Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Townsend Montana 2013

At 5:00 AM I was on the road. I arrived at the Conoco gas station at exit 306 in Bozeman at 7:00 AM. Dumping is free with the purchase of fuel. Without a purchase they charge $ 3.00, 
which is still a good deal. Across the street was a Walmart.  I needed some items and after buying them headed for Townsend. I made one more stop at the large bakery near Three Forks.  I had expected some European type bread but they had only twenty different types of American breads.
I arrived at the Silos Campground , at the Canyon Ferry Lake, at about 9:30 AM. The lake is part of the Missouri River. The head waters of the river are not very far from here. I took a spot on the lake. The view is terrific. I do not know whether I can stay at this site. It depends on my Montana neighbor. He was here first but his motorhome seems to be here without anybody in it. I have to wait until I get a chance to see him and talk to him.

The group grows. People I have not seen for a long time arrived today. In the afternoon it got hot again. I went swimming in the lake to cool off. We will be staying here two weeks. I plan to take it easy most of the time. There will be a lot of kayaking on the lake. Carolyn told me I can use her kayak. The engine battery is charged again. I do not need a new battery.  
Townsend is located 25 miles south of Helena, the capital city of Montana.

Most members of the group went kayaking. Linda, Donna and I drove into town. I wanted to spent some time at the library, but the library did not open until 1:00 PM. We got some information at the Visitor Center, which is also city hall, chamber of commerce and a few more offices. Then we walked the business street.
At my morning walk I saw those white pelicans.

The campground is nine miles north of Townsend and on one side we have the lake and on the other side a valley and the mountains. 

Carolyn prepared bratwurst, salad and dessert. She invited Curt, Linda, Donna and me for dinner. We saw a dark cloud approaching our area. Because we feared a strong wind we retracted the awnings. Suddenly it started to rain very heavy. We did not move and hoped it would be over soon. The wind picked up and we had to move to our motorhomes. Ten minutes later the sun was shining again.

Today was another hot day. I drove to the Missouri Headwaters State Park, near Three Forks. Here the Madison River, Jefferson River and the Gallatin River converge to form the Missouri River. It was one of Lewis and Clark’s objectives to find the origin of the longest river in the United States. The Corps of Discovery stayed here several days. They found golden currant bushes here. Right now the berries are ripe. I have never seen golden currants. When I was a child we had red and black currants.
While coming down from Fort Rock I met the WIN bicycling group. They had embarked on a fourteen mile trip.
At the end of the road is a giant cement plant. This sign explains how cement is made.

 Other signs tell the story of the river. 

The town of Gallatin disappeared. It was built on the promise that steamers would run on the river. This never worked out and the railroad bypassed the town. Three Forks was chosen by the railroad company as a stop for trains. There are some dilapidated log cabins still around.  

We had our morning and afternoon meeting in a large shelter. Today a local camper family came and claimed it. They have a key for the electrical box and hooked up their fifth wheel trailer to the electrical outlet. I have a feeling there will be a large party tomorrow. A lot of locals will be disappointed when they get here and see that all the camping sites are taken by strangers. In some cases we are actually three rigs on one site. The sites are rather spacious. The KOA Camping Resort, not far from here, manages the campground for the Corps of Engineers or some other government agency. They are happy to collect the extra money.
I saw my neighbor for the first time today. They parked their motorhome several days ahead of the Fourth of July. Today the couple spent a few hours here. I asked the man whether I could stay at this site. He was grumpy and told me that I was staying there already. He asked me to move four feet so he has less of a problem parking his boat. When it cooled off a bit I moved the motorhome and I am happy to keep my view of the lake and the mountains.
The wind shifted today and moved the warm water to the other side of the lake. Now a swim in the lake is really refreshing.

Independence Day is here. Clouds came and it cooled off. Other than swimming I did not do much today. 

Those kids had a lot of fun.

At 5:00 PM Carolyn gave us a test about the United States. Then we had six grills going cooking hamburgers and hot dogs.

Each person contributed five dollars and the host and some helpers bought the meat, potato salad, buns, strudel and ice cream.  The weather was perfect and we had a good time.

At 8:00 PM we did some kayaking on the lake. This was my first time with the WINs. The days are very long here. At 5:00 AM we have daylight and it gets dark at about 10:00 PM. 

