Saturday, July 31, 2021

Chapter seven of The Last Hurrah.

Picking up in Idaho Falls

Saturday, July 17 -  Back to town to stuff ourselves again. Dorothy had Chile Rellenos and I picked Chile Verde. I followed Dorothy's led and supersized my Coconut drink. We waddled out and went back to Winco pick up a few items including 4 pounds of flavored coffee beans.

We don't pay attention to fifth-wheels or frankly any other kind of RV. But this year we noted that all the newer ones are gray. 

We know no-one reads this blog. Maybe some look at the pictures. I don't blame them. My prose is so lacking. And going downhill every year.

Sunday, July 18 - 2.5 hours south to Pinedale, WY. We parked at Fremont Lake - you know John Fremont. It's 7,400 feet, but it's still hot. We put our chairs under trees and got content with the lake breeze. Later we drove to Trails End, which is 2,000 feet higher and while it was a little cooler, it was not worth moving.

We have been in haze for over a month. The view of the Wind River range is almost totally obscured by what the locals say is smoke from the big fire in Oregon. 

Here's how the lake and front of the Wind River range looked like when we were here in 2008. Today, it was just gray.

I had forgotten how impressive these mountains are. They are as good as the Sierra Nevada. Me loves me billion year old granite.

Here are some shots that others have taken doing the two day long hike into the mountains.

Monday, July 19 - The haze decreased a lot, but it still too much for photography. Maybe tomorrow.

I went to the clinic and got a CBC and will return tomorrow to get my port flushed. 

We spent two hours at the library avoiding the heat and surfing. We both picked up our drugs at the PO. Kids came to and from the skate board track across the street to some room in the back of the library wearing their oversize back packs. Pinedale has free range kids. 8 year olds ride their bikes in town. It was refreshing to see. 

People stay in Pinedale and make the 1.5 hour drive to Jackson. Then it's another 30-45 minutes to get through Jackson's clogged two lane streets. Prices for motels rooms in Jackson are though the roof. This must have been going on for decades as there are dozens of small dated motels in Pinedale.

Tuesday, July 20 - The day broke cool with a smoky sky. Did you see the word cool? The smoke cancelled our drive into the mountains. By 1PM, a thunderstorm threatened, but all we got were a few drops. An hour later blue skies. Could it be clear tomorrow?

I went to the clinic and got my port flushed. It was something new for the RN, but she got another RN to show her the way.

Our friends from Tennessee are spending two days here. I think they brought the improved weather. Which did not last.

Wednesday, July 21 - Even with the smoke we wanted to try to see the sawtooth Wind River range. So we drove part of the way to Union Pass and decided it just was not going to work. 

We were hungry and decided to try a Mex place in Pinedale. I was not expecting much, but we got less. Over 5 minutes to get water. Another 5 or more to take our order. Never got chips and salsa. When the plate arrived they were small servings. The corker was when construction noise in the bathrooms started. We left without eating. We went across the street and had a decent Chinese meal.

We ended the day with our friends reminiscing about times 30-40 years in the rearview mirror.

Thursday, July 22 - We desperately wanted to escape the heat. 7,500 feet was just not higher enough. It is still in the high 90's in the late afternoon. The closest mountains are the Snowies in southeastern Wyoming. Way out of the way to our next intended destination the San Juans, but it seemed the only solution. Besides it's raining there and the roads are muddy when wet.

And so we took a punishing 9.5 hour drive. It started off bad at the Pinedale dump. The city wanted $15 to dump and there was no fresh water.  ot going to happen. We dumped at the city dump for free and later got water for free at a private RV park.

I80 though Wyoming is featureless. The moon must be more interesting.

Dorothy thought we were going to stay at the RV park in Rawlins and was starting to register when I walked in. We were both tired but I wanted to get into the cool mountain air. So we filled the fresh water tank and headed 1.5 hours south. We were both too tired to be driving safely. My bad.

We tried Silver Lake CG, but it was full. Besides, it looked like a fire base from Vietnam days. The trees were naked splinted totems. We then tried Sugarloaf, but it was also full and teaming with day use folks. So we parked in a trailhead parking area and had a quiet night. 

Friday, July 23 - I slept from 7 to 5. It was 63 at 6pm.

