Tag Archives: Gillette

Dreamstreamr’s Best of 2010 — a short personal list

2010 was one of our best years in many ways.  We haven’t had a bad one, mind you.  We realized today we started Airstreaming seven years ago this year.  Four of the less than seven we’ve been full-time in our 25′ Airstream travel trailer.  All four years have been wonderful, exciting, different and often surprising.

What made 2010 great and different? A thumbnail sketch includes these things:

  • participating in a WBCCI Airstream caravan;
  • staying a month in Gillette;
  • visiting the oldest hamfest in the world;
  • visits to over a dozen national parks (and we’ll try to narrow it down to the best one;)
  • fun in Vancouver with our granddaughter;
  • three weeks volunteering with NOMADS, a United Methodist mission;
  • making a couple of smart purchases; and
  • stays at a wonderful pair of resorts.

Rainbow Bridge

We spent six wonderful weeks touring America’s southwest on a WBCCI Airstream caravan led by our friends Jay and Elna Thompson and Winston and Carol Montague. We were delighted to gain precious friendships with couples we hadn’t already met before the caravan while deepening our relationships with those we traveled with before.  And the six-week

Mule ride thru Bryce Canyon

guided tour throughout our country’s southwest was wonderful.  Our caravan leaders arranged tours, boat rides, and other special treats we either would have missed by scrimping or just wouldn’t have known about on our own.  Too, we enjoyed the company of many friends while trying to absorb the wonders in six weeks of sightseeing.

A month in Gillette WY allowed us time to really mine the area, so to speak.  We  toured one of their incredible and gigantic coal mining operations — nothing at all like the media makes it out; eat wonderful bison rib eye steaks at The Open Range Restaurant in Wright WY; tour the Wyodak air-cooled electrical generation plant;walk downtown Gillette; play tennis in Campbell County’s

That's a big pickup

incomparable municipal recreation center;  join the local ham radio club for breakfast at Granny’s Kitchen; browse and restock on electronic parts and custom cables from Chris Supply; participate in amateur radio’s annual Field Day with our WBCCI Amateur Radio Club; enjoy terrific convention management by the CAMPLEX staff; and celebrate another successful annual Airstream WBCCI rally.  We had a great month in Gillette!

best place for a hamfest

More than two years ago Dave Blum kf4gtj (SK) and Jim wanted to briefly slip away from our Airstream caravan’s tours for a look at the oldest continuously running hamfest in the world, the Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park Hamfest.  Dave and Jim didn’t make it then but it remained on their bucket list.  We (Jim and Debbie) put it on our agenda for 2010 and enjoyed a week in East Glacier with the best international group of hams we’ve been with.  Great weather, great scenery, great radio folks — This was a fine week.

North Rim Lodge

Debbie and Jim are divided on which was the best National Park we visited — North Rim of Grand Canyon, or Zion, or Mesa Verde.  We visited probably at least a dozen throughout 2010.  These three were our clear favorites for the year, and all were stupendous for roughly similar reasons.

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde wins out for being the least crowded and still providing stunning history and scenery. Zion has incomparable hikes and public transit and a very accessible but separate town site.  North Rim gave us an inch of overnight snowfall, very nice days, such a great old lodge, and more views than we ever could have imagined.  How do you pick one best one?

Cradlepoint router

Hands down, no equivocating, our best purchase for the year is our Cradlepoint CTR-500.  Our Airstream trailer is a mobile WIFI hotspot and we are radioactive!  Okay, only figuratively, but for us nothing beats the convenience of our own mobile wifi network.  We work three laptops, an iPad, and an iPod Touch.  Friend Bob Simms highly recommended the Cradlepoint to us, and we owe him many megabytes for our happiness with local wifi.  All devices tune effortlessly and quickly to the wifi, the Cradlepoint can support up to 32 devices at a time (but please don’t ask us to share, okay?), and we don’t mess with VZ Access anymore.  Wifi is good.

We don’t usually stay in resorts, national or state or provincial parks are more our speed.  But several years we have stayed in two resorts, one in British Columbia and the other in Mesa AZ.  Burnaby Cariboo RV Resort 17 km east of Vancouver BC is really really nice.  But Towerpoint Resort in Mesa has it beat hands-down.  Towerpoint is a  premiere tennis resort with five gorgeous hard courts, two hot tubs, two swimming pools, and too many excellent facilities to mention.  If we weren’t tennis players, we’d find plenty else to occupy us at Towerpoint.  And the people are wonderfully friendly and supportive.  Towerpoint is clearly the best resort we visited last year and we look forward to many more visits.

building a shed at Ocean Park Retreat

The best short description for our past year is “active”.  We saw a lot, participated in a lot of guided tours, hiked and toured many places, volunteered three weeks at Ocean Park Retreat on Washington state’s coast on mission work with NOMADS, played tennis all winter in Mesa AZ — we had an active year.  Yet we moved fewer times, stayed longer in places.  Three months in Okeechobee FL, a month in Gillette WY, five weeks on Washington state’s coast, three months in Mesa AZ.

