Horses, hail, and happenstance

On the far side of the lake sits a pretty fancy dude ranch. 

It costs $600 a day per person to stay there.  From our campsite I can see people on horseback going for a morning trail ride.   Around 4:30 most every afternoon the horses are let out of their corral so they can graze in the lush meadow between the lake and the rocky mountains known as “The Pinnacles.”  There are about thirty or more horses.  It’s a treat in the afternoon to look across the lake as the horses gallop wildly to stop and graze on the the stretch of green below the mountains.

The crew and I hop into the Perfect Tow Vehicle and motor on over to the dude ranch side of the lake. 

I want to see the running horses up close.  Soon they go thundering by, manes and tails flying.  What a glorious sight!  They’re so happy to be free!

Today I drive into Dubois to do some domestic tasks.

On the way we pass Lava Mountain Lodge.  For $4 you can take a nice, hot, ten-minute shower.  The shower rooms are large, modern, and very clean.  After I showered there the other day, the guy in the lodge store gave me the password for their Wi-Fi.   I posted a blog entry while sitting in their parking lot.

Once in Dubois I gas up the PTV and drive over to the laundromat.  Hey, they have Wi-Fi!  While the clothes are washing and drying, I post an entry written previously at the campsite and try to catch up on comments.  Bridget and Spike lie patiently at my feet.  I’m so engrossed in my laptop that I don’t notice the cloudburst.  Oh no, the windows are down in the PTV!

I pick up a few items at the grocery and return to camp.

As the PTV carries us up the mountain on its twisty, gravel road, we approach a parked car and people obviously looking at something down below the road.  Probably another grizzly.  I park and jump out.

“Whatcha lookin’ at?” I ask.

“A moose and her baby!” a boy of about ten calls out.

“Oh, I’ve never seen a moose before!”

I hurry over and look down at the clearing. 

There she is with her big snout, and beside her, barely visible in the bushes, her baby.  All of us watch for several minutes as the moose, aware of us, remains unperturbed.  Finally she lies down and disappears in the bushes.  Wow!  My first grizzly sighting and now my first moose!

Larry’s girlfriend, Carol, has driven up the mountain to join him at camp.

They have Margaret, another lady camper, and me over to their campsite for baby back ribs and potatoes with onions, cooked over their campfire.  Larry also makes sure that Bridget, Spike, and his dog Lena enjoy a cook-out, too.  Once our meal is off the coals, he puts on some ground pork patties for the canines.

The next day the campground is hit with hail!

At first the hail is tiny.  Oh no, I need to keep an eye on this.  When the hail becomes as large as marbles, I run out to the PTV and grab the old quilt off the crew’s bench seat.  I perch inside the open side door of the PTV, hanging on with one hand like a crazy woman, while trying to throw the quilt up over the solar panel with the other hand. The hail pings me in the face, as well as my glasses, as I look up to see what I’m doing.  I’ll never get this dang thing up there! 

I throw the quilt back in the PTV. 

What can I do?   I grab the sun shade from the dash.  It’s light and easy to toss upward.  It covers about three-fourths of the panel.  What else do I have?  The hail starts to sting. I can’t take much more of this! I grab an empty laundry basket and wing it up on the panel.  I dash into the BLT, soaking wet, and get my camera for a quick pic out the door.  Back inside, I peer out the window.   Please, hail, don’t get any larger!  More quickly than it arrived, it stops without doing any damage, much to my relief.

Later, a few hours after the brief storm, Carol, Larry, the canines, and I sit at my campsite enjoying the sunshine and the view.

Larry says, “Look!  There’s a bald eagle!”

The eagle circles the lake a few times before settling at the top of a pine tree.

“Gee, this has been some camp,” I remark.   “Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen my first grizzly, my first moose, and now my first bald eagle.  It’s sure going to be hard to leave in the morning.”

Larry looks over at me and smiles warmly.  “Well, Sue, after you see Yellowstone and the Tetons, you can always come back.”

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This is the first internet and cell phone service I’ve had in many days.  I’m sorry this has caused some of my dear readers to worry.  I’ve missed you!  The crew and I have been camped near the Tetons and Yellowstone Park.  In order to make this post, I drove several miles through a mountain pass.  I was sure to camp last night within driving distance of Wi-Fi.  It must seem strange to anyone not familiar with the West’s great expanses, but there are immense areas of no connectivity.   I hope to reply to some comments.  If I don’t get to yours, please don’t take it personally!  Thanks for coming back to rvsue and her canine crew . . .  We’re having the time of our lives!


