After I explained our recent vacation to him, a friend asked, “Why don’t you just stay home? It would be easier.”
Because then there would be no stories.
This one began on a mid-July Friday morning. We headed northeast, over a mountain pass, through Great Falls, then down into the Little Belt Mountains. Our hearts were light, the day beautiful, and our electric gadgets minimum. (And somewhat useless at times with no cell service.)
We explored some areas on our way, discovering a fix-er-upper with cows, and eventually made it to Many Pines Campground. Our tent doesn’t quite whip up in the five minutes that Coleman advertises, but it is significantly speedier than our last one, and doesn’t require figuring out poles. We’re bear-wary campers, so took out a minimum of stuff.
Good thing. The rain started around five, so we abandoned everything for the inside of the tent. Before the night was done, there was lightning, heavy rain, and hail. If you’re thinking, not an auspicious beginning, you’re right!
The next day was easy, other than the death hike my DH took me on. The waterfall, when we got there was beautiful, and there were many charming floes of water, but it was all uphill, at altitude. Fortunately, it obeyed my hiking rule: the return trip must be downhill or level.
One of our other rules is that we camp for two days and then find a motel for a shower. It’s amazing how much I need my creature comforts as I get older. We spent a day traveling across a large chunk of the state, following the path of the Musselshell River, one of the places named by Lewis and Clark because of the large amount of mussels in its waters. It was a pleasant ride, followed by a nice night in the Big Sky Motel in Roundup. The motel, like our dinner that night, was about what we expected from a small Montana cow town. The restaurant had quite a few older people who’d lived in the area most of their lives–making eavesdropping on their conversations entertaining.
The trip went downhill from there. We intended to stay at the Crooked Creek Campground, 56 miles of dirt roads next to where the Musselshell used to join the Missouri. The juncture, along with Lewis and Clark’s campsite, is now covered by Ft. Peck Reservoir.
In contrast to last campground, this was hot … and treeless. The temperature was due to go up to 100 the next day. We found a spot, set up our chairs under a screened tent, sat and sweated for about fifteen minutes, and packed back up.
Out another 56 miles on dirt roads and off to Lewistown, the nearest town likely to have a hotel.
We missed the last room at the Super8 by five minutes.
We wound up in the Mountain View Motel. If you’re ever in Lewistown, folks, DO NOT stay here. Even if you must drive another few hours to Great Falls, move on.
My first clue should have been the turquoise decorated knife display behind the little old lady who checked me in. The room, in a dark corner of the motel, was Führerbunker (cement blocks painted white) meets tacky second-hand furniture.
It was less than clean.
Ah … the stories … as long as we don’t have to relive the bad parts. :-)) But these are the times we know our love is strong. We make the best of it, laugh when it’s over and are gentle with each other while it’s happening.
Great Falls made up for the three days–LaQuinta was lovely and the recommended restaurant, Wines by Wednesday, was lovely. The food was excellent (We had pork chops), the wine stellar, and the service quite friendly. The whole atmosphere was one of good food, good friends, and good living. In contrast to the motel we shall not name, this place is a definite destination.
How have your summer adventures been treating you? Leave a comment. do it before August 15th, and I’ll enter you in a drawing for any one of my e-books — your choice!