Sunday Aug. 23
keeping cool and doing our thing... here in the great northwest.
Staying close to camp relaxing in the shade. We want an open site for solar
and satellite but then again when it's hot out a little shade would be
nice. In our case, we head for the shade under the front of the 5th wheel
overhang. It got to the upper 90s but today at 2 PM it is only 80.
Went for water up at the dam site and explored a few more side roads. The
highlight of each day is when the sun goes down behind the mountain and
we like the rest of the animals come out of hiding and play.
We did wake to a thunder
storm Friday early. I had to get up and retract the awning and satellite
dish. Didn't think much of it... but we have been having a few of these
fly over. Not a good sign. I went to the national fire web sites and didn't
see anything going on so don't know what's up.
not having a Sunday paper, but I guess you hae to give up somthing for
this life of boondocking away from populated areas. I just have to repeat
how great this COE campground is. It just doesn't get any better than this
and the best part is we know it. There are about 10 campsites here and
room for about double that. So none are close. The center area is natural
see many floaters drifting by fly fishing or just tubing it. A great float
of about 15 miles down river to Libby, MT.
We are now in the early stages
of decieding when we will be heading out for more adventure. Today I'm
on the big desktop computer and Terry is on the Netbook exploring the path
ahead. That is if he's not reading Harry Potter stories...
The general direction is
Sandpoint, ID. A Wally World and Bank of America can be found there.
I get paid for one web site
via paper check and need to get that in the bank while they stilll honor
it. Never like that Void after 90 days printed at the bottom stuff. I see
there are some COE
campgrounds near Sandpoint or might splurge for a one night stand in
a cheap commerical RV park.
The COE sites closest to
Sandpoint might have to many trees and not long enough to handle us. Planning
ahead gets to be important if you don't want to just pull into a fancy
(as in expensive) RV park. That's not life fulltiming as we like to do
it, so we have to work at it a little more.Great sites are out there you
just have to work to find them. It's not like we're running around
in a pop-up now are we.
So sometime next week we're
off. Now if Terry starts catching fish all bets are off. He
has a sore shoulder and has not been fishing, so if he can, he is going
later today. Me thinks we have to many deciecions to make... Or maybe not
to Libby, Mt again for our 11 AM appointment at the local Chevy dealer.
The only one in the county, by the way for an oil change. When done they
brought the truck around freshly washed no less. This is the smallest dealer
I think I have ever seen. And all for $60.32. Now if you own a diesel truck
you know that is a more than fair price for that service. Next we got fuel
and stopped for lunch. No more bad lunches for us this week. Stopping at
McDs for their new sirloin burger. It looked and was also shall I
say yummy... But I could tell it was full of salty spices to make the taste.
So we went for the safe bet today. Propane went for $15 for 7 gal another
bargain. Diesel here in the outback of Montana is running $2.65.
Not too bad me thinks. Next we trekked over to the Farmers Market in the
city park. Not large by any means but people were having a good time
and for many looked like their big outing for the week.
These Eagles are at several
points in town. This is a old lumber town and now trying to mark it on
We like it here, friendly
people and very laid back.
Terry bought green beans,
beets, and a green pepper. We were hoping for Tomatoes but all said they
were a week or so away. I have been eating store bought ones lately getting
ready for the real thing. We did buy a couple of them at Rosauers Food
and Rx, of the same chain we found in Kalispell. A huge fine store with
everything a great store should carry and all this in Libby. The locals
are lucky to have this grocery chain in town.
Need a bird house.
Since the COE campgropund
has no water (it is FREE afterall) we found water in the park next to the
farmers market. They have a city campground $10 a night, allowing you to
stay for 5 days.
Since it is so hot... I didn't
tell you that, did I. It has gone hot on us here as mid to upper
90's. So on the way back we decided to go a couple of miles further up
river and stop at the dam visitor center as in Air Conditioned
Visitor Center located high on the far side above the dam.
Facts you never wanted to know. 7000 cubic feet per second is a bunch.
Terry sez Navajo Dam in NM discharge was more like 500 cubic feet per
Now back in camp... you didn't
hear or read this but we started the generator and said YES to running
the A/C. We are in the sun without shade... Ya that is nice for solar power
but not so nice for keeping cool. Weather
Watcher sez it is to cool off a bit in a day or so, so this should
not be a continuing trauma.
