Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Columbus, Montana 2013

I left Cody at 6:00 AM and arrived at the Itch-Kep-Pe Campground, in Columbus, Montana at 8:30 AM. The campground is a free city campground next to the Yellowstone River. The river is fast running, hence the Indian name Itch-Kep-Pe. We are collecting money for a donation. The donation is $ 3.00 a day.
Since we are doubling and tripling up at the sites the city will be happy with the money they are getting. The large cottonwood trees are shedding cotton. It looks like it is snowing.

Columbus is a small town with a population of almost 2,000 people.
We lost some people and some new members showed up. At the 4:00 PM circle meeting we counted 25 participants for this outing.

Today we did a 90 mile loop. We drove more than ten miles on the Stillwater River Road, which is a scenic dirt road. My poor Saturn had to keep up with the Jeeps and other four wheel drive vehicles. Unfortunately our leader did not stop at the scenic areas and I have no pictures.
At the end of the road, at a campground, we started to hike to the waterfalls. It was a 1.5 mile round trip, and worth the effort.

In the forest are meadows with flowers.

This area belongs to the Custer National Forest and people are warned about encountering grizzly bears.

On the way home we stopped at a restaurant in Fishtail, a five house town. I had eaten my lunch at the campground while waiting for the last person completing the hike to the waterfalls. I walked the town and bought an ice cream at the general store. For $ 1.50 I got a big scoop of some strange name ice cream. It had caramel and chocolate in it and it was delicious. Later I joined the group in the restaurant and watched them eat giant hamburgers. They all loved the meat. It was not greasy.
More people have arrived. We are now 29 people.

This day was scheduled for kayaking. The group decided that it was too dangerous to go on the Yellowstone River and the Stillwater River at this time. In the morning I had the propane bottle filled, did laundry, went to the IGA buying groceries, and went to the library.
At 4:00 PM the games started. Some of us started early. There was a lawn dart game, horse shoes, and a ladder game.

At 5:15 PM we did Burn your own Meat. Everybody brought some meat to BBQ and a side dish. We had five BBQs going. Nobody went away hungry.

Some people had really nice steaks.

There was a lot of smoke.

Next week, at our new location, we will have a spaghetti dinner. We signed already up for what to bring. Eating is what the WINs do best.
In the evening I stopped at Gene’s camp site. Nancy was there too. We talked about today’s happenings when a stranger with a back pack approached us. He wanted a ride to the truck stop, near McDonalds.
He told us his car was there. Since he was almost crying I offered him a ride. When we came close to the truck stop he told me to go straight ahead. We left Columbus and I knew there was something wrong. It was getting dark and I told him he had to get out. Now he was starting to cry and told me that he is handicapped and has a hard time to explain things. I knew he was lying and taking advantage of me.
I asked him where he was leading me. He wanted to go to Park City. There were several fire trucks parked on the side of the highway. I stopped and asked them for the distance to Park City. I had sixteen more miles to go. He made me go twenty miles on a highway next to Interstate 90. I found out that it was him who stayed in a tent in the park. He was gone and the camp host told one of our people it would be ok to use the site. He told me he came back to get his tent. I dropped him off at the truck stop in Park City and headed back on the Interstate. It started to rain and I had to stop on the side of the road because the windshield wipers could not go fast enough to be able to see where I was going. I had left open all the windows in the motorhome because I had not planned on an adventure like this. Fortunately it had not rained in Columbus. I am also lucky that I did not get hurt and still have my car. That guy had mental problems, but was smart enough to manipulate me. This was another lesson learned. When I lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba, I was never standing for more than ten minutes on the side of the road when somebody stopped and gave me a ride. It is too bad that times have changed. You cannot trust people anymore.

We left at 9:00 AM for Big Timber, Montana. There we toured the C. Sharps Arms Company. They are the manufacturer of classic cartridge rifles.
First we looked at their store.

Then we got the tour of the manufacturing area. They use numerical controlled machines and also do a lot of hand filing and polishing. Walnut is used for the wooden part of the weapons.

The steel parts are machined on the NC machines.

The barrels are purchased from another company.

After the tour we lined up for a group picture.

