Friday, May 8, 2009

12-09 Pocatello Idaho to Butte Montana

Pocatello to Ashton ID

Ennis Montana 

Butte Montana

Campground:  Ennis MT. Riverside Motel & Rv park.  Half price, $14.00 full hook-ups.  No cable Tv. The cable company was bought out.  The 
new owners didn’t want to fix it (bad reception), so they just turned it off.  Passport America limited to two 
night stay.

Campground: Butte MT.  2 Bar Lazy H  Rv park.  Weekly rate $97.00. Nightly, $24.00.  Full hook-up with all pull thru sites.  Off of highway, but no noise.  Clean and neat sites.   


I had a nice stay in Pocatello even with a few days of overcast skies and some rain.  It was a joy to see all the flowering trees.  One, near my camper, was a plum tree with it’s tons of small light purple and white flowers.  I’m also back to an area that has grass.  Gosh, I hadn’t seen real grass in over six months.  

I’m taking a scenic route, east of the
 main highway 15 heading north.  It’s highway 20 and parallels the Idaho and Wyoming boarder.  I’m taking this route to be able to see the opposite side of the Grand Tetons, which this time of year are all powdery white with the past winters snows.  A beautiful sight even at almost 50 miles away.  

I had planned on staying at one of my Passport America parks in Island Park (now isn’t that a wonderful name for a town), but when I called, they told me the park hadn’t opened yet, as it still had 5 feet of snow in the campground.  Yikees, I keep forgetting to check altitude for some places that I’m planning on going to.  This is the transitional period out here and I was told by a waitress that last year they had to refund lots of peoples reservations on memorial day
 because they had a huge snow storm.  

So instead, I’m staying in a little rural town called Ashton.  The area is surrounded by rich farmlands and Ashton is noted for being the potato seed capital of the world.  Now you know.  With rivers full and running fast and deep, the land around here can be irrigated easily.  I’ve seen lots of those huge circular sprinklers in many fields and elsewhere, canals filled with water heading towards all those farm fields.  Grain silos are scattered throughout the region indicating that they have huge crops each year.  

I’m on the west side of Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons and rather than visit them this time around, I’m exploring the areas just outside of each of these awesome parks.  I plan on staying in the Teton area in the next couple of years for the entire summer.  

I’m getting so good at setting up and breaking down for my next leg of my trip that this morning after hooking up the camper to the truck and closing up, I kept thinking, what have I forgotten?  Well I headed out and gradually drove north 
on hwy 20, increasing in elevation until I reached Island Park.  To my surprise, it was just high enough in elevation that instead of getting rain last night, they were blanketed with more snow.  Besides the evergreens being covered in puffs of snow and the ground as well, there was a heavy blanket of fog.  The black pavement being the major contrast against the pure white snow.  Driving along, seeing only about a quarter of a mile ahead of me, it was a white wonderland without dimension or sharp edges.  Like going through a snow globe.  The land and sky seemed to be one as they mixed in with the fog and clouds.  Occasionally globs of snow would tumble from the evergreens branches, creating a soft bombardment onto the snow covered ground below.  Oh and when I stopped at a turn-out to take a few pictures, I heard my furnace running in the camper.  I’d forgotten to turn off the furnace before heading out this mo
rning.  Dahhhhh.


Entering Montana.  Descending into a valley on the western edge of Yellowstone, I turned left onto 86 and was greeted by a heard of buffalo grazing along the side of the road.  One of the interesting things about being in this area is that there are so many other things to see besides the National Parks which of course are always a must see.  Along 86 is an area called Earthquake Lake.  The whole area experienced the most powerful earthquake ever in North America, 7.5 on the Richter scale in 1959.  From a couple miles away from the epicenter of the earthquake, an entire side of a mountain came tumbling down, blocking a river and creating a new lake, now called Earthquake Lake.  What’s even more surprising is that another lake Hebgen Lake which was created by building an earthen dam and was very close to the epicenter, survived the earthquake.  With some damage of course, but it was repaired and still stands today.  Even after one end of the lake rose 20 feet and at the other end the land sunk 20 feet.  Being so close to Yellowstone, one can see why the earthquake occurred in this area as Yellowstone is the largest active volcanic region in this hemisphere.  Just learning about the geology and dynamics of our earth up front and close is exciting, but to see the evidence right in front of me makes it all come alive.  Check out more pictures on my Picasa web site.