Watching the national NBC
news on TV. Look at us all cooped up inside, this is not camping, me thinks.
But I got a blog to do, and now is the time to do it while cool inside
with A/C blowing on me with a Gin and Tonic. A little later we will
be outside watching the river and wildlife like we should.
Terry again. I (Ron) placed the pics.
start here... We went on a Ron and Terry excellent adventure today.
After a leisurely breakfast we loaded the truck and set off on FS 228 en
route to points North. The FS(228) runs along the west side of Lake
crossed to the east side on the Koocanusa bridge to visit Rexford,
MT and Eureka, MT.
The bridge is about a mile
in length and quite high, a bit scary for those who do not like heights
or long bridges.
The Koocanusa bridge was
built in 1970 under a contract from the US Army Corps of Engineers, as
part of their effort to relocate roads, bridges and the Rail road line
that ran i the valley floor/soon to be lake bottom. The roads now
run quite high on the hill/mountainside, and were literally blasted out
of the mountain side, there are many areas where the drill bore holes
are still visible in the rock faces on the side of the road.
A plaque mounted on the
west end of the bridge proclaimed the bridge to be a winner of the most
beautiful long span steel bridge in 1972 in a contest sponsored by an American
Steel producers trade group. Never knew there were beauty pageants
for bridges. Beauty must be in the eye of the beholders, the bridge
does not do much for me, but the setting more then makes up for any other
Leaving the close confines
of the river valley we took off across the hilltops on the way to the two
communities in the area, Rexford and Eureka.
Rexford was our first stop,
originally the town was in the valley, now lake bottom and was relocated
to the hill tops above the valley. The down town consisted of three
buildings that looked like they might have been moved in from the original
town site, and a tavern/restaurant.
The three buildings were
all setting empty and in varying states of disrepair, but the tavern seemed
to be doing very well. The rest of Rexford consists of a mixture
of mobile homes, stick built homes (some very nice, some not so) and a
couple of large RV Parking lots. The towns main claim to existence
is the boat launch, marina.
Eureka Mt. is about 7 miles
east of Rexford and seemed to be much better off. There was a nice
main street that spread out along the valley floor. There were even
a few touristy type shops, pottery, knickknacks, an art gallery.
They even welcome the visitor into town with the bear sculpture waving
to the tourists. We picked up sandwiches at a very nice local grocery
store. The Stein's market was a very nice small town grocery store
with a nice deli, hot food counter, a large wine selection and everything
else you might need while staying in the area. They were in a new building
on the North end of town and we wish them well in the years to come.
Main Street Eureka, MT.
Leaving Eureka, we recrossed
the Koocanusa bridge and went North about 6 miles then Headed west on our
way to Yaak, MT. The road is a very narrow mountain road that winds
its way up and down the mountain sides. In many places it is not
much more then 1 1/2 lanes wide with turnouts. The scary part is
that the log trucks us this road as a short cut from Eureka to Hwy 2 west
of Libby. As we ate lunch at a roadside stop at the west end of the Koocanusa
bridge we saw a very heavily loaded log truck head up the grade on the
west side of the lake on its way west to hwy 2, that was the last
time we saw him, and I can only imagine how he might have taken off on
those narrow roads.
It is approx. 40 miles from
the bridge to Yaak, and there are not to many landmarks to aid in navigation.
I was lost most of the time, but Ron seemed to have a good Idea of where
we were. I was not to worried about knowing our exact location,
there was only one paved road going to our destination and we were on it...
very hard to get lost.
Yaak, MT. is a nice little
mountain settlement, with a collection of homes and a couple of commercial
buildings and a tavern/convience store.
They must be doing something
right as they are in a newer building.
The Yaak River seems to
be the principal focus of the community. Several of the residents
had their backyard get-a-ways on the river banks.
