Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Staying at Big Mountain Lodge in Whitefish (thanks dad!). Finished wandering downtown Whitefish, and stopped at Red Caboose Diner.
Tomorrow's agenda: Polebridge and Kintla Lake.
We're gonna wuss out tonight and find a place indoors to stay (not the jeep). Got new bags with colder temp rating & will hang the rainfly up to dry overnight.
Cold night spent in Glacier last night. Ended up sleeping in the jeep for warmth.
Atop Logan Pass @ GNP... It's snowing here, and I wish I would have packed the winter gear. Clouds blocking views.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Passing thru Shelby, MT.
Pronghorn sighting!
Temps read 48-degrees on out way up to Glacier NP.
No real goals for the day today... but we are making our way towards Glacier NP. Chilly & rainy this morning.
Breakfast and heavenly hot chocolate at a cafe called Wake Cup in Ft. Benton. :o)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I can happily say 'brrr!' I doubt its even 60 degrees outside... Far better then the 92 degree day at home today!
Ft. Benton, MT. Nifty looking little town. Will have to get some pictures.
Reporting from atop Ft. Peck Dam. Interesting camping weather last night. New tent did rather well in wind and driving rain.
Just left the small town of Circle, MT on our way to the Russell Nat'l Wildlife Refuge to find camping for the night. Looking forward to a full night of sleep.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Made it into Montana!
Stoping for late breakfast after getting lost on a dirt trail in the Badlands. :o)
Off paved road - Custer Trail.
Time travel! Just entered mountain time zone. 93 miles east of Montana state line.
Bismark, ND!
Lightning on the North Dakota plains is kinda nifty this morning. Still waiting for the sun to start chasing us - nothing yet.

Friday, August 27, 2010

T-minus 6 hours till I ditch the job. Couple of last minute items to be had at WallyWorld at lunchtime. KJ is packed & ready. Road trip!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Forecast shows a 59-degree daytime high for NW MT on Sunday... :-O

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Photos of trip...

If I take photos to upload anywhere on this trip,  I'll post them out on my Twitter account.  It's the easiest way to post them from my phone, and they can be viewed there by anyone that cares to look.

All repairs on the Jeep are done (for now). Alignment done this afternoon, and skids are also back up. Started loading the Jeep with camp gear as well. Tomorrow I'll finish packing our gear, do some last minute laundry, make sure the cats are taken care of, vacuum... and Aaron said he would mow the lawn. Last minute tasks falling into place.

2 more days...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Officially excited... and BUSY!

Just a few days left now until we're off!  I'm super-excited, but also stressed.  We have done a lot in the last few days to prep the jeep... and still have quite a few more things to do before it's all said and done.

Tuesday night last week, we noticed some 'interesting' noises coming from the front end of the jeep.  We were concerned that the front differential was going bad due to some ill-fitting suspension parts. Wednesday night after work, we tore into the front passenger side suspension and were fortunate to find that what was actually wrong wasn't too expensive to repair... vs. the cost of a replacement front differential, or replacement gearing... probably $350 difference, at minimum.  This repair cost approx. $150.  We are replacing the passenger front CV joint and intermediate shaft.  However, we're not doing that until this evening as we had to wait for parts to be delivered.

I did run and get the tires rotated on Friday night, and on Saturday we dropped all of the skids, flushed/refilled the coolant, flushed/refilled fluid and replaced filters in the transmission pan, and I RTV'ed the seeping transfer case.  In the next couple of days the oil will be changed, we'll re-install the passenger side CV/intermediate shaft, bolt the skids back on, and get an alignment.

THEN I can think about packing.

It think being busy this week will be better than not - time passes faster, and maybe Friday will show up sooner.  :o)

More later...

Monday, August 16, 2010

11 days...

I went wheeling with some friends over the weekend in SE Michigan.  Before I left, I wanted to thoroughly look over the jeep - check fluids, tighten suspension, etc.  Nearly everything checked out okay...


It appears that Eugene has a seeping seal/gasket in the transfer case - where the 2 halves meet.  Fortunately, it's not bad at this stage.  I check the fluid level yesterday morning before heading into Michigan with the others to the off-road park, and it barely took any fluid at all.  So, it's not a full-on leak.


