Sunday, July 29, 2012

Fish and Glacier

While in Ekstroms Stage Station just east of Clinton, MT we kicked back and enjoyed the beauty and the local rivers to fish in.  After my first foray into the local fishing, and falling in 3 times on the first day, I got better outfitted and never fell in again. :)

I had some neighbors that came in from the Carolina and California areas.  Rudy, Ryan and Greg were there to fish.  Greg had lived in the area for awhile and had some good pointers.  I tried to act as a sponge and learn all I could.  I guess it worked since I didn't fall in again and even caught another fish (total of 2) and got several strikes and hung another, but lost it.  I didn't go all day like most other people did.  I could go 3 or 4 hours and then would have to let the inflammation in my shoulder go down for a couple of days before I went back.  Had a picture of the three guys, but deleted it by mistake. :((

One of our days out was to cross Skalkaho Pass in the Bitteroot National Forest.  Beautiful area and after crossing the pass came up on the Skalkaho Falls.  Even in the warm temps and the height of the summer, there was a lot of water coming off of the falls.  The water was even good and cool to drink.
We left the area on July 26th and headed toward Hungry Horse, MT and are staying in Canyon RV and Campground.  It is a nice place with some trees to provide a little shade and enough open space to allow for Satellite access.  It also is only 9 miles to the west gate to Glacier National Park.
Usually as we ride through these forest and parks we miss the photo of the wildlife.  It is so quick there is little time to reach for the camera much less take a picture.  The other day I got a great picture of local park wildlife.
I'm not sure if this classifies as wildlife, but it was in the wild and huge, kind of like Alice and Wonderland.

The first full day here we went on the Going to the Sun Road.  It is a fascinating and beautiful drive.  We elected to drive ourselves versus the bus or touring car route so we could go at our own pace and stay as long as we wanted to at any one location.  These pictures do not begin to offer what the view is, but merely offer a glimpse into what one may see.

As you can see very nice.  We plan on extending a couple of days to see more.  Stay tuned for the Logan Pass adventure.

Life is Pretty Good!!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dream Comes True

I have always had a dream, even before fulltiming, of catching a mountain stream trout and eating it.  Now with time the eating eat part has faded, but the dream of catching trout was still there.  With the advent of the fulltiming thing I thought that it was even more possible especially seeing Howard catching some in the places he has been.  Well as my previous post indicates (note: this is the second post for the day) I was licensed, outfitted and ready. 

My neighbors left at good daylight, but I wanted to clean the front of the MH first.  We (Carolyn was my photographer and the person that was going to try to catch me downstream) left about 1030.  We drove trying to find the perfect access so she could watch and I wouldn't have to much trouble, and there wasn't anybody around to see my first foray into fly fishing.

We found a place and got Carolyn set up in her chair.  I proceeded to enter the water and hadn't gone 15' when I slipped on the rocks and down I went.  I had my hunting waders on and I believe the clod hopper boots weren't made for nimble rock movement.  Plus these were 12" to 18" rocks to maneuver over.  Lucky for me their high and I didn't get to wet.  Downer was the vest I got seems to hold water. :(  I figured out how to empty most of that out and proceeded on.

Learned an important fact.  Walkie Talkies need to be in plastic bags, as they do not do well submerged in water. :(  It is now in a bowl submerged in rice to try and dry it out.  We'll see.

I wasn't to far from the bank and kept hitting the limbs behind me.  It took me about 30 minutes to hang my fly in a tree and that was that.  Now I had to come to the bank and recreate what these other neighbors had done for me in sitting me up.  I'm here to tell you that I tied another fly on with a perfect knot (note here: Knots are important in fly fishing). 

I put the purple haze on the guy in the store said they were hitting and got back to it.  After another 30 minutes I caught my first ever trout.  My trusty photographer wasn't ready, but came on strong.  I told her to get a picture, she said, "I can't see the fish".  To heck with the fish, its in the water take pictures of me, you can't take to many.  Well, we worked through all that and came up with a couple of pictures.  A nice rainbow trout.

