Monday, August 22, 2016

Rod and Skittlez Updates

Canyon Ferry, MT  High 90  Low 51

I know it’s been awhile since I had an update on Rod but I did hear from Rod’s DIL with a short update. He completed another round of chemo last week and his scans looked good. He is still putting up a good fight and we are grateful for that.

Loree asked how Skittlez was doing as an only dog. Most of the time she does great. She has always been afraid of everything and she would shake if something bothered her. That tendency to shake or shiver happens a lot more often now. She is also much more vocal when we leave her home alone. That problem is getting better with time.

DSCN2090But the major issue we’ve found is when we try to take her with us for a ride. I don’t totally understand what is happening with her but since Scooter died, Skittlez does not like to ride in the truck. She has never liked to leave the house but she would settle down in the truck. Now she whines and pants the whole time. We took her with us when we went to explore Toston hoping she would enjoy being with us. Not happening.


She also has this idea that every time the truck slows down, she gets to go for a walk and have a goodie. She sounds like she is being murdered when we go to get out of truck because she wants to be the first one out of the truck. Hopefully with time she will accept being in the truck.

This is her favorite place to lay.


Thanks to all of you who knew where that RV was from. Wish I could have had a chance to visit with them. I did watch him climb into the driver’s seat and there is no way I could get up there without a ladder.

Also, for those of you who wondered why we don’t stay longer here at the lake, Skittlez and I have doctor appointments back in Billings. When they are over with we will be wandering slowly up to Kalispell to see family. And we will also be making a stop at the Back Room for bbq.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Silos and a Different RV

Canyon Ferry, MT   High 88  Low 49

Last Saturday there was a fishing tournament on the lake. This is just a few of the trucks and boat trailers parked at the boat ramp. This is why Jim doesn’t fish on the week-ends.


Saw this strange RV in Townsend. I got a picture of the license plate and maybe somebody out there can tell me where they are from.

strange rvDSCN2133

When we went to dinner with Barbara and Ron, Ron asked about the Silos. I didn’t have any answers for him and decided to see what I could find out.


They were built by A. B. Cook, a rancher who raised Hereford cattle at the mouth of Confederate Gulch, which is now under Canyon Ferry Lake. He had the Silos built in close proximity to the stage line from Helena to the Gallatin Valley. They were completed on August 10, 1920 and were used for storing sunflower and corn silage.

One silo cost $1,268 to build and are 42 feet tall and 16 feet in diameter.

Don’t you wonder why this beautiful building has been abandoned? It is located near Winston, MT and was used as a boarding house for miners in the 1880s.


Hard to believe we only have a week and a half left before we leave this area. We are seriously thinking about spending another month here next summer.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Almost Ghost Town–Toston, MT

Toston, MT  High 88  Low 63

All throughout the USA are small towns that have been left behind by the passage of time. Some were bypassed by new highways, some were booming until the gold or silver ran out, others are dying a natural death of kids moving to the big city and the older folks moving to senior living arrangements.

I love exploring these small towns and learning about their history and why they existed in the first place. So I will be sharing some of their stories with you as we travel.

Toston, MT sits on the banks of the Missouri River about 10 miles south of Townsend. The town is named after Thomas Toston, their first postmaster, who also ran a ferry across the river.

The schoolhouse which is now a private residence.




An abandoned church


When gold-rich pyrite ore was discovered in the Elk Horn Mountains near Radersburg (another almost ghost town), a smelting plant was built in Toston which ran from 1883-1899. The Northern Pacific Railroad (which is now the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe) line runs next to Toston. The only thing left of the smelter is this sign next to the post office.


When the ore ran out Toston had a second economic boom during the homesteading era when state officials built a new steel truss bridge over the Missouri River.


The Toston Bridge kept the town alive since its location meant that all traffic between Helena and Bozeman  passed over the bridge and through the middle of town.  In 1955 a new bypass bridge was constructed and Toston began a decline that has slowly drained away most of its population.  At the 2010 census, it had 108 residents and it looks like even fewer today.

My brother-in-law told me about hanging out at the Toston Bar many years ago. The owner had a pig who used to wander through the bar and enjoyed sharing beer with the patrons. He enjoyed a wonderful life until he died of old age. The Toston Bar no longer exists.

The new highway bridge.


Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery passed this way on their westward trek and made nine camps on the short stretch of the Missouri River between the Toston Dam and the south end of Canyon Ferry.

Yorks Islands Landing is a popular place for fishing and floating the river.



There are several small islands in the river which Lewis and Clark named Yorks 9 Islands in honor of Clark’s slave. The journals often mention York who was the first black man to travel to the Pacific Ocean and return to tell the tale.

There are small campgrounds at both Yorks Islands and the Toston Dam Recreation Area sites.

Toston Dam Recreation Area



The water is definitely higher behind the dam.


Lewis and Clark camped here on the Missouri River on July 25, 1805. The rocky cliffs on either side of the river were a landmark that the Indians had described to them when they were in North Dakota.

A train passing by the cliffs on the east side of the river.


We had a lot of fun wandering around Toston and hope to find a few more places like this to share with you.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

This Is The Life

Canyon Ferry, MT  High 81  Low 56

We drove into Townsend one morning and white fluffy clouds were covering the Elkhorn Mountains to the west.


The reason for our early trip into town was a donut run to the Mountie Moose Bakery.


It was definitely worth getting up and out for. Just take a look at these treats. We will be making another stop at this place.


Skittlez really thought that we should be sharing.


Jim has been fishing every day and has even done some catching. We will be having fish for dinner shortly.


This is a walleye but he’s also brought home some perch.


