Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Dillon - Montana 2013

This was a travel day for me. I left Missoula two days early because I will be co-host at the next outing and since we do not know much about the new place we thought we check it out.
Before I left town I went to Bretz RV and Marine and bought propane. My BBQ bottle was empty and the motorhome propane tank needed some too. They charge only 99 cents per unit. I needed 11 which is a savings of about $ 20.00. Dumping and water is free. This is another $ 5.00 saved.
At 8:30 AM I was done and left town. The air was still bad from the fires and when I came near Lolo it was really bad. I stopped for lunch at a parking area at Chief Joseph Pass. There were no Big Horn Sheep on the side of the mountain, or I did not see them.

My next stop was Big Hole National Battlefield. Here the US 7th Infantry surprised a Nez Perce camp. While the Indians were sleeping the soldiers set fire to the tipis and killed women, children and old men. The Nez Perce Indians were on the run. Another treaty had been broken and the Indians were to be moved away from their homeland. Gold had been found and miners and settlers came on Indian land. The same happened in the Black Hills. Treaties meant nothing.
This is a somber place. People can be cruel to each other. In war the innocent suffer the most.

The site of the battle is sacred ground for the Nez Perce. The tipi poles indicate where the village was.

I arrived at the Clark Canyon reservoir at 3:30 PM. 

I followed the instructions and ended up in a small private campground. I knew I was in the wrong place, but I could not find the right one. Finally I called Sharon. She and Dick had been at this place before.
The directions were written for somebody coming from the south; I came from the north.
Later, Donna B called me and asked me where I was. She had followed the same directions and was at the wrong campground. I drove there and guided her to the campground at the reservoir. The campground is run by the Department of the Interior-Bureau of Reclamation. There are no hookups and there is no charge. Cell phone service is very good but there is no antenna TV available. I have a wonderful site with a concrete slab and a roof over it for shade. This is a good place for our meetings.
The view over the reservoir and the mountains is perfect.

Not far from my campsite is an apple tree.  

From top of the dam one has a good view of the campground. My motorhome is in the middle. By Thursday the place will be full. 

We are at the 45th parallel. This is nice to know. 

At our morning walk we stopped at the Sacajawea Monument. It is a simple plague located on a high overlook. Camp Fortunate, where Sacajawea met her brother, is now under water. The place was named Camp Fortunate because the expedition was lucky to get horses to continue the voyage on land. Sacajawea’s brother was a Shoshone chief and with her influence Lewis and Clark got all the help they needed. Their dugout canoes were submerged in the river with stones and hidden.  They planned to use them on their return voyage.

From the outlook we had a good view of the lake and the mountains.

Today was a working day. Donna B and I went to Dillon and investigated what we can do in this area. At the Chamber of Commerce the lady gave us a few ideas and material. We drove through the town several times and found the post office, library, museum, Elks Lodge and Laundromat. 

When we came back to the motorhomes we scheduled trips and visits in town. Dillon is a small farm community. It has a branch of the University of Montana. The outing starts officially tomorrow. The WINs will fill up this campground. Beaverhead Campground is a popular spot with fishermen. There is a small boat ramp. A lot of people come here to lunch their boats and go fishing in the reservoir.

Seven WINs came in today. The last two rigs came when it was raining hard. I was out there, with my umbrella, guiding them to parking spots. One rig I could see coming off I-90. I could see the top part of the kayak on the back of the motorhome. When I went outside to direct the person to a site, I could not see it anymore. After a while the motorhome appeared again. I had warned about going back on the Interstate when exiting. Unfortunately the person had to go south on the Interstate, to the next exit, and come back again.
We will be a small group here. Some people decided to skip Clark Canyon Reservoir.
In the evening six of us went to the Elks Lodge in Dillon for dinner. They served a wonderful meal and even had dessert. It was ice cream with a cookie.

In the morning we went, with the new arrivals, to the Camp Fortunate Overlook. We tried out the dugout canoe.

They were pretty long and very heavy.

This visual display shows where Sacajawea was reunited with her brother and a childhood friend. 

This shows Camp Fortunate and how this area looked before the reservoir was built.

The purchase of the horses. 

From the overlook we went to the nature trail below the dam. On the trail is a cave and it had to be checked out. 

I had arranged with Linda, the manager of the Elks Lodge, for us to dance at the lodge. They have a CD player with big speakers. Gene brought some CDs. Even some of the locals danced. I think the women forced their men. We danced a few times with the local women since we had one extra man. This was unusual; most of the time we have more women than men. The evening was very enjoyable.

This finished my first day as a host. I had hoped we could spend one day at the Beaverhead County Fair in Dillon. Unfortunately the fair starts on Wednesday, the day we are leaving. The trip to Bannack State Park did not work out either. The park is closed because they had a flash flood and the buildings of the ghost town are sitting in mud.  

While my passengers bought fruits and vegetables at the Farmers Market I did my computer work at McDonalds. At 10:45 we met at the Beaverhead County Museum. All ten of us were present. Part of the museum is the old railroad station.