Our next stop was the Crazy Mountain Museum. It is a museum dedicated to local history. This area was settled by people from Norway. Big Timber is a typical ranching town near the Crazy Mountains.
After we returned to Columbus I went to the library. When I uploaded the pictures on my blog I noticed they are very large now. I tried to fix this problem but had no success.
 For dinner I had fresh caught trout, potatoes and broccoli. Peter was fishing in the Yellowstone River and caught four good sized fish. He cleaned them and gave me one.

Today we went to the Pictograph Cave State Park near Billings, Montana. At the Visitor Center they have displays of the pictographs, unfortunately we did not see much in the caves. The higher the humidity the better the visibility is of the wall paintings. Right now we have very little moisture in the air.

  The valley and the buttes are very beautiful though.

 From the park we drove to the former railroad station in down town Billings. Phil talked to one of the ladies at the station and she gave us a tour. The station belongs now to a nonprofit organization. They rescued the buildings by refurbishing them and renting them out for weddings and other activities.
The group split up and we were looking for a place to eat lunch. I was riding with Dan and Karen. We stopped at Burger King. After lunch Karen had to do some business at some stores. In the afternoon it got warm and we took it easy and did not walk much. We went back to the motorhome.

I went to the library and hoped for a miracle. I played with my blog and tried to get rid of those large pictures. I just could not change anything.
Linda Williams came in and saw me struggling. She went in the program and changed the pictures to normal size and from now on I have to enter the posts a different way. Using her way I will see the pictures instead of  the codes. It will be a lot easier than my way. I have to relearn how to do it.
When I got back to the motorhome I vacuumed the furniture and washed the floor. In the afternoon I tried to keep cool. The temperature went up by the minute. The height of the day was 96 degrees F.
At 6:00 PM we went to the New Atlas Bar for pizza and dancing. The bar has a small oven and it took a long time before all of us got their pizza. When I was done eating and went to the dance floor the television announced storm warnings. I danced half a dance and we had to take off for the campground. I just made it to the motorhome when it started to rain.

During the week a young lady came to the campground and announced that she had reservations, for the shelter and the camping area around the shelter, for Saturday. We were worried that we had to leave early. People in town told us that the couple found a better spot. In the bar were some young people who told us we could have their seats because they were on their way to an evening wedding. I hope the wedding is inside.
This sign informed the guests of the new location. 

All week I have been fighting bugs. They come inside the motorhome and go on the screens and windows and look outside. They are stupid. If they wanted to see the outside they should have stayed there. I was told that they are box elder tree bugs.
I wasted two boxes of Kleenex on them. Catching them with Kleenex is the easiest way. They go to bug heaven wrapped in soft paper. My neighbor and I are parked near small trees and the bugs come from there.
Members who were not in Cody with us went today on the Beartooth Scenic Byway. They were gone most of the day. I was getting ready for the move. Today is our last day in Columbus. I drove the motorhome to the water faucet, at the restrooms, to fill up the fresh water tank. The motorhome did not start without using the help of the house batteries. After filling the tank half full I drove to a different camp site. At this site I will be able to hook up the car tonight and this makes for a fast getaway tomorrow morning. I do not want to drive around with 80 gallons of water in the tank. There is water at our next stop.
After setting up the motorhome I checked the engine battery. It is three years old and should not be a problem. While looking at the battery I was thinking and finally came to a conclusion. There is nothing wrong with the battery. I did something stupid and drained the battery by using the large 12 inch diameter 12 volt fan by using the cigarette lighter in the motorhome dashboard. I have other 12 volt outlets which are powered by the house batteries. The house batteries are charged every day by the solar panels. Since it is hot now I used the fan all week and noticed last night that the fan was running rather slow. I thought the fan was breaking down.  
At 10:00 AM I left for the Stillwater River Road. This is the same dirt road we drove a couple days ago and did not stop for taking pictures. Today I drove part of it.
The Beartooth Mountain Range has still some snow in the higher elevations.

The Stillwater River is not very still, it is rather noisy and fast.

There are some magnificent houses. Most of them are built with logs.

 Even with the burned trees on the hills the scenery is beautiful. 

 The land is good only for ranching.

At my new camp site I have no bug problem. Some hitchhikers came along. I took care of them in a hurry.