Low 70’s today. It is a heavily overcast today, so we will just veg and visit our friends down the road this afternoon. All the CG’s are full, I think we found the last boondock place and it has 2 bars extended, while all surrounding us has no service. Just parked in a meadow.

Everybody now has a RV and they are all out. We are going to hang here for awhile. If we could hike this would be heaven.

Mid afternoon a man, two women, an infant and a toddler walked all around our site. I guess they were trying to figure out where to set up their popup. There was really no good option. I decided our batteries needed charging and fired up the generator. They quickly left.

Our friends are 10 miles down the road. 2,000 feet lower. It is their usual place to park. This is their fourth time here. They tend to return again and again to the same places and hike the same trails.

We both feel the altitude, 10,500, but prefer the 10 degree lower temperature. 

Saturday, July 24 - The heater cut on this morning. 44 outside, 62 inside. Great sleeping weather. Will the overcast last all day? Oops, it's not overcast, it's frigging smoke from the OR/CA fires.

We took a drive and short hike. Now we have seen this area. Well, all of it that we are able to see. Not being able to hike is major limiting. But, maybe not today as there are hordes of hikers out.

When we dry camped in the heat dome, our CPAP's would cut off after a few hours of use. Here in the mountains, no problems. 

Sunday, July 25 - We took a long drive south stopping in Meeker, CO at a city park. Electricity for $20. We are still in smoke, but not as much.

Monday, July 26 - We continued with another long drive south stopping east of Montrose in a Black Canyon CG. The drive really exhausted Dorothy. When we parked she was down for the day. We need to keep our drives to under three hours. We did marketing at City Market. KoKo is now stuffed. Since the only grocery stores at our next destination are an hour away, we wanted to stock up.

Tuesday, July 27 - A shorter drive today. Back to Montrose, to do laundry and pick up some more roast beef and oranges and then south to Ironton in the San Juan's Mountains. We are parked at 9,700 feet and at 3pm it is a comfortable 72. Dorothy's quaking Aspens are on two sides of us. Our place is close to road, so we get a little road noise. It also means we can exit if we get a lot of rain that saturates the gravel/mud mix.

I can already see this area has teeming masses just from the road traffic and the number of vehicles parked at staging areas. I suppose once people did not have to work they stayed off work and bought an RV. Not working used to carry some penalties like not having much to spend.

Dear Blog, I don't want to brag or get ahead of myself, but I have lost some blubber. From 255 to 237. That's almost 2 inches in my waist.

Wednesday, July 28 - Surprise, it was only 52 at 6am. I expected it to be low 40's. The sun did not pop over the mountain until after 8. It turned into a gorgeous day. We went to see how busy Silverton was. Not bad. Plenty of places to park at our fav CG.

The San Juan's have been my fav mountains since I first saw them in 1994. The famed section of the Rockies in RMNP pale in comparison. The Wind River range is exceptional, but close access is by horse or foot. Here you can drive through and all around the mountains. That is unique. There are plenty of areas where hiking and scrambling is required, but at least you can get a close enough view from a trail.

Ross and Beverly spotted us from the road and came to visit for an hour or so . It was good to catch up with them. I am amazed at Beverly's memory. She is able to recall even trivial details that I have no memory of.

Yesterday, we had our large parking area to ourselves. Today, three more rigs arrived. Just before dark, I noticed a guy standing in one of the large over the ankle mud puddles. He was washing his legs in the muddy water. Perhaps a medicinal procedure?

Thursday, July 29 - A normal 42 this morning. 61 inside. We got away in the Jeep at 8:30 to drive the Yankee Boy trail.  We had not done this trail before and it was Oh Wow, Look! Over half the trail is on a well grated road. The last 3.5 miles are uphill on sharp rocks. When the going gets rough the tiny little cars and full-size trucks are parked and the passengers continue on foot. Only Jeeps and scooter-puters can make it all the way. I came down in 4WD Low to save the brakes. Dorothy finally thought to have me turn off what she calls the creepy crawly thing. It is better known as the sway bar and it sure takes out most of the side-to-side motion.

The drive wore us out. We wanted to eat and get email in Ouray, but the restaurants we knew and liked are gone. Only two breweries are left. We were told the food in one of them was not worth eating and besides you have to climb up three floors. Not happening. We made it back to KoKo and Dorothy made a roast beef sandwich and we both napped over an hour. Neither of us felt peppy enough to go back down the hill to get a cell phone signal. 

