Tuesday Aug 11
Monday we took us a little
drive again. You'd think we could stay put. But off we went.
The trek this day was Garnet
It's also an official Garnet
Back Country Byway. Do click the links to read much more
about this well preserved ghost town.
We drove up the route on
the north side off HW 200 paved for about 5 miles then gravel and then
one lane for 1/2 mile to the site. You have to hike down to it. Sign sez
5 min walk. $3 admission but free with Senior pass for both of us. That
pass is coming in very handy me thinks. As we wanted to explore a possible
next landing site at Rock Creek east of Clinton off I-90 we took the south
exit from Garnet. If any of you have been here you know what I am about
to declare. WOW as they have the guts to call it a road. From Garnet to
Beartown (two routes to choose from) either one I would say are not fit
for anything except 4X4s. Our dually (which is a wide track as our
tire footprint is more like a big straight truck if you will, still made
it fine over the high mountain switch backs in just narrow tire track like
ruts as we continued wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. We kept
repeating, "And they said this was the good road". Now if a high
road through hell is your piece of cake this is the route for you. We met
people pulling a trailer starting up the south route. They asked about
the road conditions and we explained to them they needed to drop their
trailer right there as they would be lucky to make it just in their pick
up. No kidding. And we took the longer of the tow routes by about 2 miles
that the ranger said was the best route. MY god I would have hated to see
the other road.
The little sign sez I-90
that away. Like this is an on ramp or somthing...
We came across and down
from over the top on these switch backs.
You can sorta see the route
going back and forth across the picture.
We had to get to the road
in the bottom of the picture. There is a lot of haze in the sky like smoke
(which there are some to
the west) but we don't smell anything so not sure.
Now back on out and on our
way west on I-90 to Rock Creek. On the map at route 102 in the center.
We went south and explored looking for the perfect campsite on the creek.
We had been back in here many years ago in a pop-up. The road goes to hell
in short order and one lane if that, and full of pot holes. No place
to pull a trailer later into, so back out we came. Our search will have
to exclude this recreation area with our large house.
It was a fun drive to remember
how we had been here so many years ago.
Had a up close and personal
experience with a bear we talk about to this day.
Rock Creek views.
We are staying till at lest
mid week right where we are. (See the red dot and arrow in the above map).
What could be better than
right here as in this picture taken be me sitting at the computer.
do I start... for the second time now my computer has locked up after mid
posting this. All now after it crashed when we had low power this AM even
with my uninterruptable power supply on line. So who knows what's going
on. Anyway I was right in the middle of talking about our Friday
outing going to Trixi's Antler Saloon. (see the newspaper article
below about the legend). Well we got there to a parking lot pretty
full and on inside we go. It was 7 PM. Asked about getting dinner in the
already busy bar area and and was instructed to find a two person talble
in the back dinning room. We found it and noticed right away it was tipsy
by about an inch of play. I found an old butter tab to shove under the
leg. The plastic didn't hold and it got tipsy again. Ice was like jumping
out of our glasses every time we leanded on the table. The kid comes out
of the kitchen and asks for our order. Friday night special Prime Rib I
say as I see it on the menu in bold print as that was what we had come
for after all, and he proceeds to informe me in no uncertian terms you
have to reserve the Prime Rib ahead of time. OH I sez, in that case what
else would you recommend. We settled on New York Strips about $20
each. At one point Terry had to jump up and rescue the table with the buffet
salad plates on it (we were right next to it) from falling over as it's
caster leg fell off. He showed them where the caster leg had rolled off
down the hall under a bench, and continued holding the table up so they
could put it back on. Not even a thank you for saving the day.
Me thinks at this point the help was under paid and over stressed.
Now back to the steaks. I ordered medium, and Terry medium rare, they came
mostly raw and I know that with a good steak rare is better so in I dig.
Let me tell you they sucked, all raw fat and one end was grizzley white
bone (where you couldn't even chew it, and covered in canned mushrooms.
Not cooked as ordered and little taste. He came back and asked how everything
was and I (which I never do), told him just what I thought of this steaks.
of saying how sorry he was he got defensive, as how great it had
to be. All that fat is for flavor, he sez... By now I had a salad plate
full of fatty, grizzly flavor as he called it. Still trying to find a real
steak hidden under the mushrooms. I had to finally way him off with
my hand, (you know the hand jester movement, go away kid you bother me)
to get him to leave the table. Ya, know he came back later and wanted to
know if we wanted to have desert. As I was paying up at the bar others
were also grumping about things. Not cheep and not good, is all I can say.
