First Time Working the Beet Harvest – Orientation

Monday, September 19,2016

By design we arrived at the Bagnell RV Park  very early, because we wanted to be able to change our spot if it was a first come, first serve situation.  We lost an hour to time zone crossing the border and now we’re settled into Mountain Time for the duration.  The campground is pretty small and being an “in town” RV park, it’s hemmed in on all sides by roads and businesses.  Our site did have 50 amp (a big concern for us while the furnace is broken) and also backs up to a road.  It definitely has a trailer park feel with many permanent units people are living in and a general rundown appearance.  Honestly it didn’t bother me because I had pretty low expectations, but the folks a couple of spots down in a very high end Class A seemed a little agitated.  We are supposed to have cable (currently not working although I was told a repair man would be coming today and he showed up less than an hour later and now we have 50 channels), supposed to have WiFi (we can’t get it to connect, but that may be on our end), and we have a lovely view of the giant trash cans across from us. Seriously though, we are here to work and sleep, so the only things that concerned me were a neighbor with a permanent structure and a barking dog, and the road noise. There are rumble strips on the road very near us and since people refuse to slow down that noise will probably be a permanent fixture and anything that interferes with sleep will probably be a big deal.  On the plus side, there is both a McDonald’s and a Pizza Hut within walking distance, and there is a very nice full size grocery store in town.  We also have 4 bars of ATT 4G.    The camp host (associated with the beet harvest operation) was very nice and was slightly apologetic, but again, we weren’t expecting much, so I went out of my way to thank her for her help.  It’s not her fault.  We were thrilled the RV park has mailboxes and accepts packages, so with a $25 refundable deposit we got a box and a key. Folks have been wanting to send us stuff for a while, and I have a couple birthday presents coming my way!  Our information packet says we have a paperwork meeting at a nearby hotel tomorrow at 1pm. So that’s what we will do, and get some information about what shift we will be working, and what our jobs will be. Our next door neighbor Juan is really nice and he has done the beet harvest four previous seasons, so that is encouraging.  He says we will have fun.  I hope so.  – Tracy

Lots of beet fields

Lots of beet fields

The campground

The campground

Our front view

Our front view

Our back view. Despite the rumble strips cars go flying down this road right outside our windows

Our back view. Despite the rumble strips cars go flying down this road right outside our windows

After getting set up we took a little tour of the town to try and acclimate ourselves.  It didn’t take long.  It’s a typical small town farming community, and it’s also the county seat, so it did have a Main street and a couple of other business areas.  We stopped in a store called Shopko Hometown  (which is like a mini Kmart) and found my Corelle dishes pattern on sale for 40% off!!! We originally only bought 6 of everything and occasionally when we have larger dinners I don’t have enough plates.  Plus, they had a serving platter in the pattern which I had never seen.  Score!!  We also decided to go ahead and buy a new Igloo ice machine.  Ours has not been working well for awhile (we have owned it three years) and they had one on clearance for $139 which was actually cheaper than what we had seen online. We found the bank, grocery store, a Mexican restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, hardware store, car parts store, and they even have a local Ford dealership which is great, because we need another oil change. We went into the car parts store and bought some cheap seat covers for $24.99.  Everyone says you get very dirty doing this job, so no point in messing up our upholstery.  We also stopped at M3 Meats.  We love local butchers, but this was more of a processing center and they don’t have a storefront.  The clerk came from Alaska though, and when she found out we had just come from there she went in and checked their freezer.  We bought some great looking local Montana ribeye for $12.99 a pound.  Can’t wait to try it out.  Just to be clear, this isn’t really a butcher shop, but they do sell meat if they have it, and are planning to expand and add a small storefront in the next couple of months. I really liked the whole vibe of the town.  Everyone we met was very friendly and it had the small town feel of where I grew up.  – Tracy

The residential streets are nice

The residential streets are nice

Our temporary seat covers

Our temporary seat covers

Picked up 4 of these beauties. Hope they taste as good as they look

Picked up 4 of these beauties. Hope they taste as good as they look

The nice strip mall in town

The nice strip mall in town.  The main street is a little rundown

My new ice machine

My new ice machine

And the serving platter I have been looking for forever!!

