Day 9 – Wednesday – July 3, 2013
0605 Wake up.
0715 We are packed and loaded, ready to hit the road. We’ve got a long drive ahead of us today so we didn’t even take time to make coffee. We’ve got to get out of here! Actually though, despite the fact that the campground was full, it was really a very nice, quiet campground.
0736 Bald eagle perched in the top of a tree enjoying the morning view of Lake McDonald.
0743 Leaving the park.
0824 Stop for gas, $3.63/gallon, ice for the cooler, and coffee for the drivers.
0839 Big Fork, MT and Flathead Lake. Current temperature, 75 degrees.
0846 Woods Bay, MT. This town features an all-weather concrete teepee and a place selling chainsaw carvings.
0856 Lots of orchards here along the lake and the highway. It looks like mostly cherries to me but hard to know for sure when we are whizzing by at 60 miles per hour.
0858 Flathead Indian Reservation
0900 Runaway dog in the road. The owner scooped him up just in time – a big truck was about to run him over!
0919 Polson, MT
0921 Miracle of America Museum. Looks interesting for a future stop.
0924 Jolly Pack Rat. What a great name for a second-hand store.
0926 Peoples Center. Not sure what it is exactly. An Indian museum/learning center maybe?
0931 An entire herd of cattle hanging out under the one tree in the field. There’s just not enough shade for all of them!
0934 Suds-n-Duds. It’s a Laundromat, carwash, and showers. Get everything clean at once, including yourself!
0935 Stop at McD’s for more coffee and a late breakfast.
1004 National Bison Range. Do you think we’ll see any bison? (Spoiler alert – we didn’t.) Also all the signs here on the reservation have the original Indian names in addition to the new English names.
1013 Bison hides for sale. Hmm. Maybe that’s why we haven’t seen any bison yet.
1020 An article in the local paper says that the yellow fields are actually canola plants.
1031 Arrive in Missoula
1045 Blackfoot River
1125 Gas, $3.53/gallon
1150 Headed up Bear Gulch Road looking for a ghost town.
12:00 p.m. Bella has pointed out that it is “high noon”. That can’t be good. Now the kids are reviewing all the Scooby Doo stories that involve being lost on dirt roads and ghost towns. We’ll be lucky to make it out alive.
12:34 p.m. Still driving. Now we are on the Cave Gulch Road detour. This road is awful! We’re never going to make it! But on the plus side, there are so many butterflies. Good omens? I hope so.
12:41 p.m. Arrive at Garnet Ghost Town. No flat tires. No crashing off the mountain cliffs. We made it! Not sure how we’re going to get back out though. And where did all these cars come from? We (thankfully) only met one car on the (very skinny) road. Wait, what does that sign say? Highway 200? Where does Highway 200 go?
1:53 p.m. After a very nice visit in Garnet (even Rocco was allowed in all the buildings – wasn’t that hospitable of the ghosts to allow pets?) we are headed out – on Highway 200. That road is much better than the way we came. Our favorite parts of the ghost town:
Ryan – the hotel
Bella – the general store
Felisa – the blacksmith and the house that was just her size
Sheila – being able to go in and walk around all the buildings in town
Ron – Felisa’s house
Rocco – NOT the bugs. He did like the treats from the volunteers though and being able to go inside the buildings to sniff around.
Looking at the map I see that we could have driven straight down Highway 83 from Glacier to Highway 200 saving ourselves time and grey hairs but then it wouldn’t have been such a memorable adventure! Now we will always remember our visit to the ghost town.
2:31 p.m. Following the Blackfoot River back to Missoula.
2:37 p.m. Bonner Mill
2:44 p.m. Taco Bell in Missoula for a late lunch.
3:13 p.m. Caught a bit of cell signal in Missoula and was able to post a couple pictures to Facebook. It was a roaming signal. Really hoping the cell phone bill isn’t crazy this month.
3:29 p.m. Back to Drummond –the place where our 4-hour (111 mile) detour to the ghost town originally started.
3:54 p.m. Sign says local fireworks don’t start until 10:15 p.m. So late. But then again it doesn’t get dark very early here so that makes sense. Not sure if I would be able to stay awake to see the fireworks though.
3:58 p.m. Grant-Kohrs Ranch Historic Site. Hot and sunny here but a cool place to see. It is one of the original ranches in the area.
4:39 p.m. Leaving the ranch. Rocco wasn’t allowed in so Ryan waited with him at the car while Ron and the girls and I went in to look around.
4:41 p.m. Old Montana Prison is here in this town and a few other interesting things to see in Deer Lodge. Add it to the list of places to come back to.
4:53 p.m. Anaconda Smokestack
5:01 p.m. Pass a pick-up truck with a bass drum in the back.
5:13 p.m. Butte, MT. Elevation 5767 feet.
5:15 p.m. Giant white statue on top of the bluff. Who is it? Jesus? Mary? Whoever it is, it’s definitely biblical.
5:19 p.m. Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest
5:21 p.m. Continental Divide, 6393 feet
5:38 p.m. Tobacco Root Mountains
5:40 p.m. Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. If we had more time we would stop.
6:03 p.m. Madison Buffalo Jump State Park – another place we wanted to see but there’s just not enough time! The Indians used to drive the buffalo off the cliff here.
6:04 p.m. Construction zone
6:12 p.m. Gallatin River. Two dogs are out enjoying a swim in a river.
6:23 p.m. Bozeman, MT. There’s a Target here- must be a big city. Gas, $3.56/gallon
6:53 p.m. Bozeman Pass
7:03 p.m. Exit at Livingston onto Highway 89. 53 miles to the north entrance of Yellowstone.
8:00 p.m. Arrive at Yellowstone. Only two campgrounds are still open. The closest, Tower Falls, is 23 miles away.
8:04 p.m. Wyoming
8:07 p.m. Mammoth Campground – wow, that place is packed full!
8:40 p.m. Finally arrive at Tower Falls after a long drive, a buffalo jam (there were babies –so cute!), and a construction zone. Sadly, the campground is full already. We decide to go out the Northeast entrance to find another campground outside the park.
9:05 p.m. Never mind. Ron decided he’d rather go back out the North entrance and look for a hotel room in Gardiner.
9:06 p.m. Another bison crossing the road. Slight delay
9:13 p.m. GPS changes to night colors. Must be sunset.
9:17 p.m. Wildlife we have seen so far here at Yellowstone tonight – bison, elk, pronghorn antelope, bears
9:24 p.m. Lightning in the distance. Hope we are settled for the night before any rain catches up with us.
9:27 p.m. Stuck in the same buffalo jam with the babies but going back the other way. There is one super slow baby who just won’t get out of the middle of the road. So frustrating!
9:41 p.m. Finally get past the buffalo
9:43 p.m. Phantom Lake. The buffalo that was there before is still there.
9:57 p.m. Mammoth Hot Springs
10:04 p.m. Back in Montana
10:45 p.m. Jim Bridger Motor Court. Luckily they take dogs and they have a cabin still available. While I am walking Rocco, fireworks start going off. Rocco is NOT happy and pulls me back to the room as fast as he can. He hasn’t gone potty yet so I really hope he can hold it all night. Ron went out to find food and came back with pizza. Shower then bed. What a loooooong day!