We don't eat out much, but when we do we expect to pay, and tip well for
good service, and good food. We were took, this time, me thinks.
were busy, most must be having their famous burgers or just drinking. They
love to do that out here in Montana where every gas station has a attached
casino and bar. And later Terry sez he saw on their menu Saturday night
special was RIBS. Wonder how many months ahead you have to special order
them. Hope we found them in an off night, but Me Thinks Not. Eat at Trixi's
at your our risk...
we went for a day trip to Missoula to get propane, food, fishing supplies,
and looking for a recliner (for outdoors). After much discussion and a
little yelling while getting lost even using (Fred) our netbook with Streets
and Trips we accomplished what we set out to do. (First time we actually
set it up to talk to us along a route). We had a hard time finding propane
and even tried using Goggle 411 and finally saw a sign for the this huge
RV dealer (Bretz RV exit
101 on I-90) (they have 26 service bays) that said they were selling sold
propane on special for 99 cents a gal till the end of Sept. So we pull
in and low and behold I saw someone coming out with a recliner. (I couldn't
find one at REI, they don't stock them in store, you see). So this
worked out well and it was 1/2 price on sale. They had a huge stocked parts
and accessory dept. So the day did work out well in the end.
the way wack to camp we drove some back roads again that lead to fishing
access and campgrounds along the Blackfoot river.
did pick up a little firewood to boot along the way.
on the river trying his luck.
went for a day trip up to Steely Lake, MT (see map below) to get our rear
dually tire repaired. It turned out to be a tire stem gone bad. Easy
fix and no patch needed. $15 and we were out of there. Clearwater Towing
and Repair did the work and were friendly and took good care of us. Me
thinks the only place in town that does tire repair. After that we
did a drive around the lake and of course stopped at the smalll grocery
store for a few things. Orange juice and a boneless pork loin for $1.99
a lbs. Might have a screw driver later...
This whole area is pristine
and looks just like you would dream it should. None of that letdown when
you get to a place and see it in real life. This area is crisp and
clean and just like you find in the travel brochures. Sights like these
went on and on. Very cool.
No land road to this place.
Must have been built in winter when you could drive trucks to the island
over the ice.
Terry just made more flies
(elk hair caddis) and is off to do his fly fishy thing. No one has been
catching anything here, unlike his great results south of Great Falls earlier
on Felt creek. This will change... Me thinks...
We are planning on going
to Trixi's Bar just east back down the road (see below map) to Ovando,
MT for supper on Friday after seeing this article in the Great
Falls Tribune Sunday paper. a few days ago. We saw a sign about
a Prime Rib Special on Friday night when we drove by exploring the
area a couple of days ago and then going by to get where we have landed
now for a week.
Ovando diner local gathering spot
Reprinted here... so still
can read when the above newspaper link changes or dies later on.
By MARTIN J. KIDSTON Independent Record • August 2, 2009
OVANDO — The pastor's hamburger
spills over with ketchup and mustard, the pickles, onions and tomatoes
sticking out the side.
a prayer and a round of thanks, Don Oberg opens wide, ready for the bite
he came for.
"I come in once a week for
my double cheeseburger with everything on it but the kitchen sink," Oberg
says, posing with his giant sandwich inside Historic Trixi's Antler Saloon
and Family Dining. "I'm the new bouncer at the local church. It's open.
Stop in whenever you want."
Oberg sits for lunch with
local residents Steve and Zane Pocha inside the fabled roadside restaurant.
It is burgers all around, even though the clock says it is still the hour
The three locals are no
strangers to the historic restaurant, which is owned and operated by Ray
and Cindy Francis. The couple bought the place 12 years ago from Leo and
Verla Bush, who bought it from Trixi McCormick herself 19 years earlier.
In its years as a local
watering hole, the bright red restaurant has seen its ups and downs. It
has survived slow winters and fire-filled summers, drawing gleeful tourists
off the highway as they shuffle between Glacier and Yellowstone parks.
