Wednesday, August 31, 2011

West Yellowstone, Montana and Island Park, Idaho

For ten days we'll be at Island Park, Idaho, just two states away from Yellowstone National Park--Montana and Wyoming.  Wayne visited the park many years ago; I've never been.  The weather is quite warm in the daytime but the temperature drops quickly with the sun. 

Driving here from Missoula, we stopped overnight at Ennis, Montana then arrived at Red Rock RV Park in Island Park early the next afternoon. 

Our first campsite at Red Rock was cramped and in a very dusty part of the park and we planned to leave after the third night, but instead, we relocated to a larger, grassier space within the campground.  

We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our friends from Yuma, Marcella and Landon and their beagle, BJ.

Red Rock RV Park  is five miles off Highway 20. It's quiet and dark here at night. All around us is grazing land for fat, happy cattle and good looking horses. The few homes in this area are made of logs.  Moose, bear and wolves have been seen in the area, I'm told.  One section of Red Rock Road travels through pastureland that is completely unfenced. Cows wander across the road at will!
The wood fence surrounds the campground and separates it from the vast grassland.
Henry's Lake is 1/2 mile across the field.
The dirt road seen here takes the traveler to Henry's Lake,just over the rise.

Our first full day was spent exploring the town of West Yellowstone, Montana; we didn't go into the national park at all.
Downtown West Yellowstone

Here at the Grizzly Discovery Center I ran into this woman with her Maltese.

I don't even remember her name but her Malatese is just 8 months old and already 6 pounds!

Wildflowers growing in a parking lot.

More wildflowers

In West Yellowstone, we "whiled away" the afternoon eating blizzards at Dairy Queen and browsing for campgrounds and historical buildings.  We took an hour or so to tour the old Union Pacific Railroad Station. This town was created as a direct result of the Union Pacific Railroad. 

A fascinating fact to me is that in 1905 the U.S. Forest Service "borrowed" the shape of the Union Pacific Railroad shield for it's own logo.  Funny, I never noticed that until I read it here today.
West Yellowstone-Oregon Shortline Terminus
The construction and dedication of this pylon in 1910 marked the completion of the railroad terminus and the beginning of  development by Union Pacific Railroad for tourist accommodation for park access.

These water wagons rolled along the streets, dripping water to keep the dust down.
Sounds like a good idea for some campgrounds I've seen.

The train loading side of the depot.

We're parked on the side of the depot.
That's Wayne with the bird legs.

In early afternoon, we stopped for McDonalds and I couldn't resist this photo of Lexie watching Pop eat french fries.  She never eats people food, but she sure enjoyed watching today.

In the parking lot at McDonalds, I saw the biggest, ugliest black bird in the world.
He was the size of a chicken! Horrors.

Friday, August 26, 2011

How To Save The United States Postal Service

A good deal of our travel is along state and federal highways. We prefer it over the interstate system. We like the towns and the people in them. One of our favorite pastimes is to take note of the population numbers in some of the small towns through which we drive. 

We've begun to notice something that disturbs me:  Without fail, all these little towns have a post office.  More times than not the Post Office is the finest building in the town.  Does every little town, particularly those with fewer than 100 people really need to have a post office?  Every post office building costs some about of money to operate.  The expense of electricity, water, sewer, insurance, personnel, maintenance, equipment and so forth for each of these tiny buildings could certainly be used somewhere else in the postal system deficit.

I'm just saying..... it's worth considering. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Missoula Smokejumping School

Our friends Tom and DJ joined us at Missoula for a few days' visit before driving to Kalispell. We've not seen them since mid-June in Eugene, Oregon so there was lots for us to catch up on. 

We met Tom and DJ at Shady Oaks Campground in Orland, Maine last August and we've enjoyed visits along the way since then.
Wayne holding Lexie, Tom and DJ
With the great frequency of wildfires in this part of the country, (one in Yellowstone today as a matter of fact) Missoula has a Smokejumping base and we were fortunate to be able to tour the facility. While our tour guide left plenty to be desired, as she wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, we learned a lot about Smokejumping and the people who do it. 

Here's some of what we saw:
Smokejumpers parachute into a wildfire with all this apparatus and gear.

Personnel Lockers.
There are currently 85 smokejumpers who work out of the Missoula Base.
Their ages range from 20 to 50 years.

The parachute hanging room.
All chutes are numbered and hang onto the corresponding numbered hook for inspection.

The job of the smokejumper is to suppress wildfires in the mountainous terrain of the western United States.
This smokejumper is folding a parachute.  Better that he not be distracted.

From Alaska to New Mexico and from California to Wyoming, smokejumpers fight fires.
These are packaged cargo chutes.

Utilizing a fleet of fixed wing aircraft, including a Turbine DC-3, Twin Otter, and a Shorts Sherpa,
 firefighters can reach all parts of the country.

The museum part of the Smokejumping Base at Missoula included a replica fire tower which I found to be especially interesting. I guess it's the homemaker in me!