I would love to open a small place here and make Jambalaya, (Gumbo) I think I would only serve it with lots of okra. Or charge extra sans okra.

Friday, July 30 - Another beautiful day in the San Juans after the sunball pops over the mountain around 8:00. After wearing ourselves out yesterday, we felt much better this morning and decided to wheel Imogene Pass. We did part of this trail a decade ago, but we did not go far enough to see it's splendors. This trail shows off the San Juans like no other. It ascends to 13,100 and that's high enough to see every other mountain for miles. It was a fairly clear day.

Some button got pressed on my camera which made the images dark I could not find the reset function. So when I needed my camera the most it was on the fritz. I got most of these with the iPhone.

Now the downside, as we go up Camp Bird Road we start passing dozens of hikers. It was a competition hike from Ouray to Telluride. What road did they take? Imogene Pass! Fortunately after a bit the hikers turned off on a woods trail and we did not see them except at the hydration stations.

The other negative is that the trail was full of vehicles, Jeeps, Taliban trucks, even full size American trucks, plus a few Lexus and naturally a scattering of noisy scooter-putters.

We bought a loaf of bread in Ouray - $5.50. Dorothy decided the whole wheat she wanted at $7.50 was a stretch too far.

Saturday, July 30 - We moved down to Silverton to the forest service boondock CG they now call Kendall. More crowded than we have ever seen it. Most from Texas. Many A's. Only few hard core Jeepers. We got a spot on the river. Two bars and 21 amps from the solar panels. Life is good. 

Dropping down a thousand feet got my oxygen level up a few points, but my pulse remains high at 84-88.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Lazy Days in the Lazy Daze

Wednesday, June 7 - We got released from prison Monday. Spending 12 days in an RV park to have AC was a first for us. Originally we were going to continue west to central Washington, but the heat dome changed our minds. We returned to Kalispell to get chassis batteries, shop, and visit with a friend. Oh, and for Dorothy to get a pedicure.

After picking up our batteries this morning we headed south to find a mountain. Latitude failed us this trip, so we are going for the alternative - elevation. We will not get to a mountain today, but soon. We may slowly drift south following the chain of the Rocky Mountains perhaps all the way to the Tushar Mountains in Utah. We have never explored that area.

I dialed in a FS CG, Lake Como, which is south of Missoula. It is a great CG with huge paved sites. So good it was full. We noted a dispersed area on the way in and parked there under Ponderosa Pines. It was our 2110th night in KoKo. 5.7 years

A rain shower cooled it down to 72 for a while, but it recovered to 92 after an hour or so.

This part of Montana has numerous roadside businesses selling logs for log cabins. Just on US83 south of Missoula, we have gone past two dozen or more such businesses.

Thursday, July 8 - We did not have a cell signal where we were parked so after a cup of coffee we got on the road to find a place to park and surf. What a delightful drive. Maybe it was the morning light. Maybe it was no traffic allowing a slow pace. The Bitterroot Valley is scenic with the Sapphire Mountains as a backdrop. They are as snaggletooth as the Sawtooth Mountains just to the west. US93 is a delightful road.

We parked at the pass and Dorothy fixed eggs sandwiches on Texas toast. 

We ended our long drive day of 2.5 hours at Clark Canyon Reservoir. This is our third time here. It is a quiet free CG with a view of the lake and four bars. It's 79 at 11:30. It will be much hotter late in the day. We have a ramada for shelter from the sun.

Semi-interesting factoid about Clark Canyon. Lewis and Clark traipsed all over the area. This was as far as they got up the tributaries of the Missouri. They built Fort Fortunate here, now covered by the dammed waters. Sacajawea hooked up with her tribe, they got horses and over the Rockies L&C went.

Clark Canyon Resviour

Friday, July 9 - The last time we were here, I washed the Jeep in the lake. So I wanted to avail myself of the amenity again. The lake is lower and I got in quick mud. I buried it almost to the axles in a flash when I decided to put the front tires back on the gravel as insurance.  Fortunately, a young couple saw my dilemma and brought their truck down to use as a tree so I could winch out. It winched their truck instead. He dug out the tires, put down flat rocks, chocked his truck tires with rocks. I engaged the lockers and it came out. I was panting hard after partially digging out one tire. He was not panting after digging out all of them. Bless youth. I guess I need to add recovery boards to the stuff I carry.