"Just in the last week or
two the rivers have cleared up," Ray Francis said, stepping out from the
kitchen where prime-rib Friday's come to life. "We're really getting a
lot of fisherman and floaters. This is the scenic highway going up or down,
so we get a lot of tourists."
Out the front door and across
the highway, the Bob Marshall Wilderness cuts a jagged line across the
horizon. Out the back door, the Blackfoot River slips west through its
Traffic down Highway 200
is heavy, complete with motor homes, trailers and boats. Winters may be
slow but when the snow melts and the water clears, it is all Francis can
do to keep up with business.
"It's a lot of work to survive
the winter," Ray Francis said. "We lose money for 6 to 8 months of the
year. But the summers make up for it. You've got to be ready for that."
It will stay this way into
hunting season, so long as the fire season passes quietly by. In 2007,
with the Jocko Lakes fire burning due west, the tourists sought different
routes between Glacier and Yellowstone parks, effectively killing business.
But 2008 was quiet in the
way of fires and the traffic returned. This year is looking good, though
Francis knows how quickly that can change.
No matter — worrying is
a waste of time, so Ray goes about his business. There are events to plan
and shopping to do.
"This is sort of the meeting
place of the Blackfoot Valley," Ray says, wiping down the bar. "The Blackfoot
Challenge, along with Fish, Wildlife and Parks, they meet here before going
out on their field trips."
The red building is hard
to miss, as is the cargo truck parked along the highway advertising fine
family dining. Like the pastor — who talks about the inscription carved
into a log on his church that reads "Oh Lord, come quickly" — Francis delights
in sharing Ovando's past.
The restaurant, he begins,
once served as an Army barracks for soldiers out of Fort Harrison in Helena.
Back then, Trixi ran her establishment down the hill in Ovando. But when
the state built Highway 200 around 1968 and the Army vacated the property,
Trixi saw her chance to expand.
The connection to Trixi,
a famous vaudeville performer and rodeo queen, explains the memorial covering
one of the walls behind the antlers and above the pool table.
A cowgirl through and through,
Trixi performed with her horse, Silver Dollar, and her trained dog, Cutie,
at rodeos, nightclubs and theaters. She appeared in two movies and toured
with Slim Pickens and Bob Hope during World War II.
Legend says she could spin
two ropes, tap dance and play the harmonica all at once. She was remembered
after her death "as much for her skills with a campfire skillet of potatoes
with onions and bacon as for her amazing talents with an 80-foot lariat
on the back of a galloping palomino Arabian horse."
"I believe she grew up in
the Bitterroot, but was originally from the Drummond area, or Deer Lodge,"
Francis said, pointing to the rodeo posters nearby. "My wife's dad had
the place for 19 years. We bought it from him when he retired, and he bought
it from Trixi."
Trixi's memories linger,
and new memories are made. After serving a plate of burgers to the pastor
and his friends, Brooke Davis reflected on her short tenure at the diner
while preparing for a night of music and dancing.
Her husband, who works for
the historic Gary Brothers Ranch in nearby Helmville, helped Davis land
the job, which has her doing just about everything to keep the place going.
"I like it — you get to
meet a lot of people," Davis said. "We get a lot of pass-through traffic
on the highway here, so it can get busy pretty fast."
WOW have we ever landed this
Right on the bank of the
Blackfoot River at Russell Gates Campground. $8 a day when you also have
a fishing lic. otherwise $12. Dump station is just 3-4 miles down the road
from the intersection of HW 200 and HW 83 at a MT State HW rest area. Nice
We are 4 miles east of Clearwater.
Remember you can always click on the DataStormUsers
map ID 98 link at the top of each page to see where we are
at, and then click the Google Earth link on that page to zoom in
on us. Cool.
Terry busy making more flies
as as he sez his selection doesn't have that many big ones in it anymore.
I'll make him chime in when he gets back from fishing later on what he
is using and all that stuff for you "want to know type people".
He sez... he tied elk hair
caddis and stimulators. Size 12 and 14. Now if that makes sense to
you go for it. But no fish today for Terry, but he sez still happy just
to be here. Try again tomorrow...
The view of fisherman floating
by, as viewed from inside, at our 5er dinner table.
It doesn't get much better
While watching Terry backing
teh 5er into the spot I noticed our right side outside dually rear tire
was flat. WOW that could have been a disaster if the other one hadn't
held the entire 5er load. The guess is how long it had been flat.
