We loved our stay in Wall, but it was soon time for us to pack up and head North and West. For the next several months we plan on staying around Glacier National Park and exploring as much as possible. This has been one of our ‘Bucket List’ items since we began planning our 1 year adventure. We want to hike as much of the park as possible, visit the glaciers (before they melt) swim in some of the mountain lakes (Sean will swim, too cold for Sherry), see Grizzlies in their native habitat (from a very healthy distance)… Anyway, lots and lots for us to do!
In the meantime, we have to get there. Well, we think we have already established our caution in choosing routes (yes, we can all call it fear, well, healthy respect at least). Our comfort level in packing up everything and driving has definitely increased over the last few weeks. We have our checklists and routines, believe me, those help a lot! Since hitting the road, we have seen one class A that looked like it had cut a corner too close, one 5th wheel pulling out of an RV park with wheel locks in place, boy, did that make a lot of noise. We know all won’t be perfect, but the two of us are doing our best to keep our condo on wheels in good working order. Which brings us to preventative maintenance. One of our new RV friends suggested using liquid dishwasher soap in our holding tanks before we hit the road. She said with a little water in the tanks, the driving action will help the soap clean sensors. We tried it going from Wall to Hardin, MT and it seemed to work. In Hardin, we stayed at Grandview RV Park for a few nights. The owner was great and gave us a packet of ‘Happy Camper’ organic cleaner for holding tanks. This seems to work at least as well as the dishwasher soap.
Back to our travels! We left Wall and stayed on HWY 90 all the way to Hardin. Just outside of that iconic little town of Sturgis, SD. you can get off the highway and take a two lane road that cuts off about an hour of travel time…. We stayed on 90 to Hardin. This was a gorgeous drive; the only issue was when we ran through some severe storms just outside of Rapid City. We are getting used to driving in the rain, so even that wasn’t a big deal.
Sean was eager to stay in Hardin because he wanted to visit the Little Bighorn Battlefield and Museum. Don’t forget, former history teacher, current history geek! 🙂 This is a national park, so we were able to make use of our NP pass to enter. Parking is rather limited, but there are a number of walking paths and a very nice museum. The museum is near the base of Last Stand Hill with a paved walking path leading up to the markers.
The museum, while nice, was rather small for the artifacts on display. The day we visited was busy, so we elected to skip the movie and self-tour the museum and nearby grounds. We found everything to be well marked and, like a number of locations, there was an audio tour visitors could login to through personal phones. Pretty cool! OH, we can’t comment on it because neither of us elected to listen. We preferred a quiet walk and reading the signage.
The view from the top of Last Stand Hill was amazing and if you let yourself think about it, a little eerie. With a little imagination, you could visualize what it must have looked like a little over 100 years ago.
After leaving the park, we stopped at the ‘Trading Post’ and enjoyed Bison Burgers and Indian bread with honey. Not on our bucket list, but delicious!!!
From Hardin, we headed to Deer Lodge, yes still on HWY 90. This was another lovely drive with gorgeous weather. In Deer Lodge we stayed at Indian Creek RV. Another place we highly recommend. The staff was so helpful, large spacious lots, and a wonderful view of the mountains.
Deer Lodge is between Anaconda and Drummond, MT. on Highway 90 OR the more scenic HWY 1. One day of our stay we drove to Drummond and hopped on highway 1 for the ‘loop’. We had been advised on several stops to make along the way. Phillipsburg is a small town about a third of the way along the loop. One of our neighbors at the RV park told us about a place in the town where we could ‘mine’, actually pan, for Sapphires. We were both interested, call it curious, but had no idea how much we would enjoy panning for sapphires.
Montana Gems is an unassuming shop at the beginning of Main Street. We drove past it once, sure it wasn’t what we were looking for, but then stopped and went in. Basically, you can buy a bag of rocks and clay and the proprietors will show you how to pan for sapphires. There are a number of ‘bags’ for sale, we chose to go with clay from the mine that hadn’t been checked. If you have kiddos, they also sell bags with stones that have been already planted for a surefire ‘discovery’.
We can’t tell you how relaxing and FUN this was for us. We spent well over an hour panning, and by the end of our pile of rock and clay, we found several large stones and a bunch of small ones. Hmmm, now we need to figure out what to do with them. 😉
After our panning experience, we continued our drive down the loop. The drive transitioned quickly from relatively flat valley to a winding steep climb into the mountains.- opening up to Georgetown Lake and then Silver Lake. The view was so spectacular; we had to stop for several photos.
As we continued our drive, we came to several signs leading off the road to Twin Lakes. We decided to see what we could find and quickly went from paved to, well, let’s just call it ‘rough’ roads. We were both glad we had our big 4WD truck with lots and lots of clearance. The road we took was called Twin Lakes Road; we are both glad we took it. After all, part of our adventure is about going to places most people would never find. We drove for several miles and stopped along the creek to read about the old log sluice that brought water into town. It was one of the longest wood sluices in use. Imagine that!. The water was absolutely clear.
We finished the loop in Anaconda where we didn’t take any photos of the large stack from the copper smelting plant… Our amazingly clear day had suddenly turned on us, and we were in the middle of a torrential misting.
Our last day in Deer Lodge we visited the Grant Kohrs Ranch: a national historic site dedicated to preserving the history of large cattle ranches. One of our neighbors at the RV park was working at the ranch as a volunteer with her husband.
The tour of the grounds and house were well done and definitely worth the time. We walked through the various outbuildings and sampled coffee from the chuck wagon.
Not quite thick enough to float a horseshoe, but pretty darn close.
Our time in Deer Lodge was fun, relaxing, and a good sample of what we want to get out of our adventure. Yes, we did some touristy stuff, but we also challenged ourselves to go a little further off the beaten path. We are now about a month into our journey and even more excited about what we will do and see in the future. Earlier today we were talking about how we have been in each others back pocket 24/7 for the last month. We joked that so many people had been amazed that a couple could consider spending that kind of time together. Hmmm, we are amazed that there are couples who wouldn’t jump at the chance to spend that time with their best friend and spouse. 🙂
More to come! One month down and 11 (at least) more to go.
If you would like to see more photos of our Westward journey, please visit our photography website at the following link: http://www.loveyphotography.com/Traveling-Photography/Heading-Westward/