Billings, MT, to Radium Hot Springs, BC

Billings, MT

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sunny & clear, windy, high 70s

Today marks the beginning of our third week out. We rose early, and showered. Bill worked on the website most of the day. Meanwhile, Sandy did laundry for the first time since we hit the road. She also reorganized the storage of gear and supplies in the camper. It seemed like a bit of a waste of what was a beautiful day and evening but we felt it had to be done.

Dinner was grilled salmon, steamed broccoli & applesauce.

Billings to Missoula, MT

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunny & clear, high 70s

We were on the road 8:00 am because we wanted to cover some miles today.

We made a stop in Bozeman where we located the Sola Café. There, we bought some gluten free goodies for Sandy. Bozeman seemed like a really nice town. Our route took us across the continental divide east of Butte (6,393 ft).

We made a detour through Butte. Set on a steep hillside, there remain abandoned mine structures within residential areas of the city as well as in the surrounding areas. The structures are black in color and are a stark reminder of the city’s past. While not appearing to be a particularly prosperous place, it is still very interesting. There lots of high-styled buildings. We did not take time to do the tour of the infamous, closed-down Berkeley pit copper mine. The pit contains what is reportedly one of the all-time worst polluted water bodies in the US.

Mining Rig Dominates Butte Residential Neighborhood
Mining Rig Dominates Butte Residential Neighborhood

We camped at Jim & Mary’s Campground in Missoula. This is a very clean and pleasant place with very nice bathrooms. We heard more traffic noise than we would have liked but that seems to be the case with most commercial campgrounds these days.

Dinner was a teriyaki chicken stir-fry.

Missoula to Columbia Falls, MT

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sunny, 60 am up to 75

We were on the road by 8:45 today, heading north through the Flathead Indian reservation. This reservation is the most affluent appearing one we recall passing though, at least the part of it that is along the road. It appeared that crop farming and cattle were the main businesses of the residents.

Eventually, we came to the 28 mile long Flathead Lake. Flathead is the largest freshwater lake west of Mississippi. Popular for recreation, it is a very beautiful lake. As we progressed north the land became more densely forested and mountainous. In Kalispell we stopped at the local Verizon store to set up telephone and text services for the portion of the trip that we’ll spend in Canada.

View of Flathead Lake
View of Flathead Lake

One of Bill’s high school classmates lives in Whitefish, MT. In spite of Carol’s tight schedule, she and husband, Richard, found time for a very nice visit. We had lunch at the local public golf course and then made our way to their beautiful home set on Whitefish Lake. We enjoyed the tour of their property, admired the home’s post-and-beam construction and marveled at the wonderful artwork that covers nearly every available bit of wall space. Of course the visit wouldn’t have been complete without a boat ride on Whitefish Lake. Richard fired up their boat and off we went for the grand tour. It’s a very pretty lake with a tastefully developed shoreline. At our last reunion Carol suggested we hold our 50th in Whitefish. We concur; what a beautiful spot!

With Bill's Classmate, Carol and Richard, In Whitefish
With Bill’s Classmate, Carol and Richard, In Whitefish

We decided not to drive much further that day and camped at the Columbia Falls RV Park in nearby Columbia Falls. It turned out to be the best maintained campground we’d ever seen. The lawns were carefully manicured and crisply edged around every campsite. Carefully tended beds of flowers and shrubbery complemented the look of the place.

Dinner was at the Night Owl, a local family restaurant, with bar, of course. Hey, this is Montana after all!

Columbia Falls to Radium Hot Springs, BC

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Very sunny, mid 70s, gorgeous day

After breakfast this morning we returned to Kalispell to do some shopping. Swimming suits and an embroidery hoop were on the shopping list. (We did a pretty good job packing for this trip but, somehow, swim suits missed the list.)

Quilts were the Business of the Place We Found an Embroidery Hoop
Quilts were the Business of the Place We Found an Embroidery Hoop

We were back on the road before noon. We decided to skip Glacier NP and Calgary, since we’d been there before, and approach the Canadian Rockies National Parks from the west. So we headed up Rt 93 along the Tobacco River Valley through Kootenai National Forest.

We crossed into Canada at Eureka, MT, about 2:30 that afternoon, noting that it is a much prettier entrance into Canada than the busy eastern ones we enter on our winter ski trips. The drive took us through the Columbia Valley, the longest wetlands in North America. The valley is a beautiful string of lakes and wetlands bordered by beautiful mountains.

View of Columbia Valley Wetlands
View of Columbia Valley Wetlands

Arriving at the edge of Kootenay National Park, we camped at Canyon RV Resort in tiny Radium Hot Springs. The village is named after the popular, nearby hot springs in the park. The hot springs were named after the radioactive element when an analysis of the water showed that it contained small, inconsequential traces of radon. Canyon RV Resort was another beautifully maintained campground. Our campsite backed onto the fast-moving Sinclair River. The creek was very loud and we’d suggest that future campers to get a site not directly on the creek.

Camped along Canyon River, Radium Hot Springs, BC
Camped along Canyon River, Radium Hot Springs, BC

Dinner was grilled, marinated chicken with roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots with a sauce.

Heavy rain late that night sounded like hail on the roof of our little camper.