GFC Install - Olympia, WA to Belgrade and back

Hi, GFC community. My partner and I got back from our install yesterday so here is a trip report!

Our original plan was to leave early Saturday, 6/18, and make it to Belgrade in one day, then get our camper and spend 3 days using it before heading home. Well, no plan survives first contact with the enemy. In this case the enemy was Work. So here’s what we did:

6/17 - noon departure from Olympia, drive to Coeur d’Alene. Over night at the Hampton Inn & Suites
6/18 - morning hike in Coeur d’Alene, “Black Fuzzy Dog Trail”. noon departure. Over night at The Outpost… scratch that, the Holiday Inn Express. Even walk to the College M
6/19 - 9:00am install. Hike Sypes Canyon in Bozeman. noon departure. Over night at the Beauty Creek Campground, east of Coeur d’Alene
6/20 - 7:30am departure. Arrival in Olympia at 1:30pm

First, I’m really glad we didn’t drive ~750 miles straight to Belgrade, or vice versa. I did a lot of that when I was younger, but… I’m not young any more. And the only time my partner has driven the truck was on the test drive, 2.5 years ago. She could reach the pedals so we called it good enough.
Second: audio books. We don’t have a lot of overlap in musical taste, so that wasn’t an option. We both thought “How High We Go in the Dark” by Sequoia Nagamatsu was very good.
Third, I don’t know if it’s inflation or what, but hotels were damned expensive. Doing it again I would have brought our backpacking kit so we could camp on the way there.
Fourth and last, I do NOT recommend “The Outpost” “hotel” in Belgrade. It is basically a hostel, and the manager on duty described it thus: “it’s basically like a college dorm”. We went in, looked around, and booked a room at the Holiday Inn Express down the street.

Day 1
The drive to Coeur d’Alene was uneventful, and we’d seen most of that territory before. The Hampton Inn was expensive, but nice enough. We had gas station hot-dogs for dinner, and I had McDonalds for second dinner.

Day 2
Black Fuzzy Dog was a good hike. The trail head is in a neighborhood cul’d’sac. Nobody complained. It was listed as hard on Alltrails, but the stats said easy to moderate to us (5 miles, 1500 elevation). But, it was actually a little hard. Lots of straight up as opposed to switch backs, and at the top there was some almost scrambling on rocks. The view was awesome… of the rain clouds that rolled in as we hit the top. It was fast and easy going down, though we both broke out the trekking poles just in case.
Coeur d’Alene to Belgrade offered a lot of beautiful scenery, high speed limits, and tons of rain and wind along with a good amount of construction. This was all on Interstate 90 BTW. It was not a fun drive, but I’ve experienced worse.
We had gas station sandwiches for lunch, because the gas station was out of hot dogs.
I already mentioned we did not stay at The Outpost. I made a reservation there months ago when the Holiday Inn was sold out. I should have looked more closely. The Holiday Inn had two rooms available when I checked so I went right for it and have no regrets, but a lighter wallet.
We picked up frozen dinners from Albertsons for dinner and used the microwave in our room.
Then we went to Bozeman and walked up towards the college M. We didn’t get to the top, but that wasn’t the point. Just wanted to be outside. It was really damn pretty and we sat on a bench for an hour just talking.


Photo credit: my wife

Day 3
We got up early, crushed the breakfast buffet, and were at GFC by 8:30 for our 9am appointment. Everyone there was super friendly, cool, and helpful. Thanks, guys! You all rock! They even got started a few minutes early and we were out the door by 9:20. During the walk through after we learned that 6/19 was the very first day of installs with build numbers etched on the campers! And we were the first ever customer install with an etched number!! I feel almost famous.


Photo credit: me
Sypes Canyon was really nice, though rather easy. We didn’t go the whole way because A) we ended up sitting on a bench enjoying the view again and B) we wanted to hit the road so we’d get to camp at a decent hour.

Photo credit: my wife

Photo credit: my wife
The drive to Coeur d’Alene kinda sucked. Lots of head wind and more pouring rain. I definitely felt the difference having the camper on the back, as soon as we left the parking lot. And driving 80mph with 30mph wind sucked. We got like 14mpg. But we got to our campsite, reserved in advance, at 5:30pm, then set up camp.

Photo credit: me

Photo credit: me

Photo credit: me

Photo credit: me

Photo credit: my wife
We ate Mountain House for dinner, walked in the creek, then read in bed.

Day 4
Woke up to lots of condensation inside the tent, due to the very cold aluminum and our hot wet breath. This was in spite of having the corner windows cracked. Definitely going to have to do something about that. I also had (still have) a kink in my neck, but I blame the pillow for that. Otherwise, very happy with the camper!
We ate snacks and I made coffee. Then I made more coffee.
The camp ground all around was quite nice. We were in site 19 all the way at the end so it was nice and quite. The vault toilette was very close, and we had it to ourselves since the other nearby sites were all big trailers. I’d recommend it.
We hit the road at 7:30 and had more wind and rain, but nothing like the previous two days. Then we hit Interstate 5 and people became raging idiot assholes. The last hour of our 1,500 mile drive was by far the worst just because of people. But we made it home safe! And we’re very happy with our new GFC!

Thanks for reading!


Photo credit: me

13 Likes

Enjoyed the write up and glad you had an eventful trip! Really liking the new serial number badging, @GFC_Calder, any plans to retrofit existing campers with these? Wouldn’t mind having one for insurance purposes.

@MBBME not any plans for now.

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Awesome write up. Congrats on being the 1st with the cool tag. Just missed ya by a day. I was out there with my son from
17th-18th from Puyallup, WA. :metal:

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Awesome read. Had me reminiscing about my trip from Carson City, Nv to Belgrade back in 9-29-2019 to get Unit 311 installed on my Tacoma. I was back in Carson City the morning of 10-1-2019. I was solo on that one, but in the spring of 2021 made the trip back up with my wife to get the hinge upgrade, but this time we took a week.

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I forgot to say that I agree about I-5. As far as my Interstate travels, I-5 has some of the worst drivers, but in Idaho and Montana, people KNOW how to drive on Interstates. Safe travels.

My insurance company requires it be printed on the camper to get a camper policy - because it is not, they said I had to claim it under home owners. Just a little extra info FWIW.

Guess they also require it locks which it no longer does - so maybe that too is a good consideration.

Congrats! I know some good spots near Missoula and in northern Idaho next time you are out that way looking for some good camping.

Congratulations! Been through there a few times, and in Jan 2020 to get my V1. Big fan of the Post Falls Brewing Company just before CDA (from the west) and stayed at the Red Lion a few times on the river. A little dated, but spectacular location.