We can drive it with only on tire up on that side, so no problem now that
the 5er is parked. Me Thinks.
Tuesday Aug 4
wanted to stay another night here in the Lewis and Clark NF (see below)
as he thought he might catch some trout. So we stayed Monday. He
came back with big smiles and the hand jestures as to how big they were.
A smile on his face is a big deal esp. when he is catching native trout.
He had thought this Belt Creek wasn't deep enough and would freeze and
have fish kill in the winter. Wrong..
Norcold and got the tracking number and found out our fridge part had been
delivered to the RV dealer in Great Falls on Monday.
on Tuesday off we went.
Crawling out of the forest
gorge heading north to Great Falls.
The morning views were (it
was about 8 - 9 AM) and we were awake to see them.
Travel Time RV in Great Falls
had our fridge part (that was shipped to them) but the first thing stated
by the parts dept. person was we don't know when we can install it. We
are booked up in service for many days. I said that's not an option for
us to stay and wait, give it to me and I will install it, as it only takes
two screws to install. That went well as they wrote up a service order
as if they installed it and I took the part and off we went. A big and
seemingly busy place. Business must be good for them. They had a dedicated
person to just write up service orders. Anyway we got diesel in town and
the station gave us detailed map directions to Wal*Mart and how to get
out of town and back on HW 200. Blackfoot River here we come.
Some of the great views
driving Montana roads.
We have landed in Lincoln,
MT at the city RV park. $17 for W/E. It is hot outside (85 - 90) and we
want to explore the adventures ahead on where to camp and be able to fish
the Blackfoot River. We found the only site for satellite Internet. (Now
back after our drive the internet works but DirecTV LNB on the same dish
isnot getting a sig due to the trees. Internet but no TV. So we are watching
DVR recorded programs.. Would you believe we have five Fly Fisherman TV
show recorded. Guess we wont need live TV tonight.
didn't find that perfect next campsite up the road but a few that
would do in a pinch.
later on that, as where we decide to go next. We are open to the adventure,
so if some of our thoughts on what we thought we would find has changed
a bit so be it, we will adjust and go from there. It's a big sate and a
bigger northwest. AND we are not on vacation so we can take our time to
find the perfect campsite and fishing hole. ME Thinks.
have landed in the Aspen FS campground just north of Neihart, MT.
Not many FS campgrounds in this forest and this is the only one we thought
we could fit into. Let alone get satellite service out of through
the trees. This one works for use, Pleasant enough and will hold us for
the weekend as our next stop is Great Falls for a fridge part being sent
by Norcold to the local service center there. . (Not to worry the part
is cosmetic in nature and does not effect cooling.
Some pictures of some old
mines in the area.
We could see this one off
in the distance and headed for it. Had to take a long distance shot was
we decided to turn around.
The back FS road was still
a little muddy for us. You know truck duallys handle the weight of a 5er
nice but are useless in mud or even on wet grass. Who would beleive.
Things have dried up and
we have been going back to this spot for firewood. The weather is NOW perfect
Just outside of Neihart,
Mt. They even had a train run up here in the late 1800s This place has
Just up form the Aspen campground
is Neihart. An
old mining town. We had been driving thought it several times exploring
the back roads and they had a big sign up announcing Breakfast at the Senior
center on Sunday. This was their old school and has been restored and put
to good use. The food was pretty good and we got our fill. A
very large turn out. A nice way to get a little local color and later take
back to camp the Great Falls Sunday paper to read. For this weekend we
able to ralax and get out
of that must move on mind set. Hitch Itch will hit soon enough.
Never fails when you least
expect it we get to see one of these tank like units running around the
back country. Most are from foreign countries. What they think this is
the African Desert.What theat must cost to ship these things over here.
Money must be no object. I like to think the same way. When
we see one, we think we must in the right adventure (off the beaten path)
as in touristy location as they, I'm sure they have researched their
travels, better than us. Me Thinks. Me Hopes.
Terry just came back from
a walk and announced he would like to stay here another day as he discovered
some nice fishing spots in the Belt Greek that runs next to the campground.
He is online now on the netbook computer purschshing his fishing license.
I'm off now, time to shower and light the campfire Terry and set up. Just
need a match to set it off. Later...
where we are at right now. DataStormUsers
map ID 98
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