Heading home, Libby is at
the bottom of the hill, then a quick run up the river valley to our happy
Tomorrow we will be getting
our truck's oil changed and take in the Thursday afternoon farmers market
Till next time
by your roving reporter
(wordsmithed by Ron) You'll
We sat on the banks of the
Big Blackfoot River for a week, fishing in hallowed waters made famous
by Professor McLain, and a Brad Pitt movie. So much to take in, so many
fish to try to catch,, but we are full timers, sit to long and we start
to to get antsy, the feeling will then become an urge, then an itch, hitch
itch! The urge got to be to much last Thursday, we had been at Russell
Gates for a week and had to move. The DNR Maintaince person hinted that
we might be allowed to stay longer if the usage of the campground stayed
low, but we needed to move on, to see new sight, experience new byways,
and search for the perfect campsite.
Looking at the maps and doing
a bit of research we decided on a short move up Hwy 83 to the town of Swan
Lake. I had talked to a fisherman the day before and he was telling of
the virtues of the Swan river. We also like the idea of a short move, after
all we are running out of Montana, we keep going West and North and pretty
soon we end up in Idaho or at passport control at the Canadian Border..
It was drizzling and threatening
rain when we were getting packed, and then began to rain for real when
we hit the road. I had to dump the trailer tanks at Clearwater Crossing
and the rain continued as we made our way up hwy 83 to Seeley Lake. We
stopped for groceries at Seeley lake, picking up the supplies needed for
a few days in the out back of Montana and set off for Swan Lake.
The rain continued as we
drove North. When we reached Swan Lake it was evident that we would not
be stopping, the campground was off the highway in a heavily forested area,
it was still raining and Ron had the look on his face (stop now are you
crazy!!--- I just got started a few minutes ago.)
We zipped through Swan Lake,
took a few pictures out the rain streaked truck windows and searched for
places to land on up the road. Our next attempt at landing would be at
Big Fork, Mt. On the shores of Flathead Lake. There was a state park there
and we couldn't go to wrong at a state park, could we?
We were wrong, very very
The rain had slacked off
to a light drizzle by the time we arrived at Big Fork, and we made the
turn at the light and drove into town and were promptly lost. The only
place to get off the road was a fruit stand selling sweet cherries, we
were followed into the lot by another fifth wheel, and a truck pulling
a large boat, the parking lot was getting a lot smaller by this time. Ron
decided on the expert advice of his backup navigator F.R.E.D., and while
he was trying to get answers from the computer/gps I went to the fruit
stand, to get direction from the kind Lady that ran the stand, I also got
a couple of lbs of sweet cherries for a dollar per lb. (they are very yummy)
By the time I got back to
the truck I knew and so did Ron that we had turned the wrong direction
at the light. We then proceeded to look for a place where we could get
turned around to go back to Flathead Lake State Park, Wayside unit. F.R.E.D.
was showing the entrance to be about 200 yard north of the place designated
by the hwy sign, we followed the advice of the roadside signage, the entrance
used to be where F.R.E.D. Was telling us, but had been moved. If we had
followed F.R.E.D.'s directions we wold have ended up at a locked gate on
a very narrow residential street, trying to back out onto a busy highway
in the rain, not have been a happy camper moment.
The Lady at the gate station
was less then helpful when asked about campsites, she was more concerned
about getting the 5 dollar gate fee than answering our questions--- Will
we be able to find a spot to park our camper? --- Will we be able to get
a southern exposure for the satellite dish and direct TV dish?--- Just
how heavily wooded is this place, and can a larg fifth wheel trailer such
as ours be able to get in.
After being assured that
there were lots of spaces we would fit, that would allow access to the
southern skies for big F.R.E.D. We drove into the park and found out that
the not so kind lady at the gate was a sadistic *itc#. The road was very
very narrow with many low hanging branches that were scraping the sides
and top of the trailer and the roof mounted accessories. There were a couple
of places we barely made it through the trees without doing damage to the
trailer. WE then discovered that there were absolutely no sites we could
get the trailer into and that the only sites with a southern exposure for
the satellite dish were designated as tent campers only.
Back at the guard station
the *itch# that lead us astray with her lies was no where to be found as
we stopped. Ron waved a 5 dollar bill out the window and yelled to the
attendent to come out of teh hut and get it if you want it. We argued that
we would not have come into their ratty little park if she had just told
us the truth that the place was over grown, tight and hard to maneuver
through. He took the money his argument being “We used to let people in
to look at the campground, then we would never see them all afternoon while
they picnicked then left without paying”, what an @ss. Why didn't your
co-conspirator just tell the truth. So much for our run in with petty low
level state employees. We have never been forced to pay to just drive through
a state park naywhere to see if we might want to stay there. But MT is
different I guess, screw the public.