I got on the Jeep forums last night to search for the 'fix'.  I found some directions... and, to read it, it doesn't sound like a complicated fix.  I find it a little scary as it calls for the removal of the transfer case from the vehicle.

Someone in my wheeling group yesterday suggested a RTV patch - especially if the time isn't availble to actually fix the issue until after the Montana trip.  I am considering this because it is only in a seeping state, and because I bring extra fluids with me in the Jeep all the time anyway... so, I can keep an eye on it while we are traveling.   We shall see what happens.

In other news - other 'to-do's'...
  • I ordered two canisters of bear spray off eBay last week - they should be here this week... in plenty of time for the trip.  
  • I'd like to set up the tent again this week or weekend... for practice, if nothing else.  
  • We need to start pulling all the gear from the garage and getting it ready to pack.  
  • The Jeep still needs a transmission fluid/filter change, and a coolant flush - probably next weekend.  And next week, it will have the oil changed, tires rotated/balanced, and an alignment done.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I've got this gianormous stack of paperwork on my desk at work... places to check out while on the road.  I know we won't see most of the stuff.  However, it's in my nature to prioritize and say, "okay, I have to see this, this, and this..." I can't do that on this trip - many of these things happen to be on opposite sides of the state which makes it not at all feasible.

The only places for certain?

Missouri Breaks Backcountry Byway
Polebridge/Kintla Lake areas
Glacier National Park

Everything else is up for grabs.

Have been researching bear spray for the trek.  Between that and bells for clothing/packs, we should be okay in terms of bear preventative.  If no one hears from me after Labor Day, just assume we became bear kibble.  :o)  No other 'special' gear is necessary... just pack like I would do for any other camp trip, and we should be golden.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

20 days left!  XD

I got the notification from Cabela's this morning that the new tent came in.  I went and picked it up this afternoon, and then proceeded to learn how to set it up. 

It's a  Coleman Hooligan 4 tent.  The dome tent portion is very simple - it's like my green 2-man tent that I use in the wintertime. 

The more difficult part was the rainfly.  I'm used to tents that have the rainfly that are the same shape as the tent.  This wasn't horrible though.  It took me awhile to set it this time around, but I'm sure I can cut the time in half (at least) the next time I set it. 

This tent is a lot more spacious inside than the stupid, cheap orange tent I have - for that I'm very happy.  It also has a great ventilation system, and really great protection against the weather... AND a vestibule area to keep wet shoes and such so that you don't have to bring them inside!  Woohoo!  I'm excited to use it!

I spent a couple of hours water-proofing it... I'll probably let it stand all night, and then pack it away tomorrow afternoon.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bear-ing in mind...

I've had a couple of people challenge the idea of camping, wandering, and roughing it in 'nowhere' Montana with the thought of bear attacks.  Apparently there was an incident last week where 3 people in a campground near Yellowstone NP were attacked (1 person was killed).  So, apparently because of this one attack... I should now fear for my life and stay in a hotel somewhere...

Ummm, really?!  It makes me wonder if any of these people have done their homework.

In the most recent case at Yellowstone, the attack took place at a higher-populated campground.  Bears had been seen in the campground before (red flag #1 - campground frequented as a bear food source?).  The bear also had cubs in the area (red flag #2 - endangering their offspring?).

On average, there are 1-2 fatal attacks on people per year.  This isn't in just Montana.  This is in all of the US and Canada (including Alaska).  That said, there is no way bears are a deterrent for my plans.  Honestly, I look forward to seeing them (from a distance, obviously) in the wild... because I have done my homework.  I don't feel threatened, and I have learned how to react.

Does this mean I won't meet my demise by way of attack if I meet the 'atypical' bear?  Nope.  It could happen. 

Point is... I don't want to be one of those people who live in fear of the unknown.  I'd rather not be confined by the "safety" of my house in the suburbs, with my only entertainment source being the TV/computer/cell phone.  I don't want my experience of the outdoors to happen through the television screen.

So many people fall victim to this.  It's those same people who have pushed things like bear attacks at me.  They are concerned - I understand that.  But what they don't understand is that I might just be safer spending some quality time experiencing the outdoors and the wilderness than I am at home with the crime that runs rampant in cities all over the US - including my own town.

I reiterate one of my most favorite quotes:

"Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast... a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still there. So get out there and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains. Run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to your body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards."

- Edward Abbey