From the museum we started a walking tour of Dillon. At one beautiful Victorian house a dog looked out of the window. When the owner saw our group admiring her home she and the dog came out. The lady moved from Vista, California to Dillon and bought this house. 

There are a lot of fine homes in this town. 

After the walking tour we visited the museum. There is a big diorama of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the railroad station. 

The museum has a lot of artifacts of historical value for the people of Beaverhead County. One item of interest is the Sheepherders Wagon. It is one of the early recreational vehicles, but was used for work. 

Our next stop was Sparkey,s Garage, a restaurant where old five gallon oil cans hang from the ceiling. They were converted to lights. Old gasoline pumps are stationed around the restaurant. On the walls are posters from oil companies which do not exist anymore.
On the way home we stopped at the IGA grocery store. The women bought hot dogs and all the other stuff. We had planned to have a hot dog roast after the 5:00 PM meeting. Before we got back to the motorhomes it started to rain. The affair was postponed until tomorrow.
At 5:00 PM I saw Curt coming to my motorhome. I put on a jacked and joined him. I told him that nobody will come to the meeting in this weather. I was wrong; everybody came. The covered meeting place is wonderful. The rain came in from the side, but since we are only ten people we sat in the middle of the shelter.

Everybody did their own thing today. Carolyn and I went with Tom and Mary Jane to Lemhi Pass. Lemhi Pass, at 7,373 feet above sea level, is a narrow gap in the formidable mountains of the Bitterroot Range, the backbone of North America, the Continental Divide. It has always served as a passageway for people moving through the mountains in this region.
The last nine miles we drove on a well maintained gravel road. I could have done it with the Saturn.  On the way we came through a giant valley with large ranches.

Before we went up the mountain we stopped at a place where displays and maps prepared us for the road and environment.

When we arrived at the pass we saw more displays. Lewis by then had figured out that the Columbia River would be more difficult to navigate than the Missouri River. The distance from the Continental Divide to the Pacific Ocean was a lot shorter than the distance to the Mississippi River, therefore the Columbia River was faster and more dangerous.

Near the Continental Divide the Expedition had a first taste of the Columbia River.

Some members of the expedition, and the Shoshone Indians, who came to their aid, crossed the Continental Divide five more times, the last time on August 26, 1805.


Lewis and Clark knew, in the last few months, that there was no waterway from the state of Missouri to the Pacific Coast. But they never could imagine that they would have to go across so many mountain ranges.

At the Sacajawea Memorial area is the beginning of the Missouri River. It is a spring which forms a tiny creek, which is joined by many more creeks and rivers.

Up on the pass were many yellow flowers.

On the way home we saw this Beaver Slide. It was invented in Beaverhead County and is used in the hay making process.

After the 5:00 PM meeting we prepared our shelter for a hot dog roast. The wind was very strong and we had to put up tarps.

This was another wonderful day. Curt went kayaking. Herb went to The Big Hole Battlefield.
The rest of the group went into town and when they came back they played a card game. The weather was wonderful until late afternoon when the wind came up.
A few years ago a large group of WINs did the Lewis and Clark Trail. They started in St. Charles, Missouri, near St. Louis, and the trip ended at the Pacific Coast. I did the entire trail in Washington State, and some of it in Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Kansas and Missouri.

Today was a long day. Three cars filled with WINs drove the Pioneer Mountain Scenic Byway. Our first stop was Crystal Park. Crystal Park is a unique recreation area at 7800 feet elevation in the Pioneer Mountains of southwest Montana. The park is open to the public for digging quartz crystals. Brilliant amethysts and smoky quartz crystal can be found. We were well prepared and started digging.

I found three small crystals. There were people who spent all day and they found some beautiful large crystals. We were there for the experience. The charge is $ 5:00 for a carload of people. We paid only $ 2.50 with our Golden Age Pass.

One person of the group preferred to read while we tried to find the largest, most beautiful crystal.

From the Crystal Park we went to the Elkhorn Hot Springs. The facilities are not kept up but the water was enjoyed by all of us. There is no chlorine in the water since it flows through the pool. We swam and played water volley ball for a while. Actually we threw the large ball from person to person. They have decent showers at the hot springs and I took advantage of that.

Our last stop was the Ghost Town of Coolidge. Coolidge was the last silver boom town in Montana.  The buildings are falling apart. The snow in the winter is hard on the structures.

Carolyn has a birthday tomorrow. Since she is leaving tomorrow morning to go to our next place to stay, we celebrated this evening.

We walk in the morning and walk during the day to stay in shape and then we eat cake and ice cream. I am very good lately and eat ice cream very seldom.

This is our last day at the Clark Canyon Reservoir. I went to town and took some more pictures. The County Courthouse is a beautiful building. The clock tower has four clocks.

The Hotel Metlen is another old structure. 

In the evening we had a wonderful campfire. We roasted marshmallows and made s’mores. There was some liquor and wine and good conversation.. 

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