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Published: August 16th 2016
When last we left you the Ram was pointed toward the east. Well we made it to Montana and we have certainly made the most of our time here in “Big Sky Country”. We did pass through Idaho way up on the panhandle which didn’t give us much of a chance to really see the state and unfortunately what we did see was mostly shrouded with rain clouds. We plowed ahead toward our primary mission goal which was to visit Yellowstone and that meant staying somewhere near the West Yellowstone entrance. After phone calls to the numerous RV parks near the west entrance we discovered they were all full so we started electronically working our way back up the road only to stumble across the Blue Moon Saloon and RV Park. Fortunately they had just gotten two cancellations which opened up a spot for us in their little 8 site backyard park. What a deal, a fair price for parking behind the only saloon and café for miles, being just a few minutes away from the Madison River (a fly fishing mecca, see the movie “A River Runs Through It”) surrounded by great folks and wonderful views under near perfect weather.
We made the most of it, dining at the café and getting a good night’s sleep before waking up early to head out for the crown jewel of national parks. We quickly found that all the families staying in those overbooked West Yellowstone RV Parks were also up early and visiting the park but once we got past the entrance road we all sort of scattered and even though there were big crowds at some of the more popular sites, like Old Faithful, most of the time it didn’t feel really crowded. Our first attempt at seeing Old Faithful was a bust. The parking lot was packed with some cars on the grass and in the center dividers. We decided to take a pass and see the rest of the sights, planning to come back late in the afternoon. Great plan. We headed around the Grand Loop Road, stopping at the Sulphur caldrons, the geyser basins, the steaming springs, the spewing fountains, the bubbling mud holes, the crystal clear lakes and the thunderous water falls, hiking to the sites as best we could at an average altitude of about 7,500 ft. While the park is incredibly beautiful there is something
very spooky about being in the center of a volcanic caldera and seeing the heart of the volcano still beating as it pushes up geysers, hot springs, fumaroles and mud pots. Whenever you look up you see the rim of the volcano above you and driving the Loop Road to 8,300 feet and looking down on the basin produces an eerie feeling that for some reason you really shouldn’t be here too long. We made our way back to Old Faithful for one of the late afternoon spewing’s and our plan had worked perfectly. Front row parking and front row seating provided us with the thrill of being up close for the most iconic event at any national park in America. We waited about thirty minutes watching as the geyser bubbles and spits from time to time, building the suspense and nervous anticipation, waiting for the big event. Finally the pressure builds up to the boiling point and for roughly three minutes the big geyser violently clears its throat making room for more hot water coming up from the deep. By the time the encore happens we are all on our way toward the exits, catching a perfect sunset over
the Yellowstone River to end our 12 hour park tour. It was worth every minute. The next day we jumped on the bike and road to Virginia City, Montana, a gold mining town that still stands much as it did in the 1860’s. The buildings are original, not rebuilt like most of the ghost towns that we have visited in other places, so it was really interesting to walk through town and talk with the locals about their history. We made a stop in Ennis on the way back, bought our two- day Montana fishing license, and went home to change from riding clothes to fishing clothes. We spent about 2 hours on the river which we found very swift and pretty slippery for wading. I hooked a trout on a floating grasshopper fly, played him for a few minutes and lost him in the swift current. While I would have liked to get a picture just the thrill of fishing the Madison and hooking a fish was enough. The next morning I made the mistake of asking if we could wash the truck at the site. Sure, and you can wash the RV if you want. So Michelle and
I spent the next four hours scrubbing the Alaskan, Canadian, and American bugs off the front of the truck and RV, washing the mud and rocks from the undercarriage and pretty much spit shining the whole rig. Be careful what you ask for. After a short afternoon fishing trip we came back, packed up and prepared to visit George Armstrong Custer at the Little Big Horn. As you can tell, we are making the most of our visit to Montana.
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