8. More Wild West…

So we took our fifth wheel into the dealer in Billings to get some things fixed.   While it was in the shop, we went to downtown to the Chamber which was voted the number one Chamber for customer service in the Nation.  One of the perks for stopping by is the use of their “Cannondale” bikes free of charge for the day!  After riding the $1000 (approx value of the bike), I wanted one!  The ride is so smooth, because the seat has shock absorbers in it.  

We rode to the Moss Mansion first.  The home was built in 1901 and had a lot of the original artwork and furniture.  The mansion was ahead of its time as far as electricity and other modern conveniences.  For example, it had a secret buzzer for the maids in the floor where the lady of the house could step on to call them without any of her guests knowing.

The Moss Mansion in Billings.

After seeing the mansion, we asked our tour guide at the home what restaurants he liked in Billings.  He recommended “The Burger Dive”.  We rode our bikes over to the restaurant and it was packed (which is a good sign.)  The only space left were two seats at the counter so we took them.  We asked a man behind the counter what his favorite burger was and he recommended the “burger bash winner” burger.  I noticed the Food Network symbol on the menu and he told us that in 2014 that burger was voted the best burger in the Miami food show.  We met his son, the owner and head cook, and spoke with him.  He wanted to know what was the best burger we have ever had.  So we told him that last summer on the Isle of Butte in Scotland, Kelly had an amazing burger at the Kingarth Inn.  This was where his Great Great Grandfather worked as the Inn’s veterinarian for the guests horses.  Everything was made fresh, the cheese, buns and it was grass fed beef.  The owner of the Burger Dive now wants to go there.  HA.

Overlook on ridge path where we rode our loaner bikes.

After lunch, we rode our bikes on a 8 mile loop to Boot Hill Cemetery.  This is where local legends in Billings history are buried.  We had to return the bikes and pick up our fifth wheel at the dealer.  We had trouble “hitching” up so one of their salesman said he would help and jumped into our pickup and pushed our trailer both forward and backwards with the front landing gear down.  We did not think to check it out before leaving the dealership and went on our way to the next KOA.  When we checked the landing gear they would not work, so the next morning we had to head back to the dealer and ask them to fix it again.  We learned a valuable lesson, when in doubt, check it out before moving on!

We still finished in good time so we decided to move on.  Kelly wanted to make sure we made it to the battlefield of Little Bighorn.  As some of you may know, this was a major battle between the Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians against the United States Army.  The tribes were trying to keep the land where they have lived on all their lives, but the Army under President Grant’s administration was instructed to remove the Indians and take away their land so they could live on the reservations.  This is the place where Lt. Colonel died during the battle, (Custer’s last stand.)

The battlefield where Custer died.

We made it to Gillette that night and stayed at a Walmart.  Gillette is a really boring town and the only thing it has going for it is the coal mine.

Gillette Wyoming coal mine truck tire.  Kelly’s sister Linda drives one similar to it in Nevada.

Scoop from coal mine shovel.

We got up early to head to Deadwood South Dakota.  I was really looking forward to it. This historic western town was discovered when Custer led an expedition into the Black Hills and announced the discovery of gold there.  At first, the town was considered the most “lawless town” in the West, but eventually Deadwood lost its rough and rowdy ways and developed into a prosperous town.  We just loved it.  We spent the entire day there.  Some of the things we did:  took a bus tour about the history of the town, went to Kevin Costner’s restaurant and watched a play with a gunfight about Wild Bill’s demise.  

 

Overlooking the town of Deadwood.

Downtown Deadwood.

After saying goodbye to Deadwood we arrived just outside of the city of Custer about dinner time.  We settled into our site at the KOA and planned our next day’s adventure to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Monument.

Crazy Horse Monument.  Still has a lot to go on it,but it is huge!  It is taller than the Washington Monument and wider than two football fields!  They are already on the third generation of family working on it.  Much bigger than Mount Rushmore.

 Keystone is a former mining town before you get to Mount Rushmore.

The gold rush was started in 1883 but women and children were not allowed until later.

Custer State Park was one of my favorite parks.  Animals everywhere, if you don’t mind sharing the road.  The scenery was beautiful and it was very different than Yellowstone and not crowded!  We saw elk, deer, antelope, rabbits, prairie dogs, red fox and buffalo.

The wild animals were not so wild.

Part of Custer State Park.

The “needles” are jagged rocks that look like they should be on another planet.

