After we crossed the border we stopped briefly in Miles City, Montana. The last time we were in Miles City it was 300 degrees below zero and the whole damn town was froze up. We were headed home from our inaugural winter RV run dragging our old Rustler fifth wheel behind a woefully inadequate F150 4x4. Its really amazing that we didn’t kill ourselves or somebody else with that rig. The salesman that sold us the fifth wheel said “Oh yeah, it will pull that just fine.” And it did, after a fashion. We dragged that hulk all the way to Los Angeles and back to Nipawin in January. I checked with Lloyd Holmen, the service manager at the local Ford dealer before we left. He said “just pull her down into 2nd and let it rev up on the hills.” Which is what I did. And then when I got home I replaced every bearing from the transfer case back and then promptly traded it on a real truck, my first Powersmoke F250.
But I digress – we arrived in Miles City that time in the depth of an unprecedented freeze and we only stopped because I wanted to buy gas, a regular occurrence with that overloaded rig. As I was turning off the interstate I watched the trailer in the mirror and as I watched one of the trailer tires rolled itself off its rim. We’d already replaced two rotten tires on that trip so I swiftly arrived at the conclusion that we would be replacing two more immediately. I nursed it into Miles City Service where George was trying to deal with too much work on a too cold day. Everybody in town was phoning him to come and boost their vehicle and his pipes were froze up and his shop was freezing cold. As near as we could tell the only heat in the shop was a space heater next to the phone. But he got us a pair of tires and mounted them in the parking lot to get us back on the road.
This time it wasn’t nearly as exciting although we did get a ripping good thunderstorm during the night. We spent the night behind a fuel station along with a custom combine crew and then arrived at USDA Fort Keogh early in the morning. Don’t tell anybody but we loaded up a shitload of stuff and hauled it from there down into western Nebraska. I’m sure the teamsters union wouldn’t have approved but the stuff was supposed to have been shipped weeks earlier and yet there it sat when we arrived. I didn’t really want to explain to two ranchers in western Nebraska that I had seen their equipment sitting at USDA and just left it there so I stuffed it into and onto the Exploder and got back on the road.
We arrived at Art Olsen’s ranch close to dark on Thursday night but I still had time to sort through the “stuff” we had hauled from Miles City to make sure I had more or less what I needed for the install. Then I worked harder than I have worked for a long time to get everything in place and working by today. They have something like 250 head of steers waiting to go into the pens where the equipment was installed and they have endured several failed delivery promises. I told them when we arrived that I would have them ready to go today and I did. The guy who is building the pens may be a bit behind his schedule but he was welding up a storm tonight when we pulled out of the yard. We’re parked in the city campground at Gering, NE tonight enjoying the 50 amp power, running water, cable and sewer.