About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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70 Responses to Horses, hail, and happenstance

  1. G says:

    Glad to see that you are still around! I think I and many more readers were going to send a search party out for you. Even my gf asked hows the ‘lady with the two dogs’ doing and I said I am worried since you haven’t posted in several days!
    I am thinking of doing a vacation in an RV for a couple of weeks in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons just like we did Alaska a couple of years ago. Unfortunately we rent but it is still so much fun!
    Looking forward to your posts in this area…….. G

  2. harrietann12 says:

    Whew! Glad to hear you guys are OK. I guess we can cancel the APB, LOL. Continue to have a great time and enjoy our country’s West and all it has to offer. Enjoying your adventures, someday, someday I’ll be out there, too.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Harriet!

      Yeah the crew and I are doing fine. . . I hate that I wasn’t connected for so long. I hope your “someday” is as good as my ” right now!”

  3. earthdancerimages says:

    YAY! Glad you are okay!!!! Wow! What a campsite! I don’t think you could have found a better one anywhere!!!! Photographs are wonderful and yes! That is a moose !!! Keep on having fun, that’s what it is all about!!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Ha! When I wrote this post, I thought about my photos and then started to doubt whether it was moose… It’d be like me to identify an elk as a moose for all the world to see!

      • Connie & Mugsy says:

        Just to let you know… in Europe, the creature that you saw is called an elk. So, you could claim that you learned it in Europe. 🙂 My intro will be below once I read to the bottom. Moose wander through my town in North Dakota often. They are so laid back that they are a real traffic hazard.

  4. Chuck says:


    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I always think of you, Chuck, when I photograph horses. Aren’t they beauties? So happy that their work is done for the day and they can run freeeeeeee!

  5. klbexplores says:

    Geez…The last we hear from you, there are grizzles in your camp… then silence. Who can help but worry. I love the country you are in there is so much to experience. Loved the horses running free. Can’t help compare….. free like you! Glad you are still kicking logic told me you were….. since when is fear logical.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re right about fear . . . It sometimes defies logic! I know it wasn’t nice of me to write about grizzlies and then disappear. I didn’t mean to set everyone up like that! Sorry . . . It’s all about ME these days…. me and the crew having fun . . .

  6. Reine says:

    Great pictures, same view and NOT $600 per day. Glad you’re having a great time and glad the hail didn’t cause any damage.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I can’t begin to imagine paying $600 EACH a day for myself, my spouse, and a few kids . . . and then have a day with rain and hail. Free is best . . . in more ways than one!

  7. EmilyO says:

    Oh Sue, just see how much you are adored (and we missed the Crew too). And, just when there is talk of grizzlies . . . . You sure know how to keep us in suspense. Have you considered writing mystery stories? The pictures are out of this world, especially to me right now.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’d have to live the mystery to make a mystery story. Sometimes my life seems unreal, especially when Bridget, Spike, and I are living in a postcard picture. I’m glad you enoy the photos, Emily.

  8. Ed Smith says:

    Glad to see your post and that all’s ok. I know what you mean about connectivity. We’re in western Oregon and we’ve only had coverage at one of our last four campsites.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Ed,

      Oooh, western Oregon . . . I’m going there someday, Lord willing. I bet you are having a wonderful summer.

      You know how it is with connectivity . . . . The most beautiful places very often don’t have it. Someday this inconvenience will be laughable, like putting up with verbose people on telephone “party lines.”

  9. Old Fat Man says:

    Research the solar panel and you will find it is designed to withstand terminal velocity hail. No need to worry about the panel. The metal and paint on the van is another story.

    • Chuck says:

      and windshield….

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Is that really true, Barney? That would be wonderful! Hail damage on the van is covered by insurance, but my precious panel…. You mean, I can stop running around in the hail with quilts and laundry baskets flying? Hallelujah!

      • mickent says:

        The warranty I read on one solar panel said hail up to one inch. It gets a lot bigger than that. A foam camping mattress might work great as a cover. The problem is knowing when you need to deploy it.

        • Old Fat Man says:

          By the time hail will damage the panels, it will be chiping the gel coat on the Casita and causing medical injury to folks and animals out in it. Panels are cheap to replace compared to the medical injury that the same hail will cause to your body while trying to cover them. The ac cover will be destroyed and any roof vents will be dismantled. There is plenty of actual events recorded on the internet for you ro check it out and make your own decision. Have fun.

