Saturday, September 18, 2021

Roads & Trails

I know it has been awhile since our last post, but when you are stationary for a long time (6 months in Butte MT) not much goes on to report.  Last week Mike and I participated in Roads & Trails in Whitehall MT, sponsored by Christian Motorcyclist Association (CMA) of Montana State and WE HAD A BLAST!!!!!!!!!!

What is Roads & Trails?  It is a family weekend event, where you can ride motorcycles, dirt bikes, quads (4-wheelers) or dual sport motorcycles on roads or trails.  You meet your trail boss or road captain in the morning, plan your route, discuss safety, pray and then ride.  After your ride, you eat, fellowship and tell stories on each other during a slideshow of pictures and videos everybody takes during the day.

Our friend, Lori, let us borrow her quad 2-up on Friday, so Mike and I took turns driving on the dirt trails of Pipestone, Montana.  This was my first time driving, except for driving Aunt Betty’s 4-wheeler up and down her driveway this summer.  Mike taught me when to put it in low, to keep it level as much as possible and when to put it in 4-wheel drive.  I did great.  Our trail boss, Lois, took us up to Ringing Rocks, through easy trails and as we progressed in our confidence more advanced to the most advanced trails.  We stopped and had lunch with the kid group at Four Corners in Pipestone.  FYI, it looks like there are abundant RV spots for boondockers.  We rode from 10 AM to about 4 PM.

(Friday's ride)

(Us ladies)

Side note: I purchased a motorcycle jacket at the CMA state rally during a silent auction, plus we purchased 1storm helmets from Amazon for about $60 each before the Roads and Trails event.  Oh and I purchased motorcycle gloves for $10 through Amazon, before our weekend of fun riding on the dirt and rocky trails.  

(Mike driving - Nice helmet)

(Me in the white helmet and white motorcycle jacket)

On Saturday, Lori loaned the quad to me and a dirt bike to Mike.  It has been 36 years since Mike rode a dirt bike, so he took my motorcycle jacket since he is most likely to fall and hurt himself.  But he did great!  It was like riding a bike (pun intended).  His trail boss, “G”, took his son Alex, a CMA member from Wyoming Jeff and Mike to Flintstone house (nature formation in the mountains), the old granite quarry where they got the granite for the Butte courthouse stairs and some amazing challenging trails.  Mike only fell and dumped the bike about three times, but didn’t hurt himself because he had my jacket, gloves and a helmet.  Me on the other hand… that’s a different story.

(Flintstone House)

(taking a break)

So Ramona, JaraLee, and I followed our trail boss, Lois, through more advanced and most advanced trails throughout the day and I did great!  I used low gear and 4-wheel mode when needed, kept it level, was so confident that I would stand during the moguls on some of the trails.  I said I did great all until the trail to get us out of the Pipestone park.  Yep, you guessed it.  I tipped the quad and fell.  On the last trail there was a hill and at the top a sharp turn to go down hill and the quad I had was a bit long.  I took the corner but in doing so had to go up the bank to make the turn and was too much of a bank that I tipped the quad.  As it tipped I got scared and grabbed the handle bars but in doing so pushed on the accelerator and it got away from me and down we went (Melissa and the quad).  Thank the Lord I was wearing a helmet as my head hit the ground.  I scraped my elbow real good and bruised a few ribs, my hip and leg.  I should have been wearing my jacket, but Mike and I thought he needed it more as I did so well the day before.  As I hit the ground I rolled as I didn’t know where the quad was landing and didn’t want that heavy sucker landing on my legs or on me period.  

(Me all dirty and hurt)

As I jumped up to get to my feet and assess the situation, I was grateful to be second in our group, so I could stop Ramona and JaraLee behind me.  Lois noticed it was taking us too much time so she reversed course to see what the issue was and JaraLee flagged her down.  That is when we noticed my scraped up elbow.  The Lord sent three dirt bike riders on the same trail that we flagged down to help us right the quad and get us to level ground.  I mustered up the courage to get back on that “horse” and took my time getting off the trail.  I gingerly took my time getting back to base camp as the dirt road that kept guiding the quad off the road and I was a bit shell shocked to say the least.  I was determined not to let fear win and scare me from getting home.  The old Melissa would have said “call Mike to come and get me, I’m not doing this anymore.”  Sat there and pouted. Not the new courageous Melissa, she is determined to do things afraid and fight the fear as I don’t want the devil to win and steal my joy of living a life of adventure.  

