Monday, August 14, 2006

August 9 2006 Heading South/Helena MT

Whitefish was our farthest point north this year so now it is time to head slowly south with the birds. Got a late start in the morning so only went about 100 miles. Stopped at a café for our dinner then pulled off at a turnout on Salmon Lake on Rt 83 about 7 miles north of Rt 200. Had it all to ourselves. We left the slides in and it is doable. Sat out all evening looking for wildlife. Bob got out the spotting scope and we saw a deer, eagle, great blue herron, ducks, warblers and thought we heard a bear real close over the embankment. When we got here we noticed a lot of trash thrown over it so we gathered 1 ½ bags of trash, wondered if there really was a bear there how close we came to it.

Left early and went for breakfast on our way to Helena. Set up at the Elk’s Lodge and then went on the Gates of the Mountain boat ride. We saw several bald eagles and their fledglings. On the way home we decided to do a scenic backway and it took us to Refrigerator Canyon. It is a canyon with very close and high limestone walls. It is 10 degrees cooler there than a quarter mile away. We also saw mountain goats and a deer with 2 fawns on the drive. We saw a pretty campground along the way and checked it out . There we spotted a familiar looking rig and sure enough it was Lloyd Treichel, who we met at Quartzsite with the Solos group. He has an interesting web site .

We bought a bag to cover our bikes on the back of the trailer and when checking the lights prior to hitting the road, I noticed that the taillights couldn’t be seen so Bob wired on new ones. In the evening we went to the Lodge for a lasagna dinner and a dance to country music. Met some nice folks as usual.

We went to downtown Helena and took the “train” tour of the capitol area and historic area. As we went thru “Last Chance Gulch” we spotted a sidewalk café so went to it for our big meal of the day. Went to a used book store to get a copy of the Lewis and Clark Journal written by Ambrose, a local Helena author. Then to the Moose Lodge north of town.

Spent the morning organizing the stuff we carry in the truck. We now have a system of containers for hiking, swimming, camping, snack/lunches and our other items that cluttered up the back seat. Now, if we should invite someone to come with us, we just have to move a few containers out of the back seat and we have room for them. We spent the afternoon at the Moose picnic. As usual met some nice folks. Bob and I won the washer game. They call it Mexican horseshoes. We had a great afternoon with them. In MT any establishment can get a gaming license, have 4 machines and be called a casino. I played video poker on a dollar and won a wopping $1.25.

In the morning Bob got a new dashboard installed, we hitched up and headed toward Three Forks where we took a side trip to see the Lewis and Clark Caverns. It was a pretty setting and beautiful caverns. We had to hike ¾ of a mile up a steep hill in very hot temperatures to get to the entrance. Inside it was 50 degrees which was nice. Then back out to even hotter temperatures for another ½ mile hike back to the truck. We then headed back to the interstate and stopped at Montana Wheat, a deli/bakery. All around are huge wheat fields in this part of Montana. We continued on to Big Timber to visit Dottie, a gal we met at the singles gathering in ID. We are staying in her driveway. She had supper ready for us and we had a lovely visit in the cool evening.

Dottie drove us along the Boulder River past her old ranch and her daughter’s ranch. The road is about 40 miles long and ends in a box canyon. Along the way is a falls were we stopped. When the water is flowing at peak it is a double falls, one on top of the other. Since it is late summer and the water was down there is only one. The river flows underground and then out the lower falls. Pretty place. Many movies have been made in this valley. Horse Whisperer was even filmed on part of her daughter’s ranch. A River Runs Through was another. Many rich people have bought the land. Levi Strauss had a big ranch and Michael Keaton has a big ranch now.

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