Daily Archives: 16 May 2012

Custer National Forest


The view from my tent:
Custer National Forest, Montana.

Custer National Forest

A nice drive without the headwinds, and the MPG rose back up to 13.5. I’ve given up on the idea of anything higher than 14 without doing some engine modifications.

I stopped earlier than I had to with the gain of an hour heading into mountain time, but I reached my goal of Custer NF, with free camping, so I pulled off, set up camp, then hiked about until hunger overcame me. It’s a beautiful forest, with stunning open vistas once one gets away from the main roads. I stumbled upon a herd of pronghorn today while out walking. They allowed me to get fairly close, so they must have known I was unarmed. I also walked up to some bovines, one of which allowed me to scratch between its ears.

The gas tank has made it two driving days on the Ivory soap.

I ran into another Alaskan here in Custer. I wasn’t overly chatty, which seemed to put him off a bit, but it wasn’t worth the effort for me to try to talk over that knocking, diesel Suburban of his.





Mighty Missouri

In hindsight, taking U.S. 212 may not have been the best idea. There were two major detours, which ate up a lot of time and had me seemingly driving around in circles for hours At one point, according to the GPS, I had driven 50 miles only to get one mile closer to my destination. That was discouraging.

Heavy winds had me at 50 mph much of the day and without the overdrive, so the mpg dropped into the dreadful range. The ride at 50 mph on nicely paved roads is actually quite smooth in The Rover. It gives you a lot of time to think, and I hate to admit it, but I spent much of today dreaming about flying down US 212 in my old ’66 LeMans.

The gas tank had developed a seepage from at least one lower corner seam. Frustrating since the tank has been on the truck less than 3 years, but no sense crying over gasoline stains on someone else’s driveway. I tried an odd remedy, and coated both lower seams with Ivory soap. As strange as it sounds, it did stop the leak and when I stopped for the night the tank was still bone-dry on the outside. I have no idea how long it will hold up, and I do have a tube of Seal-All for backup, but so far the bar of Ivory has held its own.

With the late start due to soaping up the gas tank, and with the detours & headwinds, I would have stopped 90 miles back at Fisher Grove, but the park was closed, so I pushed on to Whitlock which edges the Missouri River. By 6:30pm the winds had died down enough to get into overdrive and everyone in SoDak seemed to have gone to dinner. The highway was quiet; I drove for miles and miles where the only things I saw join The Rover on the road were the pheasants. I didn’t realize how much I missed pheasants until I saw them flush from the shoulder as The Rover approached, gliding through the air, then hitting the ground at a run and zipping through the grass with only their tailfeathers showing their route. I do miss pheasants.

I stopped to fill up a couple of towns back. The station was old school, requiring me to pump the gas before I paid for it. I almost forgot how to go about it. When I went inside, someone asked if that was an International I was driving. I told him it was a Land Rover, all the while secretly happy he hadn’t confused it with a Toyota. Eventually, I found out he wanted to buy my truck, so I asked what his offer was. “Are you serious?” He asked. “Yep,” I replied. “Well, I don’t rightly know. What would you take for it?”
“At this particular moment in time, I would take a 1966 Pontiac LeMans with a 326 and a Hurst 4 speed. ” I said.
There was a period of awkward silence, so I added: “I’m not fussy about the color.”