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Old 06-05-2019, 11:14 AM   #1
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Need Camping Help In Montana!!!

Hey all!

My wife and I just recently moved back to MT and are so happy to be back home. We decided to convert a school bus into a tiny home and are currently in Wfish/Kalispell area. Problem is we can't really find any national/state forest that's either 1. close enough to town for us to both still work 2. doesn't cost an arm and a leg to camp at. We are curious if Billings/Missoula/Bozeman/Helena has close access to public lands (close being not a 40 min commute into town.) She teaches yoga, I work off a computer so just need to have VZ 4g cell service to work.

The people in Wfish seem to have a holier than thou attitude towards our situation (even though we both make a good living.) So that has been kind of bumming us out. We are trying to pay off her student loans/explore/and save for a house which is why we chose this lifestyle. Any help or ideas would be greatly appreciated!!!!
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Old 06-05-2019, 11:23 AM   #2
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Hey all!

My wife and I just recently moved back to MT and are so happy to be back home. We decided to convert a school bus into a tiny home and are currently in Wfish/Kalispell area. Problem is we can't really find any national/state forest that's either 1. close enough to town for us to both still work 2. doesn't cost an arm and a leg to camp at. We are curious if Billings/Missoula/Bozeman/Helena has close access to public lands (close being not a 40 min commute into town.) She teaches yoga, I work off a computer so just need to have VZ 4g cell service to work.

The people in Wfish seem to have a holier than thou attitude towards our situation (even though we both make a good living.) So that has been kind of bumming us out. We are trying to pay off her student loans/explore/and save for a house which is why we chose this lifestyle. Any help or ideas would be greatly appreciated!!!!
welcome to the forum - hopefully, someone here will have some good tips for you
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Old 06-05-2019, 12:10 PM   #3
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Hey, welcome! I'm down in Gallatin Gateway (10 min outside Bozeman) and we've got the downtown shopping areas within 10-15 min in one direction and then lots of national forest/BLM lands 10-15 min in the other direction.

Specifically, in the canyon going up to Big Sky, there's a road, Storm Castle, leading up to Ratt Lake with free camping up 16 days (?) at a time. There's also the Spanish Creeks road with lots of areas to camp for either free or a couple bucks a night. Gallatin National forest area, basically.
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Old 06-05-2019, 12:12 PM   #4
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US 191 is the road leading up to Big Sky*

Lots of dirt road pull offs along the way. That's actually where I do a lot of my camping with the kids because it's so accessible.
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Old 06-05-2019, 12:20 PM   #5
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US 191 is the road leading up to Big Sky*

Lots of dirt road pull offs along the way. That's actually where I do a lot of my camping with the kids because it's so accessible.
Nice, that's incredible!! I missed your first post about being in Bozeman. That sounds like a really great fit for accessibility!!! We are just so tired of having to hop around daily up here. Looks like we might head to Bozeman :P
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Old 06-05-2019, 12:34 PM   #6
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Bozeman is about as big as it gets. Belgrade is same distance but to the North, has lots of stores (Albertsons, Town & Country, Family Dollar, McDonald's, Taco Bell, etc.) but it's also more industrial oriented. Lots of warehouse zones, storage facilities, tire and mechanic shops, truck stops.

There's also Norris but it's about 45 min away. The Madison is out that way where most people do their fishing and floating in summer.

I'm pretty sure Helena would fit the bill too, I just don't know that area as well.
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Old 06-05-2019, 02:48 PM   #7
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The people in Wfish seem to have a holier than thou attitude towards our situation (even though we both make a good living.) So that has been kind of bumming us out.
Really? Whitefish has been one of the places I absolutely want to check out when we hit the road- could you elaborate on this experience?



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We are trying to pay off her student loans/explore/and save for a house which is why we chose this lifestyle. Any help or ideas would be greatly appreciated!!!!
I've noticed what you've described from _some_ people, and in my area they're few and far between. Most everyone I talk to from the ladies at Home Depot to the pizza delivery guy love the project and the idea. Much of my motivations have to do around getting out of debt and financial responsibility (don't spend what you can't earn), but a tiny fraction of people seem to interpret that as some kind of abandonment of civic duty, or parasitism. Seems bizare.
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Old 06-05-2019, 02:52 PM   #8
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Whitefish must be the happening place. Asetechrail moved there last year.

