The Kessel Run

The route to Seattle is long, extra long when you’re headed the wrong way.

In Lewistown Montana with the WINs and Jenna, I had two key destinations planned – Fourth of July in Osakis, Minnesota with Janet, Duane, Wally and more, and a visit with Kylee and Jeffrey in Seattle. I was not well positioned for either one. Especially poorly positioned for both.

The route from Lewistown took me through Miles City (I’ll get back to this one), Rapid City, Pierre, and Bismark – about 1,200 miles — but well worth it. The week at Janet and Duane’s lake house was fantastic as always and remains one of my favorite destinations.

…the Millennium Falcon…the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.
–Han Solo

Of course this left me over 1,800 miles, by the shortest route from Bainbridge Island, my Seattle area stop. So over 3,000 miles from Lewistown to Seattle. Hmm. Off I went, back to Bismarck and Miles City, and … wait, Miles City again?

It seems like you have to go through Miles City entering or leaving Montana from the east. I’ve been to Miles City before, and it’s a nice place, but the past few months I’d been there 3 times.

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Suddenly I wanted out, out of Miles City and out of Montana. In the morning I made the Kessel Run – driving with no stopping point in mind. I kept going until late in the evening when I found a spot in a rest area in the maze of construction zones that is I-90 through Idaho. I’d gone 656 miles – well beyond my prior longest one day drive of 360.

A couple more stops and I made it to Bainbridge Island, a small island in Puget Sound right across from downtown Seattle.

This visit allowed me to meet Jeffrey, Kylee’s boyfriend. We had a great time taking in Seattle and Bainbridge Island. Jeffrey is a very likeable guy.

The only real downside of Bainbridge is the transit back and forth to the mainland. It just takes too long to get back and forth with lots of waiting for the ferry and tough traffic on both sides. Next time I have to find a way to stay in the city even if it’s a hotel.

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Wrapping Up Year 4

My fourth year on the road ended in a new RV, with some time in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, visiting Kylee in Seattle, and moving out of Arizona (huh?).

Hard to believe it’s been four years.

In this post:

  • From Washington to South Dakota
  • No Longer Arizonan
  • Year 4 Map

From Washington to South Dakota

Leda and I first stopped in Quilcene, a tiny town on the Hood Canal somewhere between Olympia and Port Townsend, where I promptly rubbed a tree with my brand new 5th wheel. The tree is fine and I’ve yet to repair the damage to the outside shower hatch, but the estimate is about $500, so yea. But enough of the lowlights, one of the highlights of the stop was going to the top of Mt. Walker. It was a clear day and you could see the Seattle skyline and Mt. Rainier across the water.

Mt Rainier appears to float above the clouds. 86 miles away it still dominates the skyline. This shot is from the top of Mt Walker near Quilcene, Washington.

Next up a trip to Seattle on the Kingston to Edmonds Ferry to see Kylee. No, not with the 5th wheel, it was tight enough just in the truck – had to fold in the mirrors to get on board.

ferry pulling into port
My ride from the peninsula to the mainland – the Kingston to Edmonds ferry
Murray and Kylee with the Seattle Space Needle in the background
Kylee and I get an elevated view of the Space Needle and the rest of beautiful Seattle.
Seattle skyline from Gasworks Park
Murray in front of the Seattle Troll
Seattle Troll

Leda and I then went to Port Townsend to see Leda’s brother. Love this place, I’ll definitely be back.

In nearby Sequim (pronounced skwim) which is between Port Townsend and Port Angeles I took two days of driving lessons with the new 5th wheel. Well worth it. Better late than never.

A bunch more stops before Leda headed to Oregon to see the total eclipse and I made a crazy long one day drive from the peninsula to Spokane. Leda met back up with me there where we had lunch in the diner from Benny and Joon. Then we went through Idaho, Montana and Wyoming to Box Elder South Dakota (a suburb of Rapid City).

Fergusons’ Cafe from the movie Benny and Joon
Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle from the movie Benny and Joon

No Longer Arizonan

The point of going to South Dakota was to change my residency. I’m now a South Dakotan. It’ll save money on vehicle registration and state income taxes. South Dakota plates are sort of a badge identifying full time RV’ers.

The Maps

Holy cow, 68 locations in the past year and I didn’t even get east of the Mississippi. Lots of Arizona and southwest locations traveling with the WINs and hanging close waiting for Kylee’s graduation. Definately too many places (and I probably missed one or two).

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The Route to Graduation, Part 2

As I head north to Flagstaff, the RV goes south with troublesome repairs piling up.

Part 1 of the winter/spring route is here.

Trek North, Going South

Leda and I continued north with the WINs to Cottonwood and Prescott Valley. Meanwhile, the RV, Roamward Bound, was heading south. the hydraulic issue was back with a vengeance and the parts needed were nowhere to be found. The dash A/C went out, first with a freon leak, then the blower failed. The wipers stopped working. A short in a 12 volt power outlet killed my GPS. Well, you get the idea.

Vineyard grapes in neat rows
At the Alcantara Winery in Cottonwood
cows roaming around parked RVs
RV cows, it’s a thing!

It’s a Big Hole?

I’ve been to the Grand Canyon several times, but before this, never in it. We hiked down (OK, partway down) both Bright Angel Trail and Kaibab Trail well into the canyon for a whole different perspective. Can’t imagine I wouldn’t have needed a rescue service for these hikes two years ago.

A hawk flying close by 5 people posing for a picture on the rim of the Grand Canyon
A hawk flies by at just the right moment as we stop for a picture on the rim.

Mule train on Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon
A few miles down Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon we’re stopped for a little while while the mule train heading up takes a rest.

With Leda a few miles down the Kaibab trail in the Grand Canyon

On to Graduation, But First

Finally time for Kylee’s graduation, but first it’s back to Prescott Valley for more repairs. I left the RV there and headed up to Flagstaff to watch Kylee’s Capstone Project presentation and then the graduation ceremony.

Graduate in cap and gown
My little Magna Cum Laude NAU Graduate, Kylee

Then I helped her pack up. With no place to live and no job, she’s off to Seattle to start post college life. Just gotta make it happen. And, make it happen she did. Great place to live, check! Starting a great job at a great company a month to the day after arriving in town, check! Best weather in Seattle history, OK, she didn’t do that, but what the hell, check!

A car loaded with personal belongings
And that’s everything crammed into her Kia Soul for the move to Seattle

Kylee getting into her car
And she’s off. Off to Seattle, Washington

Back to Prescott Valley

I’d really like to say this was a good result, to pick up the RV with everything working again. OK, let me try it. Everything was great!

Ahh, but not so. Nothing was finished and I was stuck there for weeks, again.

So when the repairs were finally “completed” and I could drive off, I’d really, really like to say it was a good job. Here, let me try it: it was a good job. And it was, for less than two weeks, and then each issue is back, only worse.

See how this turns out in the next post.

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