Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Into the Smoke

Yesterday we pulled out of Helena and made the short drive to Butte.  So short it only took a quarter of a tank of gas-and Ceili causes the truck to suck gas through a straw!

It was more smoky in Helena yesterday morning than it had been all week and as we drove south it became even more smoky.  At first, it was just wisps along the canyons, then it became like fog or mist or like when we drove in the Colorado Rockies "In the clouds." Then came the sign-Active fire please do not report"- then the next sign "Active fires next 1 mile" (it was further than that!) and the smoke impacted visibility.  Never enough that I was worried about my safety but still it was there.  I didn't see any actual flames though they likely would have closed the highway for that!  I did notice what I thought was kind of unusual activity in the cows though.  Normally, cows in a herd would be scattered over the pasture, some loners, some small groups but these were all grouped close together and moving in the same direction.  I thought it odd-although someone who raises cattle might not think so.  I'd just never seen that before.

When we got to Butte it was so smokey I couldn't tell there were mountains around.  It did clear up as the day went by but we could see the smoke plume from the fire north of here.  (I tried to post a photo-a bad photo-of the plume but there's some issue in finding it!)  This morning most of the smoke was gone and so was the plume.  I hope that's good news.

This afternoon saw high winds, high enough that Ceili felt a bit like a cradle rocking back and forth. The weather map said it was raining but it must not have made it to the ground as it didn't rain here.  I hope that the wind didn't fan the flames.

My first day in a new town I just try to figure out the lay of the place-where are the main roads, the grocery store, Walmart, etc.  Usually, that means I see odd places as I wander about.  Today I did some more of that.

I find Butte to be a Sad place.  Built on copper mining-still big here-they have amazing old buildings in the historic district (I'll be headed down with my camera before I leave here) but things are run down and I haven't seen any new home construction.  Which says they are not doing so well economically.  They do have an amazing system of walking/biking trails all through town.  It passes right behind out campground so Quinn and I get out and walk on it-a lot.  I even got Annie off the bike rack and took a ride.  Felt so good, it's been too long.  That will, I hope be an everyday affair while I'm here.

There is not much here that I am interested in so tomorrow we'll be taking a trip to Anaconda and Philipsburg.  A Scenic route-hope the roads are all paved!  I also plan to fix a couple of things and to get out my sewing machine as well as continue the scanning of photographs onto the computer.  I'll keep busy while we're here.  Hopefully, I have some nice pictures for you tomorrow.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Sunday Drive

Missouri River at Ulm, MT facing east.
I love maps.
I love to ponder routes to take on maps.
I love finding out of the way places to drive on maps.
The trouble with maps is that the length of time it takes to drive a route
might be much more than you think!
I had planned a very ambitious drive for today.
Too ambitious probably.
It's a good thing I zigged when I should have zagged and cut the route by 2/3's!

Missouri River at Ulm facing west
At any rate, we headed north on I-15 towards Grand Rapids.
Got off the highway at Wolf Creek.
(Have you ever noticed how many places have the same name?)
Drove along the Missouri River for a good long ways.
Between Wolf Creek and Cascade you are nearly always right on the river.
All along are cabins and small resorts and fishermen.
Fishermen in waders, 
Fishermen in canoes,
In Kayaks, 
In Boats,
Everyone in a boat just letting the current take them along while they fish.
Occasionally using an oar to keep from getting grounded.
When you get to Cascade the land changes to the flat(ish) and you don't see the river as much.
You know it's there
There are river access signs everywhere!
At Ulm we headed back south, intending to drive the Smith River valley way to the south.

Smith River

Also the Smith river.
Sometimes I couldn't see the river but I could always see the fields being irrigated by it!
They were really green! 
Once away from the river you are in cattle country.
So, I knew we would be on gravel road at least part of the time and instead of staying on the "paved" road I went straight ahead on the gravel.
What can I say, the map has road names
the road does not have street signs.
We went up a very tall bluff and at the top was this.

So we drove on.
Taking a chance on another gravel road
only because it seemed to have the most traffic.
We went through beautiful, isolated ranches.
I don't know how many miles we drove, 
Not terribly far I don't think but we only saw two houses.

Big Belt Mountains-we would drive through them on the way back

Mountains to the north-you can sort of see Sleeping Giant even though it doesn't much look like one from here.
At the end of the gravel road,
we cam to 
Where we got back on I-15 southbound this time
and returned to Helena.
Gone about 4 hours.
See why I think it's good I zigged!