The group has grown to 38. Yesterday Lois, our 85 year old member, arrived.  I think her friend, who came the day before, is about the same age. The two ladies are still hanging in there. Nelda is not here. She is the oldest and has been with the WINs 25 years.

Some of the group went for a hike. I drove to Helena which is 25 miles north of Townsend. My first stop was at Walmart. Then I did my E mail at McDonalds. When I arrived at the Verizon store it was still closed. So I went to Target and looked around for a while. A lot of people had already congregated when I walked back to Verizon.
As it turned out my $ 30.00 a month plan is actually a $ 40.00 plan. They just added $ 10.00 for Share Talk 700. I got my first bill and it was a surprise.
During the day the temperature was perfect. Everybody is happy that the heat wave is over. At the 5:00 PM meeting we ate the leftover hot dogs, beans and potato salad, and ice cream. We had to hurry because a storm was approaching. It started to rain and there was some wind. I could not see the mountains on the other side of the lake. An hour later they sun came out again.

This was another easy day. Part of the group went to Helena to the movies. They saw The Lone Ranger and Heat. I went for a little drive east of Townsend.

 Most of the day I watched from my front yard the boats go by and kids laying on an inflated device being pulled by a fast boat. Sometimes the boat made a fast turn and the children did end up in the water.
At 8:30 PM I started a camp fire. This was still too early. It is not much fun to have a fire when it is still daylight. We roasted marshmallows.

The clouds were red, what a sight that was.

The kayakers loaded four pick-up trucks with twenty kayaks. They were supposed to leave at 8:00 AM this morning. A strong wind from the north made them change their mind. They would have to paddle fourteen miles against the wind. By 9:00 AM the wind had calmed down and by 9:45 AM we were on our way. 

Doc drove the car with the shuttle people. Ernie, the two Donnas and I were in her car. When we arrived at the starting area the kayaks had to be unloaded. 

 Then everybody got ready. 

 There was a couple with beautiful wooden kayaks. The man had built them from kits.

 The first kayaks had to wait around until all the boats were in the water. 

 Then they took off.

We four shuttle drivers got in the four trucks and brought them down to the landing area. We put the keys on the floor of the vehicles and locked the doors. When we were all again in Doc’s car we drove to the campground part of this little park. Then we noticed that we had parked the trucks in the wrong area. We told campers to tell our group where we left the trucks, but most of the people were either going home or going on the water with their boats. Since we had locked the doors on the trucks we could not move them. We left notes on a tree.
It worked out well. The group had a good time on the water and all of them came back.
They came back just in time to miss a rain storm.
At 5:30 PM we had a spaghetti dinner at the shelter. The local people who had the shelter reserved for the long weekend had gone home. For the dinner everybody had signed up for part of the meal. We are 40 WINs now. Tomorrow we lose two. Wanda and Ernie are leaving us.

 Some people brought wine. 

 There was plenty of food and desserts. 

 After we were done eating it started to rain and hail again. An hour later the storm was over.

We are staying another week at the lake near Townsend. This fits me fine. I like it here.
Kurt, our host for this week, took us on a four wheel drive tour through the Mountains and Confederate Gulch.
Our first stop was at the little church we can see from our camping area. It is located at the other side of the lake and was moved from the valley to higher ground before the lake formed.

Then we stopped at the creek in the gulch. Diana did some panning for gold. She was not successful. This was one of the best places for finding gold. Some miners had $ 2,000 worth of gold in their pans. 

At another place we saw a machine designed for separating gold from the earth and stones. Evidently it never worked and was left there.

We ate our lunch in the forest. There were cattle in the meadows.

 There is one building left from Fort Logan. The fort was built for protection of the miners. 

While we were gone a hail storm hit our motorhomes and trailers. My solar panels survived the ping pong size hails. The roof air conditioner is not fixed yet and I will wait until we are out of Montana and Idaho.

This was a long day. It is not easy to have fun.
Seven vehicles drove to Helena. We visited the Montana State Capitol. 

The building was dedicated in 1902. There are murals in the building of which the tour guide was not very proud off. The artist did not know much about the west and misrepresented the people and the landscape.

