Monday, August 6
The crew and I leave Red Mountain Campground with the goal of finding a new camp along the Big Hole River or maybe the Wise River, both to the west. First stop is The Used Book Barn on the outskirts of Bozeman. I pick up some more of the western series I’ve been reading, and visit with Rich, the bookseller, a man of curiosity with an infectious smile.
Rich asks me how my float trip went.
When he shows interest in my life on the road, I take him outside to see the Perfect Tow Vehicle and the Best Little Trailer. Rich says he’d like to do what I do. “I have to convince my wife. She says if God wanted us to live in campers, he wouldn’t have made hotels.”
I explain I write about my travels at rvsue and her canine crew. “Maybe reading my blog will change her mind.”
Next stop is the thrift store on the same highway.
Wow, this is the mother of all resale shops . . . huge, organized, and clean. I find it’s chock full of good buys. I discover a lightweight rain slicker with hood, plus two shirts, and a fleece pullover. I could spend all morning here. Better get going . . . . The crew and I need to find our next camp.
The town of Belgrade is on Interstate 90.
I’ve been told there’s a free dump station behind the Exxon station. I can’t find it. I look around for a propane tank, too. No luck. I’ll have to deal with all that later. Time to put some miles behind us. We get back on the interstate, pushing westward. I wonder if I’ve made the right decision. Without internet at the campground, I couldn’t research as much as I usually do.
We exit the interstate at the town of Whitehall.
I find a city park (with electrical outlets!). I get some turkey slices out of the fridge and share them with Bridget and Spike. They love parks. There are lots of smells left behind by other canines. I grab my laptop and air card, get online, and answer some blog comments.
The drive to Butte, Montana, from the east takes you up several, long grades and then down the other side.
The PTV, chugging along in second gear, makes friends with two semis in the slow lane. In Butte I find a dump station in spite of the crazy traffic. We turn south onto Highway 15, and then turn west again onto Highway 43, which follows the course of the Big Hole River. My map shows BLM land along the river, so I’m hopeful I can find a good, inexpensive or free camp.
Divide Bridge National Forest Campground ($8 regular, $4 Senior Pass) is on the way.
Might as well take a look. I find a campsite with river access via a path through some trees and bushes. The crew and I check it out. The river’s edge is beyond a wide area of rocks and black muck. A few mosquitoes find us. With all this brush and muck, I bet the mosquitoes are thick in the evening. I decide to keep on going.
There is no river bank suitable for camping.
Rocky cliffs and cut banks make camping impossible. At Dewey, which is no more than a collection of old buildings and a fisherman’s bar, the terrain softens. Further up the road a dirt road goes down to the river. I spot two campsites. A camper is in one. I park in the other. Bridget, Spike and I check the vicinity. This looks good.
I set up my chair at the river’s edge and settle in for a bit of reading.
Occasionally a raft goes by with a guide and one or two people fishing. Just as I’m getting up to finish setting up camp, a man walks down the path toward us. “Hello!” I call out. He doesn’t respond in kind. Uh-oh.
“Did you know this is private land?” he asks.
“Oh, no. I didn’t realize that. I’m sorry. I’ll move out right away.”
“There are signs posted private,” he adds with annoyance. “ I don’t own this land. I stay here to keep watch on it for the owner.”
“I didn’t see any signs. I thought it was BLM land. That’s what it looks like on my map.”
He leaves without further comment. Geesh. Nice meeting you, too, pal. I put up my chair, remove the chocks from the wheels, and pull out. I look around for the “private” signs, but I never do find the rocks they’re hidden under. Our first roust!
Up ahead I’m faced with a decision.
Shall I continue along the Big Hole River or turn south along the Wise River? I turn south, and, after checking a few National Forest campgrounds along the way, I set up camp at Boulder Creek ($8.00 regular, $4.00 Senior Pass). By now it’s late afternoon. The campground is pleasantly shaded by tall lodge pole pines.
I’m disappointed that the creek is down a very steep bank. I visualize myself scrambling up the bank, clawing the earth with one hand while holding a wiggly Spike in my other arm. I choose a site away from the bank.