Tomorrow, is our day to tidy up, do laundry, etc 
so I doubt we leave the campground.
Quinn needs a bath
after which 
I will need a bath
as will the trailer!
Tuesday, we're off to Butte!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Gates of the Mountains

I took a boat ride today.
On the Missouri River.
Through the canyon of the Gates of the Mountains.
The Missouri runs downstream to the north here.
The ONLY way to see this is by boat.
You can camp in the wilderness area but you must either arrive (and leave) by boat
or by hiking 21 miles to the nearest road.

Limestone cliffs line the canyon 
Except for the river being 15 feet higher
it is very nearly the same as when Lewis and Clark traveled through.
It was Lewis who named the canyon.  
Traveling upstream it really does appear as if the way is blocked by cliffs, 
only to open up as you get closer.
Creating a "Gate."

The cliffs are riddled with the solution holes.
A few create arches.
They also create (aided by man's imagination) rock formations with names like
The Monster, 
The Elephant's trunk
The devil's slide and
The Rhinos horn

We came to the after effects of two major forest fires.
First the 2007 Merriwether fire.  
(See open area to right at top of ridge)
Started by a lightening strike in late July of 2007
The terrain is too rugged to put boots on the ground and it was fought by
helicopters with water buckets and airplanes with slurry drops.
It was fought until December of that year
When SNOW finally put it out.

The Second was the Mann Gulch Fire of 1949.
The deadliest fire in Forest service history.
13 smoke jumpers died, only 3 survived.
From this fire and this loss came modern methods of fighting forest
fires- in particular "out of the green and into the black."
Behind this sign is a box canyon.
In it are 13 granite monuments
One placed where each body was found.
I was quite moved.
Especially since a smoke jumper from Montana was killed fighting a fire in Idaho
since I've been in Montana.

Also along the canyon walls are prehistoric drawings.
Tribe unknown
No story told
Believed to the work of Shamans over many years.

I just kept snapping shots of rock formations.
(Mostly thinking how much my Son-in-law, Lucas, would love this boat ride!)

And then we are back where we began, at Lake Holter.
Where Loons were diving
and osprey were catching fish.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


Quinn and I do no get up early in the trailer. 
 I don't know why that is.
She always woke me by 6:30 in the house.
I often wake her at like 8!
Then it takes a bit to get around,
couple of hours at least.
Finally, we are out and about seeing, doing and learning things.
Today we started out at Marysville, MT
On the map it's a Ghost town but a few folks do live there.
There is a restaurant and some rehab work being done.
But there's a lot of falling down buildings as well.

An old mining town it began dying in the 1890's when a national depression killed the mine.

That's the Falling Rock Theater in the middle.
The Red brick building on the right is a Mason Hall.
Evidently, it's still being used as it had an electronic lock on the door.
After we left Marysville we took a road call Birdseye.
Quite lovely.  
Lots of cows.
It goes from the way north where we are to downtown Helena.
Since we came out near Mt Helena City Park
and since that park is a leash free zone-
also I knew very good photos might be taken up there-
I hunted up the parking.
Easier said than done.

The view from one of the trails.
There are paths all over the mountain,
Clear up to the top.
Quinn was clearly uneasy with the whole trail and no leash thing,
(and much happier when I put it back on) 
so we didn't hang out too long.

Somehow, and I really don't know why, we ended up here at the 
Capitol Building.
Very pretty.
I think the dome is copper,
It needs polished!

After that we headed to East Helena to visit the last quilt shop!
Found some more Stonehenge fabric!
Perhaps, I'll someday get that quilt started.
It's only taken 8 months to find fabric and I'm
not quite done!

As Quinn had been a really trooper with all our ramblings
and because we were close 
I took her to the real dog park.
She played for a bit
then we came back to Ceili for a nap!

PS.  I would put more pictures in but the internet here is so SLOW getting them to load is agony!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Our Campsite!
We arrived here in Helena after about 2 hours on the road.  Stopped in at the Montana Wheat bakery- one very yummy and HUGE cinnamon roll bought and eaten.  (Sugar overload!)  Also bought a 1/2 loaf of bread-perfect for me, perhaps it won't mold before I eat it!

The Campsite here at Lincoln Rd RV park is nice.  It is very quiet-a real plus after the last place, no trains!  We found the dog park for Quinn and she had some fun running with other dogs.  There is another place where she can go off leash and we will try that one later in the week.

Today I went out and about checking out Quilt Shops!  Bought a little at each one, nothing spectacular.  Then hit Target looking for a SMALL, in expensive coffee maker, so I don't keep buying Mochas.  Went out for lunch looking for a great burger, did not find it. Sigh.

