Thursday, May 31, 2012

Great Falls to St. Mary's, MT

We camped at Walmart in Great Falls. Shopped for groceries, converted some cash to Canadian at Wells Fargo. They were going to charge us $5 each, but since Mitch has an account there, we made her convert it all for us. There was some higher level math going on, but I think it all came out even. $1 U.S. equals about $.98 Canadian. 
Mitch's Fun Finder (on the left) made a friend at Walmart.
 You never know what you might see in a Walmart parking lot.
 Thursday morning Birdie did what she does best...went birding with friends. The rest of us went to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and Giant Springs Park.
Lewis and Clark's expedition had to portage their boats over 5 different waterfalls along this stretch of the Missouri River. In recent years dams have been built, completely covering one set of falls. Notice they built the dam back so as to leave the natural falls visible. This is Rainbow Falls.

From Lewis's journal: June 13, 1805  " I had proceed on this course about two miles with Goodrich at some distance behind me whin my ears were saluted with the agreeable sound of a fall of water and advancing a little further I saw the spray arrise above the plain like a collumn of smoke which soon began to make a roaring too tremendious to be mistaken for any cause short of the great falls of the Missouri. Here I arrived about 12 Oclock. From the reflection of the sum on the sprey or mist which arrises from these falls is a beautifull rainbow produced which adds not a little to the beauty of this majestically grand senery."
 This is a photo of the falls before the dam was built.
This diagram shows the location of the falls.
 Crooked Falls
 We did a little birding too: Mallards
 Canada Goose and goslings
Clark described finding a Giant Spring: "we proceed on up the river a little more than a mile to the largest fountain or Spring I ever saw,"
 "this water boils up from under the rocks near the edge of the river and falls imediately into the river 8 feet and keeps its Colour for 1/2 mile,"
 "which is emencely clear and of a bluish cast." 
But to really see it, click on the video.
THere was also a trout hatchery located beside the Giant Springs. These are rainbow trout.
 Inside the trout nursery.
 At the Interpretive Center, Mitch posed beside Jefferson...there was a short joke involved.
This life-size diorama of the portage is two stories tall.
 We watched two excellent films about the expedition and the portage around Great Falls.
 Next we got a chance to try a portage.
Mitch pulled first.
 I didn't do much good. Of all of us, Nan did the best.
 One of Jefferson's instructions to Lewis and Clark was to collect plant specimens not known in the U.S.
 Lewis' Blue Flax still grows outside the Interpretive Center.
Mitch tried carrying Sacajawea's papoose.
 It was a little heavy for her.
Mitch was choosing which expedition outfit to try on.
 What do you think?
Back at Walmart there was some gull courtship going on.
 Mitch, Tina, and I started on our way to St. Mary's Campground at Glacier National Park. Nan and Birdie are staying in Great Falls until Saturday to wait for mail to be delivered. This sign was in a rest area.
 Scenery on the way.
 Warning...always secure your cabinets when traveling in the mountains or on curvy roads. Tina had an oops.
 Our view from the campground tonight.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Big Timber, Montana

We heard about Big Timber from the local couple at the Waterhole Saloon where we had dinner in Reed Point.
They described a scenic area south of town where the movie "Horse Whisperer" was filmed.
Our trip took us close to the Crazy Mountains...seemed fitting.
 First some pretty hills.
 And then some views of the snow covered mountains.
 Hills with rock formations,
Snow-covered mountains.

The road follows the Boulder River.

 Where this man was dressing to go fly-fishing from his kayak.
We saw some wildlife. This is a marmot.
 Harrier catching his dinner.
 Hawks and crows. (Or ravens, not sure)
 I think these were mule deer.

 But we saw white-tailed deer too.
 And a lonely sand hill crane.
 More deer.
There are many nice ranches along this road.
 Tom Brokaw, Michael Keaton, and Whoopi Goldberg all have ranches in Big Timber.
 No way of knowing who owns which ranch.

 Doubt if this is one of them.
 This is the farmhouse that was used in the movie, "Horse Whisperer."
 And the view from there.
 Another large complex of home and guest houses.

Back to the scenery

 We decided not to eat lunch here.

 The valley
 THis rock formation is called the Lion's Head. It will be featured in several of the following pictures at the Natural Bridge Recreation Area.

We only went as far as the falls. I hope to come back some day and explore the rest of this scenic drive.

The Main Boulder River forms a canyon and waterfall here.
The natural bridge collapsed some years ago.
The walkway to a bridge over the river.
Looking one way from the bridge.
Looking the other way. This is where the natural bridge used to be.
Close up of where the water goes under the rock.
The water is swift.

Tina following the path to a viewpoint.
Can you tell it is cold?
THis is what she's taking a picture of. You can see the trail and viewpoint on the other side.
Birdie taking a picture of us. The bridge is behind her.
Swift, powerful water flows under the bridge.
Want to see and hear it? Click on the video.

Hard to imagine the sea in these mountains.
From another viewpoint.
Looking down
I told you you'd see the Lion's Head again....and again.
Mitch taking a picture of Birdie at a viewpoint. Be sure to check out the other blogs for their great pics and comments too.
Birdie and Mitch.

Lichen on rocks.
Mitch reading one of the interpretive signs.
Photo of the natural bridge before it collapsed.
Nan on the steps down.
The waterfall
On the other side is a muddy path that goes down to the pool beneath the falls. Those dots are people trying to negotiate the path down or up....not an easy feat on a wet day. We didn't do that.
A view down the canyon below the falls.
Mitch having a "Wow" moment.
Not sure if this guy is retrieving a dropped camera from the water or trying to take a picture....but of what?
THe canyon walls are higher than the treetops.
About the river flowing underground.
A couple was there with 3 unleashed Black Labs. THey are running down the slippery slope to the water.
We were worried because one had trouble getting out of the swift cold current. He eventually made it.
Nan took the high road, and Tina the low road back to the parking area.
Back in the town of Big Timber, this mural of a herd of sheep depicts the history of the area.
No time to shop, but thought this sign fit our group.
The ladies dragged me into another old saloon for lunch.
And of course there was the obligatory picture of the food. Left to right: Tina, Nan, Birdie, and Mitch.
On a sad note, you notice that Carol is not there. She became very sick in Wyoming, a cold that quickly turned to pneumonia. She is hospitalized and her family is making arrangements to be with her and help her return to Glenn's when she is released. She will not be able to continue the trip to Alaska this year. Please pray for a speedy recovery for her. I will spend a couple days with her this week before we leave the lower 48.