I woke up around 5, but couldn’t run the generator until 7am. I was too excited to get going on the final leg, and a little nervous too. This final portion of the initial trip involved going over the Continental Divide and several mountain passes, with much longer and steeper grades than I’d driven so far. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous; driving in a car is one thing, but with about 12,000 pounds pushing behind you, downhills can be scary.
After airing up all four trailer tires back to 80 psi, I was on the road by 9am. I didn’t have long to wait: the highest pass I’d cross is the Homestake Pass over the Continental Divide just east of Butte. It’s at 6,329 feet in elevation. As Rory started climbing, some of the semis in front of me were down to about 30mph. I decided to crawl behind them; Rory could have gone faster, but with passenger cars flying past in the 60 mph range, I thought it more prudent to just follow a semi. I put on my hazards just like the trucks and up we went.
Cresting the top, I gripped the steering wheel and stayed behind the semi. I had nothing to fear. Diesel trucks have an exhaust brake, and the new Fords have an auto setting besides the normal one. It’s designed to keep the speed at the same mph as the last input from the accelerator. In other words, if I stopped touching the throttle at, say, 40 mph, the auto setting on the exhaust brake would then keep my speed downhill at no more then 40. It worked great, and I didn’t even have to touch my truck brake pedal once. Such a relief to know I won’t have any risk of burning up Rory’s brakes or the trailer brakes on steep downhills! I finally relaxed and enjoyed the drive.
I stopped after 3 hours for diesel, DEF and Subway turkey sandwich at a Flying J truck stop. I was still in Montana, just east of Missoula. There was a train track running behind the truck stop, and as I walked back out to the truck lot with my sandwich, a train carrying what appeared to be plane bodies was moving west. I snapped a very quick pic before it passed out of sight, but there were a lot more of these than the pic shows. Maybe headed to Boeing?
With a large unsweet tea to drink, I got back on the road. While Lookout Pass, which is on the border between Montana and Idaho, is not as high as Homestake, the grades up and down were far worse, in my opinion. But, the exhaust brake and Rory’s powerful diesel engine made it all fine. I was finally in Idaho, and back into my native time zone: Pacific. The Idaho panhandle is about 70 miles long on I-90. One more mountain pass involved, Fourth of July, just east of Couer D’Alene.
Since I moved away from Washington long ago, I was a bit surprised at how much this whole area has grown. Once I got to Couer D’Alene, the rest of the trip to Spokane was one long, developed corridor. When I was growing up, Post Falls, Liberty Lake and Couer D’Alene were all separate communities. Now it’s hard to tell them apart.
I drove into Spangle right at 4:30. My brother in law, Dave, was home and we initially parked my trailer in the driveway above their house. However, it was very unlevel and I could not get things positioned so it could be leveled. I slept in it that night, but without any of the slides out. We moved it yesterday down to their driveway and it was easy to level there.
Jacob had a basketball game at 8pm; I was pretty tired, but didn’t want to miss anything. He was by far the best shooter on his team, and at one point had three 3 pointers in a row!
I’m happy to be settled for a bit and plan to do some more projects, watch Jake play more ball and enjoy Dave and Missy’s company. Can’t wait for Brandon to come home from college this weekend!
One Reply to “Day Nine: Return to the Inland Northwest”
Great family time!