Carolyn trying to find the fish.
The second spot was nicer and allowed me more movement.  The first place had me in to deep of water which added my imbalance.
The day was nice, got some experience, caught a fish, got 4 other bites and only fell in 3 times.  Carolyn wasn't ready the other two, but caught me after I got up.  She says I got up to fast, I told her the water temp was 61 deg and it was cold.
Back at the MH drying out and warming up.  Probably will go back tomorrow. 

PS - my neighbors only caught 1 fish out of 3 people.  :)

Life is pretty good.

Falling into It

It has been awhile, but we have done a lot.

We traveled to Hardin, MT last Monday.  We planned that stop to see the Little Big Horn Battlefield.  While I brought the camera, I forgot to get my card out of the computer.  It was going to be a hot day with temps around the 100 deg mark.  The campground, Grand View RV Park, has the driving tour CD's for checkout to drive the battlefield.  The CD cost $16.95 and was welcome.  It only takes about 1 1/2 hours to drive it and that was with stops to observe the terrain.

Regardless of individual feelings of the battle, Custer basically lost the battle because of lack of communication  between the elements which caused confusion among the troops and a break down of organization.

When we finished the drive it was 99 deg.  I was going to walk maybe 200 yds to the final marker.  It was uphill and about 2/3ds of the way I had to stop and catch my breath.  We left shortly after and went back to the MH and tried to stay cool.  Later that afternoon the breaker on my pole tripped 5 times.  Did I say it was HOT.

While there there were two harvest crews in the park.  Talking with one owner he told me he had 7 combines and all equipment necessary to go from field to field and harvest and take it to the market.  The farmer just pays him.  He doesn't make to the South because of the average size of the fields.  He said the biggest field he has been in was in North Dakota and was 11,000 acres.  Now that is a big field by anybody's standards.

We had met some people in Cedar Key, FL back in February and stopped in Big Timber, MT on Wednesday to say hi to Mike and Janna.  They are good folks and although we have only seen them twice now, it seems we are old friends. 

Now Big Timber did not look very big and I thought it would be a quick stop, but we were mistaken.  We stayed at Spring Creek RV Park and it was a pleasant surprise.  Although they did not have what was reserved we regrouped and had to move once, but we got our three days.  The site.

The Boulder River runs by the park and it really moves.  Mike says it drops 5000' from the top of the mountains to where it enters another river. 

At the edge of the Gallatin National Forest is the Natural Bridge.  The water runs out of the mountains there and had cut a bridge in the rock.  It has collapsed, but still goes underground and emerges downstream.  When there is a large run off it runs over the collapsed  bridge as there is too much water to go underground.
We had to move to another site in order to stay another night and have dinner with Mike and Jana.  They took us around the area to see some wildlife and scenery and we were not dismayed by either. This is some amazing country.
Dinner with Mike and Janna was great and the scenery was wonderful.  I kept my eye out for some of the bears they have seen lately, but did not see any.  Not really sure I really wanted to. :) Since it doesn't get dark until about 10 PM the evening crept away to soon.  We left with a nice picture of our friends.
We left Saturday and landed at exit 126 on I90, about 5 miles east of Clinton, MT.  Wanted to go to Missoula, MT about 20 miles away, but they didn't have room.  We are at Ekstroms Stage Station, Rock Creek, MT.  It is alright with 50 amp and sewer and I can get sat TV.  Everybody was walking around with fly fishing attire on.  I took a nap and then we drove up Rock Creek Road into the forest.  I had looked and saw that this road went all the way through and we could circle around Phillipsburg and back.  The road ran beside to creek for almost the whole way, 40 miles.  There were people fishing in a lot of spots.  When I got back, I went to the local mercantile to check it out.  I was informed that Rock Creek is one of the US Blue Ribbon Trout Fishing Streams. 