A great resource for cheap camping: http://www.freecampsites.net
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Old 06-05-2019, 03:28 PM   #9
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US 191 is the road leading up to Big Sky*

Lots of dirt road pull offs along the way. That's actually where I do a lot of my camping with the kids because it's so accessible.
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Originally Posted by kazetsukai View Post
Really? Whitefish has been one of the places I absolutely want to check out when we hit the road- could you elaborate on this experience?



I've noticed what you've described from _some_ people, and in my area they're few and far between. Most everyone I talk to from the ladies at Home Depot to the pizza delivery guy love the project and the idea. Much of my motivations have to do around getting out of debt and financial responsibility (don't spend what you can't earn), but a tiny fraction of people seem to interpret that as some kind of abandonment of civic duty, or parasitism. Seems bizare.
So to start, we absolutely love Whitefish. We lived here several years in the past and it is near and dear to us and such a beautiful place. With that being said we were renting out here previously and were treated in an entirely different manner. There is a certain "air" to Whitefish that we have not experienced in the rest of MT. There is a surplus of veryyyyyy affluent people out here (median home price is between $360K-$370K.) To put it in perspective we are members at a local gym, friends with the owner, and even had permission to park in the lot over night for as long as we needed. 2 days in we had neighbors coming by pounding on our door yelling at us to get the f*** out of there neighborhood because our bus was an eye sore then had the police called on us. We are not loud, obnoxious, messy people. I run a successful SEO business and we keep to ourselves. Since living here in a bus we have been treated as homeless vagabonds and on top of that there is apparently NO "camping" aka sleeping overnight, in the Whitefish city limits, except for in the state park by the lake. It's been very disappointing to see this side of people, especially since when we lived here previously we were treated with the utmost respect. Status is a BIG thing in Whitefish and people so far have not been very receptive to what and why we're doing what we are. Kind of a bummer but it is what it is.

AGAIN! It's an incredible place to visit, don't let it deter you, I just would not recommend trying to stay here long-term.
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Old 06-05-2019, 04:30 PM   #10
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Same exact thing is happening in Bozeman as well. It's all the higher wealth, socialite crowd moving here from everywhere else. We refer to Big Sky as "Yuppieville." I swear, the people you're describing, all congregate there. You're currently residing in one of the wealthiest areas of the state where not many blue collar folk can survive. There's not much for work unless you're working remotely or small construction jobs. This is actually a big part of why I want to explore outside of MT. It's changing and fast.

The first time I visited MT I stayed in Kalispell and it was amazing! Such friendly people. That cozy small town feel. Anymore though, unless you know someone... It is a great place still, it just has that clique thing going on anymore. I spend more time in nature than with people anymore though. Gateway, where I am now, is still tiny. There's about 270 condos going up and they've started preparing several housing sites. It'll quickly change too.
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Old 06-05-2019, 04:34 PM   #11
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There is a surplus of veryyyyyy affluent people out here (median home price is between $360K-$370K.
My home is the smallest on the street and its $330k. My friends' parents had me over moving a bed up the stairs for them last week, they are surrounded by 1.5M-3M+ homes. I mean talk about the bigger fish of a tiny pond. I just don't understand it.



If I imagine someone parking on my street, some giant vehicle that's there for weeks on end, I can understand. I wouldn't want the street lined with such vehicles. But if they're on someone's private property and they have something worked out with them what do I care? What are the chances every other landowner in the city comes up with such an arrangement in a way that causes some kind of problem?



When I go traveling I'm going to have to hang around in the places I stop for at least a week or two to check out the local land. Anyone can be nasty to someone they don't know and don't care about. Running someone out of town and belittling their lifestyle is just uncivil.
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Old 06-06-2019, 01:00 AM   #12
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After having lived in Bozeman recently for about three years my verdict is that Montana is being ruined by secondary effects resulting from an influx of people with fortune and fame. The ultra-rich celebrities like Bill Gates and Ted Turner are not causing the problem directly. They and their friends keep to themselves in exclusive, gated clubs or on multi-million acre ranches. And if you ever run into them they are most likely among the coolest folks you could meet - because they can afford it.

But wherever the truly rich and famous go, the wannabe rich follow. The name droppers ("We spent the winter in BIG SKY with X, Y and Z..."), the part of the middle class that is far from independently wealthy but wants to pretend they are. These are the self-appointed officers of the NIMBY police and their backyard is everywhere they walk or sit. They want to keep the riff-raff out as if poverty were a contagious disease.