Here are some other observations as I entered Montana.

The mountain ranges appear dark and foreboding.  That’s because they are covered with spruce and fir trees creating large black patches on the sides of the mountains, along with the requisite snow capped summits.  

The ranches and homes are almost always log cabin designs.  You won’t see many mobile homes or standard stick built homes up here. I definitely know I’ve gone from Idaho into Montana.

The range land is covered in native grasses.  This time of year the grasses haven’t turned green yet and are still a faded yellow.  Many of the rolling hills and buttes appear to be covered in this golden velvet making the land look soft with rounded edges and plush as can be.  

In the western town of Ennis Montana, trucks, semis, and mining rigs pass through town, one after the other in a steady stream of transporting goods between Butte Montana and Idaho Falls and beyond.  

Folks are friendly and easy to talk to.  I drove over to Virginia City Montana.  It’s a restored ghost town with many intact historical buildings.  The town is maintained by the State of Montana as a living museum.  One of the new owners of a small store, that he’s renovating stopped to talk with me.  He was a former construction worker and later worked at a state prison.  Now after some health issues, he’s retired but not just sitting at home.  We talked about changing ones pace of living once a person retires.  Realizing that it’s ok to take a break once and a while.  He realized it recently when he woke up and saw a foot or more of snow outside.  He started to get all upset, thinking about having to shovel it.  Then it dawned on him that it just didn’t matter.  A big smile came across his face as he realized he didn’t need to go out in the snow if he didn’t want to.  Changing ones perspective.  Giving yourself the privilege take a break from the hectic day to day activities and give yourself the time to slow down observe what life is really all about.  To enjoy that second cup of coffee.  To read the paper from cover to cover or even take a nap in the afternoon if you feel like it. It was a joy to meet a fellow retiree who was enjoying the good life.

There are many open range areas and much land is set aside to permit the wild animals a place to roam and be free.  Besides the buffalo I mentioned earlier, I saw a large herd of prong horn antelope on the open range.  What a site.

Oh and the minute I got into Montana, signs started appearing for fly fishing.  Ennis appears to be a hub for fly fishermen and I know my Canadian friend Gary would really enjoy being in this area right now.    Though I don’t know what kind of sport it would be as the rivers seem to be teaming with trout making it a no brainer to catch one.  

Home prices are really high in the Ennis area.  I saw realtor listings averaging in the area of $300,00 - $600,000 for the price of a home.  Many in the million dollar range as well. Maybe they come with a lot of land. This is very rural country.

Other tech Notes:  

As you may know, I’m a big fan of Google’s Gmail.  It’s a great e-mail program that has many great features with unlimited storage for all your e-mail.  

The other day I downloaded their small program called Google Chrome.  It’s a simple Internet Browser program that makes your connection to the internet scream with speed.  It took a little bit of work to get it to look like my usual Internet Explorer (which really isn’t necessary), but now, anytime I log-in to look at e-mails or other web sites, the sites pop-up faster than every.  It’s like having a super high-speed connection.  Love it.  

I also check Google Finance and Google News… yes I really am a fan.

I’ll report on Butte next week. For now, just know that after I set up in my new campsite… I saw snow flurries and it’s expected to get down to 29 tonight.


Suzi Dow said...

Wish I had known you would be in Ennis. Would have invited you for a cup of coffee/tea at Real Decoy (daughter's cafe). John, her husband, does amazing things with his grille. FYI, Ennis IS the center of Montana's great flyfishing and it is right up there for duck hunting too.

Roving Reporter - Doug P said...

would have enjoyed meeting you and discussing your favorite campsites. Great blog site as well.