Thursday, July 13, 2006

JULY 6 06 Travelog Bitterroot Valley

Wednesday we left Dillon after getting propane and a free dump. Stopped at the Big Hole Battlefield. It was raining again so we didn’t do any of the walking but did watch the film about the battle. We sure were a nasty, greedy people then,  killing off over 80 Indians, women and children while they were asleep. We drove to the campground we had chosen to stay at and filled with water. While doing that we were being attacked by mosquitoes, Talked with a man there who said there were also rattlesnakes so we decided to move on. Parked at the closed library in Darby and walked to the post office and got our mail. Back at the rig a man from the library invited us to park there overnight and showed us the library. Almost a million dollar library for a town of 500. They were an experiment for the use of smaller diameter lodge pole pine that was funded by the government. This area is a HUGE log house building area. Every mile there seems to be a business manufacturing them. We went to lunch/dinner at 3 killing time for a phone call from Bob’s friend. Just as we were about to relocate, we got the call and he was at Stevensville an hour north of us. The custodian at the library told us about a national forest campground just outside of there so we headed for it and found a lovely spot on a open meadow.

Thursday we followed the Lewis and Clark trail and caught up with them (the Corps of ReDiscovery) at Hogan’s Cabin where we witnessed them coming in on horse back. We visited with some of the re-enactors one of whom was at Ft. Osage where I saw them 2 years ago. The 4H club had a delicious sloppy Joe lunch then we traveled down a white knuckle forest service road thru Gibbon Pass (where L&C traveled 200 years ago). The sign said no turnouts for 7 miles. We prayed we would not meet anyone coming the other way because we were going downhill and protocol requires the downhill vehicle backup until there was a spot wide enough for 2 vehicles to pass. After leaving that road Bob wanted to do Lost Horse Rd. Another forest road 19 miles in to Twin Lakes. Took over an hour to do. We thought about pitching our tent and roughing it for one night on a beautiful lake, however, we arrived to an approaching thunderstorm. Back in the city of Hamilton we looked up the Elk’s lodge and had our usual 2 drinks. One we paid for, one they gave us. Nice visit with the people there. And another nice warm, dry night in our fifth wheel, complete with a roaring campfire.

Friday we went thru Missoula stopping at Wal-Mart briefly before going onto the National Bison Range. We went on the twenty mile loop. Disappointed the bison were far off, saw a few antelope and one deer. The wild flowers more than made up for the lack of animals. Interestingly, there was an overlook of the whole valley with display boards showing that once the valley had been a huge lake. The ice dam near present day Sandpoint ID broke and sent a huge wave of water crashing thru the valleys and created the present day Columbia River Gorge. This was of course during one of the ice ages. Upon leaving there we went across a forest road between Ailee and Salmon Lake. It was 37 miles across and thru an Indian reservation. Beautiful country with many lakes and rivers. Back at Missoula we stopped at the Elk’s lodge. Behind and above the bar was a reversed etch mirror depicting the history of MT from the signing of the Louisiana purchase, Lewis & Clark with Saquawea, trappers, settlers etc. It was made in 1940 and has been appraised for $90,000 a number of years ago. We thought it beautiful and priceless.

Saturday we spent the day with Bob’s friends from Ohio, John and Cynthia, meeting them in Hamilton for lunch. We then toured the Daly Mansion. A 25 bedroom, 15 bath summer home for Marcus Daly’s family. He was a copper magnet. We visited for a while there after the tour, then went to the Bluegrass Festival for a couple of hours before going to dinner.

Sunday we went into town and checked our email parked outside the library then drove up Willow Creek Road toward a lookout over the Bitterroot Valley. We got within 6 miles but turned around when the road got real bad. We were high enough up to see a great view. Back at Hamilton we went to the K-Mart and  I bought a new 18 speed bike on sale. We had been invited to a cookout at Cynthia’s brother‘s. Randy and Barb are both with the Forest Service and they live in a beautiful log house. We had moose cheeseburger’s and bratwurst. Randy is an archeologist and had many tales to tell about the area and research. We had a lovely afternoon and back at home another great campfire with wood we found along our drive in the morning. We want to thank them for a wonderful day and their picture is the one with the dead looking dog.:)

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