Through Montana to Kellogg, Idaho.

18th - 28th August 2014

Getting back into the USA took a while, we sat for about an hour in a line of traffic at the border, vowing the next time to pick one of our usual preferred border crossings at places which are little more than a dot on a map, rather than crossing on the Interstate.

We weren't far from Holter Dam on the Missouri River and before dinner, Phil had hooked a nice big rainbow trout and we'd made friends with other campers with a tiny Toyota mini motorhome like ours.

The next day we walked up the hill to the dam and across it, running into the friendly Michael Taylor, who been one of the team in charge of running the dam for several decades. We learnt a lot of interesting things about the dam we've visited so often.

Good Morning Handsome!

As always, wildlife abounded, Bighorn Sheep surrounded our camper one morning when we awoke and opened the blinds. Over breakfast we enjoyed watching the local magpies grooming the sheep while they grazed, presumably feasting on any insects they picked off their patient hosts.

During the time we'd been travelling in Canada and Alaska, the resident Ospreys had been busy raising their family of chicks which were now, reluctantly, being encouraged to fend for themselves by the parents. Watching we could almost imagine the mother osprey saying, “This is the last meal I'm fetching for you, get your own!”

Wonder what he's whispering?

But Mum, I'm hungry and the river is all wet......

A sudden influx of campers with large trailers, noisy generators and bad fishing habits drove us from Holter Dam earlier than planned and we headed to Helena for a rare trip to the movies.

We spent the night camped on top of McDonald Pass before our visit the next day to the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, near the town of Deer Lodge.

In its heyday in the 1890s, the ranch's cattle grazed on an area of over 10 million acres, throughout Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and British Columbia. The ranch had been preserved by the National Park Service, still raising cattle using traditional, horse based methods, although its area was now much smaller. Touring their bunkhouse gave us a fascinating insight into the life of a cowboy. The ranch had a rule that all cowboys must wash once a week in the provided shower, whether they needed it or not! A rule which, on occasion, could have been transferrable to Harvey!

Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site

The chuck wagon, responsible for feeding and when necessary, medical care of the cowboys watching the cattle on the open range.

Traditional Hay Making using horse power



A taste of the wild west.

Next we ventured to a part of Montana which we hadn't visited before, heading along Highway One. We passed through the mining town of Anaconda, reminiscent of a Welsh Valley town with it's streets lined with tiny miners' cottages. We were bound for Georgetown Lake, about 18 miles further on, to check out the fishing there. Our arrival led to a spot of indecision, which of the three National Forest Campgrounds would be best located for fishing the lake. In the end we selected by guesswork, paying up for three nights on our chosen campground. Then, after chatting to the camp host, we promptly changed our minds. The host was most obliging, heading down to the fee drop box, so we could recover our payment before moving to the next campground at Piney Point. Not only that, but he called ahead to the campground host there to check that space was available near the boat ramp. We joked that he should lie down in the spot to save it for us while we drove the couple of miles to get there. On arriving, there he was, on his bike, guarding the spot for us, what fabulous service!

Water was located in a different part of the campground, so we had to drive there in Harvey to refill our tanks. It proved to be an interesting trip as first we ran into a young man about to move, in three days time, to Alaska, who was eager to pick our brains about Fairbanks. Then we turned around to spot two huge moose merrily grazing in the campground. It seemed they were regulars in that area.

There's a moose loose

International Rescue in action

Georgetown Lake Hot Spot!

We very quickly learned that that area of Montana, for some reason, is considerably colder than the surrounding areas. After a night of heavy rain we awoke to a bitterly cold day, which Phil spent fishing in a hot spot recommended by the proprietor of the fly fishing shop in Anaconda.

Right by the pump house on the lake Phil managed to land nine or ten large fish. We were fishing with our friendly neighbours from the campground, Grant and Melinda. At one point, spotting large trout trapped behind a grating near the pump house, International Rescue (as we christened Phil and Grant) leapt into action, trying to hook the stranded fish and release them to the lake.

The next day dawned not only bitterly cold but also very wet. We headed to Anaconda in the pouring rain, whilst snow fell on the mountains around. It was hard to believe it was August, as we were wearing almost all our winter clothes at once. We had hoped to take the historic bus tour of the town but were out of luck, it was already full, not much else to do in Anaconda on an extremely miserable day apparently.

The determined fisherman decided to try his luck at another spot recommended by the local expert in the Warm Springs Wildlife Management Area, where pond 3 was famed for its large fish. In thermals and waterproofs, Phil joined an amazing number of other crazy anglers on the banks of the pond but failed to catch anything except possibly a severe chill!

Back at Georgetown Lake, once the rain let up in the late afternoon he had far better luck landing quite a number of fish.

Are we sure it's only August, that looks like snow!

Georgetown Lake Resident

The next day was no warmer but undaunted Phil ventured out on his “kick boat” to join our camping neighbour Ed, who was out in his boat. Whilst, after a brief outing for a spot of photography, Christine huddled in the warmth of Harvey's interior, Phil sat on the lake, his legs in the cold water all day, managing to reel in only three or four fish.

We'd had enough of the bitter cold and the next morning were on the road to visit our friends the Fricks, now relocated in their new home/coffee shop in Kellogg, Idaho. Unfortunately we'd missed Ryan, who was headed to Florida to pack up their life their and bring it all to Idaho, but it was fun to catch up with Robin and Kierra.

Red-Neck (Grebe that is)

In Kellogg we were able to spoil our friends a little, by cooking for them each night. Harvey too got spoiled with a much needed clean and a spot of resealing. With bated breath we awaited the arrival by Fed Ex of his new refrigerator external vent hatch, the original now being located somewhere in a ditch in British Columbia.

On the promised delivery day, Phil waited in, volunteering to forego the pleasure of a girls' day out in Coeur d”Alene and waited for the delivery. We were also sure to place a large notice on the front door for the delivery driver, telling him we were expecting a parcel addressed to Rees to be delivered here. In addition to that, Phil sat in the shopfront for most of the day, sorting out fishing gear, to make sure he wouldn't miss the precious package.

Unfortunately, for some reason, the driver decided that the parcel must be meant for the Pet Shop which had vacated the premises to move across the road. When they refused the parcel, he returned to Spokane with our parcel, deciding it was incorrectly addressed. First we called Fed Ex to set them straight, then we sent an email and were reassured that it would be delivered the next day by 11 am.

At 11am the following day, we learned that our parcel was still in Spokane. After the blowing of a small fuse in Phil's brain, it was agreed that our unlucky parcel would be delivered to us, that very afternoon, by car all the way from Spokane. The lady delivering the parcel had the audacity to complain about the 100 mile drive she had to make with our package to which Phil was keen to point out the two days he'd spent sitting by the door, when the driver hadn't even approached. Anyway, Harvey was finally relieved of his temporary and very fetching duct tape fridge vent and was happy to have a proper one again.

Admiring Harvey looking spin'n'span with Kierra and Robin

Oh please, can we buy them Kierra? The girls check out the thrift stores of Coeur d'Alene.

The next day it was time to get out of our friends' hair, they had plenty to do fixing up their new home and business. We bid them farewell, wished them luck with everything and headed back towards Montana.

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