Blog 49–Montana is excellent

Having trouble including photos again. I do want to get these words off to you, so you will see photos later when the connection is better.
What a wonderful life on the road for Tina and I, if you ever get the chance to do the same, you must partake. Right now our plan is to visit all 56 National Parks (NP). Separately we have each gone to some NP, and we have done a few together already. Starting toward the north, and west we go. 
As I am sitting here typing this offline in a forest, I am so joyful my life has come to this. Tall trees starting to hide the sun as it goes down, a cricket making his cricket noise, grass covering the surface of the ground where I am typing and where the van sits, the lovely smell of nature–a peaceful tranquility overwhelms the place.
 
Yes, back to the wilderness, a place where I like to be. Seeing the amazing amount of elk and bison yesterday added so much. A comfort knowing I am back with Tina and we are back in the wilderness where we belong. 
 
August 8-9, 2016–Talk about wilderness, this was our first experience of being face-to-face with Bison, Prairie Dogs and wild horses–it is tremendous! Along with the animals, we saw a beautiful waterfall, as I dipped my head in . . .
 
Currently at Niobrara River in Valentine, Nebraska, very nice. And, I thought Nebraska was only flat and boring. We popped into a Walmart parking lot for the night. Being unsure of how to pronounce the name, “Niobrara”, we had to ask a local the pronunciation; do you know yourself how so say this word? This area was a fort for soldiers. 
 
August 9-10–The Nebraska National Forest is spectacular. Red Cloud Campground was somewhat close to the highway, which I did not like because of the traffic noise, but, as night fell, the traffic noise dissipated more and more, so, here is where we spent the night. Firewood was plentiful, so I built a big one that evening and the following morning. 
 
In driving we saw a herd of long-horned steers, it was magnificent. 
The next night we went to Soldier Creek Campground, and, because there were no trees for shade, we did not want to stay. We found a place to spend the night outside the campground at a picnic area that had trees. Also, I built a fire ring with rocks and we had nice flames in the night.  
 
On forward we went by Wounded Knee. Tourists traps everywhere, I did not want to be “trapped” and my knee didn’t even hurt, we just passed through.
 
Have you ever heard of a Prairie Dog Town? What a delight to see. In an area about 20 by 20 kilometers there were many burrows, with heads of bodies of small animals sticking up looking around, many standing on their hind legs as they make cute little sounds. We had just wanted to go and play with them. These little guys attracted many viewers. 
 
Why, lookie there, a big herd of Elk standing tall. Very gentle creatures, I could tell. They were off a distance, hoping the photos came out. It looked like they were in a club (The Elks Club, you might know.) 
 
All my life I have known them as Buffalo, now I hear that they are called American Bison. How this name change happened I do not know, but we saw many–and some within three meters of the van. Their heads are huge, hope you can tell by the photos. 
 
August 11-12–Our first night we huddled up at Badlands National Park Campground. Too many tourists for me; a lot of people around. We did meet Noe Detore, who was camping with his family. A good man, he had his wife and six adopted kids with them. Knowing him very little, I am still so impressed with how he helps people. Learn of him (and also help) at africatoafrica.org
 
We have been to other campsites like this, just too many people. And, the way it is set up is nice, but too structured, too organized, too clean, we like more remote sites nearer to animals. So, off we scurried in the morn. 
 
The Badlands offer much. I am not spiritual in any way, but seeing the wilderness of the Badlands makes me want to be. First settled by the Lakota Tribe, there are not many of them around anymore. We saw peaks and valleys of delicately banded colors and foliage, with a thousand tints of color which changes with the movement of the sun.
 
In the past these lands were both dread and fascination for humans who viewed the landscape. The Lakota tribe knew the place as macu sica, meaning “bad land”. I have seen much of the world, but I was totally unprepared for the revelation of the Dakota badlands. This is a mysterious land of a distant architecture full of ethereal sites.
 
12-13–A strange name, we stayed in Nemo, SD at Fox Elder Forks Campground. 

We were the only ones there and, being hot from the sun, we stayed out of the park at the day use area, which was more comfortable.
 
13-14–Next stop, Teddy Roosevelt National Park

 

Campground. Once more, many people at this park. The lady at the front told us there were no open spots, but we drove in anyway to look around. It was already late and we did see some empty spots, so we simply took one. 

August 14-15–Through freecampsites.org we found one in Ekalaka (what a fun word), a grassy park right in town.

 

At first I was unsure of I liked this place, but grew to like it. We did see that nearby in Custer National Park were some campsites, so off we went to look, instead of staying in Ekalaka. But, we could not find these remote campsites, so back to we went to the campground at Ekalaka. Turned out very nice after all. At one point a doe and her fawn meandered by, within about ten meters, so nice.

 
There happened to be a town festival going on, we were there on the last day. A rodeo and other experiences were awaiting us. 
15-16–Deeper into Montana and the National Park System we go. Staying at Red Shale Campground in Custer National Park, the first thing I had to do, once again, was walk around and clean up “stuff” people left, one of which was about 25 cigarette butts. How can these people simply throw these things on the ground, but it seems to go along the mindlessness of smoking in the first place. 
 
We just visited the monument for Custer, Little Big Horn, and I felt anger and pain here. The Cheyenne peoples were decimated here–for no reason. Custer attacked, and they responded, winning the battle, but later losing the war. 
 
America is still doing this evil taking over of countries and the world, the middle east currently. It makes me ashamed to be an American. 
 