What did I learn other than courage?  Well that the Lord was watching over me, as it could have been worse and he sent the three dirt bike gentlemen to help us, but looking back I got cocky in my ability and as I was turning on the steep bank I was thinking stop, reverse and straighten it out before continuing and I should have listened to that inner voice.  I also learned that I want a quad and want to do it again.  We can’t wait for next year’s roads and trails.  

(before the accident)

Mike and I want to thank our friends, Lori and Dan for letting us borrow the quad and dirt bike.  They were so understanding of the new scrapes.  

Remember to do things you are afraid to do… it’s called courage.  Who knows you might have a blast and enjoy your life.  Thank you and God bless. 

#roadsandtrails #roadsandtrailsmt #rnt #rntmt #cma #cmausa #cmamt #christianmotorcyclistassociation #christianmotorcyclistassociationusa

Monday, August 16, 2021

What happened?

I wanted to give you all a follow-up on what happened last week.  If you missed it below is a link to our blog post on Our Worst Travel Day.

We had so many of you ask us… How did that happen?  What could have caused this?  As are we.  We came up with scenarios as to what would have caused us to lose (shear off) seven of our eight lugs on the driver side rear tire on the truck.

Scenario 1 - Over torque

When we were on the side of the road last Saturday a man pulled over to see if we needed help, he talked to Mike and said he was a master mechanic.  Mike told him the situation and he said that over torque could cause this as it happened to him.

Scenario 2 - Our torque wrench is out of calibration

I asked the mechanic that worked on the truck and he said it does happen.  Mike checked ours to his step-dad’s and that is not likely.

Scenario 3 - Forgot to check and re-torque

This could be the most likely scenario.  Mike just painted the rims a few days before our travels to Lewistown, then Fort Benton and back to Lewistown.  We forgot to recheck the torque on the tires before heading back to Butte.  The mechanic indicated that the lug nuts on the other tires were a little loose.

The mechanic had to replace the lugs by dropping the axle in the parking lot. Then they put on our spare tire since the rim lug holes were oblong due to the wobbling of the wheel.  This cost us $187.45 and we camped in Walmart parking lot for two nights.  We were going to try to just find a replacement (similar style) rim, but the style of rim we had was discontinued 8 years ago so it would be impossible to find a new one. We thought about going to a salvage yard but being these were custom wheels we were afraid that the offset, etc. wouldn’t match the existing rims. So we broke down and purchased new rims for all four wheels for $1,060.  Then the TPMS sensors in the tire needed to be replaced because of the rim style, that was $160.  Mike and I decided to replace our spare tire with one of the good old rims (since there was a size difference between our spare and tires), so that was $40 for a used tire.

I know this was a bit of money, but so grateful that it was not as bad as it could have been.  The mechanic said that when an issue like this occurs, the tire usually comes off the truck and as the truck drops down it will land on the loose tire and damage the fender, brake rotors, etc.. Luckily our one lug held the tire on and this didn’t happen to us. 

So what did we learn… 1. Not only check tire pressure before leaving, but also the torque on all tire lugs.  2. The Lord is with us.  He is with you as well.  

Travel safe.  Watch out for one another.  God bless.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Our Worst Travel Day

Our worst travel day, yesterday (Saturday, August 7th), this is what happened…

We were staying with Mike’s Aunt Betty in Lewistown Montana.  While hitching up the camper to the truck, Mike stepped in dog poop.  (A sign of what’s to come.) He walked our dog Abby, earlier that morning and we forgot to pick up the poop.  After cleaning up his shoe and hitching up, we headed out on the road.  About eight miles down the road from Aunt Betty’s, we hear a noise (like something blew up or off) and the truck jerked.  I thought it was a tire, but Mike thought it was a head gasket on the engine as he started to see black smoke coming out the tailpipe.  So he pulls over, checks the engine with a quick glance and didn’t see anything.  He decides to take us a little further down the road to get us safely off the road.  As he was driving, he noticed the truck not driving correctly and the turbo sensor indicated that there was an issue.  We reach a big turn off area on the road to check the engine again.  This time he noticed the pipe from the turbo on the engine to radiator disconnected so he was able to fix it.

