A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Forest Service Campgrounds

 Warning: Longer post than usual.  Make yourself comfortable.

Highway 1 west out of Anaconda, Montana is designated a scenic route through the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest.  It is fifty-five miles in length before it meets up with the interstate at Drummond.  Along the way are many forest service campgrounds.  We would check out those that didn’t require driving way up into the mountains, most of those being RV unfriendly-narrow tight roads.

The first campground was Spring Hill only ten miles from Anaconda. It was a confined area within a narrow canyon and most of the spots were small and unlevel, more suited for the car camper with a tent plus no cell service.  We moved on.

Next, only eight miles further was Lodgepole.  The first loop with twenty spots (most taken or had reserved signs posted) wasn’t really to my liking what with barking dogs, screaming kids and roaring generators.  The other loop with ten spots was altogether different.  Smaller sites less suitable for big trailers and humungous fifth wheels, no one there and thus quiet.

We pulled into a spot.  This just might do.

Beans loved this.  There were lots of fair game to chase.  Here she has her long lead attached.  I can let go of it when the chase is on.  Being white it is easy to find plus I have a small bell on the end.  She ran down one ground squirrel in and around the trees and when she was on top of it she kind of hesitated. 
 Woah, this thing is bigger than I expected and it got away down a hole.

The next campground was nearby across the highway by the lake.  Looking at a satellite view I saw it was only two and a half miles away.  Oh, I’ll just ride my bicycle over there to check it out.

Ha!  I had to peddle uphill to this point and see the lake down there?  That meant going down to the campground along the shore and then having to peddle back up again!  Do I really want to do that?  Well I did.  It wasn’t as easy as it was back in the day but hey, I did it.  Anyway, it proved to be a massive three loop campground with all the undesirable features listed above plus the added bonus of noisy jet skies on the lake.  We were just fine where we were and ended up staying at Lodgepole for three days.
Eight dollars a day at the old person’s rate.

There was another campground two miles further beyond Phillipsburg Bay along the lakeshore called Piney.  Reviewers said it was in a clear-cut forest, wide open and no shade.  Many of the trees are infested with the pine bark beetle and have to be cut down in an attempt to control the spread of the beetle.  This most likely is why Piney had been clear cut.  I had no intention of going there so no disappointment. 

We left Lodgepole with the next and last campground to check out just down the road (and I do mean down for it was a steep grade all three and a half miles) was Flint Creek. 

This campground had only ten sites yet this one was free to stay at.
Lots to read here.

Off to the side on the restroom was this sign.
Well this is a nice thought to have when going to bed at night.
If that dam gave way we’d be done for.

A typical site with the camp road in front of you and Flint Creek behind.
All ten sites were occupied. I hadn’t planned on staying anyway.

We continued on for the remaining thirty-three miles of the scenic drive and it was scenic too.  
Flint Creek meandered all along the valley the entire way.  Looked good for fly fishing.
It would have been even more scenic without the smokey haze.
This was our lunch stop.

It was ten degrees warmer down out of the mountains onto the flatlands.

Friday, July 30, 2021



Anaconda, Montana

Only a twenty-five mile drive from Butte was the town of Anaconda (pop. 9100 plus) which had a city park that included a section for the traveler to stay at.  There were a few others there already and once again, Beans and I lucked out getting this very nice spot at the end.

Very nice indeed!  I couldn’t believe this.

The park is named Washoe Park and is quite large with a lot of walking and cycling paths weaving about.  The large duckweed covered manmade pond is home for these geese and ducks which this is about as close as I wanted to get to them.

The lovely creek running through the park is Warm Springs Creek.  Warm it is not.  I put my feet in there and that lasted all of five seconds.  Anaconda sets at 5,276 feet (1608 m) and at 83 degrees (28.3c) it was twenty degrees cooler than that which we just left behind in Columbus.  Anaconda also averages 204 days a year when the temperature will drop below freezing during the night.
Not a place I would want to live.

I wanted to show this, our neighbor for the evening back in Butte.  I love seeing old classic trailers on the road still.  I’d guess this one to be in the late 60’s or 70’s in vintage.  The owner was a woman in her 40’s I’d guess, with her little dog.  She has solar panels on top so this always leads me to believe the person may be full time on the road as are we.  I never got the opportunity to visit with her.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Our Lady of the Rockies


Butte, Montana

That afternoon while staying at the Walmart B&B I noticed far up on the mountainside in the distance a patch of snow left behind from the winter.  Looking through the binoculars that wasn’t snow.  It was something else.  Taking a picture was pointless.  I thought I would try in the morning.  Well morning was so smokey I couldn’t see it anymore.  From my point of view it looked like this.  This photo and the others are not mine, but what I found online.

It is a four piece ninety foot tall statue likeness of the Virgin Mary.  Butte resident Bob O’Bill vowed to create this tribute to all women following the recovery of his wife from cancer in 1979.  It took six years to construct.  He wanted to make it 120 feet high but the FAA said he’d have to have a blinking red light on top, so ninety feet it is.

Evidently there are bus tours for thirteen dollars that will take you to the top of the Continental Divide where it sets.  Here you can see two people at the base.

