Wednesday, May 24, 2006

May 21 to 24

Saturday, May 21, 2006

At 8:00 we walked to the Visitor Center to join in a guided hike in the French Creek Wilderness Area. Conducted by a very knowledgeable young woman. Learned the names of lots of birds, plants & flowers. Saw deer but no more buffalo. Later that day we drove to the Sylvan Lake area and camped there. Ed & Gopher took a beautiful hike around Sylvan Lake. Beautiful, clear, cold water. As always, Gopher went swimming. That evening it rained. Thunder at times.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Up at 6am. Still not used to this time zone. We all walked around Sylvan Lake then drove past the Crazy Horse monument on the way to Mount Rushmore. Mt. Rushmore was impressive but very commercialized. Ice cream store, restaurant, gift shops, etc. Not quite what we had envisioned. Went to Rapid City to do laundry. The first laundry stop since we did was at Johnnies house. Did food shopping at Wal-Mart then continued to the Devils Tower National Monument in far eastern Wyoming. The Devils Tower was the mountain that was the site of the alien landing in the movie Close Encounters of the First Kind. Arrived about 5pm. There is a large colony of black-tailed prairie dogs, a herd white-tailed deer, and lots of rabbits. It was a long day so mostly we sat around & read the Sunday paper.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Up early. We hiked around the base of Devils Tower on the Tower Trail. Had the place all to ourselves at 7:30am. A very beautiful hike. The Indians hold sacred ceremonies on the mountain. We photographed some of the “prayer bundles” the Indians tie to the trees. The prayer bundles are simply pieces of cloth wrapped around different meaningful items then tied to a tree and left there as an offering. Headed out for Fort Peck Dam & Lake near Fort Peck, Montana. The plan was to break this eight hour drive in half. We arrived at Miles City, MT around 2pm with the intent of camping at the Twelve Mile Dam Tongue River State Fishing Access Site. Not what we had expected at all. The water was all mud and about a foot deep. We stopped at a City park in Miles, had lunch, walked the dogs and decided to finish the long drive to Fort Peck. The part of Montana from the Wyoming boarder north to Fort Peck is the most barren and desolate place we have been on this trip. Low, barren hills, areas of badlands, mile after mile of monotony on narrow, winding roads. Not a fun type drive. On the other hand, this is true cowboy country. Huge ranches. Horses & cattle everywhere you look. Interesting to see. Arrived at the Corps of Engineers Downstream Campground about 5:30. Glad to be here. Such a beautiful place. Worth the long drive. There is a long nature trail leading to the Interpretative Center, and of course a HUGE lake, 246,000 acres with 1,520 miles of shoreline. 1,520 miles; not a typo. We have a campsite right on the clear, cold lake. The lake was formed by damming the Missouri River. Took a good long walk. We and the dogs are glad to be outside after an eight hour drive. Gopher is having a ball swimming in the lake. During our walk she spotted two white-tail deer. Good thing I was holding on, she about pulled my arm off wishing she could chase the deer. Staying here for a few days to explore this part of Montana before heading towards Glacier National Park.

Tuesday, May 24, 2006

The campground had a wonderful, paved nature trail. Runs for a few miles. We all enjoyed several nice walks. We walked to the Interpretative Center, a.k.a. museum. It has several displays concerning the building of the dam as well as fossils found during the dredging. Well worth the trip. Late in the afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm and flash floor warning for the area. We have a weather radio so whenever the sky looks threatening, we turn it on. They were predicting a possibility of quarter sized hail. About 5pm or so, the storm rolled in. We got lucky; lots of rain but no hail. Had a wonderful time here in spite of the storm.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Up by 6am. On the road by 7:30. We had no special destination today. Had breakfast at a rest area near Glaskow. On the way, we passed a house where a guy made huge metal sculptures. The roadside was lined with dinosaurs, bears, eagles & such. Another interesting habit is for the farmers and ranchers to leave their worn out equipment sitting on their property right next to the road. It’s fun looking at the old tractors, wagons, harvesters, etc. Like a drive-thru museum. One of our favorite camping reference books is Don Wright’s Guide to Free Campgrounds. Not all “free” but very low priced. We found a County campground just south of Harve. The Beaver Creek County Park. There are 2 lakes on 10,000 acres. What a super find. As I type this, we’re camped about 10’ from the edge of a beautiful, clear lake. Just us and two other groups. One is a guy named Ted and his wife. Probably 70+ years. . Born & raised around here but now they live in Great Falls. They come back here every year to visit the cemetery where their family is buried. By appearances, I thing he built the travel trailer they pull behind their old Ford truck. Ted, his wife and their two dogs. Tomorrow we head towards Glacier National Park. Ready for some mountains after two weeks on the plains.

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