As we continued our trek to Butte, we kept the radio off and questioned to ourselves and each other every noise we heard.  Through Bozeman we noticed that the truck was not feeling correctly.  At first we thought it was the road, then Mike thought we lost a balancing weight on a tire as he experienced that before, I thought it was a tire.  We stopped in Whitehall for a rest stop and gas up before going over the mountains.  Mike checked the tires to pacify me.  He didn’t notice anything.  So we continued.  Not long on interstate 90, a lady (or angel) in an all-white class c camper towing a small all white car, pulls alongside us then pulls in front of us, slows down and flashes her lights and is pointing out the window.  Mike passes her but as we pass we see her waving at us and pointing at a tire, so Mike pull off the next exit, Pipestone.  We just made it off I 90, we stopped on the shoulder at the top of the exit and Mike could see our driver side rear tire barely on.  When we got out we saw with horror that our tire was only on by one of eight lugs and lug nuts.  Seven lug studs have been sheared off (gone, nothing holding them on).  This lady or as I call her an angel stopped to see if we were ok.  I think she was so afraid for us and others.  She saved us and others from a possible accident.  (I say lives but Mike says I exaggerate.)

Mike tried to tighten that one lug to get us down the exit ramp to the bottom on level ground, but the tire said “uh no” or it would have fallen off.  Mike could see how it was wobbling and not safe.  We called Coach-Net, our roadside assistance company, to send a flatbed truck and bumper pull hitch to come and get us and take us to Butte.  Mike called his Mom and step-dad that live in Butte to possible pickup lugs and nuts at the auto part store and bring them to us to fix and limp to their home.  When they arrived Mike and his step-dad Jerry determined that they couldn’t fix it on the side of the road.  We were towed (truck and camper) to Butte.  The camper was parked at the Walmart parking lot and the truck to the auto shop across the street.  Now we wait to see how much the truck repair will cost and take.

I say and believe the hand of God was over us, for numerous reasons… we just renewed our Coach-Net membership last month; the engine made us more aware of noises and signals around us; the lady in white spotting our tire is an angel from God; we got safely off the road and on the flatbed with one lug; the tow vehicle could take both our truck and home; it happened when it was still light out until 9 pm so it was safer to deal with this issue; it happened 30 minutes outside Butte, close to Mike’s Mom; Mike’s Mom had an extra vehicle for us to get around until our truck is fixed; I kept my peace during the whole situation yesterday (today I cried thinking about it and gave God praise); and on and on.  God is with us and He is good.

Be safe out there.  Watch other drivers and make them aware of issues you see.  Have a good roadside membership.  Our membership with Coach-Net covers the tow for the truck and camper.  Safe travels and God bless.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

RVing with a Dog

Our dog, Abby, is 14 years old.  In the two years we have been RVing, she has adapted well.  This post is about her and caring for her while on the road.

Abby is a springer spaniel and even for a senior dog she is still very energetic.  We walk her twice a day and manage her weight.  Every summer while at our summer home base (my mother-in-law's driveway), Abby get’s her annual checkup and all caught-up on her shots.  We also get her prescription refilled for heartworm, flea and tick prevention.

Every six weeks we groom her and have her nails trimmed.  In the two years RV living, we have not found it an issue finding a groomer for her nails.  PetSmarts are almost everywhere and a lot of vets will do walk-in nail clipping.

We have a monitoring system to keep watch of her while we are out shopping or sightseeing.  We contain her in the main living area to prevent her from jumping on the bed which I feel is too high for her.  Turn the TV on to block out the outside noise and close the blinds, to prevent her from barking at our neighbors. We have two baby monitor cameras that we have hooked up to the WIFI that we can access while we are out to monitor her.  We also have a temperature monitor system that is also hooked up to the WIFI that we can check while out. It will also alert us on our phones if the temp gets too high or too low.

This past two years, we had to take Abby to an emergency vet twice this year.  Early this year, she gave us a scare.  We had to keep her overnight at the West Palm Beach Emergency Vet, because she had old dog vertigo.  After the stay and medication, in just a few days, she recovered.  Then in June, we had to take her to the vet because she had a UTI.  Again after a few days and medication, she was healed.

