wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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A Cool Trip – Part 2

After leaving Washington and crossing the approximately 70 miles of Idaho panhandle on I-90, we arrived at the Montana border at Exit 0. From this point, high up  (4,710 ft.) in Lookout Pass which is in the Rockies in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains of the Bitterroot Range, we began our descent into Montana. At Exit 16, the Silver Dollar Casino is a main attraction.

We don’t gamble, but we patronize the restaurant in this establishment, and we always fill our gas tanks there, both coming and going. Behind the casino, free RV parking with electricity is available. It makes our one-night stay there very comfortable.

Last year at this place, we saw wild turkeys just behind our rig. They were very daring (or stupid) because it was close to our Canadian Thanksgiving. But to give them credit, they were American turkeys so they wouldn’t have known that – American Thanksgiving being much later.

This night at Exit 16 was to be our last pleasant night for a while to come.

 


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A Cool Trip – Part 1

We left Vancouver Island on our way to eastern Montana. Having waited out the unexpected September 30th blizzard, we hoped to find that the worst was over after a few days of traveling.

In the southern interior of British Columbia is the Similkameen Valley, probably best known for being a wine growing region of the South Okanagan.

For us, it was a good place to stop for a quick coffee and sandwich while the dogs stretched their legs.

Then we continued on with our truck and trailer to the U.S. border into Washington and Coulee City.

The Coulee City Community Park provides RV parking and a lovely setting on the south end of Banks Lake, a reservoir created in 1942 after the completion of the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River.

Our stay at Coulee City was perfect, but the worst was yet to come. Stay tuned.


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What’s in a Name?

Dunkirk, Zurich, Malta, Glasgow, Cleveland, Devon, Rudyard, Harlem, Jordan, Belgrade, Amsterdam-Churchill, Havre, and Manhattan. These are names of places all over the world, but they are also names of places in Montana.

On our way home we stopped for the night in Zurich. Not Zurich, Switzerland, but Zurich, Montana. It’s a tiny farming community where the people drive their ATVs down the middle of  the road if they’re taking their trash to the local garbage dump. You just have to slow down and wait until they make their turn into the dumping station up ahead on the left.

Then you can continue on to the little gem of a community park where they kindly allow campers to stay the night for a mere  ten-dollar fee for electricity. Such a peaceful location.

The community hall was not in use the day we were there, camped in the corner.

The view from my trailer window is of black cottonwoods that whisper as they drop their last golden leaves. The only notably loud sound was made by the pheasant who cackled enthusiastically before taking wing out of the creek bed beside our trailer.

I thought it odd that Montana has so many names that duplicate other places in the world, but on looking more closely at the map, I saw names of a completely different sort:  Poplar, Wolf Point, Plentywood, Buffalo, Cat Creek, Musselshell, Rattlesnake, Lodgepole, Sleeping Buffalo, Whitewater, Crow Rock, Grass Range, Forest Grove, Roundup, Deer Lodge, Cut Bank, Sunburst, Sweetgrass, Fox Crossing, Chinook, Gold Butte.

Montana names are such fun!

 


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Passing By

Leaving the dreary, rainy west coast behind took a few hours longer than expected, as the wet weather stretched eastward for more than 100 miles.

But on the highway between Hope and Princeton (in BC),  the clouds lifted and the day became quite pleasant. Ruby and Emma were happy to get out of their traveling crates to have a quick swim and a dash along the banks of the Similkameen River.

At Osoyoos we crossed the Canada/US border and headed for Omak and then eastern Washington. The sun played games on the fields, turning them golden when it peeked out over cloud banks.

The pullout after reaching the summit at Mullan Pass in Montana allowed time for a five-minute break and the snapping of a photo.

Winding our way along the Clark Fork and the Missouri Rivers, we ooh-ed and ah-ed at the scenery. Rocky formations on one side, and gorgeous river on the other.

As we got closer to our destination in eastern Montana and the hills were not so pronounced, we saw more coyotes, hawks, and several groups of pronghorn antelope. This bunch allowed me a quick drive-by shooting if I promised not to hurt them as we whizzed past.