It’s always so much fun when other travelers wander through where you are camped. On Wednesday we were lucky enough to have two couples in the area. John and Sharon were camped at the fairgrounds in Helena and Barbara and Ron pulled into the BLM campground across the road from us.

And like all good RVers we headed out for dinner together. We picked up Barbara and Ron and drove into Helena to meet up with John and Sharon at the Grubstake.


Jim and I split a ribeye and were totally underwhelmed. The others said their food was good but I’m not sure anybody wanted to rave about it. I was really disappointed because their parking lot is always packed. Our favorite place to go (the Windbag which used to be a brothel) is closed for remodeling.

And to close with – a beautiful sunset.


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Canyon Ferry Lake KOA

Canyon Ferry Lake, MT  High 82  Low 53  Windy and Stormy

Before leaving Billings we were able to have dinner with our good friend Carol and stopped to visit with my Uncle Bob and Aunt Mary. He’s looking mighty sharp for being 90. Mary is my Mom’s youngest sister.

mary and bob1

We left Billings on Thursday morning and arrived at the Silos KOA on Canyon Ferry Lake about 1:30. We got set up and then we went to Helena (about 25 miles) to get Jim’s boat. It was sitting at my brother-in-laws.


This is not a typical KOA. This is a fishing campground. Seems that  a lot of folks leave their rigs here and come down on the week-end with boats and ATVs. There are several permanent sites and most are in good shape. Also, the overnight traffic is heavy.


We’ve seen some children this week-end but it is a  quiet campground during the week. We have a view of the lake from our site. The RV’s you see in this picture are parked over in the BLM campground which is just across the road from us. The air was a little hazy because of the fire over by Hamilton, MT.


We are enjoying just relaxing and letting our bodies recover from all the work we did on the house. Jim went out fishing a little while on Friday and caught one small fish. But he wasn’t out very long. Week-ends are definitely for week-end warriors and we stay out of their way.

Still have our fingers crossed that the house will close on the 19th.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Hot Air

Billings, MT  High 88  Low 62

Be careful what you pray for. I have been praying that somebody will buy our house quickly so we can get back on the road. Well, one week after it was put on the market we accepted an offer. We actually had three offers so we had to make a decision. Sure hope it was the right one. The buyer wants to go to closing on August 19th.

Can you see the start of a double rainbow? After a storm in Helena.


Now remember, we are in Helena with plans to go to Canyon Ferry for the whole month of August. After talking with the realtor we knew we had to go back to Billings to finish cleaning out the sheds. I truly figured the house would not sell for a couple of months and we would have plenty of time. I was wrong. Now we are hoping to get everything taken to the dump, Goodwill, or figure out where we can stash it to take it back to Arizona so we can go to Canyon Ferry next week.

However, as most of you know, this offer could all fall apart before we go to closing. So I’m not doing a happy dance until I actually have the money in hand.

Skittlez has always been afraid of everything. Including other dogs. However, after some initial barking by Skittlez, she and the kids’ dogs got along just fine. We are still amazed.

Skittlez, Zoey, and Honey.


This morning we had some excitement in our neighborhood. Billings is having a hot air balloon festival this week-end. I was hoping we could find time to check them out but we were able to get up close and personal. One of the balloons made an unexpected landing on the next street over from us. Not sure what went wrong but the pilot told me that she didn’t want to land in the river which is below us.


I’m just really grateful that they didn’t hit any of the power lines. Took some good piloting to set that big balloon down in a residential area. We walked over to check it out.




This little boy thought it was really cool to see the balloon.


Friday, July 29, 2016

Special Friends

Helena, MT   High 91  Low 62

I forgot to tell you about the steak dinner we had with Paul while he was here. We took him up to the Marysville Steakhouse. I’ve written about this place a couple of times before. It’s an old mining town and offers one of the best steaks you can have. Jim and I shared the rib-eye and it was seasoned and cooked perfectly. If you come to Helena, you really need to treat yourself.

Last Saturday we took a drive over to Anaconda. Our good friends, Sharon and George (I’ve posted about them from when we did the cancer walks in Death Valley), were camped there and we really wanted to see them. We took Skitz with us because it was about 80 miles one way.

yakWe stopped in Deer Lodge to have lunch. Another great find. Yak Yaks sandwich shop. Homemade bread and fabulous fixins. Put that on your list also. They have an outside table so we took Skittlez with us and were going to sit outside. A neighbor’s cat decided to come visit. He was up on the table and when he/she saw Skitz the back came up and the hissing started. I wasn’t sure how Skitz was going to react because she has never been around a cat before. She could have cared less. Paid absolutely no attention to the cat.

We found George and Sharon at Big Sky RV Park and had a wonderful visit. Sharon loves to fish and had told us about the brown trout she caught. So the three of them went traipsing down to the creek.

anaconda - george and sharon

Warm Springs Creek is just across the road from the campground.


I stayed at the truck with Skitz cause it was time for her to eat. They didn’t catch any fish but Sharon said she learned a whole lot of things about fishing.

anaconda - george and sharon2

anaconda1You can see the old Anaconda Copper Company smelter stack for miles. It was completed in 1919, and is one of the tallest free-standing brick structures in the world at 585 feet. The inside diameter is 75 feet at the bottom, tapering to 60 feet at the top. In comparison, the Washington Monument is 555 feet tall. The stack dominates the landscape like the company once dominated the area's economic life. Since the smelter closed in 1980, the stack has become a symbol of the challenges that face communities dependent on finite resources.

Back in Helena it was time to treat Jim to an ice cream cone from the Big Dipper.

big dipper