July 17, Tuesday We pulled out fairly early from dusty Emery Bay Campground, our destination: Chewing Black Bones Campground near the east entrance of Glacier National Park. We traveled Highway 2 that curves around the south end of Glacier National Park. It was a very pretty drive with some big ups and downs, but mostly the road traveled in a valley, hugging the curves of a river on one side and railroad on the other. One thing we have noticed about the west – they have TRAINS! LOTS of of trains.
About 60 miles in to our 90 mile route we stopped for gas in Browning. While John was pumping, I got out of the truck and walked around the back of the RV and low and behold – it was missing a wheel!!! Gone!! No blow-out, no big bump, no anything, just no tire, NO HUB and it ripped the wheel well trim on its way off. Imagine our shock! We have no idea how long we had traveled like that and we are so grateful that we wern’t 1) at the bottom of one of the many deep ravines we had passed. 2) Not marooned 50 miles from nowhere. 3) We had cell service – an of and on thing for us as we traveled.
After fifty some phone calls we were able to connect with Cliffs Towing, who had the rare capability of towing our RV. A few phone calls later we received a “maybe we can help you” from a service center in Cut Bank, Montana. Cliff had to come from an hour away and had a call ahead of us but he showed up two hours later with his big semi truck and flatbed trailer. He dropped the back end of the trailer and had John drive truck and RV right up onto it. Cliff attached a lot of big chains and then we all climbed aboard the semi and off we went thirty miles to Cut Bank.
At Cut Bank, Brian and his ten mechanics all marveled at our axle hanging out with no hub, no tire. Lots of head scratching and “never seen this before.” Brian made some phone calls and reported a three week wait for a new hub. It was decided a whole new axle should be installed and that could arrive in just one day. They also felt we were safe to drive to a RV park,that remarkably was only four blocks away.
The next day before lunch the axles and parts had arrived. John took the RV back up to the service center. While the new axle was installed, I did laundry, John washed the truck, we bought groceries and refilled a prescription and by 3:30 it was fixed! With many thanks to Brian and crew, we headed east towards Theodore Roosevelt National Park, letting go of our East Glacier plans.
I should note that we had been warned that Browning could be kind of dicey with people approaching looking for handouts. Shortly after our arrival four men approached John and were very insistent that they could do the repairs. They wouldn’t take “no thanks- we are calling AAA” for an answer. While John dealt with them I slipped away and called 911 for help as it was really uncomfortable. Within minutes a bevy of tribal police cars arrived including an officer that was the son of one of the persistent mechanics. The “mechanics” moved on and they were replaced by a steady stream of curious inspecting mechanics, or relatives of mechanics who all claimed they could fix or their uncle could – until our tow truck angel arrived. I really don’t know if our persistent mechanics truly meant to help or were looking for a hustle but we a really grateful it ended well.