August 17-18–Stayed in Spring Creek Campground near Checkerboard in Lewis and Clark National Park. We had our own little stream running behind the campsite and loved this place. 
 
August 18-19–Cascade, Montana has a park in town where we stayed for the night. 
Another place to sleep through freecampsites.org, we slept well, although the highway was near, there were not many vehicles driving. The temperature is the coldest we have experienced so far; makes for nice sleeping. Right now we are in Cascade, Montana. If you are a juggler you know this word well. 
 
I was up early as usual, Tina awoke to a sprinkler putting water droplets on the grass, also on the van. 
 
August 19-21–In Mortimer Gulch outside of Augusta, Montana. What a fabulous place. We are planning to go to Glacier National Park, but we do not want to arrive on a weekend. So, we are just spending time until Monday, and what a great way to spend time, this place if beautiful. 
 
This morning, as Tina was heading for the toilet she came upon six deer crossing the road. I heard a “yip” from Tina and went to investigate. The deer and Tina looked at each other, smiled, and went their separate ways. I think it started all parties involved. 
 
At places we like much we spend a couple nights, we like this, so here we are for two nights.
 
As you might know, at most campsites we make a fire in the evening, then in the morning. What is really strange with a fire is, wherever you are sitting the smoke from the fire follows you and is in your face so that you cannot see or breath. So strange. 
 
Our plan is to travel with the warm weather, so, this will be about the end of the north before he meander south. Neither of us like the cold weather at all, so warmer weather lies ahead. Seeing a glacier at the end of summer is alright, but down we go, to ends toward warmer times. 
 
August 21-22–On our way toward Glacier National Park we found a roadside rest area that looked inviting, so we took the invitation and stayed for the night. It is 5am and I am typing words for you. We are on a smaller road, hardly any traffic at all. So, very quiet, although I hear the sounds of an owl off in the distance. 
 
Glacier National Park is such a delight! We would each like to spend so much time here. We were up at 7-8,000 feet and looking up at Mountains a couple thousand feet higher. We were quite cold. 
As we are driving toward Glacier Park we are surrounded by smoke, we found out there is a forest fire to the south. So, photos will not turn out so good, I believe. but, you decide. And, as we are nearing the top of the mountains we look all around us and there are dead trees, everywhere. 
 
Also, most of the lakes have water levels that are quite low, which is shocking. I thinking this is because much of each glacier has melted and so there is no new water to feed to the lakes. A sad thing. In fact, if you ever want to see a real glacier in this park, you better get here quickly before they all melt.
 
As we were exiting the park we saw a number of cars slowing down and looking at something over by a stream. Looking around we saw a moose standing in the stream. He was looking back at everyone and the look on his face seemed to say, “Yea, you bunch of idiots (Kit
 included), I’m a moose, what’s the big deal?”
 
All through Montana all the lakes and streams are Crystal clear–lovely to see. 
 
August 22-23–With no time restrictions we are traveling as we want, in time and direction. 

We stayed at St. Mary’s Lodge at the exit for Glacier National Park (actually, we stayed in the van while the van was parked at St. Mary’s Lodge.) I noticed that on our way south we would be near National Bison Range, a small green space on the map. We almost didn’t go, in that we recently did see many bison, but in we went, to our delight. This was like an American safari, we went from one section to another, through the loop tour and we saw:
  • A black bear
  • Bison (of course)
  • Deer
  • Elk
  • Big horned sheep (rams)
  • Golden Eagles
  • Pronghorn antelope 
23-24–Yet another Walmart where we slept. 
 
August 24-25–Lake Inez Campground in Lolo National Forest in Seely, Montana was one of the best free campsites we have been at. But, we awoke with temperatures quite low, so we decided to move on, south and lower states await, where it might be warmer.
 
August 25-27What a fantastic night at a free campsite, with a beautiful lake at our backdoor

–Fishhawk Campground near Helena is on the Missouri River

.

This is property that many would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to own, our back yard for the night–luxurious. We had a superb place right above a clean and clear lake with a nice view–couldn’t ask for better.
We were the only ones here the whole time, it was magnificent.
 
After we first pulled in, I did my usual thing of cleaning up the campsite how I can. At this one I must have picked up over 35 cigarette butts. I do hope that you don’t smoke, but if you do, please never throw your butt on the ground. It seems like this goes along with smoking for some reason. I would call you a fool if you smoke, but I won’t (oh, too late.)
 
August 27-28–In a Walmart once again for the night. This one was noisy, a train going by nearby in the middle of the night for one thing. 
 
August 28–We went to a movie today! Tina had not seen “The King and I” for some years, myself, too. What a wonderful movie. Then it was off to a rest stop for the night right off of a road, but very quiet that night.. 
 
August 29-30–Yesterday we went through the top loop of Yellowstone Park. It was almost overwhelmingly wonderful. I will be writing about Yellowstone in my next blog, so, look forward to it. 


In the next Blog post I promise you I will put more effort into producing great words. I feel that in this one I simply stated experiences.
 
My daughters, April and Jasmine, and I talked. We agreed that they would write to me every Sunday to let me know about their life in the past week and what is planned for the upcoming–I am so happy about that. Them and I agreed that my blog will fill them in on what I am up to.
 
What about you, are you going to write to me? 
 
As you know, I have been releasing these writings on no set schedule. From now on I plan on releasing a new post each Sunday. So, less words for you to read, but more often. As you know, if you no longer wish to receive my blog posts, let me know, I will take you off the list to receive (I will miss you, though.) 
 
On to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, you will hear more . . .

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