And the serving platter I have been looking for forever!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Well the first night sleeping with the road noise was ok.  With fans on, I only heard a truck once, but again this was at night the road was much busier during the day.  This probably wasn’t an issue for most folks because their bedrooms are in the front, but ours is in the back so keeping an eye on it.  It may turn out to be a complete non-issue because we will be so tired, and otherwise I like our site because it is wide, so for right now we are going to stay where we are.  Will see what happens.

Our orientation was at 1pm at the hotel next door.  They had rented two small rooms and one had chairs and a TV and the other a couple of desks.  The room was full with 17 people and they walked us through filling out the paperwork.  It was pretty extensive and afterwards we went into the other room 4 at a time and presentation our ID’s for more paperwork. Then we watched a training video and walked through a short quiz.  We were told we would be paid at the end of the harvest for a two hour orientation but it ended up taking 3 hours.  Not sure if the pay will be adjusted or not.  We also found out that the lowest level helper this year would be making a base rate of $13.35 (32 cents more than last year) and for other jobs the base rate was $14.27 or higher.  Unfortunately we were still not told what our jobs or shift would be, but we were told that our site would be Sugar Valley. We were allowed to request day or night shift and we were told our foreman would take our preference and our job preference into account.  Whether or not that is the case, we will see.  I know the folks who come back for a second year all get to pick their jobs, shifts, and locations and I would imagine we will all take what is left.

What surprised me the most was the age range of the people in the room.  Over half were in their 20’s or early 30’s and the oldest of the rest of us was what looked to be a pretty healthy 70.  The kids were fun.  Some had RV’s but most lived in worker housing (bunk style trailers) provided by the harvest. Most of the people here knew someone well who had done this before, so we heard some secondhand information, but until it’s all official I am not sure I trust it.  We did find out that our trucks would be parked close to the sites and we could bring food, extra clothing, etc and it would be accessible to us during the shift.  Overall for me it was fine.  It did run a little long, but it was a large group and I actually thought the safety video was pretty good, from a content standpoint at least.  Looking forward to getting to the training on Thursday and seeing how that goes. Oh and I know I am saying we will see how it goes lot, but honestly there isn’t much point in speculating.  In my mind at least we have done as much as we can to prepare getting all worked up isn’t going to help.  – Tracy

Wednesday, September 21, 2016  

We had nothing scheduled for today and briefly talked about visiting the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which is an hour away, but it was both cold and rainy.  Instead we both worked on housekeeping items that had built up.  I did spend several hours on learning Adobe photo shop for my recipe book and Lee spent some time on the phone with the nonprofit he used to work for, helping them with their annual report.  We didn’t mind the extra downtime at all, but I can see why some folks might be annoyed with the downtime.  Since we have a free place to stay and things to get done, it is fine by us.  It actually have been hard to come straight from Alaska and jump right in, so we are grateful for at least the first couple of days.  Tomorrow we have training at 9am and hopefully will find out our shift.


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First Time Seeing a Grizzly Bear

So funny story, there is more cell coverage in this beautiful National Park than their was in that crappy State Park we stayed in.  But I am jumping ahead.  Despite the stress of last week we did really have a good time with our friends Deb and Steve and Mario and Ellen.  Every night we got together for joint meals and I was amazed at how easy feeding everyone was.  We fell into an easy rotation where each couple took the main meal one night and then one other person provided a side of one kind to help.  Lee and I love eating other people’s food and since Mario and Deb are such great cooks it was a really nice food week. Also it was great to reconnect with our Dreamers friends.  Of the original group that got together at the RV-Dreams rally in 2014, Ellen and Mario were the last to go on the road, as she was waiting to retire.  She’s a month in, and they are having a really good time, but still working through some of the mechanics of living in a rig.  Even though they are long-time RVers it is very different living full-timing in an RV than taking long vacations and since we all learn from each other, it was great to share stories and advice. Ellen and Mario are headed to Yosemite while Deb, Steve, Lee, and I move on to more of Glacier, and I was so glad to spend time where our paths crossed and get to know them better. I learned how to use my timer on my camera for the shot below and thought the goofiness captured the spirit of the fun we all had together!