We made it to Mount Rushmore!  They have changed some things over the last 32 years!  A new trail to look at different views of the monument, huge gift shop and restaurants.

Say cheese!

The next day would be a travel day for us to Omaha NE.  One the way we had to stop at two landmark places.  The famous Wall Drug and Mitchell’s Corn Palace.  Wall Drug is like an amusement park for truckers and weary travelers.  It has pretty much everything you could ever want and more!

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One of the photo opts at Wall Drug.

Mitchell South Dakota’s Corn Palace.

The Corn Palace is a multi use facility that has murals of corn on the inside and outside.  The designs are only up for a year because eventually they dry our to much and drop off the walls.  A new design is planned each year.  This year was Willy Nelson’s turn.  Now onto Omaha!

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7. In the Wild,Wild West.

After leaving Great Falls Montana, we headed for the state capital of Helena.  There we went into the capital building and saw the architecture of such a stately structure.  We like touring each state’s capital when we go on a trip, because it tells the history and stories of that state.  

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 That night we ended up in the little town of Gardiner.  After calling all morning for a site in we finally found a campgrounds in that area.  It had a different feel to it and found out that it was run by a church and it was their yearly retreat that weekend.  Some of the members were dressed in all white and the New Age group came from all areas in the world.  At the camp site the air was filled with little flying bugs EVERYWHERE!  It took us three days to kill them all inside of our fifth wheel.  I did manage to snap this beautiful picture before the rains came into the campsite.

The next day was Yellowstone National Park.  We got there early 8:00 am, so we could beat the crowds and get a decent parking place.   The Annual Park Pass we had bought earlier for $80 for both of us was going to start paying off.  Just to get into the park it was $30 but we just showed our card and drivers license and away we went.  The ranger said this year they should see 5 million people visiting the park!  A new record breaker.  Later in the afternoon her words proved true.  The roads were full with cars and crazy people not following any signs or rules.  At times it was chaos!  We did manage to go on a five mile hike to Beaver Pond and we also saw bubbling mud pools and steam geysers.

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We decided earlier that some issues on the fifth wheel needed to be looked at.  So we made an appointment back in Montana to get them fixed in a couple of days.  We did not want to go to far with the problems and opted to go to Jackson Hole Wyoming for the 4th of July.  

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The route we had to go over had a 10% grade.   We had to give the truck a rest halfway, because the breaks were so hot from going down the steep mountain pass.

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In the morning we went to the annual parade.

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Explored the western themed town, and saw a gunfight.

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Went to the rodeo.  Kelly and I met at a rodeo dance almost exactly 38 years ago!

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We also visited the Grand Tetons which was not far away from Jackson Hole.

Then we went back into Yellowstone and I think everyone had the same idea.  People everywhere after the holiday weekend.  Kelly decided to go on a hike and bike ride while I stayed with the truck and trailer.  We had to put my bike out behind the trailer so no one would block us in.  Right away a man started to move my bike even though I had a note on it.  He asked me who’s bike it was and I told him it was mine.  Some how the bike got dropped and it still has some issues.  Speaking of issues, one of our tires on the trailer had a slow leak and about every 200 miles we would have to pump it up.  We ended up going to the same garage that Kelly’s best friend Loren worked at in Yellowstone for a couple of summers.  A horseshoe nail had pierced the sidewall of the tire so we had to just buy a new one.  The guys there were great, and within an hour we were back on the road for Cody Wyoming.  

Cody is a great town full of history and scenery.  That night we stayed at a private campground that was brand new.  They had Tepees that you could rent on airbnb.

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The next day we both wanted to see different things, so we split up. Kelly went to the Wild Bill Cody Museum (5 museums in one) and I wanted to see a cooking demonstration and a recreation of the original town of Cody.

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“Cookie” Bob demonstrating how to fix a typical chuckwagon meal of coffee, beans with salted and cure bacon and sourdough biscuits all in dutch ovens.  It was really interesting to watch and taste.

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I got to go into one of the cabins Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid stayed in.

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After our mornings adventures we went into downtown Cody to have lunch.  Kelly opted for the buffet at Irma’s restaurant.  She was the daughter of Buffalo Bill and the original bar that was a gift from Queen Victoria was still there.