In the afternoon, we washed the Jeep on a hard-packed beach and enjoyed the cool water.

Saturday, July 10 - We are thinking we can get into a fav CG in Ririe, ID tomorrow.  It is a great county park with full amenities. Ririe is only 20 minutes from Idaho Falls. There is a Mexican restaurant in Idaho Falls we really like. Not sure of the name but we will find it.

Our Green Lawn

Sunday, July 11 - We made it to Ririe before noon and snagged a great site. A back-in with Juniper trees for shade on both sides of us. Green grass on both sides of us. We met our neighbors from Pahrump, NV, and spent the afternoon slurping liquid stuff in the shade.

Monday, July 12 - More fun, finished washing the Jeep. Well almost. I need a high-pressure hose to remove the rest of the mud from the chassis. Dorothy needed a lay day and so we laid.

We went out to enjoy our lawn. I hooked up two 12v fans since there was not a breeze this morning. We listened to Peer Gent and Angelo Debarre. The latter is a Romani gypsy jazz guitarist.

We watched the final episode of Bosch. I was disappointed with the entire season. Same people writing, same people acting, it just seemed contrived.

Tuesday, July 13 - I made pancakes for Dorothy. We went into town for lunch and grocery shopping. We wish we had a full-size refer so we could buy large roasts and bulky things like cauliflower. Well, we can, but we have to eat it right away.

We drove to four restaurants before we found the one we were seeking. El Rinconcito - Little Corner. Remember that name blog in case we ever get back here. It's a no-frills hole-in-wall place. The last time we were here we were the only whites in the place. They just re-opened today after a 30-day closure to visit family. We got there at 11:20 and were the only customers for a time. Then workers from the local business started to drift in. By noon, the place was filling up. 

Dorothy had Carne Asada tacos. I had the Carne Asada platter, which is everything they have in the kitchen. Then they lay a square foot of meat over all of it. Look at my plate.

Overstuffed, we went grocery shopping at Winco - one of our favs markets.  It's a fun place to shop. It is part of Fred Meyer, Albertson's, and Aldi. It's a no-frills store. No one wearing pearls shops there. The prices are lower than Walmart or Costco and the selection is much broader. I really like their bulk foods section. Sadly, I have only seen extensive bulk food in the PNW and Canada. We got small amounts of flavored coffees. We will try them and get more of the ones we really like.

I am thinking we will stay here through the weekend and just eat. Downtown is teeming with restaurants. The 11 pounds I lost may reappear.

There are wildfires in all the western states. So far we have not encountered any. The west side of the Wind River range, our next stop, is fire-free.

Wednesday, July 14 - Laundry day.

I think I finally figured out our cell data plan. The phone hot spot is unlimited with no throttling. Using it as hot spot damages the battery, but batteries are only $35 at Batteries Plus. The MiFi is faster and "unlimited" up to 30GB, then it is throttled. Even throttled, it works well enough to download movies, although slowly.  

From — On the House: A Washington Memoir by John Boehner

They showed Clint, me, and two of my campaign staffers to a little table way in the back of the restaurant. It was near a separate entrance so we could go outside and smoke. My staffers and I got up to smoke pretty frequently. Clint, despite his voice (or maybe because of it), didn’t. But it didn’t seem right to leave an 80-year-old Oscar winner just sitting there by himself, so we invited him to step out with us to keep the conversation going. 

It was on these smoke breaks that the conversation got really interesting. At one point, one of my guys asked Clint: “Why did you get into acting?” His answer was immediate, in that low, iconic growl: “Chicks, man.” “What do you mean?” “Well, this buddy of mine was in this acting class, and he kept telling me about all these hot chicks in there,” he went on. “I don’t give a shit about acting. I just wanted to meet chicks.” That gave us all a good laugh. 

But a little later, someone else asked him: “How come you decided to teach yourself to play the piano?” The growl rumbled up again: “Chicks.” Again he explained: “I used to go to all these Hollywood parties, and there’d be some gay guy playing the piano and all these chicks hanging around him. I thought, Hell, I want the chicks hanging around me, so I learned to play the piano.” He brought the house down with that.”

Continuing from a book I read.  Clint was a lifeguard at Fort Ord for the duration of the Korean War. He was later a lifeguard at MGM pool. Why? See above.