Ellen, Mario. Lee, me, Steve. and Deb being silly

Ellen, Mario. Lee, me, Steve. and Deb being silly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, Steve and I were both off work, and since checkout time at the state park was at 1 pm we could really take our time.  Lee and I actually prepped the night before, and went to a few stores in the morning.  When it turns cold in the northern states, lots of products we used go on clearance, and since you can never have enough bug spray in this lifestyle we use this as a chance to stock up.  So we bought lots of bug spray and new metal tiki torches at Target (on clearance) and then went to several stores looking for a new percolator.  The boon docking overall has gone much better than I expected but we only have  a small, cheapie camp style percolator for coffee in the mornings that I have to use a  pot holder to pick up since the “handle” is just a ring that gets very hot.  Since we love our morning coffee I really wanted to get this problem solved before tackling the next week. Unfortunately although they had them online we didn’t have much luck at Target, Walmart, or Bed Bath and Beyond so Lee finally recommended Cabela’s.  Wow, was that ever a good choice.  Not only did we find an awesome percolator I also finally found my perfect camp chair.  The people who have hung out with me around a campfire know I have been in search of the perfect fold-up chair for over a year now.  We started with the gravity chairs (which Lee loves and I hate) and have been limping along with canvas chairs we bought over 15 years ago.  We spend quite a bit of time around campfires and for me, the chair matters.  So I was $97 poorer, but richer in quality product when we left Cabela. Even though I am budget conscious, some things are just worth a little extra money, and I don’t regret these two purchases at all. On a side note, as I am linking these products I notice the online price was a little cheaper for the chair.  I didn’t price match, because they were Cabela brand, but I bet I could have saved $10 if I would have used Red Tag.  I really need to get into the habit of using that app!

 

Awesome rubber handle and large coffee holder capacity

Awesome rubber handle and large coffee holder capacity. (The image does not indicate proper usage of the percolator. Even a moron knows that’s not how you make coffee.-Lee)

Hard arms that flip up and a cool cup holder that swivels out on the bottom

Hard arms that flip up and a cool cup holder that swivels out on the bottom

 

 

When we came back, Steve and Deb were finishing their prep to leave,  and we spent the last 30 minutes hitching up, etc.  Coordinating with another couple on travel day could be stressful, and we have never actually followed another camper before to the next campsite, but Steve and Deb are very relaxed on travel day.  I chalk it up to lots and lots of experience because they have moved quite a bit more than us over the last year on the road, and from the outside looking in, they have a very nice system.  We are still working out the kinks in our routing, but we are definitely getting there, and we all stopped together at the local Cenex to dump and take on propane and fresh water. The campground we’re heading to has a dump station,  and this is definitely dealer’s choice, but I like to dump prior to making the drive just in case you get to your destination and there is a problem.  I just find it less stressful in general and Lee is fine either way so if possible we dump before leaving our current stay. The drive to Fish Creek Campground in Glacier was pretty short and we got there comfortably around 3pm.  How different from Whitefish Lake!!

Lake McDonald next to campground

Lake McDonald next to campground

Lake McDonald

Lake McDonald

Cool rock circle someone made

Cool rock circle someone made on the lakeshore

Huge downed tree we were fascinated by

Huge downed tree we were fascinated by

Lee walked it, was around 75 feet long

Lee walked it, was around 75 feet long

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though the park was very full, it was blessedly quiet, and the treed spaces give an illusion of privacy although you are very close to people. Plus 3 bars of AT&T and Verizon!!  You wouldn’t believe the lengths Steve and I went to with our jobs to be totally disconnected for 10 days and it turns out wasn’t necessary.  Crazy, and I have to say I am relieved, because we’re not crazy about the kids and our parents not having access to us for such a long period of time.   We were in site B89 and Deb and Steve are in B92 across from us and although the pull through circular sites are a tight fit, we both got our 40 foot rigs in with minimal maneuvering. Unfortunately, we are still under a campfire ban, those poor tent campers are seriously hardy since night temps are down in the 50’s, but the solar is working very well.  I should mention that Greg from RV Solar Solutions designed a solar solution for us that worked with our budget and our projected solar needs.  So far it has worked out very well, and we have been doing a lot of experimenting on how long we can run certain items on solar.  Yes, they are friends of ours, but believe me, I would have been mad if I was having major issues, but so far the system has been rock solid. All systems do require a learning curve though, who knew a toaster would suck up so much juice?, and we are using this time to learn.  So far we have had excess capacity every night, except the one time we didn’t run our generator  in the evening. Speaking of generators, our is propane and we used 3 tanks of propane in a 10 day boon docking period.  That’s not awful, but Steve has the small gas-powered external generators and those seem to be more efficient.  The major advantage to ours though is it can generate up to 50 amps whereas Steve’s can only do 15 (30 amp if he strings two together.) Anyway, it’s going pretty well, but this campground has very restricted generator hours.  Essentially they are during meal times 8-10am, 12-2pm, and 5-7pm.  The one time Steve didn’t turn his off on time he had a ranger knocking on his window at 7:02pm  They take the generator hours very seriously here!  I like it from a peace and quiet standpoint, but it can get a bit tricky if you are out all day, it kind of forces you to be back at the campsite from 5-7 and then really conserve for the evening hours.