She is a good travel companion and she loves spending all her time with us.  We love spending all our time with her and look forward to traveling with her for many years to come.

Thank you and God bless.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Ads on our Blog

You probably noticed that we have ads on our blog now (unless your ad blocker is blocking them), we signed up for Adsense with Google.  So if you like any ad that appears on our blog, please feel free to click on it.  By doing so, we get a little fee for the ads you click.

Thank you for your support and God bless.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

“Follow By Email” will be Removed

We have been notified by Google Blogger that on July 1st, they are getting rid of the “Follow By Email” widget that we have on our blog.  

So if you would like to continue following us, please Click on the “Follow” button at the right and follow the instructions, if you haven’t done so already.

Also please be sure to follow us on Facebook ( ) and on Instagram (

Thank you and God bless.

Please check out our New Page "Ways 2 Save"

Check out our new Page "Ways 2 Save" in the tabs to the right. These are the programs we use for discounts on camping fees and fuel costs. 

Thanks for checking it out.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Changing our Window Valances

Below are all the steps, tools and tips to change the valances in our 2017 Grand Design Reflection 315RLTS Travel Trailer.

Tools needed: screw driver, small crowbar, sharp scissors, staple gun and plenty of staples, black permanent marker, and material

Step 1. Remove the valances from the wall

Step 2. Separate the valances

Step 3. Measure and cut material

Step 4. Staple material

Step 5. Mark where the holes for the bracket are

Step 6. Rehang

Tip 1: This is a 2 person job, one person to unscrew and one to hold it as it will fall once unscrewed.  That was a lesson learned as we broke our lamp shades when the back one fell.

Tip 2: We used curtains I purchased from Walmart.  We had enough material after un-hemming.

Tip 3:  We stapled on top at each side to hold material in place after folding.  If you can wrap a present you can fold a corner and staple.

Tip 4: You might have to move the wall brackets down and might need to cut them to fit.  We only had to do that on 2 windows.

Material we used (curtains from Walmart):

I love it!  By removing the bottom half of the two piece valances we added about 1 ½ inches to our window view, plus we removed a little weight.

What do you think?  If you have any questions, please put them in the comments below.

Thank you and God bless.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Our Story

After a year and half of full-time RVing, we still get the question why?  Or are you tired and ready to live in a house?  Why do you live in a camper?  And so on and so on.

Well let me tell you our story on why we decided to live full-time in our RV and travel… In June of 2016, Mike’s Dad moved from Buffalo, NY to Montana (their home state) and in October of that year he passed away suddenly of a torn aorta at the age of 67.  The odd thing is that before moving “Papa Ray” (Mike’s Dad) would tell us that he didn’t want to die in New York, almost like he knew.  This made us think how short life is and you don’t know how much time you have.

"Moma" Yvonne & "Papa" Ray

In August of 2017 we purchased our first RV, a Grand Design 2600RB Imagine.  We have always been campers, but tent campers or overnights on our 1989 Bayliner Trophy cuddy boat, but never RV people.  Mike use to say (jokingly) why bother camping, RVing is taking your home with us.  And he is right.  “Papa Ray” and “Momma Yvonne” (Mike’s step-mom) had tent camped, then got a pop-up, then a hybrid and finally an RV, so we saw their transformation into the RV community so we went straight for an RV.

Summer of 2018 we took our Imagine from Buffalo to Montana for a two week vacation and this was another eye opening experience that showed us how nice it is to sleep in your clean comfy bed every night while traveling, a kitchen to make meals and save money, etc.

January 2019 we traded in our Imagine for a 2017 Grand Design Reflection 315rlts, since it had more room, storage and capacity for a washer and dryer for full time living.  Our plan was to go full-time in 2021, until my Dad had some heart issues due to his COPD in March of 2019 and Mike’s Mom, Mary, was diagnosed with cancer in May of 2019.  We believe these were the final nudges from God to move up our timeline and go full time in 2019.  Mike flew out to Montana to visit his mom and step-dad at the end of June and when he returned in mid-July we were full steam ahead to get the house, the boat, the cars and the rest of our belongings sold.