The actions of the staff
at the park soured us on the prospect of staying in the Big Fork area,
and we got the heck out of town as fast as we could. The grocery store,
fruit stand, and gas stations all missed out any chance at our business
on that day, There was even an agate house that was advertising quite heavily
on the billboards in and around town, to bad buddy I'll never darken the
steps to your establishment.
After consulting with F.R.E.D.
We found a commercial campground in the town of Lakeside, MT. about fifteen
miles down the road. On the west side of the lake, and a million miles
away from the attitude of the state park employees.
We had landed, and it was
only one in the afternoon. After lunch we went into Kalispell to find a
Best Buy. Ron is having problems with the desktop computer and thinks that
the hard drive has a couple of sectors that are going bad. I must now be
very careful not to rile the resident computer geek while he struggles
to install and format a second hard drive in the desktop. Time to hide
out for a while.
Kalispell's downtown seemed
to be doing well in spite of the growth of the big box stores on the North
and East sides of town, and the decline of the older retail sprawl on the
South and West sides of town. Lot of coffee houses, speciality stores,
and creative reuse of the downtown buildings, along with lots of traffic
trying to get to Hwy 2 East and the road to Glacier Park. .
Friday found us moving again,
in the rain again! We had two landing sites in mind, the first being the
forest service campground at Lake McGregor, about 20 miles west of Kalispell.
We arrived at Lake McGregor, and left. Nothing wrong with the Lake or campground,
we never drove in, It was just to early in the day for Ron to land. Ron
then informed me of our true destination for the day, Libby MT., and the
Kootenai River below Libby Dam. In his searching of the data bases FRED
had found a Army Corps campground Dunn Flats and Ron wanted to go there.
We are at the
red dot above and below at COE Dunn Creek Flats.
MT and Libby
Dam web sites.
We are now setting in the
Dunn Flats campground congratulating each other on our skill and luck (mostly
luck) at finding the perfect MT campground, open field on the edge of the
river, forested hillsides surrounding us, and the last people to use the
site left us a stack of firewood which we used on Saturday night. We sat
outside till 9:30 watching the sunset, listening to the radio.
Got to have our big boy
toys... Netbook hooked to WiFi , XM radio, and DirecTV.
Now just to see if you are
paying attention did I say this COE campground is FREE. Now don't tell
anyone, and don't be here when we want one of the few sites ya hear. I
(Ron) found this on www.freecampgrounds.com it was not listed on any COE
site I looked at.
Every now and then an Eagle
or Osprey will fly overhead. The Eagles often times land in the trees on
opposite bank and will call out. Don't know if they are proclaiming this
as their territory, or calling out to their family and friends but it adds
to the mystique of the area.
Now as long as we do not
have any four pawed critters coming through to inspect the trash cans we
will be OK. There are always the tent campers on the other side of the
clearing which will make much better bear bait. Hoofed, horned, antlered
and feathered pine type critters are welcome, but we are suspicious of
the Bears that the bulletin board warns of when we came into Dunn Flats.
Must not be too much of
a threat as they have normal trash cans at each campsite.
There was a outdoor concert/beer
bust last night in Libby WoodRock
09. It must have been a big deal for the locals, the Fly shop and restaurant
down the road from our campsite were closed all day Saturday for the party.
Fourty-five bucks at the gate with the party starting in the middle of
the afternoon with the local talent. The headline group was an Aerosmith
tribute band starting some time around ten in the evening, if you've been
there all afternoon they may sound pretty good by then, then again at that
hour of the night anybody would sound good to the crowdif they can
remember in the morning.
We are going to be in the
Libby area for a few days, there is a lot to explore, and the river will
take some getting used to for my fishing, IT'S BIG WATER, REALLY REALLY
BIG WATER, the kind of river that is intimidating for us wade fishermen.
Till next time, Terry and
where we are at right now. DataStormUsers
map ID 98
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