Tuesday, December 8, 2015

usbackroads destination--Palisades Campground, Montana to Lochsa River, Idaho

usbackroads destination--Palisades Campground, Montana to Lochsa River, Idaho

travel dates-- Oct 14-17th 2015

The overnight stops in Pinedale and Grand Teton National Park in October were  slightly chilly affairs. Which is fortunate, since most years it is downright cold and snowy.  The temperatures hit 25 degrees and the Casita was in the early stages of freezing up. Temperatures below 20 degrees are getting into three dog night territory.  We only had two.

We pulled into West Yellowstone looking for a campsite and groceries. Bugaboo, however, got all excited when he realized the first street in West Yellowstone borders the National Park. For us it was the perfect place to park the truck and trailer and walk to the grocery store. For Bugaboo, it was time to get even. He started whining and wanting out NOW. As soon as I opened the truck door he ran over to the National Park boundary and expressed his opinion regarding National Park Service policy on dogs. I think he was actually smiling.

We stopped at the Forest Service Ranger Station on the way of out town looking for a campsite. Plenty of COLD Forest Service campsites around town, but when I said "relatively warm" the Forest Service said BLM, and the Madison River just north of Ennis will get you into lower elevations.

Nice campground right on the banks of the river. One other camper showed up at dark. It does appear to be busy during the summer fishing months.

We got up the next morning and headed to Ennis for breakfast. Great breakfast place in town and then we hit the road for Missoula where we hoped to meet some friends for lunch and then the nights camp at Packer Meadows.

It seems that whenever you need to make time on the road you will always find a traffic jam to slow you up. The traffic jams in Montana are always more interesting than elsewhere since they are so different. I saw a person slowly driving down the road waving a flag to slow traffic. My question was sheep or cattle?  It was cattle.

Montana is not only different it is a pretty special place. Most people drive to Montana for the scenery. There is more to the state than that pretty special scenery. 

The towns and people of Montana are pretty special in their own right. I was working two weeks on the Montana-Idaho divide laying out a timber sale in 1972. After two weeks I was heading for the bright lights of Missoula as quickly as possible.  I stopped at a gas station and asked if I could clean up in the restroom. The owner said, there is only cold water in the restroom.....wait a minute while I heat some for you. 

We vacationing on the Beaverhead National Forest when we got word that Susie's mom was dying in Illinois. The help we got from Montanans to get us their as quickly as possible will always be remembered in our family.

I turned down a couple of inquiries asking if I wanted to work in Montana. I figured sooner or later I would get there and I would save the best for last.  Never, did get to live in Montana and that I do regret. So go to Montana. Experience the mountains and the plains. But don't forget her people. They are the best.

We finally got to Packer Meadow at dusk and just pulled over by the side of the road to spend the night.

Packer Meadow is a spot that Lewis and Clark liked some much that they made a point of camping there coming and going. The Forest Service has a nice visitor center right off the highway which is worth the stop.

For us it was a return to Packer Meadows after being gone for almost 25 years. You can read the story of our stay there 25 years ago. 

Here is the link to that posting: http://usbackroads.blogspot.com/2010/04/kindness-of-locals.html. Yes, there is a story of a helpful hand from a couple of Montana residents.

It was elk season in Idaho so our little campsite from 25 years ago was taken.  However, it still looked good.

From Packer Meadows we made a quick stop for breakfast at Lochsa Lodge. The original lodge burned down a few years ago in an unfortunate fire.  The new lodge is great. As we headed for our table a voice called out "Hi, Vladimir". In the middle of somewhere a fellow employee from the Wenatchee National Forest. If Forest Service employees from hundreds of miles away head for here, you know it is a good place: http://www.lochsalodge.com/.

After a long, slow breakfast with plenty of coffee we said our good byes and headed down the Lochsa River, well headed down Highway 12 along the banks of the Lochsa River.

A quick night at the Snake River Bird Camp spot and then home after seven days or more on the road. More on the bird camp in the next posting.

Wenatchee was much warmer than the Rockies. Looks like a one (small) dog night.

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