Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Bragging Rights

 We are on our way back to Arizona but needed to make one last post on Billings.

As parents and parents-in-law of very talented adults, that gives us the right to brag about their accomplishments.

Todd (like his father) is a car nut. He is really involved in remote control car racing which means he has to build and design and paint his own cars.I'm amazed at his abilities to create such realistic models. And he does it by finding really good buys at second hand stores and on sale. (We taught him well.)

This car won a 1st and a 2nd in races last week-end. Way to go.


He also has become very adept at stenciling. At least I think that's what is it. He made this for me.


Our daughter-in-law, Michaela, is beyond talented. I've shown you several of her works in the past but this one is by far her greatest masterpiece.  She painted this for Jim for his birthday. His velcro dog Rocky Joe.


Thank you Todd and Michaela. We love you and are going to miss you so very much.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Happy Birthday Jim

 Billings, MT   High 48  Low 32

It's way too cold for September 8, but it's headed back up to 90 by next week.

We celebrated Jim's birthday by having Chinese food with Todd and Michaela. He also got a huge birthday present. A totally unexpected birthday present.

We always take our truck in for service while we're in Billings at Denny Menholt Chevrolet. Jim retired from the dealership as the Parts Manager when we decided to go full time. They treat him really good.

However, when they were checking over the truck they found a major problem. The head gaskets were not in good shape at all. It would cost several thousand dollars to repair the truck and it was time for Jim and I to have a long talk. We decided that Jim needed to see if he could find a newer truck that we could invest those thousands of dollars in rather than fix the old one.

So he and one of the salesmen, another Jim, went to work and found one.


As you can see, our old topper doesn't quite match in color and this truck has a shorter bed, so we will have to replace the topper when we get back to AZ. Then came all the work. Those of you who have seen the inside of our truck bed know how much stuff Jim carries with us. All of that had to be moved from one truck to the other. The guys at the dealership helped him with some of it, thank goodness. But he still had to do a lot of the heavy moving by himself. It just so happens that it was 103 that day and the Moose's electric was having issues so our air was not working a lot of the time. Not fun.

But everything is done including getting running boards on the truck so I can get in and out. We plan on leaving here on Thursday. And it's none too soon for me. The Moose Lodge folks are talking about upgrading their electric hookups which they desperately need to do. We use our surge guard and it spends a lot of time not being happy with the power output. This is also one of the noisiest places in the whole world to stay. The railroad tracks are just across the street. I know lots of parks have tracks nearby but these trains make our Bungalow shake day and night. This intersection is also one of the busiest in the city. Sirens are going constantly along with motorcycle riders who feel the urge to rev their motors while waiting for the light to change. Just incredible, the amount of noise.


We left the spider infestation back in Canyon Ferry although we brought many of them with us. We will be bombing the Bungalow when we get back to Apache Junction. Here in Billings we have grasshoppers - thousands of them. 

 
 
I do love the sky in this picture.

So I am ready to leave, at least mentally. Still lots to do to get everything ready for the road.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Family Times

 Billings, Montana   High anywhere from 87 to 103   Low anywhere from 62 to 32

Roller coaster weather - that's what we've been having. Last Saturday we reached a record shattering 103. Previous record was 95 set back in the 50s.  Today - Labor Day - our high is going to be 48 with a low of 35. So we dropped 55 degrees in 48 hours. They are predicting snow in the higher mountain elevations. We are also getting rain today and we're hoping for enough rain to really help the firefighters get control of all the fires burning in the state.

We usually have four reasons for coming to Billings - to visit with family, visit with friends,an eye appointment for me, and service work on the truck. This year the visit with friends did not happen and the visits with family were few. Thanks Covid-19 for all the wonderful memories.

Todd has become quite involved with remote control car racing which is gaining in popularity here in Billings. I don't understand any of it but he does whatever he can do to make the car go fast, paints it in special paint jobs and decals, and spends a lot of time learning how to make it get around the track without wrecking. The club did not have any events organized while we are here but Todd got some of the guys together for some drag racing and practice runs. It was fun to watch everybody race their cars and have a good time.






And the sun sets on the race fun. Well it did for Jim and I anyhow. The rest of the "kids" stayed until about 10 or so.


We celebrated Labor Day on Sunday (since it was going to rain all day Monday) by grilling chicken wings with corn on the cob and mashed taters at Todd and Michaela's house.

Michaela and Honey Bear



Zoey stole my heart the first time they brought her home as a puppy. She loves her Grandmas and turns into a lap dog when we show up to visit.



Sunday, September 6, 2020

Backroads To Billings (at least part of the way)

 Billings, MT   High 84  Low 61

We left Canyon Ferry and headed out on Highway 12. Leaving Townsend you enter the Helena National Forest. It's a beautiful, curvy road through the Lodgepole Pines.


When you exit the forest, the plains are in front of you as far as the eye can see. They are a beautiful golden color this time of year.

After turning south on Highway 89, you'll find the little town of Ringling.The town was founded by John Ringling, one of the brothers of the Ringling Brothers' Circus, as part of his plan to build a railroad connection between Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. For some reason, only a twenty three mile stretch was built between Ringling and White Sulphur. When the railroad did not extend any further, Ringling lost most of its population. This is what is still standing. If we had had time, I would have loved to drive down that main street.

Do any of you remember the Jimmy Buffet song back in 1974 on his "Living and Dying in 3/4 Time" Album - Ringling, Ringling? This is the town he was singing about. So I've been playing it on YouTube while I do this post. Check it out.

 


One building still standing is out by the highway. .St. John Catholic Church which was built in 1914 and sits on a hill overlooking the town. No longer used as a church, a grant was issued to help restore it.