      • Connie & Mugsy says:

        Hail damage is almost impossible to repair. I had a car totaled from hail when I was sitting in it on Interstate 94 in ND back in 1985. I am not exaggerating that there were hailstones as large as… soccer balls. A hit in the head would be fatal to man or beast. I believe (and hope) that these only occur out on the prairies. I insisted that the insurance company fix it since the car only had 5000 miles on it and I couldn’t replace it from the insurance money. They had to replace the whole body with the exception of one door and the rear panel on one side – and windshield and tail lights. Scary stuff…

  10. hobopals says:

    I’m not one to panic, but after reading, today, I was starting to doubt my gut feeling that you were fine. Just so you know, one of my posts was held back for moderation–I think it was because I posted a phone number of a URL.

    Glad you and the little knuckleheads are doing okay and enjoying your little piece of heaven. 🙂

  11. ja says:

    Glad to know all is well with you and the crew! I was beginning to miss your posts:) ENjoy them lots,,,,, please continue to post about your great life. I am almost there and love following your adventures, can’t wait to create some of my own.
    Take care,

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks, Janine, for the nice comment. I continue to write about our adventures, just can’t post ’em when I want. Right now my posts are a little behind, but I’ll get us caught up and back in REAL time. I don’t know when I’ll be able to get online again….. I hate it when I can’t get connected. That’s the price for living this life! Best wishes to you for some great adventures of your own!

  12. roberta4949 says:

    interesting vacation. 600 dollars a day is to much for my pocket book that is for sure. we have been thinking of doing a dude ranch vacation but not if it costs that much.

  13. Cari says:

    The scenery is absolutely gorgeous – makes me want to get out there and come join you! Another year or so and I’ll be on the road, I hope.

  14. Mark Watson says:

    I’m wondering if some thick cardboard, a little larger than your solar panel, and wrapped in plastic to prevent the cardboard from soaking up water, and secured with bungee cords would provide protection from hail?

  15. Glenda Cornwill says:

    Thanks Sue for the great horse pics on the dude ranch. I always worry about the welfare of horses in such places, but at that particular place the fact that they can run free after their work is done says heaps for the place. All too often I have seen in Australia horses in such poor condition without any opportunity to do their own thing, at trail riding places.
    Fanatstic place to stay, the scenery is to die for the animals even better………thanks for sharing.
    Glenda in OZ !!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I know what you mean, Glenda, about horses and their treatment. I saw some horses in a small corral near a recent camp. They stayed saddled up all day in the hot sun. No way would I patronize that kind of business. I’m glad you enjoyed the horse photos. I could sense their exhilaration as they thundered past me to get to the green meadow.

      • Glenda Cornwill says:

        Brings a big lump to my throat just talking to you about it……nothing better than seeing a group of horses running “free” !!

  16. cinandjules says:

    I wasn’t worried at all….figured you and the crew were taking a breather and truly enjoying the majestic beautiful scenery. Either that or your laptop went down…or your air card…..okay…just a wee bit concerned.

    WOW!!! Wish I was one of your dogs…….spikey cuz I love the water! Thanks for checking back in….can’t wait to see your next campsite.

    Glad the solar panel didn’t suffer any damage.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Bridget and Spike sure do have a good life. They get to go and do everything, and they don’t have to drive! Sweet of you to be concerned about us . . .

  17. Sue says:

    Hey there. I wasn’t worried till yesterday and then I started to think “What if something happened, nah she’s ok.” But I prayed for you anyway and so thankful you posted today. Love the adventure you and the fur kids are having. I have seen moose and bald eagles before but never the bear. Well keep safe and I am so glad you have a few friends near by. Can’t wait to hear about Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thank you for your prayer, Sue! I’m sure this past week of no online service won’t be the last time I drop out of cyberspace. Someday we’ll look back and say, “Remember when you couldn’t get connected in so many places?” . . . kind of like the ol’ party lines.

  18. Elizabeth says:

    Glad to hear you are still ok!! Good thing to have your “alarm system” especially when in grizzly country!! Dogs can hear and smell so much better than can we!! Gorgeous county…but there is more…I am sure you will find it too!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Elizabeth! Larry’s border collie mix — Lena — growled when the bears first came near our campsite. We thought she was growling at fishermen and told her to be quiet, when she actually was being an excellent “alarm system.”

