August 26 Bonners Ferry to the Continental Divide

  …  Just a little side note here…Recently there has been some conversation about travel blogs and the do’s and don’ts for writing a good blog.  One of the comments discussed eliminating long paragraphs and rambling conversation so people don’t get lost and bored.  So I tried, I really did.  I thought I could put some photos up and add some captions, and then continue my personal journal down below somewhere.  Well, THAT just doesn’t work at all here since I have spent way too much time tonight trying to figure out how to edit and move photos around in LiveWriter (most unsuccessfully) and make my blog more “readable”.  The previous couple of posts show my efforts.  However, since I am writing this blog for me more than anyone else, I have decided to continue to ramble on with my thoughts and put the photos where they happen to fit.  Anyone else who happens to drop in can read or not, right?

The rest of the photos for the day of travel are linked here.

Bonners_to_DivideWe slept wonderfully last night in the quiet of the North Idaho forest, untroubled by any worries of intruders, lights, or noise.  It cooled off to a pleasant 45 degrees overnight and sleeping with the down comforter and no fans was perfect. Chet stopped in around 7 on his way to his morning meeting just in time to catch us almost completely buttoned up, with the baby car attached.  He said Georgette, (not a morning person) was already awake and waiting for us to come up to the house for breakfast.  Once up there, we were treated to fresh eggs from her hens, some of the yummy roasted potatoes from last night sautéed with chicken basil apple sausages, homemade granola with honey and yogurt and fresh blueberries.  I enjoyed having tea the way Georgette does it, strong and black with honey and milk. 

I enjoyed so much being in this part of the world.  The plants are familiar, the geology and shapes of the mountains are so familiar to me.  I first knew Boundary county as a student trainee soil scientist, and the western rim of the Selkirk mountains in my breakfast view this morning was my first survey area.  I described one of my very first soils in something similar to what is on Georgette’s land and made a soil monolith that now hangs at the University of Idaho in this Port Hill soil. 

After breakfast, after entreaties to visit again, we hugged and laughed and waved goodbye as we drove off toward Bonners Ferry and Highway 2.  Traveling beyond Moyie Springs, we crossed into Montana, crossed over the wild Yaak River, and paralleled the dramatic Kootenai River.  This river drops 90 feet every mile west of Libby, over ledges of pre-Cambrian rock so old the only fossils are of blue-green algae, the only thing living on the planet at the time that these rocks were sediments under a great inland sea.

Bonners_to_Divide (23)Not far from Troy, the road passed the Kootenai Falls Swinging Bridge Park, and we decided that it might be worth a turnaround.  It was worth every bit of the effort, which actually wasn’t much since traffic on this road is almost nonexistent and the turnarounds are wide and long.  The park is lovely, with clear paths leading to the river in two directions, one to the bridge and the other to the falls.  Midway there is a span of stairs that crosses the railroad tracks, an excellent plan for the safety of all the people hiking to the falls, but a little bit tough for Abby in her bare feet and her fear of walking on something with holes in it that looked far down to the ground below!

The swinging bridge crossed the canyon over the river, was sturdy and well built, but swung just enough to feel a bit exciting over the rapids.  The falls were wild and free, with many pools on the ledges and several runs between rocky cliffs.  It was warm and a bit humid, but a perfectly lovely morning walk.  Bonners_to_Divide (8)Once back in the rig, we headed east again along the river, crossing over from time to time.  We are on our way to Kalispell, and as we continue east the air is getting more smoky from forest fires.  I have a vague memory of something mentioned in the news recently of Montana fires and smoke predictions.  Here I have no cell reception at all, so will have to wait for Kalispell to find out any more information other than what I can see looking out the windshield

About 35 miles west of Kalispell, we passed a lake district which appeared to created by dams on the river, but they looked like natural lakes, not reservoirs.  We passed Thompson Lake State Park, and Mo said, “Gee, can we stop yet?” Tonight we are planning to go to the Williamson Park Campground near Shelby, but don’t have a reservation for this first-come first-served park.  We can stop anywhere we want!  Although 200 miles east of our destination might be a bit premature!  Again we passed another lovely lake, called Macgregor, long, narrow and blue, without much sign of habitation on the perimeter.  There are lots of fishing signs, and some cabins.  The smoke thinned a bit as we traveled east. 

Bonners_to_Divide (37)Sometime this morning, we had a brainstorm, although I am not sure just what started it.  Our original plan was to travel north from Grand Forks and go into Canada through International Falls.  However, reviewing the maps, and talking with Chet last night, we realized that Highway 2 extends as far east as Maine, and is a dotted, scenic route almost the entire distance.  On the map, I saw the road leading to Duluth, then through Wisconsin and Upper Michigan to Sault St Marie.  Recently some RV blogging friends have been  traveling the area extensively and singing the praises of the UP.  Once we get to Kalispell, I am going to cancel the two provincial parks we have reserved in Ontario and we are going to travel Highway 2 much farther east than we originally planned.  During the planning process I was excited about seeing Thunder Bay and Northern Lake Superior, but now I am excited about the change in plans, and we can go to Pictured Rocks National Seashore.  More importantly, however, we can add Wisconsin and Michigan to our state decal on the back of the MoHo!  Yes, Laurie, I will watch the ships in the locks, even more meaningful for us since we just transited the Panama Canal last January!

Highway 2 follows the southern boundary of Glacier National Park, but there weren’t many places to pull over for photos of the peaks.  Near West Glacier, the peaks appeared snow free and rocky, with fire smoke dulling the view somewhat.  Once in the distance, I saw a patch of white that appeared to be a glacier, but that was all.  The road, however, was lovely, with forest and rock, river and mountains all around us, I remembered that I found two forest service campgrounds along this road while internet searching a few months ago, but didn’t choose them because I Bonners_to_Divide (41)thought they weren’t far enough along our route.  It was so beautiful, however, that we decided to try to check them out to see if they might work for our evening stop.  At the Continental Divide, stopping for photos of the monument there, was a campground entrance, with reasonably wide paved roads and only one other camper in sight.  Driving through it didn’t take us long to agree to drive the extra 85 miles tomorrow to reach Fort Peck Dam where we had pre paid reservations. It was worth it to take advantage of this delightful campground.

After several days of hookups and plenty of driving, we had plenty of power for a dry camp night.  After parking and settling in, we walked the campground roads, took photos of the mountains and plants, and Mo found firewood at a vacated campsite for our evening fire.  We didn’t bring wood on this trip, but Mo really loves to build campfires, so any opportunity is a good thing.  I made tacos dressed with the tomatillo salsa that Georgette and I made with Laura’s tomatillos and we Bonners_to_Divide (59)had supper at the picnic table by the fire. Mo got out the comfy chairs and shortly after we settled in to enjoy the fire, big drops of rain started falling.  We weren’t about to give up the fire, however, so Mo got out the umbrellas and we sat in the windy storm and used the umbrellas for protection from the smoke more than the rain, which wasn’t much at all.

It was a perfect evening, and I really felt at last as though we were on a real vacation.  The skies were dramatic, with a front coming over the divide, and the sound of the wind in the lodgepole pines was soothing rather than scary.

Author: kyotesue

Soil scientist/mapper working for 35 years in the wild lands of the West. I am now retired, enjoying my freedom to travel, to hike without a shovel and a pack, to knit and quilt and play, to play with photography and write stories about all of it.

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