Friday, May 22, 2009

14-2009 Butte to Shelby Montana

Choteau Mt

Shelby Mt

Campground: Choteau City park. Grassy sites with Cottonwood trees and a small stream.
Water, dump station and restrooms available. Part of city park with baseball diamond etc. One block from main street.

Campground: Lake Shel-Oole, Shelby City Campground. $18 a night, Elec. & Water. Dump station available. Nice grassy sites with picnic tables and some trees. At the base of the earthen dam. No Tv reception digital or analog.

COMPUTER STUFF: As you may know, I use my computer quite a bit. To draft these roving reports, check on destinations on the Internet, online banking and do my e-mails etc. As with most computers, they tend to slow down after a while, so I went onto which is one of my favorite web sites to get free software.

I found a program called “Advanced System Care” on the website and downloaded it.
Needless to say, after downloading the program and running it, my computer is running much faster. Under Maintain Windows, it cleans up Spyware, Registry fix, Privacy Sweep and
Cleans up Junk Files. It literally found thousands of things to fix and over 1,000 spy ware files. The free version requires you to re-do the clean up occasionally on your own. Where as the paid version will run in the background and make corrections as they occur. Free is good for me.

Thought this information might be of value to some of you folks who might need to have your computers checked out and cleaned up. I love sharing information. Hope you find the information helpful.

Choteau Montana. The drive north on hwy 15 through Helena (Capital of Montana) was a pleasant drive over a mountain range and then down into the rolling prairie lands that make up the north eastern section of Montana. Wonderful expansive ranches with black angus cattle grazing on green pastures that undulate for miles in every direction. A heard of prong horn Antelope were grazing as well, some running and leaping others lying down and resting on a carpet of green after a harsh winter. I had to stop at a propane station for a fill-up and to fix one of my propane hoses. The older “mature” guy who took care of me said he is really over the harsh winters. Said it was down to minus 30 degrees a number of times this past winter and lots of snow. We were talking about the lake I’d seen on the scenic route 1 this past week. He was saying that it has about 16 inches of ice still on the lake. Shouldn’t be any ice this time of year.

Helena looks like a wonderful new town/city out on the open range of Montana country. Plenty of space to not feel closed in. Many of the homes and big box stores all looked new. A young city in the heartland with plenty of space to grow.

I took one of the country roads, 287 on my way to Choteau. A one light (blinking) town. A neat clean little town with the courthouse at the center of a circle round road then about 3 blocks of stores and shops. The towns Grain silos are behind the main street, next to the railroad tracks and behind that is the city park that I’m staying in for a night. I was going to explore their history and Dinosaur museum, but it hadn’t opened for the season yet. Usually opens on May 1st.

The town seems to have all the basics, small hospital, Clinic, Retirement home right on main street. Swimming pool, tennis courts, basket ball and baseball fields. The usual small town stores and restaurants. No fast food chains or stores. As a camper, it’s a pleasant change of pace to be able to walk into town, yet be in a nice park setting.

One knows they’re in Montana when the first news on the radio and early morning Tv is about the price of cattle, feed and Agri business. True country living. Making a living off of the land.
The Lewis and Clark Forest and Rocky Mountains off to the west. Snow capped peaks bordering those rolling green prairies. And then there’s the ugly side of life peaking out from billboards and signs painted on walls and barns. Meth. That horrible drug that is infecting even the country side. It’s not right. It shouldn’t be out here. But it is. Destroying lives, one at a time. And the rural folks are scared of it.

I left the little town of Choteau with it’s clean neat main street and courthouse on the center lawn, surrounded by huge old pine trees, headed out along a rural country road, 220. Past acre upon acre of pasture lands, occasionally dotted with small patches of snow still in the hollows and crevasses. A narrow country road with little traffic on it. Driving along back roads like this, with miles in between each farm house, with it’s barns and silos punching the sky above this almost flat landscape. Listening to music on my MP3 player through the trucks stereo, Jimmy Buffet, Pasty Cline, George Straight. My thoughts wonder with the landscape, my eyes searching the patterns made by the fields of rectangles, stripes and circular plowed fields merging in with the endless miles of prairie lands. Skies so expansive with there wispy cloud formations slowly drifting from west to east and beyond the horizon. I love the solitude of drives like this. Not concerned about the next destination, just enjoying the moment as it passes by, following the road and the endless line of telephone poles as they march over the next rise and onto a long stretch of plateau before descending into the next shallow valley below.

No purpose other than to see what’s around the next bend or over the next rise. It’s an awfully simple life I’ve made for myself. No obligations or pressures of life to hold me down. I’ve truly become the vagabond, the gypsy I’d envisioned so many years ago. I remember being at a Sunday brunch probably 20 years ago now and someone at the table asking everyone “if you didn’t have to every work again and had enough money to do what ever you wanted to… what would you do?” I remember my answer and it was to travel and be free of any permanent place, to be a beach bum, a gypsy and vagabond. To explore the world and find out how the rest of the world lives. How lucky, how fortunate to make the dream a reality. So if you think my lifestyle is lonely or sad in any way, know that my heart is filled with a peaceful joy that surrounds me as I drive along those back roads. Meeting interesting people along the way. And even more so, I get to share it all with you.

Shelby Montana. What, maybe about an hour and a half down the road and I arrived in Shelby. A boarder town not far from the Canadian border. A Train depot, highway gas stations and a small farming town. Like Choteau, I can see horses and cattle off on the edges of town. You don’t have to drive far to be back out in the country in places like this. I’ll finish up some business while hear, trying to get my debt card renewed and mailed to me before heading into Canada, exchanging some U.S. dollars for Canadian currency. Deciding on which path to take into Canada. The biggest decision I have to make each time I set out on the road. Which direction to take next. The pressure….

Really windy this afternoon. Heard on the radio the next day that they clocked the winds at 85 mph and that a semi-truck tipped over just outside of Shelby on hwy 15. Glad I wasn’t on the road. Now I know why there is a wind mill electric generating farm not far from here.

I almost forgot, I did drive over to Glacier National Park. My niece Kelly had told me this was one of her favorite parks to visit. The mountain range, what I could see of it was stunning. Unfortunately this time of year is a bit early for much touring of the park. Only about 12 miles of the “Going to the Sun Highway” were opened, the rest of it still covered in a heavy blanket of snow. Because the mountain range is so high, it creates it’s own weather pattern and the day I drove over to it, it was shrouded with clouds. Still worth the scenic drive.

Final Note on what’s in the Newspapers out west: The Great Falls Tribune. Front headlines included, “Highland Cemetery Flagpole Fixed”, “DEQ Seeks more pollution data on gas-fired plant”, “Man admits stealing from Charity” (40K from the Shriners), “Man sentenced for his 11th DUI”, “Car strikes, Kills man’s longtime companion” (about a local homeless veteran loosing his dog). Interesting that the two headline stories where the person was convicted, in both cases the DOC gets to determine weather to give probation or prison time. Both will probably get probation.

That’s all the news for now,

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