Montana, USA

17th July - 15th September 2019







After the hectic and harrowing time in the UK, it was a relief to set off for Montana, knowing Iwan was in good hands and on the road to recovery.



As we checked in, it was hot in the terminal and we were handed a free ice creams by our Virgin Atlantic crew. We flew from Manchester via Atlanta and Minneapolis. Airplane food just wasn't enough and during our layover in Minneapolis, we tracked down a restaurant at the airport where we could enjoy Walleye, a fish we hadn't had the chance to enjoy since our visit to Minnesota a few years earlier, when we caught our own. We arrived in Bozeman late at night.

Harvey was safe and snug in his storage unit and as happy to see us, as we were to see him.




Free Ice Cream!




Walleye Snack in Minneapolis.




Harvey the RV ready for the road.







Ready for some much needed relaxation, we stocked up and headed straight to the Madison River at Raynold's Pass, where we spent a relaxing week enjoying nature and fishing. We were even still in time to enjoy the wildflowers and it was a bumper year for dry fly hatches.




Madison River






Garter Snake on the Madison.




Fishing the Madison




Salsify




Harebells




Marmots




The hatch is ON!




Spotted Sandpiper




Red-Necked Grebe at Georgetown Lake

Taking one look at the sky as we passed through Butte on our way to Georgetown Lake, we realised that we were in the direct path of a fierce thunderstorm. Modern technology provided proof. Not wanting to put ourselves in danger or Harvey at risk of damage by dime-sized hailstones, we sought refuge at a truck stop in Rocker, where we had the option to park Harvey between the huge trucks or shelter behind the buildings. We chose the second option and stayed safely sheltered while being deafened by the sound of massive hailstones pounding on Harvey's aluminium roof.




Storm Warning






Apocalyptic sky as the storm approaches.

At Georgetown Lake but we were a little early for the best fishing, so headed back to the Madison River valley after a couple of days to fish Quake Lake and the river.




Lodgepole Campground.




Frisky Damselflies.




Artist's Paintbrush at Quake Lake




Harvey at Quake Lake




Off to the Lake.




Baby Bald Eagle






Wren




Rainbow trout from Quake Lake.



Every summer we try to catch the wonderful Sweet Pea Festival of the Arts in Bozeman to enjoy a weekend of live music, the works of many artists and a bit of culture from the Shakespeare in the Parks theatre company.



Our next stop was on the Missouri River at Holter Dam, where the hatches were also amazing and despite the heat, we spent four days enjoying the area.




Crazy Hatch at Holter Dam






Mama introduced us to her babies




Mergansers at Holter Dam




Eastern Kingbird




Dinner from the Missouri River.





When we'd had enough of the heat, we returned to Georgetown Lake, which due to its higher altitude is usually several degrees cooler than anywhere else we visit in Montana. There we met up with Mick and Deb our fishing friends from California. After a couple of days fishing there, we visited the West Fork of the Bitterroot, hoping to find spots in our favourite campground on Rombo Creek. It was the weekend and we were out of luck, so made do with a wild campsite not far away. As our friends have a Toyota 4 x 4 pickup, we were able to explore nearby back roads. If we ventured on such roads with Harvey it would end in disaster! We spent a lovely day creek fishing and exploring the backwoods on the gravel roads right over the pass into Idaho.




Fishing Georgetown Lake


Celebrating Christine's birthday with Deb's pancakes.




Wild camping on the West Fork of the Bitterroot with Mick and Deb.




Christine enjoying the result of the boys' labours beside Mick

and Deb's rig, which is just a little bigger than Harvey!




Taking a break from the bumps at the pass with Deb and Mick.




Doing lunch in style on our road trip.








Mick fishing the Creek




Phil having a go.





Back in Bozeman we met up with Charlie and Heidi, who took us on a road trip in their fabulous vintage 1969 Pontiac Catalina convertible, nicknamed, "The Shark". They drove us through the Bridger Bowl skiing areas near Bozeman and on to Livingston, where we headed to a restaurant for cocktails and dinner. To say it was breezy in the back of The Shark was an understatement and by the time we headed back to Bozeman it was much cooler. We all huddled together for warmth on the front seat, which had ample space to accommodate us all.




Christine with The Shark, while Harvey looks on.




Off on our 'Shark' adventure with Charlie and Heidi.




Taking a break from the wind in Livingston.




Huddled together for warmth




Madison River Fisherman looking for dinner.




Madison River Waxwing.







One last week on the Madison and then we met up with Charlie and Heidi again at their house in Philipsburg for a Labor Day weekend of fun.







Measuring to see if Betty Ford, Charlie's truck is longer than Harvey.




Heidi waiting for her morning coffee.




They learn parking young in Montana!




Chilling to live music.....




....at the local brewery.




Philipsburg's amazing sweet shop.









It wasn't a long trip from Philipsburg back to Georgetown Lake, where we spent the last few days of our trip. Before we left, we managed to catch up with Ben for some lake fishing.




Blue Jay.




Ladybird.




One method of fishing the lake.




And another.




Baby Bald Eagle at Georgetown Lake.




An evening of fishing at Georgetown Lake with Ben and Andrew.

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