Unfortunately we didn't make it very far before we found ourselves suffering with the same tranny problem we suffered with in Alaska...We found a mechanic who could get to us on Monday and out by Wednesday but unfortunately the snow and COLD has caught up with us...what the heck???
_2 October 2010 We spent the night at Wal-Mart in Missoula and were back on the road by 8:30 and heading to Butte. Before getting to our turn onto Hwy 15, we found a “scenic route”. One of the scenic and historic locations along the way was Philipsburg. Philipsburg was a prosperous mining town back in the mid 1800’s and quite a number of the original buildings are still up and standing. Fact is, they look pretty good. The unfortunate thing is that they have been caught in this ugly economy that we’ve all been caught in and are hurting a lot. The rest of the “scenic ride” was just that, a beautiful river that was teaming with fishermen, trees turning through the fall colors, rock and clay hills and mountains displaying the many natural hues of Montana. After finding Hwy 15 a little further east, we turn south and head through the high plains and cross the border into southeastern Idaho later in the afternoon. By 5:30pm we were pulling into the “Caters of the Moon National Monument” campground and hoping that they have a site available for us.
_Fortunately they had one for us and it turned out to be one of the best in the park.
_1 October 2010 We’ve never been known as “early people”, but in leaving Coeur d’Alene we found ourselves getting up in time to have breakfast with Larry Anderson, refueling, and dumping our tanks at the county building. By 11am on a sunny Friday, we were finally on the road and heading towards Montana. Driving through Montana is always a beautiful experience and on this first day of October it didn’t disappoint us one bit. Our first stop was because of a request from Bonnie, “if you get close to Superior, Montana,
_how about stopping by and checking it out for me…”. Well Bon, it doesn’t look the same as when you had the cabin, but it’s still standing…
_We even checked out the log cabin that Tim built and it’s looking pretty good. Our next stop was in Missoula at Blitz RV. We’ve been stopping there for years to fill our propane tank. They have a “lost leader” price of .99 cents a gallon and that is REALLY CHEAP!!! Well we found out that they are still offering that deal to all that come prior to October 1st, and then it moves up to $1.99 which is what we paid for being ONE DAY TO LATE!!! Oh well, that is still one heck of a great deal.
16 July ‘06
From Wall and the Bad Lands, we headed off to Harden, Montana. Just outside of Harden is the location of Custer’s Last Stand. We arrived late afternoon, and thank God for that…it was hot !!! Leaving the coach in the hot sun, we headed off to see some of the National Park area. The first thing we came across was a lecture being given by one of the Park Rangers. I wasn’t sure it was going to be worth our time to sit in the sun (we happened to find a couple of seats in the shade) to hear what he had to say, but boy did I have to eat my words…he was great !!! We sat there for a good 45 minutes hung on every word he gave us. Afterwards we definitely had a good idea as to what we were looking at, and how the “Last Stand” took place. It pointed out that even back then, the scouting of the “enemy” wasn’t any better than it is today. Custer was too big for his own good, and fell along with his troops without much glory. We stayed the night in Harden. That night we attended an ice cream social at the campground…pretty good stuff. First thing in the morning we headed out for Bozeman. On the way, we stopped at a RV store and service department in Billings, to see if we could get our oil changed. They couldn’t get us in for another week or so, so we headed off to Bozeman. I had always thought Bozeman was a great little town from way back when I traveled here in the 60-70’s… It didn’t disappoint me…it is still a great Montana town. Because of an Airstream group coming into town the next day, we had to pull up and leave, so we headed onto Missoula. 2 days in Missoula, and we headed off to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Unfortunately we had suffered with a head wind almost all the way from South Dakota to Coeur d’Alene, but now we have been entranced into our campground with the weather being absolutely wonderful. We have made a couple of short trips around here over the last few days. Yesterday we went down to St. Maries Idaho for a “car and arts” show. The cars absolutely made my day…they had been either restored or completely built from scratch to absolutely beautiful machines. The Art show was set beside the St Joe River, and we had a good time there as well. Over the last week, Louise and I have had the kayak out in the Coeur d’Alene Lake. We hope to explore Fernan Lake and the Spokane River either today or in the next couple of days. We have really enjoyed our newest toy… Late this afternoon, we are going to the river with Joelle, Amy, Randy (Roo), and Bill and Shirley Molenda. We are taking the kayak, barbeque, and lots of good food to make for a great afternoon….see ya…
Well, that was yesterday… This morning Amy met us at the beach and then followed Louise back to Post Falls and back for a round trip. We planned our days kayaking yesterday and that was to paddle down the Spokane River from Coeur d’Alene to the city park in Post Falls. It was great to have a car there for the finish of our days paddle. The weather was absolutely beautiful…sunny in the middle 80’s + and a nice cooling breeze. Besides, the water temp couldn’t have been better for a “cooling off”. It took us just over 3 hours to cover the 8 miles and we did it without dropping dead at the end.
