26th Jun 2012 - 1st Jul 2012
It was time to head off on Tuesday morning and would you believe it – as we drove out of the campsite we had to brake because there was a bull snake sunning itself on the road – this one was about 4 feet in length and it quickly slithered into the grass as we approached. We stopped off for coffee along the way by the river. It was a lovely spot but unfortunately the wind was blowing so hard that we could not have gone for a walk. No sooner had we left there than Seamus spotted a large bird sitting on a telegraph pole. Linda had not seen it and when Seamus said that he thought it might have been an owl he had no choice other than to turn around as soon as possible and head back. There was a pull in within a reasonable distance of yes, an owl! But wait Linda spotted another owl on the next telegraph pole – wow a pair! But hang on – there was another on the next pole…… hmmm plastic Great Horned Owls positioned on the telegraph poles to deter the Osprey from nesting. Well they certainly fooled us!!!! Laughing at ourselves, we continued on to Livingstone where we had lunch and then went on to Bozeman for the night. As we turned onto the I90 a warning of ”very strong crosswinds, extreme caution required” flashed up and poor Seamus spent the next 25 miles gripping the steering wheel for dear life. At one point a gust grabbed us and we shot three feet to the right – fortunately there was a wide hard shoulder. We also saw smoke from a number of fires which were burning on in the hillsides. When we arrived at Bozeman we could see that we were not going to be alone as many RVers had already secured their spot. We were pleased with our site position as we overlooked the fields – however, we had forgotten all about the car park cleaning exercise that seems to happen at around 4am and so we spent an hour tossing and turning while we were sure that they enjoyed going up and down between the rows of RVs making lots of noise!
By the time we had used Safeway’s internet we were a little later than planned in leaving Bozeman but we only had about 30 miles to go so it was not a problem. We were headed to Lewis and Clark’s Caverns where we thought that we might spend a couple of nights. We went into the visitor’s centre and discovered that we could tour the caves more or less any time that we wished as the tours left every hour. We had a look at the campsite and it looked very clinical and so we decided that we would not stay if we could see the caverns that day. We managed to get on the 3pm tour and spent two very pleasant hours touring the caves. They were the most unusual caves that we have ever visited – part of it was done on our bottoms as we slid down a section called the Beaver Slide. The tour began with a steep climb to the cave entrance and just as we entered the cave we saw a Townsend Bat hanging from the roof. Much of the journey to the centre of the cave was via steps twisting this way and that and parts of it went through narrow gaps where you were bent double as it was so low. At our deepest point we were 400 feet below the surface. The caves were much drier than caves we had previously visited although it was still very humid. The guide was excellent and he told us some great tales as well as the factual information. On our way out we saw the most gorgeous little “Brown Bat” that was clinging to a wall – it was about 2 inches long and looked like a little furry mouse stuck to the wall. It was a lovely sunny day and so we decided to push on to Butte. We arrived at our Walmart car park just before 7pm and headed over to the little RV community – there were about 15 of us spending the night there. We had a good night’s sleep and when we awoke we discovered that many of the others had already left.
We had a beautiful journey on Thursday up to Finley Point on Flathead Lake. We knew that they had two sites that were non-reservable and so we just kept our fingers crossed that one would be available – it was. Although the campsite was compact we had the most wonderful view across the lake and knew that we were going to like it here. We had electricity and water and that made a nice change after quite a while of having no power or water. We booked in for two nights but when we went out for a walk on Friday we noticed that you could buy an annual pass for $25 and that would entitle you to a reduction of $5 per night on any campsite in Montana – we decided to go for it. We walked through the State Park on the opposite side of the road to the campsite and then came across the main road. We kept turning left and eventually arrived back at the campsite after a walking for a couple of miles or so.
On Saturday we thought that we would try to find Finley Point – well, we ended up on the other side of it but we never found the point itself. We had a most enjoyable four mile walk and then spent the afternoon sat by the lake watching the world at play. Boats and the odd jet ski were going up and down the lake. Some brave individuals were swimming whilst others relaxed in a tube. It was a very hot day and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves – we did think that it would have been nice to have a canoe on the lake to put our newly acquired skills to the test but unfortunately there were none available. Thunderstorms and rain were forecast over night and so we decided that we would stay another day at the lake. We had not been in bed and asleep for long before Seamus was awoken by our weather alarm. We were under threat of a severe thunderstorm – oh joy! I don’t think that we will ever get used to the severity of the storms here and even though it was bad we did not get the brunt of it. We were camped on the east side of the lake and the storm hit worst on the west side. We did, however, have two really bad claps of thunder that were so deep they felt as if they had gone right through your chest cavity. We had lightening too and the rain turned to hail for a short while but thankfully no damage was done.
We awoke to a wet morning but not until 9.30am – well our night had been disturbed, hadn’t it?! We spent the morning on domestic duties, making the most of having power and water on tap so to speak – no pun intended. Our camp host had very kindly said that we could use her internet signal to send a few emails and so we sat with them for a while. Then we wrote our blog and generally chilled for the rest of the day. There is something quite lovely about sitting looking out over a lake.