Montana and Oregon, USA

5th June - 11th September 2018

On arrival in Montana, spring was in full swing. The pastures along the Madison River near Raynalds Pass Fishing Access were painted with abundant wildflowers, and each daily walk brought something new. Baby swallows huddled in nests below the bridge were preparing to fledge and it was still cool enough for the ground squirrels and marmots to be busy hoarding food ready for the hottest part of the summer.

Swallows waiting to fly

Ground squirrel


Avocet on the Madison River

A few miles along the highway lay Quake Lake, another favourite spot, conveniently close for a change of scene. Here the Madison River was dammed by a landslide during an Earthquake in the late 1950s. This created a lake punctuated with eerie, decaying trees - handy perches for the many birds who make their summer homes there.

Fishing at Quake Lake

Scenes from Quake Lake

On our return to Raynald's Pass FA, Montana's state flower, the fragile, ground-hugging bitterroot, was beginning to bloom. Its preferred location seemed to be the middle of the hiking trails, while the sturdier Artist's Paintbrush preferred safer spots.


A bee samples the Artist's Paintbrush

Man juggles fish


The fourth of July is always a big deal, no matter where you are in the States. This year we decided to check out the annual parade in Ennis, our nearest town, a mere 40 miles from our camping spot.

Life doesn't get more American or more Cowboy than a ranching town celebrating Independence Day.

4th of July Parade, Ennis

Life back at the remote campground on the Madison was a stark and welcome contrast after all the festivities. We got back to our daily routine of fishing, hiking, writing and taking photographs.


Giant Puffball Fungus about to blow (with hiking stick for scale)

Hiking the Madison River

A nice catch at a favourite fishing spot.

Ruins of old ranch buildings

The grass was high at Georgetown Lake

Georgetown lake wasn't fishing well on our first brief visit, so we headed to the West Fork of the Bitterroot.

We hoped to camp in our preferred site at Rombo campground, No. 6, but were shocked to find it entirely washed away by the spring's flooding melt-water. We settled for site no. 2, which now had to be promoted.

Yikes! Where is no. 6?

Painted Rocks of the West Fork of the Bitterroot.

We weren't far from our friends' house in Stevensville and accepted Ben and Kay's generous offer to visit, spending a couple of lovely days with them, Andrew, and his family, before returning to the Madison River.

Fellow visitor at Ben and Kay's house


When a non-angler spends most of their time at a Fishing Access campground, the conversation can become a bit dull. It is always refreshing to have new friends turn up who are keen to explore by bike!

Together we cycled to Wade Lake, which was so beautiful we later took Harvey-the-RV up the seven mile gravel road for a visit.

Wade Lake's neighbour, Cliff Lake

Our next move was to Georgetown Lake, but it was hot and the fishing not very rewarding. We took the opportunity to explore the local vicinity, including a bike ride from the campsite to nearby Echo Lake. It may have been relatively close but the entire trip was steeply uphill, making it quite a workout.

We made it to Echo Lake.

The beginning of August usually finds us back in Bozeman for the Sweet Pea festival of the arts.

Once again we were not disappointed by the entertainment on offer for the princely sum of twenty dollars and free parking for the weekend.

Shakespeare in the Parks

Sweet Pea parada

Live Music

Aerial Acrobatics

Harvey was not feeling at his best and a visit to the mechanic was needed. The news wasn't good. Not only was one spark plug cross-threaded in the engine and impossible to remove in the short time available (we didn't want to be homeless or live in a mechanic's shop), but one cylinder had lost compression. We decided to limp around in our trusty friend until the end of our trip and the Mechanic offered to fix him up during the winter. Despite everything, the little trooper kept on making it over Montana's mountain passes, even if it was at 20 mph!

Each year we try to visit something new to us and this year it was the turn of Lewis and Clark Caverns. Why had we not visited earlier? It turned out to be one of the most impressive caverns we had every visited, and there had been plenty!

Hot fiddling!

Lewis and Clark Caverns

Lewis and Clark Caverns

Several years earlier, during out trip to Alaska, we made friends from Argentina. When we learned that Cata and Mariano were passing through Montana on a road trip holiday, we had to meet up. Norris Hot Springs seemed an ideal - if perhaps surreal - spot. We enjoyed tasty food, a spot of beer and a dip in the hot spring, all accompanied by live music and strangers in swimwear. An experience not to be missed when in Montana. The next day things turned more serious as there was fishing to be done. We were glad the cold wind held off for the swimwear section of our reunion but, typically for Montana, even in August it was thermals weather on the Madison River the very next day.

With Cata and Mariano at Norris Hot Springs

Off to fish the Madison River

Madison River

On the way to Quake Lake

Quake Lake Catch

Madison River

Despite being based primarily around Bozeman, we had never visited Hyalite Canyon. We waited until the end of the Labour Day holiday weekend and headed out in search of a campsite. The drive to the Canyon was stunningly beautiful. We timed our visit just right to meet new friends - Heidi and Charlie from Bozeman. By the end of the day we had the campground to ourselves and enjoyed a bonfire and DJ session together.

Hyalite Canyon Lake bed.

Tree bathing at Hyalite Canyon.

We usually rack up some air miles each year, and an e-mail from American Airlines earlier in the year about the imminent expiration of our points, set us to pondering. Where could we and did we want to go with the number of miles available? Then Frank Turner had announced the dates for his US tour.

In early September the combination of these factors found us heading to Portland, Oregon for a couple of nights in an Air B & B, which was a new experience for us. Used to traveling on a budget, we selected the cheapest accommodation we could find, which was an apartment above a Deli in Chinatown. Not only was it within easy walking distance of the gig, a free Deli sandwich could be collected from the eclectically decorated Deli below. We explored a couple of Portland's craft beer breweries and the beautiful Chinese gardens just down the road from our temporary home before the Gig.

Portland street art

Chinese Gardens

Waiting for our sandwich watched by aliens

Gig ready

Frank Turner at the Crystal Ballroom

As normal, fans met up before the gig. Our group of new buddies were found at the inexpensive bar just around the corner. It was good that we hydrated beforehand because the venue was hot. From our spot near the front, we could see beads of sweat flowing from Frank's head down to his arms before finally dripping off his elbows and fingers as he played guitar. As always, the gig was fabulous.

Our flight back to Bozeman left the next morning, and the tram stop connecting us to the airport was close by. We began to run as we saw a tram at the stop, preparing to scramble aboard, but realised we didn't have our tickets yet, which were sold from a machine at the stop. We asked the conductor if we could pay aboard and were told this was not possible. As we resigned ourselves to waiting for the next tram after purchasing a ticket, he told us to just get aboard. Sometimes there is such a thing as a free ride!

On our return flight we had an excellent view of Mount Hood and Harvey was waiting just outside the airport to take us for our last few days of fishing. Who should we bump into at Raynald's Pass but Michael and Matthew, friends from the previous year. Then we were off to Hebgen Lake to spent time with Ben and Kay at another new spot.

Mt Hood below us.

Michael, Matthew and their fishing buddies

Hebgen Lake Osprey

Hebgen Lake

Nothing biting at Hebgen Lake

Ben's catch on the Madison River

It was time to clean Harvey and winterise him for the harsh Montana temperatures. We left hoping that by the time we got back the following year, he would be feeling and running much better.

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