21 June ’06, Wednesday
This morning we were out of the campground at Lewis and Clark by 8:30am. The sun was shining, but being up here in the higher altitude, it was cool. I had met a man and his 15 year old son from Alaska last night who were camping in their tent right next to us. They are bicycling from Kalispell Montana to the Mexican border, following the Continental Divide as close as they can. When we awoke this morning, they had already left, but about 45 minutes into our drive we came across them as they were just cresting this 3 mile, 7 degree climb. We honked as we went by and wished them a safe journey. A few years ago their whole family had taken their travel trailer and covered 46 of the lower 48 states in 6 months. Most of our drive today was heading south towards Yellowstone Park but before we got there, we came upon Earth Quake Lake. On the early morning of August 9, 1959, this area suffered a major earth quake that still shows a lot of the devastation. In a small way, if it had to happen, it couldn’t have happened at a better time. Most of the tourists hadn’t arrived for their day journey to Hebgen Lake, for picnicking and hiking the many trails or swimming and boating in the lake. When the earth quake hit, the side of a mountain slid down and across a valley, “tilting” the lake. Half of the lake rose double in height, while the rest of it dropped to a puddle. There is much more to this story, but you will have to find it by going to your own sources. Louise and I were totally taken with this mammoth change in geology of the area and how you can see the changes now starting to come back through nature again. About noon, we entered the Yellowstone Park, and headed in to find a campground for a few days. It was a little surprising to me as to how far we were from the mountain peaks, but then again, we are over 7,000’ above sea-level and I can really feel the change in my breathing. It will take a day or two for us to get used to this altitude, but with a few hikes, it will get there. There is no doubt, but this is one of the natural beauties of America. The way the rivers gently curl and twist around and make all these patterns through the grasslands the valleys. Then there are the rolling hills of grass that are ringed with trees to create the perfect pasture for the animals here in the park. We are parked right on the banks of a HUGE lake, the Yellowstone Lake. It is much larger than any lake that we have been on so far, and we understand that the fishing is great. Well, the animal sightings for the day are: deer, elk, bison, pronghorn antelope, grizzly bear, and squirrel.
20 June ’06 Tuesday.
Last Saturday and Sunday we were in Polson and enjoying our kayak on Flathead Lake, walking the Polson Street Fair, and driving up to Big Fork. The street fair was small and Saturday had by far the largest crowd. It was fun and enjoyable because of the Native Indian dancing, food, and all the hand made items (which we didn’t load up with). By the way, the mini doughnuts that we had there were the best I’ve ever had…nice and crunchy. Our drive up the lake to Big Fork was also very nice. We actually drove by Big Fork the first time (missed our turn) and found our way to a very small rock and gem store, that had some of the most incredible stones and fossils. Besides that, as we drove down this very narrow dead-end road to the store, we found at the end (right at waters edge) a marker that told us a story of the area back in the early 1900’s. It kind of reminded us or the history of Lake Coeur d’Alene with the logging and boat traffic that took place back then. Then it was back on the road to find the elusive Big Fork. They have tried pretty well to keep Big Fork looking as it did in the early days, sitting beside the Swan River as it flows rapidly into the Flathead. We walked the streets and enjoyed looking into a lot of the “artsy” shops that lined both sides of the street. I also found “my” coffee shoppe that sat right on the Swan River which was over-flowing its banks and making the most beautiful sound of a rushing river. They also had “the best” chocolate cupcake with mocha frosting….I know, I’ve just looked at the scales…it’s a hard habit to break. Yesterday (Monday) we left Polson and drove here to Missoula. Highway 93 is totally under construction !!! We were very lucky to have been the first vehicle in line to make it through the 20+ miles of road construction. After arriving here in the campground, we headed fight off to find a grocery store, have lunch, and Louise had to have her haircut (not that it was getting long or anything…). This morning after breakfast we are picking up and heading towards Yellowstone.