When I got back Quinn and I went for a ride into the country.  Just to see what there was to see and to take pictures! Pretty country.

Things seen in the past two days but not photographed-the old no place to get off the road problem.

Train carrying the bodies of three new passenger jets.  No wings, tails etc just the main body.  All painted bright green. I actually saw them twice.  Wonder where they are headed and who they are for?

ONE farmer mowing wheat stalks (those left after harvest) maybe he was making straw bales.  They sell wheat straw for gardens etc.  I realized as I was driving up that I usually drive on week days and that many farmers work another job as well as farm, perhaps that's why I never see them.

Today, on our drive, group after group of 50 or more rail cars parked on a single track.  All empty.  No engines just these yellow cars that reminded me of coal cars except with lower sides.  The best I can come up with on the internet is that they are gondola cars.  I will probably never satisfy my curiosity on this one.

Also today, while lounging about reading I notice the tree I could see outside my door was changing from green to yellow.  Fall is coming much sooner that we see it at home!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Today's drive

The Crazy Mountains, from Willsall, Montana
When I woke this morning at 5am it was cold!  Even under THREE blankets I was chilly.  In the end, I got up and turned on the heat.  Feeling oh so sorry for the tent campers!  I think it was 40F.  It did warm up quite a bit and I had to turn on the Air conditioner.  That's Montana weather!

Today, we took a drive up the Shields Valley, north from I-90 almost to White Sulfur Springs.
The first several miles there are many houses and farms.
I say farms as they were(or had been) irrigating wheat or hay and lots of it. 

We drove through Clyde Park, what there was of it.  I'm not sure there were any side streets.
We drove through Willsall-all 8 blocks of it, one block on each side of the highway.
Thunder Jack-a tribute to the Mountain Man!
Wilson buildings in the distance.
Beyond Willsall it becomes cattle country.  All desolation, sage and little grass.  The houses very far apart.
We drove through Ringling, 2 blocks maybe three.
Then we drove through Helena National Forest (pretty drive) to Townsend which is good sized and not far from Helena.
From there back to Bozeman through more farm country, mostly wheat.

The funny thing about all these side trips through farm country, I never saw anyone actually working!
Tractors, balers and other farm equipment parked in fields but no one working, anywhere.  Strange.

I'm pretty much done with Bozeman.  It's a nice place, lots of parks and other amenities but it's just like Kansas City in some ways.  Population over 100,000 and Kohls, Target, Walmart, Five Guys, Applebees, you get the picture.  The downtown is nice and unique but all in all it's too big, too much like anywhere else for me.

We move on the Helena on Tuesday.  The State Capital, there should be plenty to do.  I've already found four quilt shops I HAVE to visit!

I don't think we'll be doing much except hanging out at the trailer for the next couple of days so I doubt I post anything.

Friday, August 19, 2016

No dog park today!

Big storms last night.
Thunder, lightening, hail and several inches of rain.
The morning came cloudy and sprinkly.
I realize that it's only August
and back in KC it's still HOT but I will very soon need
warmer clothes!
Those were buried in the back of the truck in totes.
So the day was spent
repacking the backend of the truck 
and shifting thing-again-in the trailer.
Quinn once again fell in love with under the table!
Now that nothing is under there.
Still a few more things to find homes for, as always.

Tomorrow we are off on another adventure!
See you then.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A trip in the country

Today, we went on a bit of an adventure!

First, we went to the dog park.

Then we headed into the country and the Missouri Headwaters State Park.
Just a bit north and east of the town of Three Forks.

Here is the Madison River (Left) and the Jefferson River (Center)
joining to become the Missouri River.  The Gallatin River joins the Missouri a bit further on.
This is not the actual beginnings of the river system but the place Lewis and Clark first called it the Missouri.  (You can read more about the rivers here.)
The Same Missouri River that flows past Kansas City.
The same Missouri River I cross when I go to Columbia.
After watching a beaver swim about in the water for a while-fun-we decided to take the adventure further afield and went to Madison Buffalo Jump State Park.
 This is the actual cliff they used to force the bison off -to their death.  It is quite high.
There is a path up to the top but we didn't go-Quinn and I are lazy, maybe.

This is the view of the Madison Valley from the Buffalo Jump.
 The cliffs in the distance are the Madison River.
I decided that rather than going back the way we had come we would go on-the map showed a junction with a highway that would take us back to Bozeman.
Even if that proved wrong, this was an amazing valley.  Lots of Hay!
Gravel road, pretty rough in places but I could tell the valley was getting narrower and narrower as we traveled south until we went around a curve and there was the river!

