Thursday, June 19, 2014

Rain, rain go away.....

Staying with the hippies at Mountain View Motel and Campground  in Buffalo, WY was a great choice although our neighbors were quite close and somewhat too neighborly.  The staff bent over backwards to accommodate - letting us use extensions for the electric and cable.  We met a nice guy from Hillsborough TX who was heading to Gillette for the Airstream rally.  Tony was driving a 1985 Airstream 6 cylinder turbo diesel motor home, a rare find that he in the process of renovating. The picture is not of Tony's rig but of another one that has been completely renovated.

We rode our bikes downtown to explore Buffalo on Sunday morning but didn’t expect to find too much open.  We happened upon a three-on-three basketball tournament near city hall and the museum.

We locked our bikes on the street and stepped into the Wild West – enjoying liquid libations in the saloon in the Occidental Hotel at 10:30 in the morning.  We chatted with the barkeep, a fellow Texan from the Bastrop area wearing a Longhorns cap, about what it's like to live in Buffalo.  He didn't recommend it during the winter, of course, and seemed kind of bored with the whole town.
We wondered down to The Sports Lure, a sporting goods, western wear, and outfitter.  It was three or four stores all connected inside the old downtown store fronts.  They sold flying fishing equipment, ski and camping supplies, concealed carry purses, guns, and clothing.  They even had boogie boards next to plastic sleds.  Kathy bought a new field bag and discussed shipping her gun to Alaska.  We moved on to the art pottery store and the rest of downtown, collecting visual mementos since they take up absolutely no room in the RV!

Getting hungry, we headed home, cleaned the RV, ate lunch and drove out to see the Johnson County airport.  The evening was relaxing and we worked on the blog.  Joy drove down to a little ice cream shop we’d passed earlier in the day, Lickity Splits, and purchased ice cream treats.  They have a great selection of flavors and textures and Joy wants to go back to try the artistic spaghetti and meatballs ice cream - vanilla ice cream shaped like spaghetti with strawberry sauce, and chocolate meatballs.

The neighbors’ grand kids sharing the picnic table was a little irritating because they moved our bikes without asking and sat outside our door for several hours.  They weren't too loud, though, and we were in bed as usual around 9:30.  Buffalo, WY must be the quietest town on earth and we slept well all night until Keila wanted to play ball in the morning at 5:30.

Kathy decided to use the gun store in Buffalo to ship her gun to Alaska. After a few calls back and forth, it was apparently shipped to the Alaskan shop’s headquarters near Anchorage instead of their outpost in Tok. After a few e-mails to the HQ office manager, we hope it will be delivered via the Tok grocery store. LOL She’s sure it will find her before we leave Alaska and really isn't too worried about it.

The road to Billings was nice - no wind, no rain and lots of pronghorns.  Driving by rivers that were high and inviting, we stopped to walk the dogs at a beautiful wayside rest.

We saw the signs for the Little Big Horn Battlefield and knew that was our next destination.  There wasn't any trailer parking available so the ranger instructed us to take the 4.5 mile interpretive drive.  It was a beautiful day with steady winds along the ridge where bugles blew and men fell in pools of blood for no good reason. Custer’s troops and the native Americans they were sent to destroy died in these fields during a June long ago.  You could feel death among the wild flowers as the horses echoed ghosts of fallen warriors. At one point, as we read about three natives who died on a ridge overlooking the battlefield, we looked over to the very ridge and saw exactly three horses standing there, overlooking the battlefield.  As we write this it still deeply moves us.

We left the park hungry and searched Billings, MT for the Don Luis restaurant which was supposed to have excellent jalapeno poppers and Indian tacos.  Billings was not impressive and of course it began to storm as we parked.  The restaurant was dark and lacked a single window. We thought, “well, if there’s a tornado we’re in the perfect spot.”  The poppers were great (and HOT) but the Indian fry bread didn't live up to its reputation.  At least we were out of the weather as we ate and the downtown homeless population dispersed before we returned to the RV.

Leaving Billings was a crazy trek up a ridge to the airport round about. The storms returned but we found our next scheduled stop of Harlowton City Park easily. The park was nice and was located near a rodeo arena.  The bathrooms were open and clean with a fresh coat of paint.  The site had electric only but we were prepared as we had filled our fresh water tank before leaving Buffalo.

We waited for the rain to stop after parking but it never really did.  We walked the dogs and set up in the rain, looking for the pay box but couldn't locate it.  As we were preparing to eat leftovers for dinner a guy with the city pulled up and we paid him our $15.  He said we could have paid at the sheriff’s office if he hadn't stopped by.

The park, like the campground in Buffalo, was very quiet.  We couldn’t find any TV stations so we watched “Desert Hearts” (probably the 25th time for Kathy.)  Joy wondered what Cinema Sips would suggest as a drink with this movie (hint hint, Elizabeth.)

The next morning we left - in the rain.  Before getting dressed Joy walked the dogs and discovered her swim shoes match her pajamas.  Of all the discoveries we’ve had over the past 10 or so days this one tickled her the most!

We turned north to avoid steeper grades but the drive was mostly wet.  Joy saw  two elk and a few pronghorn. Kathy saw several Humvees and wondered where the missiles were.  Mostly we saw farm country, including wind farms.  Every state has had at least one large wind farm thus far.

Frances decided that two pillows were perfect

Great Falls is kind of sleepy with casinos that aren't rally casinos but rather some kind of video bingo.  We stayed at a pet friendly Motel 6 while the RV got an oil change and inspection.  The hotel was minimal but very clean.  We walked to the nearby Best Western, a sister hotel, to print the dogs’ rabies certificates in case we needed them to cross the border.  We ordered pizza (a treat!) and Kathy was asleep before 9:00 as Joy got her TV fix and fought Frances for space in bed.

We were all early to rise, as usual, thanks to Keila wanting a potty trip.  Of course, it was raining and cold.  Joy headed to CVS and then Albertson’s for a tetanus shot and bought a few groceries while Kathy and the pups gassed up the RV.  A quick re-wrap of the bikes, hitching up the Jeep and we were back on the road again.  We stopped at a Conoco Phillips for fresh water, drove by Froze Out Lake, saw Canadian geese with goslings and another Humvee.

Found a lovely section of highway 89 that was six miles of gravel, Kathy's favorite, as the rain continued and the creeks rose, the water in the ditches rose, the rivers rose, the water in the tire tracks rose…..

We cut across the northeast corner of Glacier National Park and the rain turned to ice.  We crossed into Canada in the park and it was easy.  Declared our pepper spray and were allowed to keep it.  Didn’t have to show vaccination records for the pups, weren’t asked about alcohol, and we weren’t inspected.  We were asked about what we do for work and told that our bike cover was flapping (oh, did the duct tape fail??)

Kathy braved the weather and checked the bikes.  Sure enough, the cover ripped at another seam - more duct tape is in order.  The Rockies were no longer teasing us but had made their presence very known, even in the rainy fog.  Their snow-capped presence brought tears to our eyes.  Yeah, it’s real.

Driving into Pincher Creek on our way to Beauvais Lake Provincial Park we listened about all the flooding on the radio.  We saw a campground sign and decided we should stop instead of driving to the park. Canadian officials were everywhere watching the rivers and checking bridges.  By the way what’s the bridge clearance in meters - quick do the math.  LOL

Despite a cold, rainy drive we are good – in fact, we’re great.  We are at Pincher Creek Veterans Campground and besides the host there is only one other camper here.  The swollen river is roaring behind us and it’s raining - but we got WiFi, folks, so enjoy!

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