We were all very happy though, and wanted to get out into the park right away.  It was very smoky coming in, but Saturday night called for rain and we were all hoping that that would disperse some of the smoke.  Months ago I saw a picture on Pinterest of “Pebble Lake” in Glacier and that was a must do for me.  There actually isn’t a Pebble Lake here, but after some Google research Deb and I discovered the picture was taking at Kintla Lake.  This lake is on the West side of the park and requires driving up a dirt road but we were all up for it.  We took off at 9am, they were actually 2 minutes early gotta love that, and started the drive.  The Inside North Fork Road was closed for a stretch so we were forced to the Outside North Fork Road but it was still beautiful.  We had Glacier on one side and Flathead National Forest on the other.  In any other place Flathead would have been amazing, but when you can look at Glacier by just turning your head it certainly came off as a poorer cousin.  The houses that had both views though, one from the rear and the other from the front, were in an amazing spot.

Glacier Mountains

Glacier Mountains

Flathead Mountains

Flathead Mountains

Saw several of these signs along the way

Saw several of these signs along the way

The road less traveled

The road less traveled

Lots of creeks and meadows

Lots of creeks and meadows, clouds were beautifully smoke free

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a beautiful morning, with the best visibility we have had, so we took our time stopping whenever we wanted along the way.  I loved that the views kept changing.  Fire had come through here in the past and we saw the forest in varying stage of regrowth along with some beautiful prairies.  This is how I always pictured Montana in my head and wow it was stunning.

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Kintla Glacier close up

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Kintla Peak and Kintla Glacier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The road by the way is variable. Some is paved, some is oiled dirt, and the closer you get to the Canadian border the rougher it gets.  It was definitely manageable in our truck though and we saw several smaller cars going by.  It is super bouncy towards the end though, which is kind of a good thing because it forces you to slow down and really look around.  We were all on animal lookout of course, and Steve was dying to see a grizzly bear.  We had made a joke that he tipped the ranger $15 to see a bear and kind of our running theme was “would we see bears?”.  As we were driving along and looking at the beautiful views we came upon a really nice house, at a point in the trip where for a handful of miles it was private property as opposed to public land. There were some private residences on the edges of Glacier and as we were looking at one of the driveways I saw what I thought was two bear statues or plywood cutout silhouettes.  After my brain registered what I was actually seeing, I told Lee to stop, and he backed up, and holy cow there were two huge grizzlies right in the driveway!!! They were looking straight at us from about 75 feet away and they stayed for a while until Steve got out of his truck upwind from them and they decided to wander off.  It was truly truly an amazing moment, one I will cherish forever, and I definitely felt it was the universe’s way of saying, “yes this is tough but look at what you get to see…you are on the right path.”

My favorite pic

My favorite pic

 

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We think the little one smelled Steve 🙂  Only partially kidding here they have an amazing sense of smell and as soon as he got out of his truck it turned towards him.

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Lifting it’s nose for a sniff.  They moved off shortly thereafter

 

Closeup of the big one

Closeup of the big one

You can clearly see the hump of the back which shows it's a grizzly

You can clearly see the hump on the back which shows it’s a grizzly.

 

A big clump of what I think was bear hair I saw much later in the day., I got out to check it and it feels like human hair

A big clump of what I think was bear hair I saw much later in the day. I got out to look and it felt like human hair.