What a day, we left Missoula a little later than we wanted, but we had to go in and fill our propane tank. We have learned to use this product with a little better control. And besides that, we found it “on sale”…$.99 a gallon and it only took 8 ½ gallons. Wouldn’t you know it, when you find a real good deal, you only need such a little amount. We’re now heading towards Yellowstone. We took a break at the 6,500’ summit just outside of Butte, which was also the Continental Divide. The day was absolutely a Montana Big Sky Day… It was a day that allowed us to make a detour when and if they presented themselves. As it was, we followed two. The first one took us from I 90 on to Montana 1. The road took us along the “scenic route”, with a river, rolling hills that turned into rough and tumble jagged hills that stretched high into the sky from the river bottom. A spectacular waterfall came tumbling down from an earthen dam which we found out made up Georgetown Lake. This lake was high up in the mountains, and really one of the prettiest you can find anywhere. The other one presented itself a little later when we headed off to “Lewis and Clark Cavern State Park”. We had no idea what that was, but we were going to find out. The route to the park was on a small winding and twisting road, a beautiful stream following each turn of the wheel and a HUGE cave on the side of one of the hills above us. Just beyond this cave we came to area of the “Cavern State Park” and we found that they also had a campground. This really worked out great, as it was getting to the point that we wanted to settle down for the night. We soon found out that the campground was just a small bit of what we had gotten ourselves into. Those “Cavern’s” that make-up the full name of “Lewis and Clark Cavern State Park” turned out to be one of those special jewels that come out of the dark just when you don’t expect it. 3 miles straight (a lot of winding and twisting) up the mountain from the gate of the campground, we found the visitors center and the starting point of the guided tour of the cavern. With our journey through Europe, we had a chance to see some wonderful caves and caverns, but this one…WOW !!! It is something very special. Heck, it was a 2 ½ hour tour with one incredible sight after another for the whole 2 ½ hours. We are still talking about this one !!! If you are ever in the area, make sure you see it…you will thank me. Oh yes, the campground is very nice as well. It is a State Park without “hook-ups”, but the rest of it is wonderful if you don’t need the electricity and TV (for those of us without a satellite dish)….
16 June ’06, Friday.
We’re really enjoying Montana, but on the other hand, we wish it would quit raining. We haven’t had rain every day, but they have just announced that Montana is breaking all the records this year on rainfall. They have even opened up a couple of the gates on Libby Dam to relieve the possibility of having it soon go over the top and really create a problem. So far, all the rivers and streams have just come up to the rim of their banks, but haven’t yet caused any serious flooding. Day before yesterday we moved to a campground in Polson so that we could be a little closer to the big Polson festivities this weekend, and other sites that we want to visit while in the area. Today we spent the day at the National Bison Range. It covers over 18 thousand acres of absolutely beautiful Montana land, and we had a chance to drive through it. We first stopped by the Visitors Center to see some of the displays and learn a little on why the government stepped forward to put this “Reserve” in place. At one time there were over 30 to 60 MILLION Bison (“Buffalo”) that made this area their home and then the settlers came into the area and all the sudden there were less than 50 left on this planet. As we made our way through the hills and valleys of the reserve, we saw deer, elk, antelope, and a few bison all in their natural habitat. Just a little ways outside of the reserve, we found our next stop. We’ve been reading about this wonderful “Mission Church” at St. Ignatius that is sometimes called a “country cathedral”. It was constructed in the early 1890’s by the Flathead Reservation Indian parishioners, with some help from local ranchers, and Jesuit missionaries. What made this stop so very special was the 58 frescoes and murals on the walls and vaulted ceiling. These frescoes were the vision and the artistic work of Brother Joseph Carignano, who was also the cook for the mission. An interesting note was, he was born in Turin, Italy (1873) and died in Yakima, Washington (1919).