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Then we left the Cowboy and Western themed city for Montana again to ride off into the sunset.  More to follow…

6. We are having fun…

It has been two weeks since my last post.  Being on the road, I have learned that Montana and Wyoming are not exactly the best place to rely on internet service.  The population of the whole state of Montana is 1 million.  Compare that to Portland, Oregon (just the city) is 600,000!                                                                

 I left off in Coeur d”Alene Idaho.  Today we decided to please our inner child and go to Silverwood Theme Park.  The park opened in 1988 first with just carnival rides but now has more than 65 rides and a water park.  When I got up to the gate,a man came up to me and asked if I needed tickets.  I said “YES” and asked them how much he would ask for them.  He said “just take them”, so I did!  We saved $100!  Then another man asked if we wanted a drink bracelet that he would just give us.  Again I decided why not?  That started the day off nicely.  The roller coasters where fun.  I decided to try two of them and never experienced anything like it before.  If you wanted to see a video of one of the roller coasters you can see it on my Facebook page.

On Sunday, we visited a wonderful church called “Heart of the City”.  The non-denominational church had an amazing worship service and the pastor was very approachable and down to earth.  He gave a very motivational message to the audience and we felt very welcome.Then we packed up and left Coeur d’Alene and headed to West Glacier Park, about a 6 hour drive.


One of the places Diners, Drive-ins and Dives recommended.  On a scale of one to ten, it was a five.  Not that good.😦

Since the weather has been warmer than we are used to, we decided to go for an early morning hike.  Visiting the National Parks this has been challenging with all the crowds showing up for the Centennial celebration for all the parks in the United States.  We have had to leave our campground before 8:30 am just to make sure we will be able to find some kind of parking space.  We left early to hike a trail called Avalanche Creek.  The morning air was still cool enough so that it was not to hot to hike the partly shaded trail to  on a magnificent clear lake with glaciers above it clinging to the mountain.  On the way back we met a couple from Salem, OR. to walk back with.  He was a Chiropractor and she worked with him.  It seems almost everywhere we go we meet someone who lives in Oregon or has relatives or has vacationed there.  

  


The next day we decided to take a loop drive and visit the Dude Ranch that Sundial Special Vacations goes to.  (Where I worked when I was a travel agent.)  My boss Terry Conner loved to go there as many times as he could before he passed away.  I was supposed to go with him the last year but he was to sick.  It is beautiful and the $3300 per week per person price includes meals, all sporting activities that you can imagine, arts and crafts, cooking and of course lodging.  Here are some pictures to prove how nice it is!


We then went into Kalispell and rode our bikes around and shopped, ate dinner and then went to see Independence Day the new movie.

Since there is so much to see at Glacier National Park, we had booked three more nights at East Glacier at St.Mary’s.  We checked into a KOA that we had reserved months ago and found that they had just paved the street which through off the approach up the hill to our site.  It had the perfect view that we had to give up to go to a more level spot.  Our “new” site was more crowded and had a grouchy neighbor who had a sign on the front of his pick up that read “Don’t Poke the Bear!’  




In the morning,we got up early and drove to Logan Pass which is in the middle of the park.  We saw the Continental Divide and went to the Visitors Center.  The hills were covered in little yellow mountain lilies. The snow was around but much of it had melted.  It was a really majestic view!
Then we went on a 4 mile hike to Virginia Falls.  The trail was steep at times but was shaded and had views of 4 waterfalls along the way.  We decided to eat lunch at the trailer and then drive on up to the Iceberg Lake trail.  It was a 10 mile hike and since I had already walked 6 miles (according to my Fitbit) I decided to take a boat ride instead of hiking 10 more miles and besides I had another 2 miles to walk to where I was going to meet Kelly.

 

Kelly had a different adventure then he bargained for.  While he was listening to his music and jogging down the path, he met a group of hikers that started to back up as Kelly was coming towards them.  He said “what is the matter, do I have a bear by me?” They all said “YES”!  A girl that Kelly was hiking with snapped a picture of it.  We think it was a female Grizzly bear.  He since has learned of all the things you should NOT do while hiking in bear country.  See Facebook for photos.

After leaving Glacier, we decided to camp at our first Walmart in Great Falls MT.  Once we found our “spot” in the parking lot, we rode our bikes to the Lewis and Clark Museum about 5 miles round trip.  The museum showed the journey of Lewis and Clark’s trip from the beginning in Missouri to the shores of the Pacific Ocean and Fort Clatsop.  It was interesting to see information and already know and see some of the same exhibits we have back at home. We also biked to a park for a festival called “Music on the Mo”. (The Missouri River)  It was good, but had a few glitches to work through since it was it’s first festival.

Well I will end this post this for now.  More to come as long as I have Internet access.