 

 

The lodge that initially caught my attention. Nice view :)

The lodge that initially caught my attention. The bears were on the driveway

 

Since mating occurs between May and Mid-July (we think and) the mother’s and cubs stay together 2-3 years we think it was a mother and an older cub.  This was a really great sighting because according to Western Wildlife.org  “Grizzly bears have one of the slowest reproductive rates among terrestrial mammals, due to their late age of first reproduction, small average litter size, and the long interval between litters: it may take a single female 10 years to replace herself in a population.”  All of us were incredibly excited and I was so happy that my hands stayed steady enough on super zoom to get the shot.  In that moment, I felt really calm and very focused. And as Deb said, “That made our Glacier.” Not only did we get to experience it, but we got to do it with our really good friends. Plus Steve’s $15 tip really worked lol.  That’s only $7.50 a bear…a bargain at any price!  (I am kidding about the tip of course)

You might think the rest of the day was anticlimactic, but it was great in different ways. First we stopped at this little town called Polebridge (when I say town I mean 5 buildings and a street, and checked out their bakery and gift store.  Steve and I are addicted to Huckleberry Bear Claws and these were amazing.  Really cute store and we loved the little town in the middle of nowhere. Plus pastry yummy.

 

The one store

The one store

Working phone and mailboc

Working phone and mailbox

Little bit of everything and their prices were decent

Little bit of everything and their prices were decent

Deb and Steve checking it out

Deb and Steve checking it out

I loved the individual bandaids for sale

I loved the individual bandaids for sale

Lee loved the lending library

Lee loved the lending library

Polebridge, definitely worth a stop

Polebridge, definitely worth a stop

After leaving the town we also saw 6 deer at various stages along the road.  The sixth was a cool buckling but I didn’t get a picture of it.

Lee's picture

Lee’s picture, how awesome is that

In the meadow

In the meadow

Another pair in the woods

Another pair in the woods

 

 

 

 

 

 

After another hour or so of we  came to Kintla Lake.  It was beautiful but unfortunately overcast by this time and I really wanted a picture with the sun out.  We had a snack and watched the lake and Steve intentionally waited until we got a little break in the clouds and I got a few shots with the sun.  Very sweet of him.  We also saw what I think was an Osprey across the lake on the outer edges of my zoom limit.  My favorite part of the lake and adjoining campground was it allowed no motorized boats and all the campers had tents.  Even the camp host was in a tent, albeit a nice one.  We were only 14 miles from the Canadian border and felt really remote, but it was nice to have a bathroom accessibly, lol. I took about a million rock pictures, I really do love rocks, and made another major check off my RV bucket list.  If you come for Glacier I highly recommend staying at Fish Creek and making this drive.  It’s long but so worth it, and if you have the chance do it with friends because it makes the experience so much more special.

Kintla Lake

Kintla Lake view to the right

The view to the left

The view to the left

Favorite rock shot

Favorite rock shot

So much variety

So much variety in the types of rocks

I could have taken pictures of rocks all day :)

I could have taken pictures of rocks all day 🙂

Osprey

With the occasional bird thrown in!!

So we headed back after a full day for some yummy steak dinner and a few games of Qwerkle.  Next up: some hikes Deb has scheduled for us and hopefully some more animal sightings.  So far this is a fantastic trip and I can’t wait to see what happens next!!  And on a completely side note, our friends Bill and Kelly just completed their one year on the road.  Here’s the link to an absolutely fantastic write up of their first year.  She did a great job and congratulations you guys!!

Campground Reviews

Fish Creek Campground West side of Glacier National Park 4 out of 5 pine cones

Even though the park was very full, it was blessedly quiet and the treed spaces give an illusion of privacy although you are very close to people.  We were in site B89 and Deb and Steve are in B92 across from us and although the pull through circular sites are a tight fit we both got our 40 foot rigs in with minimal maneuvering. Dump station and solid Verizon and AT&T coverage.  restricted generator hours.  Essentially they are during meal times 8-10am, 12-2pm, and 5-7pm.  Well kept, well-managed,  Showers available but only in Loop A which is a 5 minute walk for those in other loops.  Keep in mind you need to by a $30 seven day parks pass (on top of your $23 a night fee), but we recommend the $80 America the Beautiful pass which is good for one year on all federal land.