  19. Gaelyn says:

    Except for hail and lack of WIFI, this lake camp has been excellent. Enjoy the Tetons and Yellowstone.

  20. GingerDa says:

    Glad you and the crew are having the time of your life. What beautiful scenery…love the horses.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Ginger . . . I can’t resist taking photos of horses. One day I was sitting in the campsite, facing the lake view, of course, and suddenly the herd of horses galloped across on the other side of the lake. I didn’t know they did that most every day. What a super suprise!

  21. Marcia says:

    What a life – gorgeous scenery, great neighbors and awesome wildlife. I feel happy just thinking about you and the Crew!

  22. rvwayoflife by Lindadeeza says:

    I promise to wait 2 weeks before I worry about you. RVSue, you have a bunch of great fans who love your blog, me being one of them. You are so lucky to be able to see the USA and we are so lucky to live it through you. After day 5 and 6 without hearing from you, I did let my imagination get away from me though. You and those Grizzly Bears.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Nice of you to tell me that you love my blog . . . After being offline for a week or so, I now know I’m addicted to it… Not just the writing of it. The comments! I love hearing reactions from people who read the little adventures of rvsue and her canine crew! When I saw those grizzly bears, my first thought was . . . wait until I blog about THIS!

  23. Sherry says:

    I’ll admit that I wasn’t worried at all about you. I know you can take good care of yourself and the crew. I knew you just didn’t have an wifi but were having a fantastic time. That is one whale of a campsite and a great moose picture. You are definitely livin’ the life!!

  24. So thankful to hear from you, Sue!! We were starting to get concerned ourselves. Glad to hear you are having so much fun, and are safe! 🙂

  25. Bob says:

    Hi Sue, I was worried also after the last post with the grizzlies. I’ve never seen one but was charged by a black bear in Yellowstone years ago, I froze w/camera in hand as my defense, she stopped about 10 ft from me, and snorted then walked off. Decided then you can’t out run them. Had a very entertaining time that evening with mama bear and 2 cubs (2-3 mo. old) in our camp ground. We were the only camper, so she shredded our trash several times when I would deposit it repeatlly in the trash recepticals, she stole the grill piece off the b-b-que, peeked in the door from the tailgate of our camper, played around our picnic table w/cubs, and sat in front of a outhouse and would pull the door open and then release it to hear the “bang” when it slammed shut and then kind of ‘chuckle” grunt, (this went on for 10 min), we never used the outhouses there!!!
    For hail protection, maybe an old piece of carpet or cheap rug at Wally world.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Whoa, Bob! What a bear story! Sounds like that bear was accustomed to marauding campgrounds. Funny about the outhouse door slamming… Thanks for writing!

      My recent experience with hail prevention tells me that I’m too short to heave a rug or blanket up on the solar panel. It’s just too high up! People are telling me I don’t have much cause for worry, that solar panels are pretty tough. I hope they’re right!

  26. DesertHawk says:

    You just have to be able to see an Elk soon, especially when in the Tetons & Yellowstone. If not they must have all become extinct!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Funny you should mention the elk and extinction…. Not that they are becoming extinct, but Larry told me their numbers are down due to the introduction of Canadian wolves which can decimate the elk very efficiently, moreso than the native wolves.

  27. Lew Johns says:

    Our 125W Kyocera Solar Panel took a direct hit from a golfball sized hail stone and survived it undamaged. The same storm put a sizable dent in the hood of our Toyota motorhome. Solar Panels are very tough.


  28. cozygirl says:

    WOW that was a rough “no Sue” week but so tickled to see your back! My fasination with your journey keeps me in check of what I have to look forward to. Gosh Larry sounds like the bomb for working bear knowledge, plus + more and an awesome cook. Must be the best company ever to share such scenery! The Moose is so so cool! I copy/paste your stops in my journal for my trip book…stay safe and can’t wait for the next post! Such a jewel to respond to so many and share your sweet writings! ~cozygirl
    PS I’d just love to spend one day with you…hope our paths cross sometime :O)

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Cozygirl . . . It gives me a kick to hear someone is saving info from my blog for use themselves when on the road. Yes, Larry made the Brooks Lake experience a lot richer. I learned a lot about what a mountain trail guide does. It’s a pleasure to watch the man cook up a meal over wood coals. Once he found out I love potatoes and onions, he cooked them every night, wrapped in aluminum foil with butter and seasoning. (I know, my diet is off-track… oh well.)