While Bill Gates writes another multi-million dollar check to a charity and Joe Blow fixes his pickup for the umpteen's time under a shade tree, Mr. Wannabee is signing a lease for a McMansion on wheels at the local RV dealer. Bill has more than he will ever need, Joe will probably have the running truck he needs by day's end, and Mr. Wannabe is never content with what he has, no matter the size of his house or toy collection. If peace and harmony is important to you, then don't spend your weekend anywhere close to Mr. Wannabe's house, boat, or 5th wheel.

Montana is one of many places that has become a magnet to those who seek to boost their status by association. You can observe the same in Bar Harbor, Maine where sometime back a guy named Rockefeller was instrumental in creating a public nature preserve by secretly buying up land and donating it to .gov. A wise and generous move but by now Bar Harbor has turned into a prime wildlife refuge for pretentious A-holes. Why Bar Harbor of all places? Because nobody associates a spot 50 miles further South or North on Maine's coast - that might be just as beautiful - with Mr. Rockefeller.

Regardless of the specific location, I find it easy to get along with poor folks and very rich ones. The almost rich are the constant pebble in the shoe. The ones who think they have to prove themselves with everything they say and do. Not surprisingly, I feel the same when it comes to intelligence. Slightly dumb and very bright people are mostly loads of fun. The ones that don't want to know what they don't know are the curse in life.

One "hack" to make your life more enjoyable is to stay away from places that the wannabees have chosen as one of their popular 'hives'.
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Old 06-06-2019, 01:40 AM   #13
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After having lived in Bozeman recently for about three years my verdict is that Montana is being ruined by secondary effects resulting from an influx of people with fortune and fame. The ultra-rich celebrities like Bill Gates and Ted Turner are not causing the problem directly. They and their friends keep to themselves in exclusive, gated clubs or on multi-million acre ranches. And if you ever run into them they are most likely among the coolest folks you could meet - because they can afford it.

But wherever the truly rich and famous go, the wannabe rich follow. The name droppers ("We spent the winter in BIG SKY with X, Y and Z..."), the part of the middle class that is far from independently wealthy but wants to pretend they are. These are the self-appointed officers of the NIMBY police and their backyard is everywhere they walk or sit. They want to keep the riff-raff out as if poverty were a contagious disease.

While Bill Gates writes another multi-million dollar check to a charity and Joe Blow fixes his pickup for the umpteen's time under a shade tree, Mr. Wannabee is signing a lease for a McMansion on wheels at the local RV dealer. Bill has more than he will ever need, Joe will probably have the running truck he needs by day's end, and Mr. Wannabe is never content with what he has, no matter the size of his house or toy collection. If peace and harmony is important to you, then don't spend your weekend anywhere close to Mr. Wannabe's house, boat, or 5th wheel.

Montana is one of many places that has become a magnet to those who seek to boost their status by association. You can observe the same in Bar Harbor, Maine where sometime back a guy named Rockefeller was instrumental in creating a public nature preserve by secretly buying up land and donating it to .gov. A wise and generous move but by now Bar Harbor has turned into a prime wildlife refuge for pretentious A-holes. Why Bar Harbor of all places? Because nobody associates a spot 50 miles further South or North on Maine's coast - that might be just as beautiful - with Mr. Rockefeller.

Regardless of the specific location, I find it easy to get along with poor folks and very rich ones. The almost rich are the constant pebble in the shoe. The ones who think they have to prove themselves with everything they say and do. Not surprisingly, I feel the same when it comes to intelligence. Slightly dumb and very bright people are mostly loads of fun. The ones that don't want to know what they don't know are the curse in life.

One "hack" to make your life more enjoyable is to stay away from places that the wannabees have chosen as one of their popular 'hives'.


or - - - - - 1/2 the population is below average in any category you pick - lol
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Old 06-06-2019, 02:04 AM   #14
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Whitefish must be the happening place. Asetechrail moved there last year.
How is it going Steve? I actually moved to Kalispell and my work is based out of Columbia Falls.

Whitefish is nice if you enjoy lots of tourists and the huge influx of out of state wealth that has taken it over. Just not really my thing.