The people of Montana are very proud of this picture. Charles Russell painted Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery meeting the Shoshone Indians at Ross Hole. The huge canvas measures 12 feet by 25 feet. Lewis and Clark were buying horses from the Indians. The negotiations took a long time because there were several languages involved. Sacajawea’s husband was French, he was the official translator. 

The state is also proud of Mike Mansfield who was a state representative, a US senator and Ambassador to Japan for fourteen years.

The Montana Statehood Bell is also at the State Capitol. 

Our next stop was Last Chance Gulch. This is the place where four miners camped in 1864. They were ready to go back east because they had no luck finding gold. They took one more chance and found placer gold. The area is now a pedestrian only shopping street. 

At one building is the Tribute to Women mural. It represents all women of Montana, from the ladies of the night to wives of ranchers. 

Lunch was a disaster. When more than twenty people come to a restaurant at lunch time it usually takes a long time to get service. I walked away from the restaurant and ate at a small place. When I was done I met Karen and Dan outside. They had waited almost an hour and finally gave up. Karen gave me the keys for her Jeep. I went and moved it away from the one hour parking zone to a pay area. I prefer taking my own lunch but when we go to a city almost everybody wants to eat out.
We took the trolley ride and all the WINs were in one car.

Helena was a rich town. It had 130 millionaires in the late nineteenth century. It became capitol of Montana by cheating. The election was rigged. Helena has a population of 30,000 people now. It did not become a ghost town after the gold rush because a lot of the population worked for the government. 

At the large Cathedral of Saint Helena we admired the stained glass windows. This church has many windows and all have beautiful pictures of scenes from the bible. The cost of this beautiful, big church was taken care off by one of the rich citizen of Helena. The stained glass windows are protected by one inch thick bullet proof glass on the outside.

We drove back to Last Chance Gulch and got our free ice cream. The trolley ticket entitled us to this pleasure.

Today did a boat tour of the Gates of the Mountain. 

When Lewis and Clark came up the Missouri River the thought the river stopped here. 

But when they came around the bend the canyon opened up and they named it Gates of the Mountain. 

There were 81 passengers on the Canyon Voyager.
 People were camping on the shore. 

Some of the WINs were sitting outside and at the back. When the captain let his helper take control of the vessel he talked to some of the WIN ladies. When he was back at his station he told everybody who we are and that we travel all over the United States and Canada. Some WIN groups also go to Mexico in the winter. 

Eighty kids boarded the other boat and they stopped at the Meriwether Picnic area. 

On the walls of the sandstone cliffs are pictographs. They are not easy to see on pictures.

At the return trip we stopped at the Mann Gulch Fire area. In 1949 thirteen members of a smokejumper crew lost their life. Only the leader of the team and another member survived. The member was able to outrun the fire and the team leader started a fire and went to the burned area. His team did not follow him. He was accused of letting his team down, but later his method of starting a back fire was adopted by fire fighters all over the U.S. 

At some areas of the walls in the canyon grows Kelseya Uniflorain. It looks like moss and blooms at a certain time of the year. It only is at home in this canyon. 

The ranch land on both sides of the canyon was owned by German emigrants. The Sieben and Hilger families raised sheep and cattle. The Hilger family also provided boat tours through the canyon. The Hilger grandchildren sold the business and the ranch with the condition that the land can only be used for ranching, and not for housing development or businesses. 

After the boat tour we ate our lunch. I had eaten mine already while being on the water. Then we drove to the ghost town of Marysville.

It is actually not a ghost town. People are trying to revive the town. We went to a wooden church which was built in 1886. The owners, a brother and sister, were installing a headstone for their father’s grave. They let us in the building. It is used now for social gatherings and weddings.

The Catholic Church had a new coat of paint.

This was another long day. When I came back to the motorhome I jumped in the lake. I had thought that we would not do not much at this location. The host finds things to do though. Nancy, Maynard, Daniel and Paulette left us, but Judy P arrived. We are still over 30 rigs.

