017 - montana
Updated: Sep 27, 2018
After a week in the overwhelmingly big Yellowstone, we were quite happy to spend a few days in the city, restoring our balance and our minds for more beautiful impressions to come.
We pretty much drove straight through to Bozeman, where we settled in on the Walmart parking lot for our first night. The next day, we joined the heavy rain outside in our rain jackets to explore downtown (one thing we still have not made an effort to buy is an umbrella). We sought shelter in the nearest cafe for an extended breakfast and internet break before heading back out and signing Mattia's name on the walk-ins board at the barber down the street. In between waiting for his turn, we walked up and down the main street, stopping at every store that caught our eye, just to escape the downpour for a bit. Arriving early back at the traditional barber, we gawked over the shave the guy before Mattia got, hot towel wrap and all, and chatted away with the friendly young barbers. With Mattia's much needed haircut (we usually just cut it in the camper when we have power, but every once in a while on a blue moon it's necessary to correct our amateur skills) we scurried back to the camper to head to an RV park just outside of town. We intended on staying in the city another two nights to see the premiere of Solo, which we happily stumbled across when we looked into what was showing at the movies. So, we treated ourselves to power, plugged in, and worked on our blog and videos.
Before our movie and on our last morning in Bozeman, we drove all over town in the hopes of finding a new wheel cover for Henry's rear tire, unfortunately though with no luck. We continued our drive to Helena, for more options in the wheel cover search, as well as for our overdue oil change. When we expanded our search from tire shops and RV part stores to salvage yards, we got a little more excited. Just looking through the mountains of junk was exhilarating. And to know that to some people, a lot of this stuff is usable, made us even more happy. Before we knew it, at our second salvage yard, we got lucky with a pair of similar wheel covers as our lost one. Though a little dented and very dirty, we gladly paid the 50 bucks for the two to put an end to our search. At Walmart, our overnight spot, we showered the wheel covers off and tried to fix one of them on, and soon realized, they were half an inch too big. But what is this lifestyle without a little work behind everything? So, Mattia started bending back the rim, trying to make it fit. And with a lot of bending, eventually it did. And most importantly, it still does.
The following morning we were excited to move on to Polsen, Montana. We made a quick stop in between, at a very random but extremely zen Buddhist garden, that you would never expect to find in the middle of nowhere in the state of Montana. Nonetheless it was there, and surprisingly received a lot of curious tourists. As for Polsen, it's not a very happening place, but it's the home of a very interesting museum. Now, Mattia and I are both not very big museum goers, but, this one caught all four of our eyes. Miracles of America. Because it closed right as we stepped foot in the door, we continued our Walmart streak and overnighted right next door. In the morning, we happily paid the 6 dollar entrance fee, and spent a good two hours inside/outside. The museum holds thousands of vintage knick-knacks, tons of cars, snowmobiles, carnival rides, motorcycles, army stuff, etc. etc. Most might categorize the stuff as junk, but boy does it look good in a museum. Rusty, dusty, and old. Every little corner of the inside was covered with something old, and the entire backyard was organized into trades. There was a little trappers hut, a pharmacy, butcher, grocery store, and so on. You get the picture. Lots of stuff. And we loved it.
About half an hour outside Polsen, we set up camp at the most beautiful lakeside campground, that arose many memories for me. We were able to camp right at the waters edge, and something about that reminded me a lot of our times at my grandparents lake house in Switzerland. I have always loved lakes, even more than the ocean, and with the calm waves quietly hitting the shoreline, I was left smiling and reminscing for quite a while. Maybe it also had to do with the great coffee I still had from the "Small Town Girl Coffee" hut, but I was very happy.
We spent the next day at the same spot, taking it all in, and just enjoying the sun while it was out. It was so warm, we were even able to strip down to our bathing suits. The only thing we were still craving at this point was a flotation device, because the water was still a tad bit too cold for a swim.
The next week we spent exploring Glacier National Park, at the very northwest edge of the state. We camped at all possible campgrounds, Apgar, St. Mary and Many Glacier, and drove almost all roads we could in off-season. At Apgar, we had ice cream and Toblerone at the boat ramp, chilled on the dock when the sun came out, and drove the road along the edge of Lake McDonald. We met our neighbor Jeffrey, who immediately offered us to buy Henry, and even left us his number when we do decide to sell him. We waited out the rain in the hopes of being able to rent a canoe at one point, however the weather had other ideas, so instead we ate the most delicious burgers at Eddie's Cafe on our last night.
At St. Mary we first stood next to the ranger station at the campground for half an hour, because they had a "shift change", only to get to our assigned spot which already had a tag for the day. The 5 rangers in the tiny hut must have been a little overwhelmed with something, nevertheless, we got a spot. The next day, we drove out of the park trying but failing to find a post office or mailbox to send my sisters birthday card, and continued our day with the beautiful drive down the first half of the Going to the Sun road. The other half was unfortunately still closed for the season. We took in the stunning views at the Sun point after a hearty lunch, observing the guy with bear spray on one side of his belt and a Glock on the other, quietly wondering, which he would pull first. On our way back to the campground we got lucky and were able to witness a Grizzly mom and her yearling cross the street. Excited about our bear sighting, we went back out after dinner in the hopes of spotting some more. And we got very lucky, because at the very end of the road we saw a young black bear munching on stuff a little higher up from the road and again one on the way back to the campground right next to the street. When the last one got disturbed by a dog barking in someones car, she ran into the woods, and right when we decided to continue, I noticed that she ran back to her tiny little cub. We backed up and observed the two for quite some time, melting everytime the cub went back to it's mother for reassurance.
The last two days of our time on Montana, we spent at Many Glacier, with one very sunny day, and one rather gloomy, rainy day. On the sunny day, we hiked the small path to the Red Rocks Falls, talking loudly and looking around for bears every step we took, after seeing how many are in the area the previous night. And on the gloomy day, we got Henry border ready. Though we took extreme measures, drinking some of the whiskey we still had and throwing out a couple of terrible beers and some fresh produce, we needed the peace of mind that we could cross the border without any issues and get Mattia his exit stamp for his reentry in a month. After all, we are still northwestbound, as far as we can, or in other words, we are headed to Alaska.
But first, Canada here we come.