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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Great Falls, MT, USA - Dec. 12-17, 2011

Having over-estimated our ability to live in below freezing weather for more than a week, we decided to head south ASAP after Calgary, but along the way I had a demo to perform so we had to stop for a few days in Great Falls, Montana.  Thus began Salt's second foray into a foreign land.

It was like we landed at the gas station in a spaceship:  First they see Pepper (i.e., not a Ford F-250), then Salt, then out jumps a short-haired woman in bright red snow boots (despite it "only" being 20 degrees outside) followed quickly by two pure-bred terriers and, the pièce de résistance, a man without a cowboy hat and it was like we were the only people capable of moving:  People just stopped and stared.

But despite their curious stares, the people were friendly and welcoming starting with our hostess at Dick's RV Park.  (Please see the Campground page at the top of the blog for more details, but here are photos of our pitch, the grounds, and the store/bathroom/laundry.)

With the weather so cold (finally above freezing during the day -- barely -- but dropping to the teens again at night) we had to park Salt at Dick's RV Park so she could be plugged in to run the heater.  We stayed at the Hampton Inn (excellent service) for my two demo nights before returning to Salt for the remainder of our time.

While I was busy preparing and performing my demo, Alan had his work cut out for him defrosting Salt:  Our night in Lethbridge, Alberta, (at the Bridgeview RV Park), where the low was 6 degrees overnight, left Salt with frozen fresh water lines inside the coach as well as the two exit pipes.  (We had shorted out the heat tape plug in Calgary while trying to defrost the black tank valve--something we discovered when we attempted to activate the tape [in the freezing and dark evening] in Lethbridge.)

But Alan had the fresh water running (hot and cold) the first day, and on the second he fixed the heat tape plug with one of his "just in case" supplies that I use to give him such a hard time for packing.  (Oh yes, he's not letting me live that down yet.)

However, the exit on the black tank was still frozen.  So Alan spent the final full day un-installing the original heat-tape (and insulation), applying a blow-dryer to the pipe until it was flowing, and installing the new rope-style heat "tape" (and insulation).  All with the cold wind blowing on him as he lay under Salt.  But Salt was once again fully functional!  (We will be writing up an article on the winterization of Salt but, in the meantime, if you are interested, click here for some photos of the heat-tape and heat-wire insulation work as well as the insulation we put underneath the bed.)

Our two nights at the hotel provided us two dining out opportunities.  The first night we had pizza delivered to the room from Howard's Pizza (reviewed here on Yelp), and devoured it while each sitting on our own queen sized bed drinking scotch (our idea of luxury has changed quite a bit in the last four months!)  The second night we drove out to The Cattlemen's Cut Supper Club (reviewed here on Yelp) whose idea of a "Lighter Side" menu can be seen here:

Deep Fried Half-Chicken is "On The Light Side?"  You get the idea . . . but it was good, hearty food.  It was quite busy, and a Wednesday night no less, so I asked the waitress if it was always so busy.  She replied, "Not really, but it's Cowboy Christmas."  Always eager to learn the ways of a foreign land, we asked just what was Cowboy Christmas?  Her reply, "It's just a night all the cowboys come out and get drunk."  

'Nuf said.  Time to giddee up and head south!