Taking The Long Way Around & Seeing So Much.

Last part of our vacation trip Glacier National Park.

School & Mason Building at Bannack State Park, MT

Thursday 07/29/21 Slept in and then got all packed up. I looked at the map and we decided to go east on I-90 for a ways and then head south, following the Lewis and Clark trail. Oh, we are glad we took this route and it only added about 15 minutes or so. We aren’t in a rush so this was nice.

Beaverhead, MT

We found a historical site and stopped. So glad we did because this told of how this whole Beaverhead area got its name. The Indians named a rock formation Beaverhead because that is what it looked like to them. This became a marker for Indians and later other people as to where to go when they reached it.

Fascinating Journal Entry By Meriwether Lewis on August 8, 1805

We drove on to Dillon and to our campground. It is a former KOA with nice lots and green grass. Outside on the door was taped everyones name and site number on a campground info paper. We drove to our pull through and set up under a nice shady tree. The gravel site was a little unlevel and we had to add a block or two under the wheels on one side. Kevin and I debated how many blocks we would need. I thought it was good enough but he thought one. So we put one down and Kevin drove HOWE on it. I looked at the level on the bumper of HOWE and saw it was perfectly level. I can’t have this because he is right! So I grabbed a pebble and put it under one side of the level. Then I stood in front of that side as Kevin came back to check. The look on his face was so funny! “How can that be? Completely bubble off?” HAHA I couldn’t  help it and started laughing as I moved away. He chased me and tickled me. Note: the next stop, he looked for pebbles under the level. 🙂

Someone thinks he is Lewis and Clark! HA

By this time it was 12:30 and I was hungry. We took our picnic lunch a mile down the road to Clark’s Lookout State Park. There wasn’t much there but we read a few signs and then walked a small trail to the top. You can see for miles, if there wasn’t wildfire smoke. The signs talked about how detailed Clark was with his maps and the equipment he had with him to  know where he was (compass, sextant, etc.). They also had a Log Line but didn’t use it much. Sailors would use this to see how fast they were going. A log line had a piece of wood with a rope. The rope had “knots” at certain intervals. The rope was fastened to the ship and the wood and rope thrown overboard. As the line got pulled in the water, the sailer would count the number of knots that went past in 30 seconds. The time was done with a sand glass. Thus, the speed in “knots”. After this, we stopped in at the local visitor center. We got some pamphlets for later. Then it was back to HOWE to write in the travel journal and relax. Dinner was eaten outside on the picnic table – rotisserie chicken and fresh string beans. Yum.

Friday 07/30/21 We didn’t wake up until 9:15. Kevin offered to “cook” this morning. Nice. That means McDonalds. We haven’t been able to cook outside at all this entire trip due to the thick wildfire smoke. It grosses us out to think of cooking food in it. You can see the ash falling everywhere.

Bannack State Park, Montana

We went to Bannack State Park. This was near the top of our favorite sites this trip! Bannack was where the first gold was discovered in Montana on July 28, 1862. The town grew to a population of over 3,000 by 1863. The unique thing about this town is that there are 50 buildings still standing and you can actually walk through many of them. And, they haven’t been moved. We parked and walked to the visitor center to get info and pay the fee. On the door was a sign to watch for rattlesnakes because they had been seen in the town. Eeek!! I hate snakes, no matter what kind or size. We paid the fee and got the $2 information booklet. This was a big help because it gave a lot of information for each building and spot. We walked to the first building and looked inside the windows. As we turned around, there was a huge snake. I squealed and ran to the side. Kevin said he saw next to the snake a dead chipmunk; he is sure the snake killed it. Most of the buildings had walls of plaster and lath. You could see wallpaper peeled off and the boards. Some of the floors had laminate over the 3-4 inch wide floor boards.

Bannack State Park, Montana

It was a typical “old west town” with gun fights. At one point, a sheriff was a convicted felon who had walked out/escaped the front door of a jail in California. There was a jail but most people didn’t want to guard the jail because they wanted to be out getting gold. So a lot of people were hung. The gallows were in direct view of the jailhouse windows. HAHA Several people were even hung in a house. The saloon still has the old bar and it was beautifully carved. During the Civil War, the town was also divided and the northerners coming to the town stayed outside in an area called “Yankee Flats”. It took us about 2 1/2 hours to walk the town. We left the park and turned left to go towards Jackson, Wisdom and around Hwy 43 to I-15. We were excited to see several barn/garages with RVs parked there. It looks like home bases for full time RVers. Fun!!! We climbed to an overlook of 7000 ft. At the historical site, we read about a device that was invented in this area to lift hay up so it can be stacked. Incidentally, we saw quite a few of these in large farm fields. Do they still really use them? Do they use horses to raise and lower the fork? This was also along the Lewis & Clark trail and was the highest point in elevation they came, according to the sign. The view was of a Big Hole which has a large flat valley with mountains around it. There is a lot of cattle here and one ranch alone has 13,000 acres.

Large Hay Bales, Polaris, Montana

There is quite a bit of farming here. The Jefferson Valley, along the river was flat with what we think are mountains off in the distance. Smoke is too thick to see far. We saw hundreds and hundreds of cows and bales of hay. Not kidding. At one point, everywhere you looked you saw big round bales of hay. We wonder where the bales are stored. Some fields had two swathers working, two balers working, and several tractors. Another observation: places around here don’t have a lot of gas stations. Little towns, no gas stations. They must have to travel a long way to get gas. The landscape changed along the way. From large, open valleys to canyons lined with rock and trees.

Montana Wildfire

At one point, we even went around a wildfire and could see the smoke from the trees. I spotted an eagle on some rocks. The rocks overlooked a large valley that is farmed. We pulled over and watched for a while. Kevin said it is a bald eagle and looked to be over 2 ft tall. Back to Dillon, we stopped at a auto parts store to get some fuses. Kevin discovered the horn didn’t work nor our truck camera. Pull out the fuse, put it back in and it worked. HAHA Well, we have extras if needed. The store listed in The Traveler’s Quilting book didn’t have fabric, just yarn. Back to HOWE. I heated up BBQ sweet pork for nachos. The mosquitos are horrible at this camp. We guess because it is by the Beaverhead River and the river moves along slowly through here.

Camping at a city park in Blackfoot, ID.

Overnight camping at Blackfoot, Idaho. The city lets you camp in the Sports Park parking lot for just a few days. Even had water and electric hook ups.

This trip was really nice and of course we enjoyed it. We saw Glacier National Park. It was a bit disappointing but perhaps it was due to the thick wild fire smoke and all the crowds of people so we couldn’t even park and hike. We learned fabulous history and stories from locals that we would have missed out on if not asked for recommendations of places to see. Historical markers offer insights to the past that makes you get out your iPhone, look up for more information, and marvel at what you learn.

6 thoughts on “Taking The Long Way Around & Seeing So Much.”

  1. I loved this post. I didn’t know that about Blackfoot camping. We go through there quite often. We’ll probably stay there sometime. Did you have to make a reservation? They way you wrote brought the stories of the gold town to life. This is sandra

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    1. We always make reservations. We love the freedom of travel, but like to know where we will be parking that night. When we were there it was very quiet and peaceful. I bet when there are baseball tournaments it would be a little more hectic. 😎

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  2. This is an account of somewhere I’ve never been. It was fascinating! Thank you for sharing the travel so I can learn about Different parts of our country.

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