Having arrived, I will post eastern Montana photos for the next while. Had to laugh as I wrote that “I have arrived.”


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Dorothy in Kansas?

Four years ago we camped in Montana and I learned how close it was to Dorothy and Toto’s Kansas. We parked our 19-foot trailer in a clean, new RV Park. The Captain decided to do a reconnaissance trip while I settled in to catch up with my email.

“Perfect,” I thought, “I’m going to enjoy my little bit of alone time.” Twenty minutes later, disaster struck.

When we first arrived, the Captain put up the trailer awning. You would think he knew about raising sails…. I made the mistake of suggesting that this was not a good idea because northeastern Montana is prairie-like and the wind whistles  unimpeded across the land. Of course, as soon as I  said “Don’t,” he did. Why don’t I learn?

“If it’s too windy, I’ll take it down,” he’d said.

He left. I settled in,  enjoying my laptop and connecting with friends by email. Moments later, the whole trailer began to shake. A big gust of wind buffeted it. Visions went through my head –  the trailer with me inside, bouncing across the prairie like a giant vinyl tumbleweed. I pulled the curtains aside and looked out the window. The canvas was billowing high, and the aluminum support on one side had collapsed so the awning hung onto the trailer at an odd twisted angle.

53More gusts. I had to do something or we might roll over. Outside, I stood wondering what to do. If I did the wrong thing, a big wind gust  could rip the awning or the aluminum supports out of my hands and smash them into the trailer. One support was higher than the other. I tried to lower it one notch at a time by opening the lever and un-telescoping the support. You would think that was the sensible and easy thing to do, except that the pin that holds the telescoped part in place is no longer responding to the lever action when I try to release it. The pin is either broken off or hanging by a thread. I muscled the thing to push it up and used needle-nosed pliers to poke the metal pin back through the slots that held the support in place, but all it did was slide into the next slot down and the struggle began all over again. The old whiplash injury in my neck began to scream in pain at the effort and I had to give up for a while. More gusts of wind. I tried again. More neck pain. I gave up and resigned myself to becoming a tumbleweed.

52I didn’t get much emailing done, or enjoy my “alone time.” I fretted until the Captain came back.

What I had struggled with for two hours took him less than five minutes to fix.

“Huh!” he said, “I didn’t think it was going to be that windy.”

I was dying to say “I told you so,” but what would have been the point?


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Thar’s Snow in Them Thar Montana Hills

This past October 4, when we started our annual Montana trip, it seemed that the snow came early – at least, up in the hills it did. Driving toward eastern Montana, we wondered if we would be in for more snow and whether our little trailer was going to keep us warm enough. Should we maybe have brought our skis?

The stretch between Helena and Great Falls is always a beautiful drive along the Missouri River. Sometimes we’ve seen snow on the hilltops on our way home in later October, but this was the beginning of the trip and the weather was worrying the wimp in me.

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The temperature was a chilly 4 degrees C. (or about  39 degrees, for those using Fahrenheit) and I tried to keep my trepidation in check. Would I enjoy this wintery trip when I had expected summer temperatures, at least in the daytime?

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This herd of mule deer gawked at us as we drove by. I’m sure they were shaking their heads and thinking, “Tourists! What a time of year to come to Montana!”  But they didn’t know how much we love this state.

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Goodbye Montana

Soon it will be time to leave this sunny place and head home to the wet West Coast. It will be good to get home but I’ll miss the beautiful, sparsely populated state of Montana.

The night air is getting cool enough that one day soon it may snow. It’s time to think of taking our travel trailer home again. For us, adding a month of sunshine and warmth has been a welcome extension of the fall, with almost summery conditions. When we get back to the coast it will make the winter seem not quite as long.

The signs are there, telling us it’s time to go. The white-fronted geese cackled high above us yesterday, flying along the Missouri River, eventually ending up in warmer climes … and probably we should be thinking of doing the same soon too.

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Even the leaves on the tree below are wanting to blow away. See how they’re all leaning away from the wind? Like the leaves, we won’t be able to cling to this paradise much longer. It’s time for us to ride off into the sunset.

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