I had planned to stay home and do some house cleaning and just hang around.
After Hugs and Mugs Donna B asked me to look at her refrigerator. She had run out of propane last night and the refrigerator shut off. She had exchanged the propane bottle, when she woke up, but it still would not work. Dan took over and I took Donna’s place to shuttle the kayakers. This almost cost me my life. Doc had loaned out her car. The lady came back and instead of Doc driving her car she let that lady drive Donna D, myself and Doc to the park where the kayakers let the kayaks in the Missouri River. We followed the two trucks loaded with the kayaks. They made the left turn on the highway and got across to the southbound lane. We followed without stopping at the stop sign. A northbound car almost hit us. The driver put on the brakes and his car was swerving from side to side. He tried successfully to avoid us. It was a scary situation.
Donna D and I drove the two trucks to a park down the river and Doc picked us up and brought us back to the motorhomes.
When I came back Donna’s refrigerator was working again. Carolyn and I went to the KOA Camping Resort and did our E mail. Later I went to the library and did some more computer work and read magazines. In the evening the women wanted to dance in the open pavilion. A group of people had reserved it, and had just arrived. Somebody from our group asked them whether we could use the pavilion for the dance. They did not mind. I did not want to dance and thought that there was no dance when the wind picked up. I was wrong. One woman came and knocked on my door. I told her that it was too windy for me. Fifteen minutes later another woman came. I was watching Two and a Half Men and did not feel like dancing but was told to show up. The poor women were looking in the bottom of the barrel when they asked me to come to the dance. I think most of the men were tired. Some went hiking, some went mountain biking and some went kayaking, all strenuous activities.
We danced until 9:00 PM. The couple who occupied the camp site, they and their two big golden retrievers watched us.
During the night the wind got stronger and the motorhome was shaking. I woke up once. I fell asleep again in no time.

Today I was lazy. I did my daily walk with Carolyn and Donna B., attended Hugs and Mugs and went with Carolyn to the KOA Camping Resort to do E mail. Then I just did some reading, eating and sitting around. Most of the group did go on a Ghost Town trip with a swim at a hot spring. They were gone all day. In the afternoon I did swim in the lake. I wanted to vacuum up all the death May Flies which are on the motorhome dashboard  and on the floor under the roof vents. There are millions over the lake and around the motorhome. When I open the door they sneak in. They live only one day. When we arrived here I thought they were mosquitoes. They look like them, but are a little bit bigger and sound like them. I will wait until Sunday.
Today I made plans for next week. We will leave here Monday. I will go to Great Falls, Montana for two days to go to the C M Russell Museum Complex and to the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center. The WINs went to Great Falls a few years ago when they did the Lewis and Clark Trail trip. They started in Illinois and finished in Astoria, on the Pacific Coast. I probably will never come to this part of the country again and I want to see both places. I will catch up with the group in St. Ignatius.   
At 6:15 PM some of us went into town to the Heritage Park. Mariah Paige, a sixteen year old local girl, did entertain us. She sang and played the guitar. Next month she is recording a CD and the money she made tonight will go towards the cost of making the record. She has won first and second place in several competitions. Unfortunately the weather was not very good. It had rained in late afternoon and not many people showed up.

 The WINs were represented.   


Some of the women left today. They went to Helena and will stay overnight at Walmart. Tomorrow morning they attend the 7:30 AM service at the cathedral. From there they move on to our next stop.
I took a little drive today.

And I walked around in the campground.

 I also started to read the book: Calamity Jane of Deadwood Gulch.  Since we were in Wild Bill Hickok country and the library gave the book away, I felt like reading the story.

This was another glorious morning. The sun, as a red ball, came over the mountains and made the lake sparkle. Boats were on the lake already. Anglers tried to catch fish. Donna B is gone, so I power walked with Carolyn and her dog Lilly. I walked with them to where the road turns into a pile of rocks. I turned around and caught up with Kurt. He is very tall, six foot and four inches. I have to move my feet twice as fast as he does. After that exercise I felt like having a second breakfast.
At 10:00 AM I took off for a leisurely drive on the other side of the lake. The osprey sat on the nest when I arrived near that pole. As soon as I closed the door on the car he flew away.

I stopped at the Canyon Ferry Lake Visitor Center. It was closed today. They have a replica of a dugout canoe used by Lewis and Clark. Those things are heavy. 

The lake and area near the dam is very beautiful. 

I made it back for the 2:00 PM Happy Hour. There were all kind of snacks. We are a small group of 18. The happy hour turned into a laugh fest. Stories about kayaking mishaps, and other happenings on tours were told.
This is our last day at this wonderful region in Montana. I will miss the lake.

1 comment:

Barbara and Ron said...

Ron and I are running behind you, but we seem to be doing the same things.