12 June ’06, Monday.
We made a short drive yesterday from Coram to Kalispell and then following the west side of Flathead Lake to our next campground in Elmo. The scenery is very lush green. Because of the time of year and the rain that they have had we are seeing it before it turns to the more traditional tan of summer. We are also missing a lot of the crowds of tourist that will be coming. I’m almost ashamed that it has been so long for us to make it to Montana, because it is really spectacular. This afternoon, we drove into Polson, which is about 12 miles further around the lake on 93. We were there yesterday, but just long enough to go to Safeway and do some shopping. Today we were heading to Kerr Dam, which is just 5 miles outside of Polson. We had seen a picture of the dam and I just had to take my own. We were hoping for a full “spill” over the dam, and we weren’t disappointed. With the water table so high from the run-off of the mountains and the rain, it was unbelievable. We were both surprised at the lack of signage that the state or even the city of Polson has given to Kerr Dam. It is 54 feet higher than Niagara Falls, and was completed in the late 40’s. The river runs out of Flat Head Lake and winds its way through a very high wall of solid rock until it comes to the dam. The rock walls continue after the dam for another mile of so before it winds it’s way out. After our ride to the dam, we headed back to Polson for lunch. To our surprise, we found a great little Turkish restaurant on one of the side streets. The owner and chef, was from a small village just outside of Cappadocia. We really enjoyed his food and had a good time talking about Turkey with him…If you are ever in Polson Montana, you’ve just have to try his restaurant, and you will not be disappointed. Well we have disconnected ourselves from the electrical system and are running on batteries. We are right in the middle of a very large electrical storm. Louise is up front looking out the windows going uuu-aaaaahhhh….
We did have a great time on the lake this afternoon kayaking. Let’s see just how our arm and back muscles re-act in the morning to our excursion.
9 June ’06, Friday.
Yesterday was a day for grocery shopping and….buying our “life preservers” to use with our new toy. While in Coeur d’Alene time before last, we happened upon a demonstration of kayaks, and after trying out 4 or 5 different models, we were hooked. Unfortunately, the dealer that hosted the event really didn’t want to sell us the one that we wanted. They hadn’t decided yet if they were going to carry it, and if I wanted it, I would have to “special order” it.
We walked…fact is, we walked and kept walking for another 3 weeks before I finally called the factory to purchase one. They wouldn’t sell me direct, but did give us a web address of a company that would give us a “deal” and have it sent right out. 3 days later, we had our kayak. We were thinking that with all the lakes here in Glacier National Park and the rest of Montana, we would get a lot of good use out of it right away. Today would have been a great day to have ventured out for our first “cruise”, but the weather report told us differently. What do they know? Yes, we went out for the day to do some hiking, but you can hike in the rain and wind and still have a good hike. Well, it didn’t rain, in fact the wind hardly moved the leaves on the trees. We did have a good hike, and we saw some great sites including a black bear, some mountain goats, and a deer that ran out in front of Louise and shocked the hell our of her. Our hike today took us to the Red Rock Waterfalls. To say that they were beautiful is an understatement. I sure hope the pictures turn out. There were 4 or 5 other lakes that we could have easy access to, but the WEATHERMAN talked us out of taking what we needed to go kayaking… Oh well, it’s raining now and there will be other days to hit the water with our new toy and I know that we will be enjoying it. This morning we said Good-bye and Happy Travels to Jim and Jacque Crehan. They had been camped next to us for the last 6 days and we had really enjoyed meeting them and know that we will see them on the road again. They left for Lake Chelan and I sure hope the weather is going to hold for them.