July 18th, 2020

Quite the sight on the shores of Canyon Ferry Lake near Townsend, Mt

I was able to finally get away for a few days and it was a welcomed break.

I left Sunday to just get away with the intent of staying in a campground to take on water and do some camping in the National Forest. I ended up staying in that campground Monday instead but the first night was on the shores of Canyon Ferry Lake.

The rainbow picture is kind of symbolic in that much like like the rainbow emerges from the ominous cloudiness, my covid test results came back with great news – nada ‘rona. I felt confident all was well but still had to go through the testing. It’s better to know without a doubt.

The bugs were kinda bad even with the strong winds – they must be working out to fly in those gusts. I had the lakeshore to myself and then realized the next day there was a swamp next to my site. No womnder there was nobody next to me!

Once I got Rider inside the trailer he was embracing being retired as well…

…and yes, he crosses his legs like that all the time.

The next day it was off to the other campground and it is one I will not return to. If at all possible I would have cancelled that reservation and left. It was more of a mobile home park – nearly everyone there was living there full time and there were storage boxes of stuff piled around the trailers and permanent dog pens. I had a reservation to stay there my last night to empty the tanks but I cancelled it. I will not be back there to stay and they got a one-star review.

I left and went over to the White Sulphur Springs area and decided to head north toward Great Falls. Some of this area was new territory for me and it was pretty. I was looking to boondock in a dispersed site but it’s hard to find those when you don’t know thew area and have a low-rider trailer that can get damaged on rocks and potholes or get stuck (as I nearly did in the Nebraska Sand Hills).

I decided to just check out some Forest Service campgrounds. I like the primitiveness of them but i wanted to be in the woods, preferably by a stream. Plus, being self-contained in the trailer I do not need the toilet facilities (or would even use them in this pandemic). The only advantage is during fire restrictions – they are the last to get fire bans.

I drove on up to the north end of the forest and turned around. Didn’t see many options for dispersed camping so I thought I would go back to the first campground since there was no one there.

There are no trees on any of the sites – maybe removed due to disease – but the worst part was the flies; vicious things from small to big, their fangs dripping with blood. I decided we would hang out a few to see if they were going away but they were eating the dog alive so we got out of there quick. It would have been okay there since I probably would have been the only one there, but even with the winds blowing pretty good the flies were terrible. I bet when (rather IF) the winds died down you couldn’t even get out of your vehicle without getting carried away to their nest to feed the young ones.

I decided to go back to town to get fuel and regroup. I decided to go west on US 12 and came across a road for forest access. These can be good or bad depending on the rig you are driving. It was 7 miles to the Forest boundary and it looked good starting out so I went for it to see what I could find.

I didn’t see many accessible spots along the way so I stayed on it. It actually went on back toward the highway I was on earlier so that is the way I went. I do remember seeing the other end of this road earlier in the day. I should have checked it out earlier because I am now only 2.5 miles from the highway after driving 15.5 on some roads that were a little rough in spots. It’s what exploring is all about.

The truck was fine but the trailer had to go through some big holes that I later discovered had popped off the gray water valve from the tank outlet. No worries, though, since it appears to be designed to do that if it gets caught on something. I pushed it back on and will put a little sealer around it to stop leaks. That will still let it break loose if necessary.

I was fortunate to find this site, and my guess is it would be packed on the weekends. It is a larger grassy area that could accommodate a group, there’s a small stream in the forest, and the bugs are not bad so far. As I have been sitting here two people have driven by looking for spots and they were looking this way.

After getting set up I decided to build a fire. I have not had a campfire in a long time so this seems like a good opportunity to have one. There is not much wood, but someone left enough to get a small one going and have enough for another one. I am not certain how long I will be here yet, but I have to be back Friday afternoon and it’s only Tuesday. I have been here just a few hours and I am already enjoying the surroundings and the solitude immensely.

I decided to call it a night about 10:30 or so and I turned out the lights. I have not been in darkness like this in quite some time. I wanted to go out and stargaze for a bit but this is bear country and I don’t care to take that chance. Another reason I didn’t burn a fire late.

I ended up staying here from Tuesday afternoon to Thursday morning. I decided to head back because my propane tank – yes the new one I just hooked up on Wednesday – is running low after just one night. I finally figured out that the day I got it refilled it was really hot and, much like when you fill your car, the gas expands in the heat giving you less gas. I could not take a chance on running out (I was at nearly 6,000 feet in elevation – it was pretty cold at night!) so I decided to scrub the mission a day early.

I went back through White Sulphur Springs and decided to head south toward Livingston. At the town of Willsall I turned west into the Bridgers. What a spectacular drive! It would be a regular ride for me if I still rode motorcycles. Narrow, winding, two-lane backroad…just a beautiful drive.

Today it was cleaning the trailer thoroughly and washing everything I could wash. A lot of dust got inside through my damaged fender and the inside of the trailer was filthy. It had gotten damaged during my March 2017 trip from Kansas to Washington when I went to pick it up after my mom died. When the tire blew out in the middle of nowhere in Utah (I posted about that as I remember) it chewed up the inside of the fender pretty badly so I had to patch it. The patching came loose and the dust just poured inside. After I cleaned today I re-patched it the damage; tomorrow it’s a can of Flex Seal and I can float it on a lake.

It’s okay, though. I don’t take my travels for granted. I was able to get away once again, I got my forest fix, and was able to relax by a stream with cooler weather and some bugs. I’m glad I got to go since I have appointments every week the next four weeks so it will be a month or so before I can leave again. It’s okay – life goes on and things have to be taken care of so I can travel and that is what matters.

It’s not always about the relaxing.

Wait…yes it certainly is!

Until the next post…

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