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First Time in Montana

Although my expectations were set pretty low, for some reason I was expecting a ton of oil fields, we really loved Western North Dakota.  Lots of farms with rocky outcroppings spread throughout and when we hit the Teddy Roosevelt National Park are we were both in awe.  I didn’t even know it existed and was so sorry we had to pass through quickly but that is a place we definitely want to go back to.  After driving through some more farmland we finally hit Belfield, ND which is known as the gateway to the west.  The view went from farmland to ranches  and the change in terrain was noticeable.  Many years ago Lee used to drive a truck cross-country for a production company he worked for and he always came home from those trips raving about the views and now for the first time I was seeing what he had been talking about.  I looked over to tell him and I saw a tear rolling down his cheek.  (A bug flew in my eye. Shut up. – Lee) He was obviously  visibly moved and I said , “Honey we made it. ” His quiet reply was “It only took 15 years.”  That took me a minute to process.  I was thinking it took us 9 months to get here, but for Lee the wait was 15 years.  The moment was significant.  The West is the place Lee has always wanted to be and I was so happy for him that  we finally had made it.   It was a great moment.

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This sticks and bricks has quite the view

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Big Sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lee intentionally scheduled a long drive day, so we would have more time with his family on Friday, but with my new work setup in the truck it wasn’t an issue for me.  Also, my cell coverage was excellent.  I have to say as much as I have heard that Verizon is the way to go for FTers, my AT&T has been really good.  Thus far we have  actually been in two spots where our Verizon friends had  no cell coverage and ours worked.  That being said,   Lee and I are concerned about what happens when we get out west though and had talked about numerous options including a Verizon plan and a “pay as you go” phone.  Right now  the thing that makes the most sense financially is all AT&T., but things may come to a head soon.  For right now,   I was on  a conference call while going through Bozeman Pass and heard everything just fine.  I was absolutely amazed by that, plus the conference call was a lot more pleasant with the amazing views.

Finally, after driving for several hours we stopped for the night in Columbus, Montana.  Our hometown is Columbus, Ohio so we got a kick out of being in Montana and staying in a town with the same name.  Columbus,  Montana is one of the really small towns out West with a struggling Main Street. It’s hanging on but you can tell it’s not a prosperous town.  We stayed in a free city park, Itch-Kep-Pe for the night and it was nice but definitely could use some TLC.  The spots were good, it was near a river, and the people were really friendly, but it was all vaguely unkempt and overgrown. That being said, we were happy to stay there for the night for free and would even recommend it for a little longer stay, but it would be great if they hired a camp host to come clean it up.  It could be amazing.    A nice bonus was the local farmer’s market was on Thursday night.  I love a farmer’s market, and this one, for such a small town, had a nice varied selection.  Lee bought some hot, seasoned nuts and I got about $10 worth of fresh locally grown vegetables, plus we put back a little in the local economy which we always like to do.

Campsite in Columbus, MT

Campsite in Columbus, MT

The downtown

The downtown

Farmer's Market

Farmer’s Market

Farmer's Market

Farmer’s Market

The next day was a shorter travel day and we were planning on a stop in Helena, Montana.  Lee’s mom’s oldest sister, Mildred,  stayed in this area of the country when some of the kids lived out east and Lee has a cousin Kim, he has only met once and another cousin Gerry he has never met.  His cousins have owned this really trendy shoe and clothing stop called Sole Sisters on the main street of Helena for over 20 years.    Before meeting everyone though we needed to find our campground and  finish out the work day.   The campground, Riverside at Canyon Ferry,  was a bit hard to find.  Lee intentionally picked one outside of town, because the campgrounds in town had pretty poor reviews, and were full anyway.  It didn’t look like much from the google earth pictures but again, only one nigh,t so not a big deal.  Wow,  were we pleasantly surprised.  This was one of the nicest campgrounds we have ever stayed at.  It was immaculately clean, on the water, and there is a hug dam within sight.  There is water throughout the campground , stone picnic tables and really nice fire rings all for  $15 a night.  Crazy!!  We loved it and would highly recommend it to anyone passing through the area, but I will warn you the drive to get to it is a little steep and curvy.  So worth it though.