Now it has been a dream to catch a trout out of a mountain stream.  So, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to see if that could happen.  I now have a license, rod, reel, flys, and desire.  My neighbor in the park used to live here about 30 miles away and has come  back with family to do some fishing.  They went out last night and caught three in about 2 hours.  I'm ready and as you can see can get into the water.
Stay tuned for progress. :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Upper Big Horn Mountains

After we got the MH repaired, we just vegged out let the storage bays air out and dry.  It is kind of like watching grass grow, but at 13% humidity and an 8 mph wind it doesn't take all that long.  

Sunday we started out about 9:30 to ride a loop up highway 14 into the northern Big Horn Mtns and make a loop and come back on 14A.  The scenery was fantastic.  Such a diverse area with the difference in altitudes.  We topped out twice at 9300' to 9400'.  That is on the roadway.  There was a little ice/snow in places still left, some only 1/4 to 1/2 mile from the road. 

The best views were while going up the OMG highway.  It is the western entrance to the Big Horn Mtns on hwy 14A.  It lasts about 10 miles and has 10% grade the whole way.  I was going up and my truck ran up to about 220 degrees.  It was narrow and did not offer a lot of availability to pull off.  There were people pulling trailers, sometimes two, with SRW coming off the mountain.  In my defense of not getting any pictures, there were such wide views I couldn't get everything in a picture to do it justice anyway.

We took a side trip in the Big Horn Canyon National Rec Area.  It is pretty much a desert environment with a river running through it creating a deep canyon.  The top picture is of that area.  This area has 150 wild mustangs and Big Horn Sheep.  We didn't see any Sheep, but did get a picture of a couple of wild horses.  After all it was the middle of the afternoon with temps in the mid 90's.  I would have been in the shade.

I got this new camera and allows me a 55-200 zoom.  This was maxed out.

We had a great drive, but we did not get back until 6 PM which made for a long day.  The Big Horn mountains, both the upper and lower, is a beautiful area.  I know we will be back, that is unless we go over the next hill and see something better. :)  That has been happening a lot lately.  Now that I know I can boondock, the world is my oyster. :))))

We're  off to see where Custer met his match.

Friday, July 6, 2012

We Survived

Big Horn National Forest - Wyoming 
We have been offline for most of this week.  We had an opportunity to boondock with Howard and Linda.  They have a rig that is really set up for this activity and I really thought I could get over my reluctance to put my foot in the water.

Our rig has A solar panel, Inverter, 6 house batteries and a generator.  My daily activity on the solar did not meet my outgoing amperage from the  batteries, thereby increasing my need for generator usage.  We discussed over time several suggestions to increase my capabilities thus changing some parameters of the inverter/auto gen start. 

Finally, the last night, I just jumped off the deep end and turned off the inverter.  I came up sputtering and splashing and I had success.  Nothing melted in the freezer, although it went from 0 to 16 degrees and withing 3 hours had recovered.

Now to the benefits.  Wowie, Zowie did we have fun.  We are just quiet nature lovers at heart and did we get our fill of that.  After saying that, can you ever get full???  There was plenty of scenery even before we found our site.  While doing that we did have a discussion with the Forest Rangers about what was available for campsites.  End result we were right, they were wrong, and we went down the road and found a quieter spot, just couldn't see the snow all of the time.

The view.

Our campsite.

We had many more photos of the above, but you can not show them all.  I can only say the wildlife, mule deer, marmots, Linda and Carolyn saw a moose, were fantastic.

On the 4th of July we took both Howard and Linda's See Eagle and my brand new, unpacked, See Eagle Paddleski to Tie Hack reservoir for an initial cruise.  Carolyn was a little leery about how small and narrow it was, but 30 minutes into the cruise she was having a ball and felt more secure.  As you can see.

I will admit to an overwhelming moment gliding around the lake realizing that July 4th, the designated day of freedom, and with us being totally free on the boondocking experience and finally doing things we had only dreamed about.  I felt like William Wallace and wanting to yell at the top of my lungs, "F R E E D O M".  You just had to be there.  We have Howard and Linda to thank for this as much as anyone.  They gave us their history and experiences to lead us and many others to believe that this experience can be anyone's.  All you have to do is prepare and then dip that toe in the water.