The Snake River

Thursday, July 15 - We took a drive along the Snake River. It starts in Yellowstone just an hour away from here. It was rolling downhill fast today. I would guess 8-10 mph. The river crosses whatever route you might be on several times. It's everywhere in the PNW. You cannot escape the Snake. Wikipedia says The Snake River is a major river of the greater Pacific Northwest region in the United States. At 1,078 miles long, it is the largest tributary of the Columbia River, in turn, the largest North American river that empties into the Pacific Ocean.

Ride the highway west, baby

Ride the snake, ride the snake

To the lake, the ancient lake, baby

The snake, he's long, seven miles

Ride the snake

He's old and his skin is cold

The west is the best

The west is the best

 - Jim Morrison

On this drive, off the main road, we saw 11, count em 11, RV parks along this short section of the Snake. Most of them adjoined another one. They were close to full. None came close to where we are staying. Also on the same road was a ski lift and hot springs. The springs were packed.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Surviving The Heat Dome

Lake Dickey - We spent two days here.

Wednesday, June 23 - The Eureka librarian suggested we drive Graves Creek Road and so we did. It was OK, but certainly not spectacular. We ended our drive at Weasel Lake. We encountered no weasels, only a few deer. Surprisingly most of the road was paved deep into the forest. We saw two rangers checking to see if the trees were still there and a group of scooter putter riders. And that's all. The road continues on another 12 miles to allegedly scenic lakes. The road goes to the border and makes a wide turn to follow a valley to the lakes. We passed.

In places the forest looks like that in the Oregon Cascades. Widely spaced trees with no undergrowth. In other places the trees are so dense only a critter could pass between the trees. I wonder if either is natural or the result of cutting.

If this were Colorado, there would be roads crossing the hundreds of 6-7,000 foot mountains. Evidently the folks here are content to stay in the valleys as we have not seen a single road going up.

From Saturday to Saturday the temps will be at out above 100. We are going to try to find a campground with hookups to try to stay cool and hang for the holiday. And here we are positioned to explore the Yaak Valley and now we have to retreat.

Thursday, June 24 - We decided to head to Libby in hopes of finding a private campground with hookups. 

Do Not Go To Montana To Escape The Heat - We had 100's in Montana and well up into BC in 2017. We had more of the same in 2019. Records will be set next week.

I had wanted to boondock along the west shore of Lake Koocanusa. [Koo Ca Nusa - named by a fifth grader when the dam was built in 1972] But, no dry camping for us during a heat wave. We drove along the forest service road which is much smoother than the Montana road on the east side of the reservoir. The only traffic we saw were two overland bikers. I was able to drive 31 and eyeball the water through the trees. We stopped for a Dorothy burger at one of boondock sites. Total quiet.

Lake Koocanusa - The last federal funded dam built

We made it to Libby, where we checked into prison, paying $400 for 12 days to have AC during the heat wave and a place to be for the holidays. Call it the price of traveling. At dusk a truck camper parked next to us. What's the first thing he did? He put out the awning of course. Followed by two rugs and camp chairs.

Friday, June 25 - We vegged.

Saturday, June 26 - We drove to Yaak. The one new destination I had planned for this trip. It was disappointing. Not really scenic. We took a 12 mile drive on a gravel road to a fire tower lookout. The first 8 miles were smooth - good for 35 plus. The last 4 miles were rocky holding our speed to 8mph. There are dozens of lookout towers in the area. I just wanted to see what the surrounding mountains looked like. They are not bad and they are in all directions. We had clear views when we started up. By the time we made the summit haze had settled in.

The Yaak River

That's Canada 

Sasquach Is Everywhere

We came back on US2 and stopped at Kootenai Falls. It was not the falls on the Kootenai that I remember. This was huge parking lot with a trail to the falls. The one I recall might have been in Idaho where we could see the falls from the road. 

Kootenai Falls

My Attempt At Art

The Kootenai River starts in Canada, as most rivers in the area do. The dam at Libby creates a 70 mile long reservoir that extends back into Canada. For my money it's one of the best looking rivers in the country.

Sunday, June 27 - We vegged.

