Thursday, September 29, 2016

Goodbye Montana

Tree tunnel
I was struck by the "where does that road go" bug again this morning on the way to the Post Office!
So, of course, I turned in.  What I mostly did was play dodge the potholes and water puddles!  I think the potholes won.  What I saw was mostly tree tunnel like above, or tree trunks like below.

There was one large meadow, regrowth after a fire, where the mountains in the distance were visible.





Arriving at the end of the road we turned around and played dodge again.  I think I did a bit better that time!

I've been in Montana for 6 weeks or so and I've travelled all over the western part of the state. (Still haven't been out on the flat.) This is what I've learned.

It is Beautiful.  All of it.

The sky is indeed big-Montana is a big state it takes a lot of sky to cover it!  The sky is also blue.  Both those things said, the sky is not any bigger or bluer than in Missouri, or Kansas, or Oklahoma or any of MANY other places-think that must have begun as a genius of an advertisement!

It is reported that there is much wildlife in Montana-I can't vouch for that except that there are tons of Pronghorn Antelopes!  

At least 75% of the people of Montana own a camper of some kind. You see them parked by most homes and many in campgrounds.  Many own off road vehicles like, dirt bikes, ATVs and snowmobiles.

There are many folks here with rebel tendencies-like What's a speed limit, I should use turn signals?-I kid you not I saw a billboard reminding drivers of that! Dogs are not supposed to be on a leash I don't care what that sign says, oh, and I don't have to pick up their poop either!

Last, but perhaps most importantly, Montana is not my home.  I'd like for it to be, I could live here and be happy.  However, if I'm going to move so far away I want the place I move to to scream "You cannot live anywhere else--This is your HOME." and Montana doesn't.

I will miss Montana when I leave tomorrow!  I will be back!  I'll leave you with this song and invite you to "Meet me in Montana!"


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Yellowstone, the sequel

Upper Firehole Canyon Falls
 Off we set for Yellowstone this morning!
Much traffic.
Much traffic.
It deserved repeating.
More than when I did the Northern loop in August.
So, of course, I took side loops.
The first was Firehole Canyon.
The road was short and sort of paved.
Not too many people took that turn off,
at least not compared to the traffic on the main road.

Lower Firehole Canyon falls.
I got impatient with the traffic and seeing nothing but trees so
I turned onto Fountain Flat Dr.
I'm so glad I did! 
This is what I saw.
Three groups of bison, likely the same large herd!
They were all sort of ambling southward.




After hitting the end of the road and turning around to start back
One of the groups had come really close to the road.
In fact three of the bison where rolling in the dust.
Of course, the idiot humans were out in force, 
perhaps 10 feet away,
taking pictures.
Park regulations say to stay back 50 feet from bison, elk, deer, etc 
and 100 feet from bears and wolves.
Had there been a Park Ranger near all this idiots would have been charged with harassing wild life.
Not to mention the danger they had placed themselves in.
Bison are huge!
could easily total a car or kill an unprotected human stupid enough to get too close.
I was so touched by the herd in it's natural place, doing it's natural thing.
I had tears in my eyes from the beauty of it.
All those people hurrying off to see Old Faithful missed it.
What a shame.

I skipped Old Faithful going out to get around the traffic.
Instead, I went on to Yellowstone Lake.
On the way I stopped at ISA Lake.
Another place hardly anyone was stopping.
What a shame.
I would guess that no other lake in the country does what Isa lake does, 
sitting on the Continental Divide.
Half the lake drains to the Pacific-the EAST half-while the WEST half drains to the gulf. 



Another parking spot overlooked this valley.  
I could see the Tetons in the distance
but they are too far away for even the telephoto lens.


Arriving at the Grant Visitors Center Quinn and I took a little walk down by the lake.
Enjoy.





We headed back towards West Yellowstone from here.
Got off at Old Faithful.
Only to be confronted with arces of parking lots filled with cars.
Much walking to be done.
Quinn in car, too warm to leave her for long.
I was not comfortable with taking her near the hot geysers.
Didn't stop.
If you really want to see a photo Google it- pictures abound!

On the way back I stopped to take these of mountains I'm sure are in Montana
 and the Madison River.



I had thought I might go down to the Tetons tomorrow BUT
I'm tired, really tired.
So I think instead of driving around 300 miles down and back
We'll stay here 
and take a short dirt road adventure!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Over Hill and Dale

Madison River
This morning we were off on the next leg of our trip!
Left Dillion, drove up through Two Bridges (for the fourth time),
Sheridan (again for the fourth time), 
and Virginia City (the Ice cream shop was open! I did not stop.)
Up and over the pass and into Ennis where I turned south. 
 Driving along the Madison River Valley.
(I was in the Madison valley when I left Three Forks but this is further upstream.) 
 Many fisher persons in boats and along the shore-hope they were catching fish!

Montana has some of the nicest rest areas!  
We again stopped for lunch, a short walk and some photos-of course!

Also the Madison River
At the rest area I saw this truckload of big fence posts
-they looked like giant,
 just-sharpened pencils to me!


Somewhere along the way I zagged when I should have zigged 
(Zags to the left, Zigs to the right!)
Anyway, I'm glad I did as I drove alongside Earthquake Lake!
On August 17, 1959 at 11:37pm a 7.3 earthquake hit Hebgen Lake MT.
11 people died and the the lake tipped sideways!
You can read more about it here.
I didn't stop at the Visitor's Center and wished I had.
Considering going back, maybe.

