Thursday, June 7, 2018

Day 5 Montana

After a good nights sleep, I awake just as the sun is peeking out over the distant horizon.  We begin our normal morning routine.  We've noticed that we seem to have adapted to the very small space that is afforded in one of these campers.  Ours being an older model is only 22' overall with maybe 18' inside and they are very narrow.  I am 6'1" tall and can stand upright everywhere except for under the a/c unit in the ceiling.  I have many battle scars to show for that thing!  We traveled full time in our 25' Airstream Flying Cloud which was a little bit longer and much wider at 102" outside width.  That experience allowed us to adapt quite easily to our small house of 650 sq ft.  Watching those tiny house episodes on tv where a couple with 6 kids, 5 dogs, 10 cats, a parrot and 2 ferrets want to move into a 250 sq ft tiny house make me laugh.  What are these people thinking?  Our current house is perfect for the 2 of us but no more than that for any length of time.  Luckily, we have a 1200 sq ft garage that allows us a place for the overflow and all my!

After breakfast, I decide to walk over to the main building to use the facilities.  They have a secret entrance for campers that is open 24/7.  You can't use the pool, but the bathroom is available.  I step outside and start towards the building while looking at the beginning of the sunrise.  If you've never seen the sunrise in Montana, you need to go.  They don't call Montana the Big Sky Country for nothing.  It truly is an experience to witness.  Today is no exception.  I can remember when we lived in Great Falls, MT where I was stationed while in the USAF.  I worked on Minuteman III ICBM missiles and we'd have to go out to the silos to fix stuff 24/7.  If you were on call you could almost always count on them finding something for you to do.  I always liked to go out late in the day or very early.  Seeing the sunrise from out on the prairie was amazing.  Seeing the stars at night was also amazing.  You would not believe how many stars are out there when you are in a totally dark area.

Anyway, back to the bathhouse trip.  I cut through the grass to save myself 5 steps and I stir up about 350,001 mosquitoes, they are swarming all around me.  I look down at my arms and hands and see that there are hundreds already on me ready for their morning breakfast.  More are coming every second.  Wait!  I need that blood!  If I had let them feed, I would have been down at least a pint.  I quickly scrape them all off and head back to the van.  This time staying on the gravel drive.  They aren't so bad there.  Before going inside, I swipe off more of the blood suckers but some ended up coming inside.  We spent the next few minutes killing the interlopers.  Sharon is very susceptible to mosquito bites and gets huge welts from them.  We are ready to go except for the power cord!  D'oh!  I find the bug spray and quickly step outside spraying my arms and hat.  They aren't so bad if you stay off the grass.  I quickly gather the power cord and toss it into the back and return to the safety of Van Haulin.  More skeeters follow me inside and we kill as many of them as we can see.

Today's goal is Glacier National Park where we will camp prior to entering Canada in the morning.  We are excited to be getting close to this area as the scenery is fantastic.  We do have one stop to make in Shelby, MT where there is a Wells Fargo Bank branch.  We need to get some Canadian cash. The drive is nice, but there is a long stretch of road construction east of Shelby that seems to go on for miles and miles.  When they fix the roads up here, they remove the pavement to the ground and essentially start all over.  So, you are traveling on gravel, dirt and new pavement depending on what stage of the construction you are in.  It seems to take forever and with the oncoming traffic, I am worried about flying rocks taking out our windshield.  But, we get through there unscathed and soon we are in Shelby.  We find the bank, parallel park outside (AI are wonderful as you can park them just about anywhere) and go in to speak to a teller.  We inquire as to the availability of Canadian cash.  They tell me they keep some on hand, how much are you looking to get?  I need $1000 CDN, you can take the money from my checking account.  They tell me it will cost me $814 USD.  I know this is not the right exchange rate but I don't press the point.  I agree, they count out the cash in 20's and 50's and we are on our way.

As we are heading towards Browning, it is still pretty early so we decide to do laundry and find propane.  I drop Sharon off at the town laundromat and head over to the Ace Hardware store and secure some propane.  Our tank holds about 7.5 gallons of propane.  The tank wasn't full when we left and we keep the tank on all the time for the refrigerator.  Also, with the stove, water heater and a few mornings where we clicked on the furnace to warm the inside up a bit we figure we have go to be getting low on propane.  I back up to the tank and the guy starts to fill.  The pump clicks off almost right away and I look at the gauge to see it only pumped 2.6 gallons.  He assured me that it was full, I pay and head back to the laundromat where Sharon has washed and is now drying our laundry.  Before leaving town, we decide to have lunch out and stop at a small cafe for a bite to eat.  The food was really good and because we missed the lunch crowd, all three of them, we get our food fast and hot.  Next stop Glacier!

We want to stay in the park tonight, but didn't think to try and make reservations.  We rarely ever make reservations anywhere preferring to wing it.  Less stressful that way but it can go both ways.  It is early in the season and the Going To The Sun Road is not completely open so we figure that the crowds won't be too bad in the park.  Plus there are lots of commercial campgrounds in the area as a last resort.  But, before we get to the park there is more road construction.  We are now on Hwy 89.  Hwy 2 goes around the park on the south side towards Kalispell, MT and onwards to Idaho and Washington.  Once again we are on gravel, dirt and now muddy roads climbing up the hills.  It is slow going.  There are lots of big motorcycles and I wonder how they are getting through all this stuff.  They seem to be loaded down for long distance travel.  Been there, done that.  Soon we are out of the construction and start to approach the Lake Mary area.  We make the turn on the road to the park and approach the gate.  Flashing my geezer pass and DL we are admitted to the park armed with the information on how to find the campground and that the road is closed about 13 miles past the campground.  We pull into the campground area and pull up to the kiosk where you register for a spot.  He asks me if we have reservations.  Nervously, I reply in the negative.  He clucks his tongue and asks how long is our rig.  I reply about 24 feet with the cargo carrier.  He taps on his computer for what seems like an hour before saying he has 2 spots left for the night.  He says to pick one and return to the kiosk to register.  We drive away to find the two spots.  We pass by the first one and check out the second.  He warned us not to dawdle as these 2 spots could be gone before having time to make another loop.  We chose to take the second spot which is a pull over site with trees on one side.  We park and walk back to the registration booth.  We pay up and are good for the night.

The site is level enough and we are done setting up.  Love this van!  I remember all the work we had to do with the trailer but this is so much easier.  Sharon grabs her camera and goes off to seek out the showers located in loop A.  I open the side door and rest up some after the days drive.  There are few bugs and they stay outside for the most part.  I'm too tired to care at that point.  It is time for a short nap.

Sharon comes back and is all excited about having seen a fox right in the campground.  He must have heard us talking about him because right after that, he ran right through our camp site!  He was pretty big.  He paid no mind to us and went on his way.  Sharon gets her shower gear together and goes off to take her shower.  I decide to pass on that.  I really dislike campground showers.  I'm happy with some hot water and a washrag.

After dinner, we take a leisurely walk around the two loops that are open to look at all the other RVs that are here today.  Everything from pup tents to large Class As.  Soon we are back at the van and ready to start getting ready for bed.  Tonight, we notice that the sun is not going down any time soon. It is well after 10 before it started getting dark.  With all the shades drawn it is fairly dark inside.  I think I broke out my sleep mask for the first time.  This is a bit uncomfortable at first, but soon I am fast asleep and stay that way until the wee hours when I take the mask off and am able to sleep without it.

A great day today and we are so excited and a bit nervous about entering Canada in the morning.

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