Saturday, August 27, 2016

Wind Tie Down Cables


I always think that people know what I’m writing about because I know what I’m writing about. I forget that your frame of reference is a little different than mine.

Anyhow – our house “was” (love saying that) a mobile home on a permanent pier post foundation. We owned the land it was on and had the permanent foundation installed in order to quality for an FHA loan.

When we bought the house back in 2003, it was new and we had it moved to our lot and had the driveway put in. At that time tie down cables were not required. One of the changes since then, is that these cables are now required because of all the wind storms that Montana gets every Spring and early Summer. I don’t really understand how they are going to be installed but I know that there is drilling into concrete involved. If this had been done when the house was put on the lot, it would have been a much easier process.

Hope this makes sense.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

No More Driveway

Canyon Ferry, MT  High 66  Low 46

We signed the papers and the house is sold. Jim worked so hard on that place but it was sort of worth it because the house sold in less than a week. Of course, it takes longer than that for the paperwork. What was really great was the fact that we didn’t have to go back to Billings for the closing. They emailed us the paperwork and our agent’s assistant set up an appointment for us with a Wells Fargo notary in Helena. Signed, sealed and delivered.

Well, almost. When they did the buyer’s inspection, they found that there were no wind tie down cables on the house. It seems that when we got the original FHA loan they weren’t required. It was a real pain to find someone to do them for us. Had trouble getting return phone calls until finally our realtor got involved. The repairman is now committed to getting the work done by the 1st of September. Once we pay him, we’re done.

It’s rather a strange feeling. I was thinking about next summer and it was hard to realize that we wouldn’t have to do any work on a house or a yard. What will we do with our time? We also don’t have a driveway to park in and the RV parks in Billings are soooo expensive. The KOA and Yellowstone River Parks both want $84 a night. Why in the world would anyone pay that kind of money in Billings, MT. The third RV park is $50 a night which is still way out of line.

Because the kids still live in Billings we do want to visit them so we joined the Moose. The Moose in Billings has five 30 amp sites for $25 a night. Hopefully one will be available for us when we show up.

I also talked to Aunt Happy on her birthday yesterday. She’s 103. Just amazing. She has a hard time hearing on the phone but she figured out it was me and wanted to know when we’d be back because she has some earrings she wants Jim to fix. She is such a trip.

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.