Monday, June 28 - We got away at 8 to Kootenai Falls which only about 20 minutes away. The hike to the falls is not long - maybe a mile round turn. However, there are 70 steps and uneven ground near the falls. Not good for Dorothy. She made it as far as seeing the falls. Surprisingly she had recovered by the time we got to the supermarket. And was only a little sore the next day. Her heart doctors would approve of the hike. Her neurologist would not. Stressing weakened muscles from polio.

Rosaueur's is a great market. Extensive selection and low prices. I liked being able to buy only as much cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms as you need. Our small refrigerator fills up quick with heads of lettuce, etc.

Tuesday, June 29 - I talked with several techs about our battery charging crisis. 

Dorothy fixed wild Pacific salmon with garlic potatoes for lunch. Devine.

Wednesday, June 30 - I spent more time puzzling over the batteries. I am convinced they are cooked. We will go back to Kalispell next week and buy new ones.

Thursday, July 1 - We got away at 7:30 to visit Ross Creek Cedars - a grove of Cedars the loggers must have missed. It was pleasant walking in the forest. The only sounds were a few birds making a whistling sound. No idea what they were. Like Sequois and Redwoods, they grow tall fast, have shallow roots and fall over in a wind.

Bull Lake

Ross Creek Cedars

Not Sasquach

My Monet


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Into Montana

Sunday, June 13 - We lazed around this morning. Dorothy fixed our traditional Sunday breakfast of Foule. We sucked up all the free internet we could. Only three more days in the billing cycle and today we will not use any since we will be in a dead zone. So we will squeak in with our 30GB plan.

We left Worland on a road that Glenda picked for us. A shortcut I am sure. We went 30 miles and saw only one car. The roadside was most uninteresting. A desert. Everything was brown.

Heading NW from Cody the terrain became more to our liking. We have passed this way now three times on what they call the Nez Pearce Trail. The trail Chief Joseph used to elude the army who intended to kill every last stinking redskin.

We found our perfect boondock site along the Clark Fork. It was just as we remembered it.

Dorothy says it's a witch's hat at the left. The Plein air guy standing next to me says the witch is laying down on the right.

Our campsite

Our free campsite

After 6, a guy came in driving an early 2000's Fleetwood Class A. He was towing a Ford Fusion on a dolly. That you told us a lot about him. After a half-hour or so of banging he came over to meet us. We were to learn more about him. The first thing I noted was a Canon camera with a fisheye lens hanging on his neck as an accessory. There was nothing to use that sort of lens for where we were. He tells us he is Chris, that he sold his farm in Virginia last November and bought the RV for $90,000 at Camping World - about twice what it is worth. He put to rest in Bitcoin and has tripled his money to $180,000. Do you see this guy homeless before the end of the year?

Monday, June 14 - We got away at 7 to get through the park before madness descended. That worked pretty well. The east side of Lamar Valley is the most spectacular part of the park for our money. I doubt many would go there if it was not where the buffalo roam. The park is doing huge road construction somewhere near the NE gate. Over three dozen trucks hauling materials passed us. Thankful we got through there before they arrived.

The Usual Driving Through The Lamar Valley

We parked at a cyber friend's second home just north of Gardiner. It's nice, but it was 104 this afternoon. Even with the AC running the inside was never lower than 85. I am not going to fight the heat, we will head north in the morning and head to the coast if necessary.

On The East River Road North Of Yellowstone 

The Mouse Saga - Over a week ago when we were at Big Horn Canyon, I saw a mouse as soon as we pulled in. Right then I should have set a trap for the little sucker. The next morning we found he dined on a banana. I set the trap. He got the banana out without tripping the trap. The next time I pressed cheese into the mechanism. The trap was nowhere to be found the next morning until I got out a flashlight and found him alive in the trap secured by only one leg. Goodbye mouse.

Tuesday, June 15 - Montana is varied; prairie, badlands/desert, heavily irrigated cropland, and mountains. There is a distinct difference between the extreme eastern part of the state and the rest of the state. In the central and western parts, the terrain constantly changes from one of the above-named types to another in the space of ten miles, then perhaps to another type 20 miles farther along.

The view from our parking place last night was immensely improved by this morning's temperature of 58. We headed north on US59 a new route for us with very little traffic. I was able to cruise at 45 when I wanted to as I was not holding up anyone.

We headed for a Forest Service CG called Kings Hill which is at the top of a pass. At 7,400 feet it promised us a break from the heat. It was closed. So we took another place 1,500 feet down.  