We really like the whole Flathead valley area. If you are interested in outdoor related stuff like fishing, hunting, hiking, boating, skiing, snowboarding, etc... then this area is perfect.

We are buying property right off the Flathead River so I see a kayak or two as near future purchases.

Kalispell still does have very friendly people for the most part. It also suffers from the meth epidemic that has hit so many places.
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Old 06-06-2019, 07:16 AM   #15
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I recall Windham as being one of the tonier, high dollar areas in S NH.

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My home is the smallest on the street and its $330k. My friends' parents had me over moving a bed up the stairs for them last week, they are surrounded by 1.5M-3M+ homes. I mean talk about the bigger fish of a tiny pond. I just don't understand it...
Given it's easy freeway access (particularly since the I-93 widening project of several years ago) and short drive over the border, is it any surprise thst the area has been overrun by income tax avoiding Mass-Holes..?
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Old 06-06-2019, 08:15 AM   #16
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After having lived in Bozeman recently for about three years my verdict is that Montana is being ruined by secondary effects resulting from an influx of people with fortune and fame. The ultra-rich celebrities like Bill Gates and Ted Turner are not causing the problem directly. They and their friends keep to themselves in exclusive, gated clubs or on multi-million acre ranches. And if you ever run into them they are most likely among the coolest folks you could meet - because they can afford it.

But wherever the truly rich and famous go, the wannabe rich follow. The name droppers ("We spent the winter in BIG SKY with X, Y and Z..."), the part of the middle class that is far from independently wealthy but wants to pretend they are. These are the self-appointed officers of the NIMBY police and their backyard is everywhere they walk or sit. They want to keep the riff-raff out as if poverty were a contagious disease.

While Bill Gates writes another multi-million dollar check to a charity and Joe Blow fixes his pickup for the umpteen's time under a shade tree, Mr. Wannabee is signing a lease for a McMansion on wheels at the local RV dealer. Bill has more than he will ever need, Joe will probably have the running truck he needs by day's end, and Mr. Wannabe is never content with what he has, no matter the size of his house or toy collection. If peace and harmony is important to you, then don't spend your weekend anywhere close to Mr. Wannabe's house, boat, or 5th wheel.

Montana is one of many places that has become a magnet to those who seek to boost their status by association. You can observe the same in Bar Harbor, Maine where sometime back a guy named Rockefeller was instrumental in creating a public nature preserve by secretly buying up land and donating it to .gov. A wise and generous move but by now Bar Harbor has turned into a prime wildlife refuge for pretentious A-holes. Why Bar Harbor of all places? Because nobody associates a spot 50 miles further South or North on Maine's coast - that might be just as beautiful - with Mr. Rockefeller.

Regardless of the specific location, I find it easy to get along with poor folks and very rich ones. The almost rich are the constant pebble in the shoe. The ones who think they have to prove themselves with everything they say and do. Not surprisingly, I feel the same when it comes to intelligence. Slightly dumb and very bright people are mostly loads of fun. The ones that don't want to know what they don't know are the curse in life.

One "hack" to make your life more enjoyable is to stay away from places that the wannabees have chosen as one of their popular 'hives'.
Well put.

Also, I've heard Ted actually is a really good guy, although, he gets a bad wrap around here for buying so much land.
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Old 06-06-2019, 08:24 AM   #17
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I am over in Helena. I stayed here last summer - and came back in March. There is not a lot of BLM land accessible and within cell range - but I have not had problems finding places to park the bus.
Ive stayed at a few state / county parks here - about 15 minutes from town, relatively inexpensive ($8 - $12 a night) - the local campground is $450 monthly for electric sites / $550 for full hook up (not my preference of of places - but it works).
I have a few friends who let me park in their driveway - which works out real well. For the past two weeks, I have stayed in town, on the streets, parking lots... Walmart is a bit sketchy - but there are several overnighters the long-terms there.
I have not had any issues with the law. I stay quiet - always clean up after myself and my dog.

I am heading around the state in two weeks - but let me know if you stop by Helena. Id love to meet up for coffee and help you find some options.

Note: I really love Helena - but I have been traveling to several smaller towns and find them to be even more friendly - places like Choteau, Augusta, Lincoln... I love the smaller towns.


