Where did I leave off last? Oh yeah. The rain. Man, so much for my two days of clear skies and warm weather. Fortunately, it stopped raining completely shortly after my fun awakening Wednesday morning. After the initial excitement, I had a little breakfast, got dressed and then... “What am I going to do now?”. Well after pondering that I decided to go follow one of the game trails that led off into the woods from my campsite; especially since it led in the direction of the nearby Little Missouri River. So I grabbed my camera and tripod and headed out. I originally had hopes of taking pictures in the bright sunshine which I knew would bring out all the varied colors contained within the park, but that wasn't going to happen so I had to quickly switch photographic gears and key my camera "eye" to the conditions at hand - overcast, with rain visible in the distance in some directions. While the pictures I had hoped to take were not available there certainly were plenty of other photo ops worth taking - I just had to look for them. And I found plenty.
So I spent a little while hiking and taking pictures, then found my way back to camp. I checked on the tent. It was still there... and drying (I guess). After getting bored I decided to walk up to the camp host residence to see if there was a weather report available. Well, no report, but there was a little geologic display across the road and a short nature hike trail nearby so I did 'em both (of course I had my camera with me). While at the geologic display I met and chatted with a woman who was driving and camping across the country - but going the opposite way. She said that she had gotten eaten alive by No-see-ums the previous night and with the rain and all, while she was heading down to the South Unit campground, maybe she'll just stay in a motel room that night. I said, "You go girl!". "I know how you feel".
By then it was about 4:00 so I ate my lunch (Oh my god! He ate lunch!), then read my current book for a while (thanks Mark), all the time thinking though as to what was I going to do next... Glacier, leave tonight, go south for better weather, stay put, etc. I was able to get some weather news and it looked like more rain in the immediate area as well as to the north and west. So I decide I would head toward Great Falls, MT tomorrow (Thursday), about 450 miles away, get a motel room to dry out and maybe do some laundry, then if it looked reasonable, weather-wise, head to Glacier on Friday.
I had met a very nice couple, Ron and Sharon(?) camped on the next site, from St. Cloud, MN, who had just come from Glacier, so they had given me a weather update from there and clued me in on a good place to go on the east side. So right now I'm planning on going to Many Glaciers as my first stop in Glacier NP. Ron and I chatted quite a bit during the 2 days we were there. He showed me his bullet wound from 'Nam, we talked about how he lost his hearing in his right ear when the guy next to him stepped on a land mine. We talked about his 31 year old daughter attending Berkeley, about his job with the state highway department, about politics, guns, motor vehicle fees, camping, the legal system, etc. etc. Ron was a very garrulous fellow. As his wife put it, "Ron could get an answer out of a rock". All in all a very delightful set of camping neighbors. After the nature talk on Black-Tailed Gophers (did you know that the Black-Footed Ferret, the most-endangered mammal in North America, eats only gophers, and that gophers eat their weight in grasses each week during the summer?) in the amphitheatre I invited them both to share my campground BBQ grill, Dura-Flame campfire and we chatted some more. Nice people!
Finally went to sleep about 1:30 - could see stars up above so it looked pretty good. I had packed up most everything that I could (and covered anything left out this time), and I was hoping I could get out in the morning before any rain arrived - it was about a 50% chance of rain the next day. Went to sleep, hoping, hoping, hopi.... zzzzzzzzz.
What's that? Rain!?! Damnit! Shot out of bed. Threw my clothes on and started packing up the rest of the stuff. Fortunately, it only drizzled a little bit - enough to get the rain fly and drying ground cloth wet again - and stopped completely shortly after so rudely awakening me from my slumber. Not that bad really though. I just put the wet stuff in plastic garbage bags and everything was cool. It had stopped raining so it made packing up a whole lot easier. Got packed, got cleaned, got out of there - after taking a quick drive down the scenic drive. Shot some pics including some scenics which I have high hopes for and a few of this small buffalo herd(?) which was munching by the roadside. Headed north, then west towards Great Falls - taking the middle way across Montana along route 200. And did it rain! Not that hard really, but for more than half the time it was raining or drizzling. Oh well, I was used to it by then, and at least I didn't have to worry about anything getting wet. Bonus!
The drive was actually pretty nice. Rolling range land mostly with occasional hills, buttes, ponds, streams, and small Badlands-type outcroppings (did you know that in the ND Badlands the blue-grayish layers are Bentonite Clay which absorbs 100 times it weight in water, flows when it gets wet, and is used in the manufacture of many products including crayons?). There was very little traffic so I made very good time. Montana truly is Big Sky country (and that's not always blue Big Sky). What makes the Montana sky, Big Sky, is that the land underneath is not unvaried and flat. Yes you can see "forever" almost in all directions, but there is a "there there", unlike in Kansas say. I can only imagine how much more impressive the drive would have been if it had been a sunny day. I got a few shots along the way - in spite of the rain. For some reason I was into haystack rolls this day. We'll see how they turn out.
By the time I got to Great Falls it was about 6:30 (Mountain Time now - picked up an hour) and raining steadily so I found a cheaply-priced motel (3 diamonds though) with laundry facilities, checked in, threw the dirty clothes in the wash, found a Chinese place for takeout, logged on, sent stuff out and read all my messages (much appreciated) and composed this latest of my trip "adventures". I need a beer!
Take care all,