It's 95 outside and 88 inside. 9% humidity. The same inside temperature we had yesterday with the AC running all afternoon. The weather is forecast to be cooler starting tomorrow. We shall see.

We haven't built a campfire in a decade or more. In hot weather - no way. But, today we had one and it cooled us off. We were outside with the fan blowing the flies off us. I looked up and saw the sun was shielded by dense smoke from a not-so-distant fire. That's why some ashes were falling on us. It was a blessing. The smoke cleared by 4:30 so perhaps it was a controlled burn and it was quitting time.

Wednesday, June 16 - We continued north on US89. The drive down the Belt Mountains is delightfully scenic. I was able to drive 30-35 and enjoy the roadside and not hold anyone up. There were two mining towns with homes going back 90+ years.

Secret Missile - Barely seen in the photo above

We did the weekly marketing at the new huge Great Falls Walmart. We called our new friend and he met us and took us to lunch. We spent the afternoon jawing. 

Great Falls is not RV-friendly. Only one campground and it's next to I15. No thanks. Days End directed us to a vacant lot where we found a level spot and spent a quiet night

Thursday, June 17 - We drove west on MT200. Half of the drive was through prairie with distant views. I don't know of a way to capture it with a camera. You would need a wide-angle lens - nearly 140 degrees and then you would need a 4x6 feet print to see the detail. 

When we arrived in Lincoln we discovered we had parked here in 2019. Same site. The same couple from Great Falls was parked across from us.

Dorothy grilled pork chops and baked cauliflower.

We took a drive up into the low mountains. We never found the lake we wanted to find, but we found a lake. I did not take a single picture. Back in town, I had a dish of Huckleberry ice cream and Dorothy had a chocolate shake.

Friday, June 18 - We took 200 to MT36. Sealy Lake sounded familiar, but I could not place it. I did when we got to Salmon Lake which is just south of Sealy in a chain of lakes. A delightful appearing lake with homes lining the shores. We had camped near Sealy in 2019. Part of dementia is every morning you are like a new baby duck.

Did I screw up or was I screwed? My source of information on the FS CG was it was No Reservations. We got there by 11AM but the few no reservation sites had already been snagged.  I should have known better than to try to get into a CG with a water feature on a weekend. The last half mile to the CG was on the dustiest road we have ever been on. Of course, I washed the Jeep yesterday. Montana dust is white and very fine. We fixed spaghetti in the day-use area and then a nap. Then we continued to Kalispell parking on the grass at the fairgrounds.

I did not notice my passport had expired until a month before we left. I sent in the renewal and since it has been two months I checked on the status. They show it was received a month after I mailed it and it will take three months to process. That rules out visiting Waterton while we are in the area.

Saturday, June 19 - We spent most of the day visiting with a friend who shares interests with us. She took us to Panda Express. We had seen the restaurant signs before but never been in one. Decent food. Marred by a Chinese woman who did not abla so much and a loud kitchen fan that made understanding her impossible for me.

Sunday, June 20 - We did laundry at Dirty Dan's which has a door opening into a casino. Most gas stations in Montano have a casino. The rest of the day was pretty much a repeat of Saturday.

Monday, June 21 - We got Dorothy's laptop to an Apple store to figure out why it is gobbling up our bandwidth. Malware suspected. Four days into the cycle and it has eaten up 1/3 of our monthly allotment.

The clerk at the Apple store would not admit us without a mask. She was wearing one of those worthless gaither masks.  She said they had to be very careful as they were the only Apple store in NW Montana. I said we were vaccinated. That's when she pissed me off by saying people would just say they were vaccinated. Nickel to a dime she was not vaccinated.

Dorothy wants a haircut. Oddly there are only a few salons in the town. She got the only appointment open at Walmart.

 Tuesday, June 22 - We went north on US93 passing through Whitefish, which must be the Gatlinburg of the west. Upscale! We continued north to Rexford. Days End promised free parking at the city park. Parking was big enough for vans and offered a railway switching yard only 100 yards distant.

We had passed a gorgeous aquamarine lake on the way to Rexford and it had a Forest Service campground. But we found no turnaround until we got to Rexford. After rejecting the city park and another RV park we went back to Lake Dickey and signed up for two nights. The aqua marine water color is like many of the lakes in BC and Alberta and Glacier. 

Rexford must have over two real estate offices.