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Old 06-06-2019, 11:10 AM   #18
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After having lived in Bozeman recently for about three years my verdict is that Montana is being ruined by secondary effects resulting from an influx of people with fortune and fame. The ultra-rich celebrities like Bill Gates and Ted Turner are not causing the problem directly. They and their friends keep to themselves in exclusive, gated clubs or on multi-million acre ranches. And if you ever run into them they are most likely among the coolest folks you could meet - because they can afford it.

But wherever the truly rich and famous go, the wannabe rich follow. The name droppers ("We spent the winter in BIG SKY with X, Y and Z..."), the part of the middle class that is far from independently wealthy but wants to pretend they are. These are the self-appointed officers of the NIMBY police and their backyard is everywhere they walk or sit. They want to keep the riff-raff out as if poverty were a contagious disease.

While Bill Gates writes another multi-million dollar check to a charity and Joe Blow fixes his pickup for the umpteen's time under a shade tree, Mr. Wannabee is signing a lease for a McMansion on wheels at the local RV dealer. Bill has more than he will ever need, Joe will probably have the running truck he needs by day's end, and Mr. Wannabe is never content with what he has, no matter the size of his house or toy collection. If peace and harmony is important to you, then don't spend your weekend anywhere close to Mr. Wannabe's house, boat, or 5th wheel.

Montana is one of many places that has become a magnet to those who seek to boost their status by association. You can observe the same in Bar Harbor, Maine where sometime back a guy named Rockefeller was instrumental in creating a public nature preserve by secretly buying up land and donating it to .gov. A wise and generous move but by now Bar Harbor has turned into a prime wildlife refuge for pretentious A-holes. Why Bar Harbor of all places? Because nobody associates a spot 50 miles further South or North on Maine's coast - that might be just as beautiful - with Mr. Rockefeller.

Regardless of the specific location, I find it easy to get along with poor folks and very rich ones. The almost rich are the constant pebble in the shoe. The ones who think they have to prove themselves with everything they say and do. Not surprisingly, I feel the same when it comes to intelligence. Slightly dumb and very bright people are mostly loads of fun. The ones that don't want to know what they don't know are the curse in life.

One "hack" to make your life more enjoyable is to stay away from places that the wannabees have chosen as one of their popular 'hives'.
I think you hit the nail on the head here. Unhappy people are going to be just that.
We truly do love MT and really want to make it work. Hopefully we can find more viable spots around the Bozeman and Helena area!
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Old 06-06-2019, 11:24 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Asetechrail View Post
How is it going Steve? I actually moved to Kalispell and my work is based out of Columbia Falls.

Whitefish is nice if you enjoy lots of tourists and the huge influx of out of state wealth that has taken it over. Just not really my thing.

We really like the whole Flathead valley area. If you are interested in outdoor related stuff like fishing, hunting, hiking, boating, skiing, snowboarding, etc... then this area is perfect.

We are buying property right off the Flathead River so I see a kayak or two as near future purchases.

Kalispell still does have very friendly people for the most part. It also suffers from the meth epidemic that has hit so many places.
Hey Kent,

Things are going good. Progress on the bus has been pretty slow. Health challenges slowing me down a bit. Hopefully that gets squared away soon. I need to have it done so we can come over and work on yours.

I visited the Kalispell area many years ago. I remember it being beautiful country. I would love it 8 months of the year Don't care for that white stuff that falls from the sky

Awesome news on the property. We loved living on the water over on the West side. I miss it.

Angie and I were planing on a kayak trip this weekend. Unfortunately the hotel where we stay is booked full.

Tell Ruthie hello for us.
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Old 06-06-2019, 01:22 PM   #20
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To put it in perspective we are members at a local gym, friends with the owner, and even had permission to park in the lot over night for as long as we needed. 2 days in we had neighbors coming by pounding on our door yelling at us to get the f*** out of there neighborhood because our bus was an eye sore then had the police called on us.... Since living here in a bus we have been treated as homeless vagabonds and on top of that there is apparently NO "camping" aka sleeping overnight, in the Whitefish city limits, except for in the state park by the lake. It's been very disappointing to see this side of people.
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Same exact thing is happening in Bozeman as well. It's all the higher wealth, socialite crowd moving here from everywhere else. We refer to Big Sky as "Yuppieville." I swear, the people you're describing, all congregate there.

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"Cheese Wagon" <anomaly.va@gmail.com>

Former owner - 1989 Ford B700 64-pass Blue Bird (Rest In Peace, Cheese Wagon)
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