We might be getting the hang of this full-timing thing, living throughout the continent.  Life on the road as full-timers, as a recent responder reminds us, isn’t vacation — it’s life (thanks, Sue, for the excellent phrase) on the road.  Our house has wheels, but it doesn’t require constant rolling.  We can stay in one place awhile if we want. We’re enjoying our environs more as we dig a little deeper in each locale.

You’ve absorbed all you can in one reading — we’ll save some highlights from last year for another day.

Jim and Debbie

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©2007-2011 Dreamstreamr

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A bad day for Garmin NUVI

We spent a nice four weeks in Gillette, WY, for the 53rd WBCCI International Rally. The Rally was good, as usual. Meet new friends, greet and spend time with old friends, learn new things, and enjoy varied nightly programs. Jim ascended to President of the WBCCI Amateur Radio Club, we conducted very successful seminars on full-timing, and enjoyed a couple of great local tours to share with you later.

Now we’re on the road again. Gillette sent us off in fine style, a cold soaking rain followed us most of the way to Cody, WY. Gillette’s weather wasn’t much good the entire stay. We had too much wind to unfurl our awnings or flags. So the farewell rain wasn’t a big disappointment.

The past two nights we spent just west of Cody, WY, in a neat little state park along the Buffalo Bill Reservoir. Free firewood in plentiful supply, nice fire rings, and a great view make for a nice campsite. The campground is five miles from Cody so we made two enjoyable trips into town for southwest food and shopping. We like Cody and know our way around pretty well from two stays two years ago.

Trouble started this morning with our Garmin refusing to respond with a reasonable route from Cody to Bozeman. Debbie is expert in establishing via points to force Lucy, our Garmin gps, to take the route we want. Lucy wasn’t having it today.

The most direct route between Cody, WY, and Bozeman, MT, is through Cooke City and the top section of Yellowstone NP. And all the way beyond Cooke City Lucy insisted we just had to backtrack and head NW to I-90 to find our way to Bozeman. Never mind this entails an extra two hours driving over going through Cooke City and Yellowstone!

We rarely fail to get Lucy to see our way. Today we resorted to using the atlas and road signs, until some time into Yellowstone National Park when Lucy decided we could get to Bozeman via Highway 89 through Gardiner, MT. And we did.

Two years ago we had a little difficulty using Lucy to locate the Bozeman US Post Office. This happened in Melbourne, Florida, too. Melbourne seems never to have had a Post Office where Lucy directed us. And in Bozeman, Lucy is unaware of the large Federal Building just off Tracy St, one block off Main St downtown. Two years ago we walked several miles to north of town looking for the Post Office without success.

Today we were getting nowhere with Lucy on the Post Office quest, so pulled over downtown and asked someone. We were within a couple of blocks of the main Post Office and completed our mission with no help from Lucy. Ninety-nine percent of the time Lucy gets our directions right and serves wonderfully. When she isn’t hitting, she is sometimes waaaaay off.

We’re in Bozeman, MT. Today we mailed our solar charge controller to it’s maker for diagnostics, repair, and return to us. We will wash truck and trailer (they’ve never been dirtier, thanks to rain and dirt road on the pass over Big Horn Mtns west of Sheridan, MT), get Deb’s hair done, enjoy a rebloturn to Bozeman United Methodist Church, celebrate Jim’s birthday Monday, and have a visit to Pickle Barrel ice cream shop near the college campus.

Why did we mail our charge controller off? Yesterday morning we realized we no longer were hearing its blocking diodes clicking in and out with the sun’s rising and setting. We checked the current reading and were getting no solar power to the batteries. It was running out all over the floor and onto the ground instead.

Called the manufacturer who told us how to check the charge controller. Connected the solar panel hot lead to the battery hot lead and checked the current reading — 7 amps instead of the zero we had through the controller. So the connections and panels and batteries are all okay, it appears to be the three year-old controller. Manufacturer said, “send it in and he’ll fix and return it.” Cool!

We’ll spend a few days in Bozeman, relaxing and enjoying a nice small town. Then we’re off toward Kalispell, MT, where we’ll hopefully meet our forwarded mail and our refurbished charge controller. We look forward to exploring this part of Montana, between Helena and Great Falls. And we’ll manage this with or without Lucy’s navigational help.

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr