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Big Horn Mountains and Scary Descent at 20 mph

I'm really knocking through these scenic drives, with #6 of 300 at Big Horn Mountains, to fulfill my quest of 300 in the National Geographic's 300 Scenic Highways & Byways book.

RV Sewer Dumping Mistakes

Before starting the route in Shell, Wyoming, I drove East from Cody to dump the tanks at a municipal dump station for free. You can find these free spots on the All Stays app and scored with some free potable water too.

When I first purchased the RV, I was a bit nervous about dumping the sewer tanks, but now that I have a routine down, it seems to go fairly quickly and without incident, though I did have to learn the hard way – a couple of times.

I've had two incidents that were just awful and hopefully you can learn from me.

First RV Sewer Dumping Mistake

Gloves are on and I unscrew the black cap from the RV sewer connector so I can attach the hoses, which promptly sent disgusting, black tank sewage all over the concrete, splashed against my feet, and I almost vomited. The flies however must think my sewage is a delicatessen, because they found the smell appealing, so much so that within seconds they were hovering over the stink.

It was awful. Somehow the black tank line was just opened enough that sewage spewed out. So now I constantly check that the handle is pushed all the way in especially – before dumping.

Second RV Sewer Dumping Mistake

Again, gloves are on, I unscrew the black cap from the RV sewer connector, attach the sewer hose, open the black tank up and you wouldn't believe what happened.

I somehow didn't get the back end of the attachment secured to the RV sewer connector, so once again sewage goes spilling.

The smell, by the way, is the most foul smell ever. I almost vomit again. Hours later I can still smell the stench in my nostrils and I couldn't eat all day.

Lessons Learned: Now when I hook everything up, I test the connections with the grey water instead just in case there is a problem and double check the connections and tanks are closed.

Big Horn Mountains Awesome Cliffs

I picked up the Big Horn Mountains scenic route on US Route 14 to the East of Cody, Wyoming for 60 miles. However this scenic route too me longer than usual to drive due to one, stopping so much and gawking at the beauty, and two, there's a significant amount of winding roads and a daunting descent at the end.

Little Tongue River Valley

Just as you enter Big Horn Mountains National Forest, the road travels through this narrow canyon of rock, Little Tongue River Canyon, that was formed over 60 million years ago, with a raging river that runs parellel to the road.

Little Tongue River Canyon

I was barely able to squeeze into a turnoff in that canyon so I could get out and take in this marvelous formation. Again, I was in awe and it's hard to film the magnitude of the cliffs that go straight up all around you.

Little Tongue River Canyon Wall

I felt like all my senses were on alert and I had this euphoric high from the beauty and the sound of the rushing river.

Little Tongue River

Since this is National Forest land, you can boondock for free if you find a spot. Somebody on my travels found a great spot, however there was no cell phone signal so I sadly had to keep going. I still work Monday through Friday remotely so I must have a cell signal.

20 MPH Descent Down Big Horn Mountains

As we climbed the mountains on winding and curvy roads, through rock canyons, then into forested land, I stopped in an area for brake checking that was suggested on a road sign – even for RVs.

How does one check their brakes? Stomping on it quickly in the brake check area?

I don't have the answer for that one, so I just circled around and did just that. I'm pretty sure that anybody watching that I was crazy, but hey, I was checking the brakes. I also waited to see if anybody else would stop and they didn't.

Okay, so admittedly, I'm totally nervous again when I see the sign for brake checking. This means a steep descent and the subsequent signs as you begin the descent down hill stated that trucks, RVs, and busses had to go no more than 20 mph down hill.

Oh great. Well this will be a joy. If my nerves weren't already shot they really were now. Not only did I have to pull over and brake check but now I can only go 20 mph. I realize safety is important and I'm not a speeder, but this can only mean one thing – STEEP AND CURVY descent.

I think I only get nervous because you never know what's along that down hill route, but I know Liz's engine brakes are doing well. It still gives me pause though. I want to be safe and I also know people behind me want to go faster so I always feel the need to pull over when I can to let them by.

Even though I was nervous and feared that descent, I also knew it would be beautiful and moment to see what's on the other side of that fear. These challenges only create opportunities to grow and to overcome and realize our dreams – to see the beauty on the other side of fear.

Big Horn

Needless to say, I made it down just fine, not once having to touch the brakes down except to pull over and then back out to let other drivers by.

It literally took me about 40 minutes to get down that mountain going 20 mph, but I was never so happy to see flat road again.

The views were breathtaking and unreal though It's hard to enjoy it on the way down since I gripped the steering wheel so hard and my eyes are focused on the road.

Big Horn Mountains

It's Too Hot!

Next stop, Sheridan, Wyoming at another Walmart for the night.

It is just too hot! The temperature was in the mid 80s with humidity so even with the windows and fans open, it was sticky and miserable.

My generator is still giving me issues so using the AC is out of the question.

Thankfully though my solar panels, and Magnum 2000 Watt Pure Sine Inverter are working well and I'm bringing in all kinds of free energy from the sun to keep the fridge and electronics charged and make my breakfast.

When I first started Rving I had a french press which I love to make coffee; however it uses too much water to clean-up so I reserached the heck out of coffee makers that would clean-up quickly, use little water, non electric, and a small footprint.

I somehow stumbled across a video of the Aeropress espresso and coffee maker that fit the bill and let me tell you – this little thing rivals my $600 espresso and grinder set-up I had in my sticks and bricks house.

To also cut down on the use of propane and use the free solar energy, I purchased a small electric water kettle that stays on top of my counter top and heats up water quickly for the coffee or even oatmeal.

Leave me a comment below on how you are liking my videos and blog. I would love to hear your ideas, what you like or don't like, etc. I'm learning this as a I go along so any ideas from you all is helpful to what you would like to see as well.

Overnights & Places Visited

Place:  Big Horn Mountains and Walmart Boondocking

RV Accessibility:  No issue for any size RV

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  No signal in Big Horn National Forest. Signal was good on the East side of the mountains in Sheridan, Wyoming.

Park Pass:  N/A

Cost:  $0

City/State:  Shell, Wyoming to Sheridan, Wyoming

Video/Audio Equipment Used

Sony A6000 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.


Friday 29th of December 2017

Big Horn Mountains was a scary descent, but I've heard of some others that are even worse. What's been your most challenging highway, byway, or mountain pass that you may never do again?