A little further down Highway 89, just before you get to Wilsall, you will find Thunder Jack. He was sculpted by
Gary Kirby to commemorate the mountain men of Montana. The first grade class of 2006-07 got to name him and thanks to them we have Thunder Jack.

The sun was not in the right position to get a very good picture when we stopped. Notice all the smoke covering the mountains in mine. The second picture was taken by James Cowlin and is much better than mine.




From Wilsall we dropped down to I-90 and headed on to Billings. We stopped to get fuel in Big Timber and thought about Janna and The Cowboy up in the mountains.

We are currently at the Moose Lodge in Billings. Not sure how long we'll be here. Get to visit with the kids some more.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Last Post from Canyon Ferry for 2020

 Canyon Ferry, MT  High 87  Low 55

 

It's hard to believe we have been here for almost two months. We will be moving on to Billings, MT so it was time to put the boat to bed for the winter. This post just has a few random photos.

The laundromat we usually use was closed so the owner could go fishing. That meant we had to find another laundromat. Found one across the street from the train depot in Helena.


 Built in 1904 by Northern Pacific Railroad. Now used as offices for Montana Rail Link.

This sign was posted on the bulletin board in the laundromat and caught my attention.


 So men, if you need to learn to express your feelings and you're not a hippie, check out the website.

Some days the water in the lake was smooth as glass.


Spiders were a big problem this year at the campground. We've always had spiders but this year they were really bad. Jim had to wipe down cobwebs every day from the truck, boat and Bungalow. They have also invaded the Bungalow so when we get back to AZ and get everything unloaded we will be doing some bombing. I know they are good to have around to keep the mosquito and other bugs under control, but I am not happy when they invade my home.


Our turtle. Skitz fell out of her bed on her back and just like a turtle, she can no longer get herself upright. Poor old dog. But of course, I had to take a picture before helping her get back on her feet.


The next post will be on our way to Billings.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Todd's Here

 Canyon Ferry, MT   High 87  Low 55

 

Todd decided he wanted to catch some more fish so he came back to visit for the weekend. That works for us.

This time he brought his tent with him. There is a Bureau of Reclamation campground across the road and down by the lake from us. It has some really nice tent sites and about 75 RV sites.


 Todd and Jim headed out for some fishing and actually did some catching. In fact, Todd caught more fish than his Dad. 



 In May of this year, Broadwater County implemented a boat launch fee at the Silos launch site. It's $5/day or $50/season. Jim was not aware of this fee until just a few days ago so we are lucky he didn't get caught. He was telling Todd about this fee and said that they need to put up a sign to let people know about it. This was said rather forcefully. Todd calmly pointed and said "like that sign"? 


Todd and I had a good chuckle over this.

Todd has that special ability to look at something and see a photo op. Must be from his Dad's side because I know I don't have this ability. As he was driving up to Canyon Ferry, he saw this old barn and this is the picture he took with his car front and center.


We have had some really smokey days from the fires in California. (I feel so bad for all those people who have lost their homes and businesses. And all those wonderful firefighters.)  Can you find the lake and the mountains across the lake in this picture? This was taken as we approached our campground.


We had a wonderful visit with Todd but once again he had to leave way too soon.  But we will be seeing him shortly when we move on to Billings.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Here We Go Round The Lake

 Canyon Ferry, MT   High 92  Low 62

Off we go to drive around the lake with a couple of detours along the way. Leaving the campground we took a left on Highway 287 towards Townsend. Another left at the stop sign in Townsend onto Highway 12. This is a picture of the main street in Townsend.

About two miles east of Townsend you make another left on Highway 284. 

Our first stop was at St. Joseph's Catholic Church which was built in 1875-1876.  Paid for with community donations and built by ninety volunteer lay laborers, the church was dedicated on October 22, 1876. It is the state’s oldest standing Roman Catholic church not built by a religious order. After World War II, federal officials planned to upgrade Canyon Ferry Dam and raise the reservoir. The church was in the raised water area and in 1952, St. Joseph’s was moved two and a half miles to this location before water swallowed the land. 

 

 

The Church was closed while we were there so I took this picture of the interior from their website.

 

This is the view from the front of the Church. You can see Canyon Ferry Lake in the distance.

 

More Montana scenes along our way.


Confederate Gulch and Diamond City

Our next detour had us looking for Diamond City, another ghost town up Confederate Gulch. 

 

 

Gold was first discovered at the gulch by former confederate soldiers in 1864. When the Civil War ended the government issued an amnesty to all former confederate soldiers in Arkansas if they went west by the Missouri River. Some of these soldiers heard of gold discoveries in Montana and decided to try their luck there. They discovered placer gold in a gulch located near the Big Belt Mountains. This later became known as Confederate Gulch.

 

 

 For a time, Confederate Gulch was the largest community in Montana. In 1866, Montana had a total population of 28,000, and of these, about 10,000 were working in Confederate Gulch.

 

During its heyday, Diamond City roared both night and day. By 1870, the gold supply at Confederate Gulch had been exhausted, the boom was over and the residents of Diamond City simply picked up and left.  Today hardly a trace remains of Diamond City. 

We had to ford the creek a couple of times.

 

We never did find Diamond City and the road was really rough so we finally turned around and went back down to the highway. 

 
 
The northern end of Canyon Ferry Lake is much more mountainous than the south end. It seems to be the more popular part of the lake full of sailboats and water toys. 
 
 

Canyon Ferry Dam is a concrete gravity dam on the Missouri River. 

 

 

After taking a couple more left turns, you are back on Highway 287/12 which takes you back to our campground. 

Townsend also has an airport which is just outside our RV park. It is a really busy place some days with small planes and helicopters. It is also used as a training site for forest fires as well as water rescue.

A really beautiful day for a drive.