Molly and I suffered a major disappointment this past week. We were scheduled to visit the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary and meet our little sponsoree Lakna’s Liberty. Molly has written all about Liberty on her blog Lakna’s Liberty Born on the 4th of July. It seems the universe had other ideas as our visit had to be cancelled just as it had barely begun.
Awhile back I wrote a piece called Some Things Are Meant To Be. Now it seems the reverse is true. Logical to be sure but not necessarily desirable. Ever since Liberty was born, I got to name her, I have been looking forward to returning to the sanctuary to meet the little filly. September was going to be our time. It was also going to be an opportunity to spend time in a cabin at the sanctuary, tour the 11,000 acre sanctuary, take some bodacious photographs of the wild horses and get to know not only Liberty but the sanctuary as a whole. I am always on the look out for causes I can believe in and trust. After my first visit and then the birth of Liberty I was hopeful I would find in the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary a candidate for my short list. I have always been a lover of horses and the thought of lending a hand to these wonderful beings was particularly pleasing. What I’m trying to say here, I was really, REALLY looking forward to this trip.
The sanctuary is located near Hot Springs, South Dakota. I was planning on driving Clementine, that would be the motorhome. I prefer traveling via the motorhome because it’s easy on me and easy on Molly. My motto is “If Molly can’t go, I’m not going”. Day in and day out, Molly is the only one who is there for me. I value loyalty above all other things. Loyalty in people today is about as hard to find as diamonds in a cabbage patch. Molly is the most loyal friend I have, so, whatever works best for Molly works best for me.
It’s a long way to Hot Springs, nearly 900 miles. In preparation I did all the “smart” things. I had Clementines’ oil changed and systems checked. I had Shadows’ (Shadow is our tow car) oil changed and systems checked. I believed we were good to go. I bot Clementine new in 2007. I have tried to take good care of her and she has always returned the favor.
The plan was to leave on Thursday, September 10. On Wednesday I started loading Clementine. I switched on the refrigerator and it would not fire up. It just went tick, tick, tick. The refrigerator had been working perfectly on our last trip so this was an unwelcome surprise. I immediately drove to the only RV place that, IMO, is any good and was told I could get an appointment in about a week. I nearly cried. I told the service clerk my sad tale. The nice young man took pity on me and gave me the names of two mobile RV techs. The first guys mailbox was full. I left a message with the second, Mark Miller
Mark, returned my call and was out to the house within an hour. Luckily, it turned out the problem was just a gas feeder pipe clogged with bugs. Mark cleaned the pipe and the refrigerator worked fine. I also had Mark check the roof for cracks in the caulking. I don’t do heights so I figured with winter coming on I might as well whilst he was there. The roof got a clean bill of health. No doubt about it Mark Miller is now my go to guy for the RV. Feeling confident I spent the rest of the day loading up the rig and the refrigerator.
Thursday morning I arose at 5:30 ready to hit the road. I went out to Clementine to load the last items. It was still dark so I switched on the light. The light was very dim. I thought “What’s up with this?”. I checked the refrigerator. The interior light was working but the compartment was not cold. Next I checked the house batteries and they were completely drained. Normally, I plug in before a trip but I can’t at the house in Kalispell. Every time I do, it blows the circuit. I wondered if maybe I could recharge them enough to get by until I got on the road by driving around a little bit. I took a drive for about 20 minutes. When I got back voila the batteries were charged. Actually, this didn’t seem right to me that such little time could fully charge those batteries. But, I wanted to go so we were going!
Right on schedule, at 8:00am, we pulled out. I’m thinking, “Yay, team. We have had obstacles but we have remained calm and taken care of them. We are good to go.”. Off down 93 we head toward Missoula. I stop at the crossroads, that is the intersection of 93 and 90, to check the refrigerator and top off the tank. Everything was fine, refrigerator working, batteries charging.
Clementine, Shadow, Molly and Me.
We are headed for Three Forks for our first leg, about 300 miles. Off down US 90 we go. About 30 miles north of Deer Lodge I notice we are on what looks like a relatively flat patch of road but Clementine is acting like we are in a climb. I remember thinking to myself, “Boy, this is a deceptive stretch of road. I wouldn’t have thought Clem would slow down for this.” A few minutes later a light comes on. I pull over to read the manual and it says I have had a power loss.
I figure I’ll try to get to Deer Lodge. I get back on the highway and twenty miles later another light comes on. I pull over again and check the manual. This light means there is something wrong with my braking system. I keep it slow and make it to Deer Lodge. As I am exiting the freeway a Dodge Sprinter van with the Mercedes diesel exits in front of me. I will him into the trucking plaza and he complies. Clementine is a Winnebago View which has a Dodge Sprinter chassis and a Mercedes diesel. As soon as he parks I run over to ask him where he gets his van serviced. You can’t get them worked on just anywhere.
The van is a snack food distributor and the young driver is as nice as he can be. He calls into his headquarters to find out where the company gets there vans serviced. It’s the Mercedes dealer back in Missoula. I call the dealership and they tell me they can’t get me in for two and half weeks. At this point, no matter what, I can’t make my Saturday reservation at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. I figure we might as well get Clem towed to Missoula. I call AAA and request a tow. The girl I talk to cannot get it that I have a Winnebago View but that it is on a Dodge Sprinter chassis. She keeps saying “So, it’s two vehicles”. Round and round we go. I finally get her to believe me it is only one vehicle.
Whilst I wait for the tow truck I try and figure out what the heck I’m going to do.If I have to leave Clementine in Missoula I’ve got to find a way to get my stuff including from my perfectly operating refrigerator food into Shadow, that’s the Ford Focus tow car. Shadow is not a very big car but just right for Clementine to pull. I’m thinking I’ll have to source an ice chest and take all the food and other stuff I can. It’s all sounding like a nightmare. Missoula is over two hours south of Kalispell.
The tow truck arrives. I tell the driver my sad tale and that I guess the closest place that can work on the diesel is in Missoula but, since I am not going to be able to make my reservations at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary I wish I could just take it to the people that service it in Whitefish. I’m thinking I’m stuck with Missoula because I think I only have a 100 mile tow with AAA. When I hand over my card the driver looks at it and says as a Premier member I have one 200 mile tow. He calls in to verify it and sure enough I do. I say take me home!!!!!
Turned out it was exactly 210 miles to Don K where I get Clementine serviced. The tow cost me exactly $40 which certainly beats the heck out of $840. Needless to say I’m happy to have AAA. And, God bless that wonderful tow truck driver. I’m sure he had better things to do with his time. If it hadn’t been for him Clem would be stranded in Missoula.
Molly and I followed the tow truck in Shadow. We got to Whitefish at around 7:00pm. We said our goodbyes to the driver. I felt sorry for him having to drive all the way back to Anaconda. I was beat to a pulp. I loaded up Shadow with all that I could and left Clementine. I hope sometime this week we will find out what happened and get Clementine back in tip top shape but it will be too late to go to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.
To say that I am disappointed would be a gross understatement I have been looking forward to this trip so very much. To see that little Choctaw Indian Pony Lakna’s Liberty was to be a major event in my life. I tried as best I could to make it happen but it just would not.
So, I must console myself with the belief that somethings are meant to be and some things are not. I have absolutely no idea why this trip was not meant to be. I doubt I ever will.