Rick, the amiable camp host from eastern Montana, immediately comes over.
“I just want you to know that we have a bear visiting us every day. We’ve got a trap set down at the end of the campground.”
I ask him what kind of bear it is.
“Oh, it’s a little black bear. He hasn’t caused any problems. We want to get him away from here before he does. I don’t mean to scare you. I thought it best you know.”
I thank him for telling me, and we visit for a little bit.
Before he leaves I remark, “It’s pretty here, nice and cool, but we’re only going to stay one night.”
The next morning the PTV surprises a deer as we exit the campground.
We continue on Forest Road 73, also known as the Pioneer Mountains National Scenic Highway, passing more campgrounds as we climb to more than 7,000 feet.
I don’t know why I don’t stop. High, cool forest and creeks usually appeal to me. Not today. I have this feeling something better awaits us.
Sue, did it occur to you that the guy who rousted you could have been lying because he wanted the place all to himself? Not that you’d want to camp near someone like that!
That did cross my mind. Camping to watch over someone’s property didn’t ring true in this instance.
I thought the same thing Mockturtle! Sue – probably best that you moved on.
Yep, I thought the same thing…maybe something going down later that evening that they did not want a witness to as well…that guy surely did NOT sound like someone from Montana!!
Sue, does Rick oversee more than one campground? I figured you’d be far from him by now. Nice of him to warn you about the bear.
I pulled into a campground and ran into a surly bunch twice, and decided I didn’t need their company any more than they needed mine. Scary people.
I think mockturtle and you are on to something. They are almost like poachers and they don’t want you on “their” property. You did the right thing–there are some things that are scarier than bears!
You left us in suspense!!!
Do you mean the Rick I camped next to in southern AZ? He wasn’t a camp host. No, this Rick at Boulder Creek I met for the first time.
You’re right about moving on. Once I sense any negativity, I’m ready to go elsewhere.
Forgot to check notify me of comments.
Sue, Oh, how I remember having that feeling, that something better lies just ahead around that bend.. Almost alway’s the feeling was right, and when it went wrong it was so easy to change.
That’s what the D is for on that shift lever.. Like it been said,, Happy Trail’s to you…
So you know the feeling . . . Sometimes I have to keep moving, wanderlust, I guess. Other times I’m content to move only a little way down the road to another camp. Happy Trails to you, too.
I love the spot you ended up in, with those tall trees. It doesn’t look like anyone is around.
Glad you left the place with the “grouch”…don’t need that.
Great shot of the deer.
I’m glad I moved on. Now that I think about it, the campsite was visible from the road and not far from a drinking establishment . . . I can do better than that!
Those lodge pole pines are so tall! They make lovely dappled shade.
Life’s too short to be grumpy……..and grumps make the worst “neighbors”. It just means there is a better place ahead…sure enough…you found it!
Even if he said, “You can stay anyway,” I would’ve moved on. You’re right. Who needs grumpy-grumps around?
Sounds like he was up to no good, glad you moved on down the road. You have good instincts, Sue, just make sure you pay attention to them.
I will, Harriet.
Sue, I was thinking you had a Kindle. I know that paperbacks are better when you are sitting in a river reading. :)))
I do have a Kindle. Like you said, there are places a paperback is a better choice. And sometimes the paperback is cheaper than ordering it on Kindle.
The old Billy Bob would a been grouchy too if’n he had to walk over there 10 times a day to inform campers they was on private property, signs or not. Many folks trade free camp’n for house/property sit’n. To the lady what said “up to no good”, my God lady, what gives you that impression?
Sorry Sue, but some people just make me all “grouchy” with what they says with out any thought.
The thing that I don’t understand is . . . . where are the signs? I always look for signs on the way in to a dispersed campsite, and on the way out of this one, I searched and searched… no signs. If he’s that annoyed, put a dang sign at the campsite. The path was well worn and the campsite has seen plenty of use. I should have asked him to show me the sign.
Or better yet, I should have said “Here’s your sign.”
Well, people DO tear down signs for that matter…so that part MAY have been true…but he was a strange one…best to beat feet…glad you did just that!!
