Thursday, June 04, 2009

June 4 - Fort Peck to Great Falls, MT

Morning came early again and we spent the time before places opened, doing basic maintenance on the TC. The gas hot water heater was not working, giving a constant reset light. Joe called our TC friend Mikeee who can fix just about anything in the HVAC line. Joe had already done most of what Mike suggested but he gave a few more hints and one of them worked. Probably a loose wire by the tank where I had put in paper towels - where I wasn't supposed to store anything. Well paper towels are light right? Mike's "payment" of a box of Klondike Bars will go to him next we see him.

We toured the Fort Peck dam area and learned the story of how the dam was built during the 1930s depression. There was a catastrophic and deadly collapse before it was finished. At the base of the dam is the Fort Peck Interpretive Center which lays out the discovery of dinosaur remains and traces their history and the ecology and geography of the area. Excellent exhibits and well worth the time to go there.

There was also an art and sculpture exhibit. I liked this one thinking of all
our TC friends who hike deep into the wilderness.

We travel led on Route 2 today and whoever said this part of Montana is called the Big Empty was absolutely correct. Between Big Sky and Big Empty there is nothing but grass, horses and cattle. We think the vast planted fields are wheat but not sure. You have to be a hearty soul to live out here especially during the winter.

At Malta we stopped at the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum. They had one real intact skeleton which was interesting but what was more so was the county museum. There were photos loaned by local families from early pioneer times through the Great Depression up to current farming. Quilts, a roster of those who have served in the wars, class photos, exhibits of old kitchens, parlors, etc. Fascinating to tour and you felt as though you were sitting in your grandmother's parlor looking at family history.

At Havre, we switched over to Route 87 south to go to Great Falls. This road is two lane, no shoulders and 70 mph. I have to hand it to those who live here and put up with the tourists who know one wrong twitch of the hands and you end up in a ditch. Actually not bad driving, much more civil people who pass a TC going 62. The tip of their hat is better than the hand wave back east.

We're in a tiny campground just prior to Great Falls but amazingly there is internet. We're feasting on corn husk covered tamales, fresh salsa that is a bit hotter than we are used to and local nacho chips. When in the country, eat like a native.

Tomorrow our choices are the Memhke Steam Museum (tractors not trains), the CM Russell Museum Complex, Malmstrom Air Force Base museum and a second Lewis and Clark Center. We are close to museum done and time to head for Glacier. I keep checking the "Going to the Sun Road" and know it is not open yet. But there is so much else to see, do and hike that it won't matter in the long run. We'll take 89 north and wander to see what there is to see.


heidi said...

what a wonderful trip that you are having!

I love to read about and to see your photos, as it shows a part of the USA that is rather unknown to me, as I live in another country.

I hope that the rest of your journey will be as nice:)

Rebecca said...

And don't forget the brilliant blue skies we have out here in Colorado and Montana. It almost makes up for the lack of trees, almost.