This mounted circular map is a 1934 Osborne Firefinder.
Readings from two lookouts determine the exact location of the fire.
Today an infrared scanner automatically detects fire locations.
Leaving the base, I took note of the sign along the roadside and thought a little more about the chance of a wildfire.
Today's Fire Danger is at "Very High"
And "Remember.... Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires" 
 ... Smokey... da bear.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Meeting Miss Oula

After the weekend at West Glacier Ray and Cindy returned to Missoula for repairs to their motorhome. Cindy and Dan have moved westward from West Glacier.  We stayed a few days at a quaint, tiny campground at Ronan to catch our breath. We drove to Missoula today through the Flathead Indian Reservation.
Indian language

Best cherries I've ever tasted. Roadside stands are everywhere.

More Indian language

Typical Montana view

We reached Missoula and enjoyed a full day with Ray and Cindy before they move on for a friend's golf tournament birthday gathering.
We visited Big Sky Brewery for free samples!  
Yes, this is where they make Moose Drool

No, I don't drink beer and I especially wouldn't drink anythinbg named "moose drool"....

A tumbleweed has attacked Ray's car!

Wayne and Lexie are relaxing at the campground this afternoon.

I continue to sell things on Craigslist. Today I sold our heavy reclining chairs to these two girls.
They bought them to recline while watching their chickens scratch.  Yes, that's what I said.

Ole Blue Beard

On his 65th birthday, Wayne celebrated by not shaving. The celebration continues and the beard is growing.  It's gray and I like it. Here are some of the "starter" photographs...
Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 8
Wearing Cindy's readers. How cute.

I don't know why I always think of taking the picture when he's driving.  Boredom, I guess.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

If I Had A Dollar...

If I only had a dollar for every rental RV I've seen lately, especially since we've been in Canada, I would be wealthy!  They are everywhere. Every size, every brand, long ones and short. Somebody is making some money here, folks!   One thing they all have in common: they all have KIDS in them.  Lots of kids.

I can't help it. I always think of Robin Williams and that movie...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

West Glacier With Friends

Montana's Glacier National Park and Alberta's Waterton Lakes National Park meet at the border between the US and Canada. The parks were joined to designated the world's first International Peace Park to commemorate the bond of peace and friendship between the two countries.

Well of course, we'll just need to take a look at Glacier.

We met our friends, Ray and Cindy at the town of West Glacier with a plan to visit Glacier National Park the next day.
Ray and Cindy in front of their coach.
Unfortunately, their dog, Angel, isn't in the picture.

Another great thing about full-time RVing is getting to meet so many people along the way.  This weekend we met Dan and Sheila who had met Ray and Cindy just the month before and traveled with them to Glacier from Michigan.  It was easy to see how they teamed up -- terrific people in love with travel. 

Dan and Sheila.
They have a Monaco too.  Theirs is a Windsor.
Both are good sports and lots of  fun.

Going-To-The-Sun Road is the main road in Glacier National Park and it runs across the center of the park.  This morning's excursion would take us around Glacier on the southern loop and back along Going-To-The-Sun Road in order to save the best scenery for the last half of the trip.

Scenery along the way.
Farmland, hayfield, mountains and forest.
Gateway into Glacier National Park from the eastern side.
These old limousines carry tourists around the park.
They have been refurbished by Ford Motor Company and run on propane.
At the very first stop, Ray had a BUG attack.
Ray is a little stressed over that bug.
The terrain is changing all the time...

Still pretty close to the Canadian border.

We've been seeing signs warning of "Range Cattle" ----
I suppose that would be these cows, roaming around the roadside.
Still more signs of wildfires.

...along the road
This is a group of crazy tourists.
Now who goes first and who will take our picture?
Ray and Cindy being photographed by Sheila
Shelia and Dan being photographed by Cindy

All three couples take turns in front of the park sign.
So touristy. Our turn.  They say I must remove my hat. But I have "hat head".
St. Mary Lake
We stopped to check St. Mary Lake and I'm sure we took 100 pictures between us. Here are some of mine...
Wayne doing an Indian war dance -- just to get attention.
Wayne threatens to dive into the frigid water.
So Wayne didn't jump after all.
He gave us all a lecture instead.
Ray pretends to listen.
I think Dan is dialing 911 for medical advice.
Cindy wants attention too so she threatens to jump... says Ray doesn't pay enough attention to her.

Ray promises to buy her some nice gold jewelry if she will get off the edge of the cliff.
Notice her big smile. The plan worked.
Wayne is happy; he's been effective in helping Cindy get new jewelry.
Forgot the name of this really pretty spot.  "something" island.

Waterfalls never look as good in the pictures as they should.
This one was really pretty but not so much in the photo.

Three unwise men.
Telling lies... again.

Continental Divide again. This time at Logan Pass.
This is another of those big white mountain goats that have suction cup type hooves.
They are related to the Asian Antelope, I read. This fellow didn't seem to notice the cars passing.

See the red limousine and the itsy bitsy cars?

never stop talking... no matter what...never stop talking

There's a great deal of roadwork being done in the park and there were several places where only one car could pass at at time. 
Excuse me

Cindy with her arm (and camera) out the window.

Our last stop was at this beautiful watering hole.
Some people were swimming in it.  Idiots.  
That water is COLD.

We were back at the campground by early afternoon and Wayne had time to clean some of the zillions of bugs off Mona's windshield.

Ray, Cindy, Dan and Sheila have scheduled themselves for a rafting trip tomorrow afternoon. We decided against going as we're planning to move along tomorrow morning.