Back on pavement we headed east for Bozeman.
More hay. No livestock here so they must sell it.
-I finally Googled Hay production for the US.  In 2015 there were 140,000 thousand TONS of hay produced in this country!  Down from the early 2000's as we aren't sending as much abroad. Texas produces the most, followed by Missouri, Kansas comes in 3rd and Montana 7th.  A large round bale weughs between 500 and 3000 pounds depending on the hay, how tightly it's baled etc but usually they say 1000 lbs.  A ton in 2000 lbs so that's two bales to the ton-about 700,000,000 bales (if my math was right.)  No wonder I see so much hay!
So much for my endless need to know about things!

Back in Bozeman we, you guessed it, hit the dog park!
Then the trailer.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


We arrived in Bozeman after about an hours drive up from Emigrant.  
Like 11 AM
Check-in time at this campground wasn't until 1PM!
So we killed time in and around town while hauling Ceili behind us!
Not ideal.
We did find a nice park where we had a nice walk.
Then there's always Walmart.
I think there were 12-15 campers parked in their lot!
They allow overnight parking unless city ordinance prohibits.
Lots of people do it.
I haven't yet although perhaps I will someday.

All of these photos were taken from the campground.
I'm not a big fan of this one.
It stinks
and one walks out the door of their trailer to the sewer hookup for the next space.
Not ideal.

This one is taken to the north and while you can't see it here
there is a very active train track at the base of the mountain.
Train whistles every couple of hours ALL night-ugh.

This one to the east shows the way we came in.
After we got settled in we went hunting for the dog parks.
Found two.
The second one had 3 small ponds and
some water dogs playing.
Mostly Quinn thinks water dogs are strange.
Why on earth would they WANT to get wet!
She did get so excited playing that SHE ended up in the pond!

Today, I went about shopping in Bozeman.
Bought some new shoes, 
A pair of binoculars, 
and a few other things.
Hit the quilt shop-nothing came home!
Went by Central Asia Institute's offices and delivered my 
monthly contribution.
That was nice.

After it cooled off some I took Quinn back to the dog park,
she stayed out of the water this time!
Soon she will be pestering me to bring the bed down!

The fires from Yellowstone have made all the mountains hazy today.
I can see them, vaguely, but photos would be a waste of time.
Tomorrow, we are going to the Headwaters of the Missouri River!
And the dog park.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Yellowstone River

The campground I'm staying in (Yellowstone's Edge RV Park) 
is right on the Yellowstone River!
Here the river looks calm and placid,
Not like it did yesterday roaring through the canyon.

There are many floaters on the river.
Over the weekend there was nearly always one on this stretch.
Today not so many.
The one we saw had a dog on it.
Quinn watched that dog and the dog watched Quinn
Until they went round the bend and out of sight.

The Yellowstone River is the last and largest free flowing undammed river
 in the Continental United States.
Just inside South Dakota it joins the Missouri River.

Today has been the chore day.
Clean up
Get ready to move on
Tomorrow we move to Bozeman, Mt.  a short drive thank goodness.

One of my goals for this trip has been to reconnect with cooking.
Today I made a London Broil in the crockpot.
I rarely see a London Broil back in Missouri but we had them in California, 
so when I saw this one at the grocers I snatched it up.
Used a new recipe found here.

So Good!
Tender and just amazing!
Quinn loved it too! She even ate green beans and carrots!
Really, I highly recommend it.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Yellowstone-Part Two

Leaving Canyon Village you go UP! And over Dunraven Pass (8859ft according to the map.)
This series of four photos where taken nearly at the top.  The Absaroka Mountain Range in the far distance.

Once over the top there are several miles above the tree line full on steep grades (the sign says "All vehicles use lower gear!), twisty curves (25mph!).  You could see for ever but all the pull off places were full of cars.  The next two are of the Yellowstone River just below Tower Falls.  You could actually hear it even though I was a long way up!

Such a neat layer of rock formations visible here.

Also visible here, smoke from a fire- not in Yellowstone somewhere to the east.  I tried to use the forest service fire map but it seems to be out of date-  The Bitterroot fires aren't on it!
 Finally, I arrived back at Mammoth Hot Springs where I actually saw some wildlife!  There were several elk cows laying about on the lawn of the hotel!

I left the park, drove the 32 miles back to the trailer, took Quinn for a walk and it was nap time!

For more information on Yellowstone look here!