three check valves.

I had planned to spend Saturday working on organizing the parts bays, and possibly working on the hot tub, but high winds thwarted my plans. There were white caps on the lake, and we had to batten everything down outside the bus just to keep things from blowing away; even walking the dog was a challenge. We ended up knocking some items off the indoor list, such as whittling down the stack of unfiled junk we retrieved from the storage locker, and giving the area behind the fridge, including the coils, a much-needed cleaning. I had some pork chops to grill, and it was so windy out at supper time that I could not even light the grill, so I ended up pan frying them.

Sunday turned out to be a gorgeous day and I spent most of it cleaning out and reorganizing one parts bay. What a mess. The generator panels are also in that bay, and as long as I was cleaning, I opened them up for inspection and tightened all the connections, having been burned, if you will pardon the pun, by loose connections there previously. We also hauled all the extra junk, most of it destined for eBay, out of the scooter bay.

Today ended up being eBay day, and I managed to get half a dozen items listed. It was a bit too windy most of the day for outside work, so I still have not gotten to the other parts bay or, for that matter, to the hot tub work. Nevertheless, we must move on tomorrow, because we are again out of provisions, having chosen not to get too loaded up until we've worked our way through the mysterious depths of the freezer and pantry.

I mentioned last week that we are having problems with our satellite equipment, and I located replacement hardware on eBay at a good price. It is en route to the Elks lodge in Glasgow, just a day's drive east of here, and scheduled to arrive on Thursday. After we restock the larder tomorrow, we'll try to find at least one intermediate stopover between here and there. I expect we will leave here sometime around midday tomorrow.


  1. The lifestyle you lead is so intriguing for such a home body.

  2. Wow, y'all don't waste any time, do ya? :) Sorry I missed you at Glacier. I wasn't following up on blogs as much I used to, otherwise I would have arranged to get in a day earlier to meet you. Unfortunately, I'm headed the opposite direction, working my way over to Washington state next week. I'm sure we'll bump heads along the way somewhere. Good luck on that valve... it's no fun driving down the road sideways. :S


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