  29. Connie & Mugsy says:

    Your little vacation from the net allowed me to catch up – since as I said on the post in your resources section, I was reading everything from day one. (tended to skim the replies) It has been great fun following your adventures and I wasn’t too worried since I knew that you weren’t alone there and it was such a lovely spot that you were going to stay awhile without internet. I am a single RVer too. I got my first – a GWV Class B – in 2004 to use to snowbird – ND winters are some of the worst in the US. The lack of internet access on the road kept me tethered to Arizona RV parks. I decided to try a Park Model and sold the RV in 2007. Did a limited conversion on a Toyota Sienna van for my short trips. Last year, with improving internet access and the desire to travel more, I ordered a new LTV Libero. Then Mom went into nursing care and I ended up with Mugsy… the dog who HATES to ride in the car because it means VET!! Her first days on the road were pretty traumatic… for both of us. 🙂 I will try again to sell the Park Model this winter and if so, I will try out your lifestyle next year. Not yet full-time… and probably more time in regular parks than you do if only to have internet. Scritches to Bridget and Spike!! One is never lonely with a dog. (though like you, I have never felt that ‘alone = lonely’ as so many people do) Who knows… our paths may cross one day.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Well, Connie, you’ve come a long way, baby! Thank you for reading my blog from the beginning (no easy task!). I enjoyed reading your interesting comment, a chronicle of your RVing journey,

      Mugsy will adapt to a life on the road. Bridget cried from Athens, GA to Jacksonville, FL, when I took her on her first long road trip. Now she goes to the door of the PTV, wanting me to drive her somewhere.

      I’m glad our paths crossed in the virtual world. Good luck selling your Park Model and trying this lifestyle!

      • Connie & Mugsy says:

        Au contraire… it was very easy. Time-consuming, but not difficult. You are fun to read (and I taught writing for a number of years). Mugsy is starting to enjoy RVing… she screeched (and it is amazing how loudly a small dog can screech) for 5 solid hours the first day and that was with a super-dooper tranquilizer from the vet. We took a second short trip in May and now she only has a melt down when I get out of the RV… as in to pump gas. She has terrible separation anxiety and everyone with normal hearing within a quarter mile knows it. I get lots of stares in gas stations… first because of her… and then the RV draws attention, just like your Casita does. 8)

        I wonder if Mugsy will ever sleep when we’re moving like the crew does. She apparently is of the impression that if she closes her eyes, I will disappear. So she sits up in the passenger seat struggling (successfully) to stay awake the whole time. But she certainly sleeps quickly once we stop. 🙂

  30. Bill says:

    Hi Sue- Brooks lake is, as you know, way up there at 9200′ and mother nature is unpredictable…. we know because K and I have lived at 9000 or above twice. Dumbdumbdumbdumb…dumb! (i think i missed a couple of dumbs in there..)

    Strange weather hit Brooks lake on July 16, 2009, leaving 12″ of snow! (Be thankful for the brief hail storm!) Wonder if any park personal or old-timers in the area remember that event! It can be 75 deg F in Dubois and 30m N snowing like ‘Donner Pass’! THAT’S the WEST! (That’s why you have that ‘list’…sunscreen, tennies, shorts, parka, skis- haha) cheers, br and kids

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Bill!

      You’re right about Brooks Lake. Larry told me about the weather possibilities. This summer I’ve been changing clothes three or four times a day…. Many days I’ll be in shorts and tank top and then sleep in flannel jammies with socks on at night! I love it! Change is good . . . as long as it doesn’t involve hail, super winds, or snow drifts . . .

  31. akwoman says:

    I guess I didn’t worry as much as everyone else because connectivity is scarce up here too. Backdated posts are more the norm than the exception. I was more worried that you were on the run from all the wildfires we keep hearing about. Glad those bears decided not to snack on you or the crew though! What a treat to see horses running free… That’s like a dream come true for me. I look forward to reading more of your adventures but it’s going to be hard to top that series of pictures as far as I’m concerned!

  32. Karen says:

    I try to reserve my OMGs for things that are really spectacular. This is one of those OMG-worthy posts, Sue. I loved that you capture the moments we would love to experience. Thank you for sharing them with us through your posts. Enjoying every word of what you write.

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