We did have a minor problem upon leaving.  An engine coolant hose burst before we made it out of the mountains.  I made it to the pull off to check the brakes before continuing.  Getting out of the MH we could see coolant running out of the storage bays.  We proceeded to open and unload and try to get up as much as we could while making our calls to Coachnet to initiate help and assistance.  The tow truck arrived at 1 hour and 45 minutes after pulling off the road.  It took 2 hrs to hook up the motor home to the tow truck.  1 hour later we were at the Steve's Truck Service in Sheridan, WY for a Tuesday appointment.  The mechanic looked at it during our discussion about where to park where so I could get some kind of power, and determined that he could fix it quick. :)))
It was a 5" piece of hose connector at the Aqua Hot (I figure for an engine bypass heater).  That fixed, and 6 gallons of coolant and we were in business.  Great because it was hot in Sheridan and all I was going to have was 15 amp power. (I didn't have a 30 to 15 amp connector)  I was prepared to boondock again.  I know I can do it now.  It was just another day in paradise.
We were tired and found a local park, Peter D's RV Park.  We're staying 2 nights and will get to see the OMG hill on highway 14 in the upper Big Horn National Forest.  Stay tuned for more.

It just keeps getting better and better.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Looking for Aliens

Devils Tower, WY - We left Rapid City and took a short drive about 2 hours (120 miles) to Devils Tower, WY.  We were going to stay in the Memorial campground, but with it going to get into the high 90's and no hook ups, we ended up in the KOA at the entrance to the Memorial.  It was my first KOA and was true to form, expensive $49.00 per night, crowded, and lots of kids stirring up the dust on their bikes.  We past a campground about a mile away, Devils Tower Mountain View that had no one and the grass was growing up and probably only had about 10-15 sites.

You can do Devils Tower in an easy day.  There are two loops a paved one around the base and another that was longer and ran a little further out from the base.  We, like it seemed everyone else did, walked the paved loop.  We started early, for us (9 AM) and it was nice.  We didn't hurry and the sun was getting a little warm when we finished.  I got pictures all the way around.

There are climbers in this shot.

Carolyn started up after them, but I called her back.

After coming back from our walk (cain't really call it a hike) passed a ranger giving a talk.  A guy asked about what was on top.  He said just schrub bush and grass like you see on the floor around the bottom.  I think it is a government secret, everyone knows there is an alien landing strip on top.  I saw it in the movie. :)  Didn't see any hovering while we were there, but it was day time.
Saturday morning I poured my coffee and lifted the shade.  A trailer had come in late and this is what I saw.

It immediatly came to me that with the way he was parked he had hit my truck swinging in.  I jumped up and checked.  It was alright.  He had hit a post coming into the park and didn't even know it.  That was a close one.

When we finally got on the road, I researched GPS devices for the MH.  There are all sizes and functions to choose from.  I also love google maps on my droid.  The problem with most of these is the small screen with which to see the route.  I just liked a bigger screen.  It hit me to use Microsoft Streets and Trips with the GPS using one of the ports on my overhead TV.  Grandson Zach helped with taking the TV apart and running HDMI cables to the remaining open two ports and left them loose in the cabinet.  I just hooked them to my laptop when going down the road.  There were a few problems (learning curve), but it generally worked fine.

Got Carolyn a new laptop about a month ago.  It has the new Intel WIDI technology.  I got a wireless receiver and hooked that to one of my HDMI cables opened up the program and bam, shows exactly what is on the computer screen.

Now I just glance up and there is a nice 32" screen to view.  And to top it off, I just turn on my Zune player and shuffle through the music of my choice.

Just some of the hurdles that I have to deal with.  Life gets better everyday.

On to Gillette today to get weighed and maybe some boondocking.