By the end of September 2019 everything was gone and we were off, first stop Montana to visit with Mike’s family before heading south for the winter and to visit my parents in Florida.

That was the start of why, now the question we get is… Are you tired of full-time rving?  Or are you ready to live in a house and “settle down”?  Umm… No.  Mike’s philosophy is never say never or forever; so we can’t say we’ll do this forever but at this time we don’t see a change in our lifestyle in the near future, if it is up to us.  As our savings dwindles, we are currently looking for remote work that we can do on the road as we travel.  But if we have to be stationary for six months, that might be an option.  We just want the flexibility to be able to travel to care for our family across the country.  If you know of an opportunity, please let us know in the comments below or email us.

My niece, Samantha, asked me “why I live in a camper?”  I replied, “So I can see you and your family, grandma and grandpa and all of Uncle Mike’s family every year sometimes a few times a year.  Plus I like my camper, don’t you?  Wouldn’t you like to live in it if you were me?”  She said, “Yep.”

I hope this helps explain our why and our story.  Thank you and God bless.

In memory of “Moma Yvonne”, who passed away from cancer on Thursday; we will miss you.

Monday, April 26, 2021

When It’s Cold Outside

Here are a few ideas to stay warm while camping in the cold… 

·         Skirt your camper


·         Fill your fresh water tank
·         Tape AC vents


·         Reflectix in the windows, skylights and MaxxAir fans
·         We have 50 AMPS so we can run the fireplace and a space heater
            along with the furnace
·         Electric blanket to warm up the bed
·         Flannel sheets with thick blankets
·         Blankets for sitting on the couch
     ·         Layer your clothing

How do you stay warm in the cold weather while camping, if you can’t travel to warm weather?

Thank you and God bless.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

We Went West

Since Mike’s Mom and Step-Dad were diagnosed with cancer this winter we decided to travel west from Florida.  From Vero Beach Florida we stopped at Crestview Florida to visit Mike’s cousin, Ryan, and his family for a few days.  From there we stopped in Texas to visit our friends, Rob and Marie, and Tammy and Alan.  Then we traveled to Mesa Arizona to visit with our friends Victoria and Keith.  Visited sothern California for a week, since we were close (about 6 hours – 8 hours with traffic), to get another sticker on our map.  From there we stayed in Las Vegas to wait out the weather to travel north to Montana (should have stayed there for another month or two, Montana is cold in the spring).  Finally we traveled up interstate 15 to Butte Montana, our home base for the next four months. 

Thank you and God bless.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Las Vegas, NV

Red Rock Canyon

About 45 minutes from the Las Vegas Thousand Trails campground is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.  The visitor center is off of route 159.  It cost $17 per car to get in and drive the scenic loop.  (Side note: the website said $10 per car and the sign outside the gate had $15 per car, but when we got to the window it was $17.)  On the drive you will witness the amazing calico landscape of red, white and beige, snow dusted mountain peaks and a possible siting of burro or wild horse.  There are various hikes, petroglyph walls, dirt roads for four-wheeling and if you are adventurous enough rock climbing. 

Mike, Abby and I just did the scenic drive which took about an hour to drive through and occasional stop for pictures.  Dogs were welcome on hikes.

We decided to extend our tour of the Red Rock Canyon by going north on route 95 to route 157 to Mount Charleston, then backtracked 157 to route 158 to 156 and finally back to 95.  This route takes you up to over 8,000 feet in elevation so there was snow covered grounds, but the roads were cleared.  It was about an hour and half drive.

What amazing vistas of the high desert and mountains of the Mojave Desert area, worth your time and drive.

Shelby American and Count Kustoms

Mike and I went to the Shelby American museum for a 10:30 guided tour on the history of Carroll Hall Shelby and the Ford racing team of the 1960’s.  What an amazing guide.  The museum and tour are free.  The tour was about an hour long.  Be sure to tip your tour guide.  When you go look for “Devine Life 2021” on the wall of signatures.  Now Mike and I need to rent the movie Ford vs Ferrari.

After the Shelby museum we went to Count Kustoms for a free self-guided tour of their cars and bikes.  Seeing some of the cars reminds us of the episode of the TV show on History channel.  The tour took about a half hour. 

Thank you and God bless.