Our camper by the dam

Our camper by the dam

 

The lake

The lake

The dam must be beautiful when the water is running

The dam must be beautiful when the water is running

The hills behind us

The hills behind us

 

View of the campground from the dam

View of the campground from the dam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately we were also really starting to see smoke in the area so the views weren’t as dramatic as they could have been.  August in Montana means smoke from fires.  I talked to a person who has lived there a while and he said it’s normally about 20 days a summer of smoke and the worst is usually in August.  This year by all accounts was really bad though, and they have even brought in fire fighters from Australia to help combat the flames.  We weren’t near any fires, but the smoke does travel and the day we were in Helena is was “foggy” like conditions. When we got to Mildred’s house she was very concerned about the fact we were heading into the fire area and worked with Lee to look at road closures and alternative routes.  She really wanted us to stay longer and we talked about it, but Glacier is a RV bucket list item of mine and we were planning on meeting our friends Ellen, Mario, Deb, and Steve.  I loved Helena and definitely want to go back when we have more time.  Plus,  Lee’s Aunt Mildred will be very disappointed in us if we don’t go back and she is not the kind of person you want disappointed in you!!  She had made plans for the evening so we drove down to Sole Sisters and checked out the shop.  It was really great, with quality merchandise.  This is not a place to find a bargain, but definitely worth a stop to check out what they have.  Plus, ask for Kim or Gerry, and say you heard about them from Lee and I…that will be fun since they were so fascinated by the blog and the lifestyle.

Mildred helping Lee with the road closures

Mildred helping Lee with the road closures

Mildred looks great for 84!!

Mildred looks great for 84!!

Beautiful local catholic church St. Mary's

Beautiful local catholic church St. Mary’s

I adored the name of the main street downtown

I adored the name of the main street downtown

 

Downtown reminded me a ;little bit of Keene

Downtown reminded me a ;little bit of Keene

Sole Sisters

Sole Sisters

Inside the shop

Inside the shop

Great dressing area

Great dressing area

Of course I had to try on some shoes. I was good though didn't buy anything

Of course I had to try on some shoes. I was good though didn’t buy anything

Kim's 15 year old son Cole

Kim’s 15-year-old son Cole

After checking out the shop, where Mildred still works sometimes but only when she feels like it, we went down the street to Bert and Ernie’s.  It doesn’t look like much from the outside but inside is really great and has a separate wine bar and wine area.  I really liked it and the pizza was good.  We didn’t even have to pay because Mildred very slyly picked up our check.  Seriously, I am usually pretty good at spotting that but didn’t even see it happen.  Gotta love a free dinner!! We said our goodbyes and I gave Kim my card so she could read the blog.  She and her husband Devon were very interested in the lifestyle, and we absolutely promised we would come back when we had more time.  

The 2nd floot of the main bar

The 2nd floor of the main bar

Wine Bar

Wine Bar

Wine area

Wine area

On our drive back to the campground we saw some deer down on the sand by the lake.  Lee pulled into a side street to see if we could get down there and there was a deer with fledgling horns right in the neighborhood.  Neither one of us have ever seen a deer with any kind of horns so it was pretty cool.  We stayed and watched it for a while as it calmly ate the persons bushes.   It was a great day seeing people and a great campground but can’t wait to get to our friends and Glacier!!

 Y101 Y089

Campground Reviews

Itch-Kep-Pe City Park  Columbus, MT 3 out of 5 pinecones

Totally free and along a river.  The people were nice and sites were very large and well spaced.  There is water, but no dump and the bathrooms are very basic but it is definitely priced right.  The campground was a bit overgrown and definitely needed some TLC, but the price was great and certainly good for a short stay.   My AT&T cell coverage was very good.  No wi-fi and there is a train track behind the campground and the occasional train did go by.

Riverside at Canyon Ferry  Canyon Ferry Lake, MT 4 out of 5 pinecones

This is the nicest campground with no services we have ever stayed at.  It was immaculately clean, on the water, and there is a hug dam within sight.  There is water throughout the campground , stone picnic tables and really nice fire rings all for  $15 a night.  Crazy!!  We loved it and would highly recommend it to anyone passing through the area, but I will warn you the drive to get to it is a little steep and curvy. There is water in the campground in a few places, and the only major drawback is no dump.  They really should put one in.  I don’t know what the noise is like when the dam is running, but since I like waterfall noise I think that would have been a plus for me.

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