Mike knew I was disappointed not to stay in Bozeman, and in his search for an RV park he found the Square Dance RV park in Lolo, Montana where the RV park has a dance-hall and they dance 3-4 times a week. I have heard about this of course, and always thought that would be fun… But didn’t mention it to him, and was quite surprised when he suggested all on his own that we should stay there for the month of August… Woo hoo!
But, alas, it was all booked up!. So were all the other parks in Missoula. We ended up with 2 weeks at “Jim and Mary’s RV Park”, which is a very popular park, in a very pleasant pine grove just West of town. Mike decided to get to town and visit the other parks before making further plans.
In the meantime some travel for work was being scheduled and coordination between work travel, RV bookings and our desire to be certain places was becoming difficult. Then throw in the forest fire situation around Missoula.. Aaargh!
Since I really wanted to go to Glacier National Park, and I was worried that the business travel might interfere, we adjusted to go right after Jim & Mary’s and finish the Missoula stay after. We went down to the Square dance campground in Lolo and since our dates had changed they did have one open slot. Mike wasn’t sure we should take it, because this particular spot had a couple issues, but I convinced him that we ought to take it, even if we cancelled later. The receptionist assured us that it would be gone by noon.
We proceeded to visit the other campgrounds in Missoula and found not one had a spot for us… So we were glad to have the reservation in Lolo. We got down to the business of enjoying Missoula.
The weather was pretty nice, except for the smoke. We got in a round of golf at the university course, we rode a short bike tour of the river walk area. Our favorite thing in Missoula was the farmer’s markets!. Two huge farmer’s markets and a craft fair every Saturday. We didn’t miss a Saturday. And it was cherry season. Flathead lake, just north of Missoula is famous for their cherries. I think this is the first summer of my life that I actually are enough cherries… If that is even possible.
Our other favorite thing in Missoula was that we went about 2 hours out of town to ride the Hiawatha Trail (http://www.ridethehiawatha.com/). It is part of the Rails to Trails program in the US where they are converting old railroad tracks into bike/hiking trails. This one is right on the Idaho Montana border. The trail is 15 miles long with 10 tunnels and 7 trestle bridges.
The first tunnel just at the start is 1.7 miles long, very dark/very damp/very cold/ and very fun! The BEST part is that is it ALL downhill, and includes a shuttle that brings you back to the start. It takes about 3 hours including the shuttle… so we were out all day with the 2-hour drive at either end. Thanks to our friends in Bozeman who suggested this to us…
KALISPELL, MT/GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
We headed up to Kalispell for our week near Glacier. (Stopping by a cherry stand along way). When we checked in at “Rocky mountain RV Park ” the host said. “Oh, your going to Glacier on Saturday?. Be prepared to be disappointed!”. Great!. Ya know… it is what it is.
We actually had a very nice day in Glacier, although the views were definitely muted due to smoke.
We also had a chance to take in the huckleberry festival in whitefish. A small art fair, but plenty fun for a day outing.
Again to Mike’s surprise the fishing around Kalispell was not very good. All the water in the area was too slow. In Missoula, his first few choices to fish was closed due to fire, and the other choices were too big to fish without a float boat. So once again the fishing in Montana has been very disappointing.
We have found our trailer/4-runner solution to haul our car to be somewhat of a pain, so Mike has been researching other vehicles that we can tow on the ground. While in Missoula we took the opportunity to visit the Jeep dealership… just looking, just dreaming of a Rubicon… BUT before we left there they had sold us a Jeep Cherokee. Didn’t know it for a few days, but I fell in love, and Mike was interested enough to keep discussing for the next few days. When we got to Kalispell we decided to call the dealership and negotiate a deal. Of course, that meant we had to drive back down to Missoula, because the deal was only going to be for today! But we did. We do not often buy new cars, and this one is pretty decked out. As our only car it will be very comfortable, for everything from long roadtrips to off-roading. We are pretty happy with it. (Watch this video to see it in action…)
Of course that left us with an extra car.. Going back to Missoula we could put one car on the trailer, and drive the other car.. but if I had to travel, which I did a week later and if Mike had to move while I was gone, which he did 4 times! he couldn’t move the RV and 2 cars by himself. SO, he got busy and sold the 4-runner in Missoula. It wasn’t too hard to sell, although we did lower our price a little more than we might have if we were not so motivated!
So back to Missoula for a week, planning to use that Lolo reservation.. But three days before we were to arrive the campground called and told us the Lolo fire was getting bigger and they might have to evacuate, but the morning of all looked ok, so we went down… I was in the car and Mike in the RV, so I went ahead of him…. When I got there the road was closed and the campground had been evacuated. SO, we had to scramble with no reservation. We got the last spot at Jellystone Park. The campground was fine, although we were so tired of the smoke that when Mike dropped me off at the airport the next week, he left for another location.
ST REGIS, MT
He moved on to St. Regis, close to the Montana/Idaho border. Alas the smoke was bad there too. At least the fishing was better, but just ok.
After a week at St Regis, Mike moved onto Pasco Washington just for one night. This was ironic to me that I was off in Brazil while Mike was in Pasco, because my sister used to live in that neighborhood and it would have been fun to visit. Oh well, we may have to do this RV life longer if I keep missing out on so much! The RV Park in Pasco was beautiful and right on the confluence of the Snake and the Columbia River.. Although only staying one night and those rivers are too big to be fishable there without floating once again.
The next week found the RV and Mike in Redmond, Oregon, just north of Bend. We had wanted to spend a month in Bend, but that didn’t work out. Mike looked around but didn’t find any good fishing gin that neighborhood either, and the smoke was as bad as Missoula, giving him a perpetual headache by now. We were ready to move out of the smoke… But where could we go…. no place close.
Finally, he moved down to Crescent, OR. Finally, it began to rain, and I came home from Brazil… Things were looking up. Finally the smoke is clearing. But the west is still burning. Meanwhile Houston is flooded and Florida is blowing away. Our troubles don’t seem so bad. Here is hoping all of our friends, families, readers, and heck all Americans weather the hurricanes and fires and come out ok. Our thoughts are with anyone in the path of these disasters.