Friday, May 2, 2014

Missoula Pt 2

It is amazing the positive effect a good hike in a beautiful place can have on your disposition. 

Missoula, you've got yourself a heck of a town here.  Pretty cool.

We didn't have to get up early or anything.  The trailhead is right there behind the campus of the school with designated parking and everything. 

It was time to hike the M.

Rested, fresh and eager to go.

What a beautiful day.  The trail is switchbacks crowded with college students and trail runners. 

We started up...and up.

It wasn't long before we caught sight of a neat little surprise.  Unfortunately I don't have a zoom lens, so the picture isn't the best. 

In the center of this picture there is a hang glider. 
We kept getting higher and the view kept getting better.

Pretty little campus for University of Montana.

Getting higher. 
Then we reached the actual M.

M for Michael and Max

And Mommy

Needed a rest on the M.

Then something weird happened.  We convinced the kids to keep going up.  Beyond the M. 

And they agreed.  Well, kind of.  Nobody cried.

We could see the L on nearby Mt. Jumbo.

Joe Cool on the trail.

Another rest break. 

Standing on the edge of the mountain.

Don't worry Mom, the drop off wasn't as steep as it looks.

The whole Missoula Valley was a glacial lake in the last ice age.

Waiting to go a little higher.

The kids weren't quite up to the summit push though.  We topped out and joined a different trail for the descent.  It was nice and certainly enough for the first hike after a winter of lethargy. 

Ready to head down.

Came across this cave.  It went back far enough that it was too dark for me to continue. Michael wanted to go get a flashlight. 

The view from the top of the M.
After the hike, we went for ice cream at a place USA Today rated as the best in the nation once upon a time.  Big Dipper Ice Cream.  While sitting there munching sugary deliciousness we could look back and see our accomplishment of the day.

Pretty stinking good ice cream too
We topped out just above where the bottom power line marks the mountain.  About 2/3 the way to the top.  Missoula has turned out to be a great little town.  I do recommend it.

Tomorrow we are on to Coeur D'Alene, ID. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Is this it?  Is this the place where Sarah and I finally shake off this funk that has clung to us since the middle of the Virginia contract?  Might just be.  Having a hike planned for tomorrow might have something to do with it too. 

But I get ahead of myself. 

We woke up this morning in, where in the hell were we again?  Oh yeah, Columbus, Montana, just outside of Billings.  It was cold and clear.  We knew today was going to be a long one and there would be some more challenging driving. I got out while Sarah was getting things ready inside and checked all the tires (at Sarah's urging) and checked my temporary repair of the wind damage on IRV.  I don't have any pictures of the repairs at the moment.  It is JB weld and gorilla tape.  I am just hoping it is strong enough to finish the trip and I can try to find something a little more permanent. 

The wind blowing from the opposite side shook the aluminum so much it cracked.

There is another crack just beside the steps where it broke around a screw. 
The kids found some way to occupy themselves while keeping out of our hair. 

This pictures is actually from the evening before, but they were doing the same thing this morning. 

Again from last night.  Michael said, "That tree has a gorilla in it."
Then we hit the road.  Today was the second longest of the trip and also the day we crossed the continental divide.  So you know what that means. 

Lots of climbing.  It is so hard to capture how long and steep the grades are.

Especially since, when the driving gets difficult I tend to put the camera down. 
And as always, what goes up...

Must go down.  Miles of 6% down grades.

Still not taking pictures of the more tense parts.  Hands on the wheel people. 

There was some pretty scenery though.

Then we arrived in Missoula.  It is pretty here.  WE went downtown  to get something to eat.  After a long day of driving, we didn't feel like cooking and doing dishes.  We found a nice little Mexican restaurant called La Cazadores which had a famous local beer (Cold Smoke Scotch Ale...excellent) on tap.  There just happened to be a little festival or event of some sort going on with a live band nearby.  We watched for a moment and then saw some other people gathered up on a ledge.  We went to see what they were doing.

Surfing and kayaking the river.  Because, of course they are.

See, just like Houston
So we have a hike planned tomorrow and some more pictures to come from Missoula. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Devils Tower

First, we haven't slept well in days.  The constant 35 + MPH winds against the RV give the feeling of a ship on the rocks.  Each gust and wave of wind shakes the place and causes billowing of the slide toppers.  You can just feel damage being done.  And this morning, we woke up and checked.  Sure enough, the slide topper over the living room is growing ragged edges and one side split away from the RV totally.  And, if that weren't enough, it appears the sail action of the topper pulled the slide in enough that one of the cables used to move the slide in and out was jostled out of position and was hanging down and banging against the side of the RV.

I went in to Gillette and bought some heavy duty tape and tried to repair the topper as best I could in driving winds and snow.  We almost bailed.  We really did.  We thought hard about packing up and driving west until the winds slowed down.  But in the end, we didn't because we have already come so far.  Oh yeah, and it didn't look like we could drive out much faster than it was supposed to pass anyway.

So, we drove out to Devils Tower.  In a snow storm.

Visibility was an issue. 
As we got closer and closer we kept seeing signs about Devils Tower view and lookout and could see nothing.  The kids decided it didn't actually exist.  We were just making it all up.

OK, so it turns out, in the above picture, that the view was across the street in the other direction.  But hey, we couldn't tell.

Eventually we saw it coalesce from the misty surrounding.

The view from the visitor's center was pretty cool.

Suddenly I wanted mashed potatoes
Inside the visitor's center, we were treated to the standard set of informational displays and gift shop.  The boys worked on their junior ranger workbooks and eventually won their badges.  They are working on a pretty good set.

This means something.  This is important!
Then it was time for a hike around the base of the tower.  1.3 miles in the snow.  The kids even loved it.

The signs of spring were there, just covered in some snow.  It made for a pretty hike and some scenery that I don't think many people get of this place.  We saw about 6 other people here.

Spring had sprung, but no one bothered to tell the snow.

Sarah was trying to get some pictures too.

It was a beautiful surprise for us, all the snow.  What with the cold and wind though, we were about ready to be done.  One last picture for the record books.

Now next time we visit.