Most people up here, in the woods, post several signs at the edge of their property. …clearly visible for everyone to see. If it’s not posted, how is one to know? One tree looks like the rest, streams look like streams…not like there obvious landmarks like fences in the middle of nowhere.
Being “up to no good” is not far fetched at all…….nowadays one can stumble on a marijuana grow or worse meth lab! What a perfect place for both. And guess what…someone is always on “patrol” making sure no one enters. Happens anywhere USA!
So save yourself the grief not to mention walking over ten times to tell the unsuspecting lady with her two dogs….that she is on private property. It would have taken less time and energy to post the signs.
It looked like a prime spot for fishing. Who knows? A minor inconvenience. If we were kicked out after dark, I would have been very unhappy.
Billy Bob, you’re much TOO negative to be on Sweet Sues Blog. So ask yourself, would you be so stupid as to NOT post a “No Camping/Trespassing” sign. Yeah, you would.
If you end up going through Dillon, the Safeway there often has really cheap books in a box by the door. Or maybe I just hit a library sale. They also have a pretty good deli. Also, Clark Reservoir there south of town had free camping last time I was there. It’s nice, but beware of skeeters. And right down town is an old school bus that sells Mexican food – it’s awesome, some of the best, though you would never guess it.
Ha! I went to the Dillon Safeway and I saw the book table! You’re a lady with a memory for details.
My custom is to not park or camp near a drinking establishment to many troublesome people around them and some are dangerous! So I keep going till I find a nice spot which usually is not that far off. Nice photo of the deer.
Good advice. Deer are fun to photograph. They know how to pose.
I know what you mean about trusting your instincts, we all need to do that more. I don’t camp around grumps either, life is to short to deal with them. Keep enjoying life and sharing.
The older I get the more I realize that it’s better not to force any situation. At the first sign of difficulty or problems, change course.
Smart move not sticking around where you were not wanted. His loss.
He may have done me a favor.
Sue, Can you recommend any books you have read on fulltime camping?….I think you should write one! Keep having fun…your living the life!
I haven’t read any books on fulltime camping. I have a book on Southwest Camping Destinations. I hardly ever look at it.
Thank you for the compliment on my writing, Sandy.
Or better yet, I should have said “Here’s your sign.”
Oh a GREAT thrift store. The only place I like to shop. I could spend lots of time there too. Where was that now so when I get out there I can be sure to go? 🙂
I just love the way you mosey on and stop here and there and check out this campground but nope too much muck and then check out that campground…oppps odd fellow with sketchy story so on to the next one. With that attitude and pace no wonder you always end up in a beautiful spot and post such gorgeous pictures.
You have a way of saying the nicest things, Sherry.
Aunt Susan I’m glad you are having a great time. You are never forgotten I love and miss you. I’m still just a phone call away if you ever need me.
Yours is the first new comment I saw this morning. . . a great start for my day! What a nice surprise.
You are never forgotten either, Sweetheart. I’m going to get back to Mississippi to see you and the family again. I miss you, too. Lots of love . . . .
Goodness, where does the time go? Another week, another month and the summer is fading. I spent days this week camping by a Maine lake and kayaking in the summer heat with a gentle breeze; perfect. I can relate to having no access to the internet. Being disconnected from the cyber world frustrated me at the beginning of the summer but I hardly miss it now. When I reconnect your blog is at the top of my list. I especially like reading about Spike. Yes, you and Bridget rank right up there but for some reason Spike, I guess being another male, holds a special place. Thanks again for sharing your adventures. I look forward…
All the best,
Nice news to hear you’ve been enjoying Maine. I know what you mean about summer heat with a gentle breeze… It can be better than a cool day. It happens a lot in the western states I’ve visited. I guess dry air moves more easily than humid air.
I have sweet childhood memories of Maine. I wish it were closer to where I am now. Maybe if it could be squeezed in between Montana and Idaho . . . ?
You and others probably like to read about Spike because he’s an unpredictable, stubborn, self-centered, little wiseguy who can get on my last nerve one minute and melt my heart the next.
Thanks for coming back to us when you get connected. I always enjoy your comments.