July 31, 2014 samantha

The Wide Open Plains

I just had to feature a picture of my mother’s view on most of the trip. Granted, it made it easier for her to simply follow the big camper over hell and half of creation, but it must’ve messed up a few scenic views.

As we traveled towards Browning, we did crossover some familiar terrain on the east side of Glacier. We saw cattle in alongside the roadway tucked in the brush and grazing packs of horses. We saw far off glaciers and majestic craggy peaks. We saw the grocery store where we happily rustled up some F’real nearly 5 days prior. We saw gorgeous views of Saint Mary Lake and we saw young aspens growing tall among decades old burnt matchstick forests.

A touch lost, we meandered through the outskirts of Browning, MT. While I would not have wanted to be there late at night, there were intriguing sites, such as the pack of horses with a nursing foal just hanging about outside an abandoned elementary school.While we did go in circles a tad, we did eventually arrive. Much to my chagrin, it was like the Stardust Motel all over again with withering looks from my mother, niece and nephew. The bonus of having a camper is that you always know what to expect in your accommodations – home is where you drive it!

20140729_095207We arrived at The Aspenwood Lodge. Interestingly enough, there were no aspens nearby. Hmmm…and the “lodge” was not quite what we expected. Yet, again, it did have a cozy interior. My mother’s room (one of only two) had three beds – which made her crew happy. My son and I were outback in an area laid out for rv’s, but was not much more than a level field with water and electricity. But then again, at the end of the day, what more does one really want? The sun was setting and as we ourselves settled in, we became aware of how peaceful our little field was with the soft chirping of insects and the endless starry sky overhead. There were a few horses in the field behind us, so we shared some apples and then wearily crawled into bed.

20140729_093353In the morning, we joined the other half in the lodge for some breakfast – it was fantastic! This little “lodge” is a B&B and made the most fantastic french toast. So unexpected. But that is the great thing about travel, to find the unexpected!

 

 

20140729_101358The young girl who served us joined us out back and took us into the paddock to visit the owner’s horses. She shared much about the area. I think what surprised me the most was how casual the locals were about their livestock. She pointed out an ATV off in the distance and explained that he was probably trying to locate his horses. It didn’t seem quite efficient or wise to me, but as many of the locals were descendants of the Blackfeet Nation, as was our server, I am sure they knew how best to care for their livestock. Again, part of my fascination with travel is to see how others live – observe, not judge.

20140729_111828We really had a nice stay over at the Aspenwood Lodge and highly recommend it. There aren’t many places to stay on the St. Mary side of Glacier National Park and especially if you are looking for a place that has both RV and motel accommodations. Throw in the excellent food and you have a winner! By the way, not being judgey, but I had to include this. The Browning equivalent of Starbucks.

Oh…one more important note! While my son and I were emptying the sewage, my mother decided to rearrange some of the luggage. Now…I’m not saying how this actually came about or who did it and both individuals involved have agreed to blame each other 50/50, but on down the road, it suddenly dawned on my nephew that, once again, he was missing something. Well, actually, he was missing everything – his luggage had been left behind. Good Lord! A quick phone call had the owner locating the luggage in the field by the dump and she readily agreed to ship it home. We really did meet our share of outstanding people on this trip!

20140729_120156Our destination on this day was Livingston, MT, a mere 6.5 hour drive through nothing but wide open country. The weather was a little iffy with far off storms. You could see them dotting the landscape, but the impending downpour could easily miss you by several hundred miles given the far off horizons. The landscape would vary from wide open plains to sudden canyon drop offs. It kept the drive ever interesting. At one point, in the seemingly middle of nowhere, they were repaving the road. had we not been stopped, we would not have known that anyone else was sharing this long stretch of road with us. At another point, we came across a monument dedicated to the Blackfeet Nation – very Don Quixote-ish.

20140729_192752The storms did finally catch up with us. While we had been fortunate to avoid storms 85% of the trip, this was a bit of a white-knuckle storm in that the wind sweeping across the plains made pulling the camper a bit dodgy. Still, it’s part of the adventure – slow it down, ease it up, take a deep breath and get on down the road. We were rewarded with fabulous rainbows, double rainbows, even!

Storms behind us and Livingston just ahead! Why stay in Livingston? Regulars say that both Highway 191 and 89 are equally beautiful, however with a smidge of research, I found a campground that sounded serene amongst tall canyon walls alongside a river and that, to me, sounded ideal. It was also east of Bozeman and, what I figured, might be a more heavily trafficked road.

20140730_085331Unfortunately, we arrived later in the day then I had originally hoped, so there really wasn’t much time to enjoy our stay at the Rock Canyon RV Park as we had a ton of laundry to get through before bedtime. We did discover that this was a hidden gem for which many RVers book to stay several weeks to several months due to its ideal location. This was also one of those nights that we would all be sleeping in the camper. And, yes, I did find it necessary to document this with a photo.

DSC01647In the morning, we let the boys sleep in a bit as I had some RV repairs to do. (Yes, little emergencies do flare up on the road, but I will add those in a tips section of the blog.) Before final prep to leave, we did slip out to view the river that I had intended the kids to have plenty of time to play in the day before. This is where it is a bummer to be on a rigid schedule on the road. We trekked down to the river and was dismayed to find it so beautiful and inviting. Dismayed? Yes, because we hadn’t the time to enjoy it much beyond seeing it and snapping a few photos. However, what I discovered was that this is an RV park that I will make it back to some day.

 

Alas, Yellowstone was beckoning and we simply didn’t know what we had in store in front of us or we would have left at the crack of dawn.

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