Earthquake Lake
Tomorrow
Yellowstone!
Lookout Old Faithful here I come!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Sweetwater Road

 Today, Quinn and I set off on yet another dirt road adventure!  I expect this to be the last one.  I am losing my enthusiasm for rattling over bad roads!  Also, we're leaving Dillon tomorrow for West Yellowstone and the Tetons before heading south and west mostly on major highways, like Interstates!

This drive though took us to Ruby Lake, though the Ruby mountains-or maybe it was over them.
The first photo is from the "Top" of the drive looking west towards the Pioneer mountains and Dillon in the valley along the Beaverhead river.

Also from the top, the big hole of a Talc mine.  There are several up there but I only saw this one.

That's the road stretching out in front of us.  Deeply rutted in places, muddy still in places-really a good thing I gave it a couple of days to dry out after all the rain last week.  Four wheel drive would have been necessary then!  When I asked Suzie about this drive she said this was the "good" road-one of us needs to adjust our definition of a good road!

I love the way the center section of what looks like a mesa is so contoured-such texture!


We passed an abandoned homestead.  All log construction but at one time quite productive it seemed.
Then this log shelter for animals and perhaps the wagon.  Just beyond was a mine opening into the mountain.  This area has many garnets, found laying on the road and I supposed mined for at some point.  (Montana has natural sapphires and amethysts as well as other crystals-along with gold, copper etc so it's appropriately named the "Treasure State")

Towards the end of the dirt road this long valley-see that green?  That's irrigation!  Boy were there a bunch of Antelope down there in that green!


I just really liked this Cupola on a barn right before we hit pavement!  Against that blue Montana sky! 

Not long after this we hit pavement and rather than return over the tooth loosening road we came back to Dillon on State highways.  Have to say Ruby Lake is VERY low!


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Lemhi Pass



Today Quinn and I set off for Lemhi Pass.  Right on the border of Idaho and Montana.  Driving South from Dillon then West until you hit the dirt road to the pass.  Most of the time from the state highway to the pass you are traveling through the Bar Double T (-TT) ranch.  This is dry country and no sign of irrigation equipment but still very pretty.


Lemma Pass is part of the Lewis and Clark Route, although not while I choose it as I just expected beautiful views and was not disappointed.  It is also an old stage route.   The foliage here isn't quite as yellow as it was yesterday except at higher elevations.

Most ranches around here have at least one old log building on them.  There are several here in Dillon as well.  Most are being used, but on the -TT they have fences around them, possibly to help preserve them.


The view from the top of the pass to the east!


Back down the valley we drove through.


And to the west from the top of the pass.


Just so you know I don't cheat and use someone else's photos here's Quinn at the pass! 

You can go on down the other side of the pass into Idaho but I choose not to.  25 miles of dirt road to the State highway.  Then I'd have to find my way back to Dillon, without a map of Idaho.  Just didn't seem like fun so we went back the way we came.


Saw  lots of cows, a few mule deer, lots of Pronghorn Antelope-Speed Goats, and one herd of Elk.  The elk were so far away I had to use my binoculars, and then it was iffy!

The whole time I was driving today I kept thinking of this song.  One we were taught in school, well we were taught PART of it.  They probably don't teach it anymore-kids are missing out!  So I'll leave you with "Home on the Range".


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Snow!

Gold valley, site of an early pioneer homestead.

After two days of sitting in Ceili listening to rain on the rubber roof I was more than happy to hear from my cousin!  Could we meet in Virginia City?
Absolutely!
It was still raining.
I wasn't going to be out driving on mountain roads.
We had a lovely lunch and a good catch up.
It had been 4 years since I'd last seen them plus I finally got to meet one of their sons and his wife!
He and his wife live on Lake Roosevelt in Washington State but their two sons and grandchildren are in Montana so they spend quite a bit of time over here.
In fact they are planning to move over in the next year or so.
Virginia City is an old mining town now basically a tourist thing, this being after the season most everything was closed.  Including the candy store, darn it!

Today dawned partly cloudy, well mostly sunny here in Dillion, so Quinn and I 
headed up to drive the Pioneer Scenic route and into the Grasshopper Valley.
We drove this last year south to north so this time I went north to south-you see different stuff in different directions.




There was so much lovely fall color!  That splash of yellow on the mountain is an aspen grove.
See the clouds on the mountain? 
Yep, it was misting where I was standing to take this photo and as we drove on through the national forest and got higher it rained a bit harder.
Then it SNOWED!
Not really hard and not sticking but definitely snow.
When we started down into the Grasshopper Valley the snow stopped.
I stopped for lunch in Polaris at the Grasshopper Inn -yummy.
While I ate the clouds lifted and then I could see this!




Some of you know that I Beta read for Suzie O'Connell whose books are actually set in this valley,
Even though it's called Northstar.
The Grasshopper and other sites in the area are featured and I loved seeing the real places!
(Also, really good novels!)


This is closer to the South end of Grasshopper Valley as is the next one.


All in all it was a lovely trip.
We got back fairly early so we were off to the park for a walk and then some errands.
Then I re-arranged the trailer---again!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Just a short drive


Actually, this one was taken in the campground!
Then Quinn and I took a right out of the campground.
Just to see where the road went.
Didn't drive too far until I was up at the top of a hill looking at 
this!


Then I turned around the other way and saw this!


I swear there's something beautiful in Montana at every turn!

Quinn is a five year old Shetland SHEEPDOG.
She had never before seen sheep.
Or goats.
She is intrigued by them even though they don't think much of her!
Everytime we go for a walk we have to go over to their pen,
sniff and watch while they walk away.
Poor Quinn!