There is more information-Wikipedia includes the controversy (of course) behind it-and photos online of which I learned it is the fourth tallest statue in the U.S.  I never even heard of it and if it weren’t for my thinking a patch of snow? probably wouldn’t be any the wiser today.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Lake of Death


Butte, Montana

The Berkley open pit copper mine.

After paying a three dollar admission fee you get to walk though this tunnel to a viewing platform.
That was cool.

And there it is before you when you clear the tunnel.
The water is deeper than that of any of the Great Lakes.
Darn, and I went and left my swimsuit in the RV.

It didn’t look this nice as the entire area was socked in with a smokey haze from wildfires.
I used a different camera app and editing features which really helped a lot.

A few of the information signs if you care to read.

What this doesn’t state is that the water level is slowly rising even though the lake is literally eating its way down into the bedrock.

Also none of the information tells about how in 1995 three hundred snow geese landed on the lake and ultimately died.  This happened once again in November of 2016 when ten thousand geese made that same fatal mistake but not all died this time.

In the distance I could see mining trucks and such move about and there were these annoying electronic warning sounds going off occasionally.  I asked the girl about it as I left thinking I‘d hate to work around this equipment making these ear piercing sounds.  Turned out they were sounds including shotgun blasts emitted across the lake to keep the birds from landing on the toxic soup.  
Well that’s nice and it works too she said.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Evel Knievel’s Grave


Butte, Montana

Right across the street where we spent the night at the Walmart Hilton is Mountain View Cemetary.

There lies the final resting place for motorcycle stuntman daredevil Evel Knievel.
That may be his parents to the left.

He had his tombstone made in 1974, just in case he died in his attempt to leap the Snake River Canyon.

He didn’t die, but he didn’t successfully complete the leap either.

He kept the tombstone in storage for 31 years then had it shipped to Montana two years before his death.

On the way back I stopped and visited with the woman in the green car, a local homeless lady who said she knows his son Robbie who has continued on in his father’s tire tracks to a certain degree.  She said he is the town drunk who’s done a lot of mischief but is always let go by the officials due to his notoriety.  Okay, I had to look it up.  Well she’s right except finally they have nailed him for felony DUI a few years ago.  She’s been in Wyoming for a few years so I suppose she didn’t know the latest.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Into the Smoke Filled Sky

Butte, Montana

All the country to the west of where we were is dotted with fires.  We never saw any blue sky in four hours of driving.  Here in Butte it was ten degrees cooler at 92 (33.3C) than what it was to be in Columbus.  That is because we are up in altitude.  The plan is to get higher.

You can just barely see the mountains in the distance.

Just a spark from a dragging chain can cause a fire to start.

The evening before we left this guy set up his “tent” across from us.  That green thing is it; not even two feet high.  He stuffed his sleeping bag in from the side.  I never have seen anything like this before.  I don’t even think he can turn over inside that thing.  For as much trouble and length of time he took setting that up he could have done the same with a small pup tent he could at least sit up in.

Here’s some cuteness.
Notice the people from Tennessee are still here in the background.
It will be over a 100 for three days straight. I think I finally figured out why they are gone most of the day everyday.  They’re driving all around Montana with the air conditioner going inside the truck.

She wasn’t too happy the first half of the drive.  When we went over the Continental Divide she let me know about it.  She doesn’t like the change in air pressure and her ears must pop as does ours.  This has happened before at altitude changes.  It never bothered Sinbad, or at least he never complained about it.

A Fine Find


Columbus, Montana

I was toolin’ around town on my bicycle Sunday and discovered a laundromat in town.  Cool!  We will be leaving Itch-Kep-Pe Park Monday as you read this for our ten days are up.  I’m inclined to stay longer as I don’t think they enforce that ten-day policy all that much but we need to be moving on eventually anyway.  Another string of triple digit temperatures are coming so best we head west and up in altitude some.  So this is nice.  I can do laundry first thing when we leave and get that out of the way. 

I finally was able to get a photo of the mama deer.  
The fawns didn’t come out with her this time.

I wonder what she is thinking?

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Weekend Rafting


Itch-Kep-Pe, Columbus, Montana

Overall it is pretty quiet here.  The weekends as you may suspect has more activity.  Lots of it is due to river rafting the Yellowstone and everyone who engages in that activity has to pass by us on the campground road to access the boat ramp.  Some of them are the local rafting companies that use these school buses to ferry people and rafts back and forth.

More though are private individuals with their rafts or river raft fishing boats.  
Their trailers make a lot of noise clang-banging along the pothole filled camp road.

Now if they observed the 15mph speed limit it wouldn’t be so bad but HA!
that would only be in a perfect world.
I can say the commercial rafting people in their school buses are really considerate in their driving and keep the speed and noise down considerably. 

Beans really couldn’t care any less.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Our Other Neighbors


One day I saw this right outside my window as I sat at the table.

The next day.

There is no such thing as too many pictures of baby deer.
The young mother came out also but all three ran back into the brush when I tried to slowly open the window for a better photo.  Evidently they live back in there somewhere

On a related note...

One last bit of cuteness for today.

Gee, this river water is pretty tasty.