We started the morning at Dick’s RV Park in Great Falls. The previous night we had been returned to Great Falls airport by Cessna in their CJ3. What a magnificent aircraft. As we needed to do some clothes washing we decided to book into the local RV Park which was right on the banks of the Missouri River close to downtown Great Falls.
|The Earthroamer parked in the RV Park, near to the laundry|
We departed at 9.30 and headed east along the highway 89, through the centre of the city. Dick sighted an RV dealer so we stopped and purchased electrical leads and windscreen cleaner. Photographs through the windscreen give a real feeling of what it is like to be on our world roaming expedition, however insects on the screen take away from the view.
|Leaving Dick's RV Park in Great Falls|
At this stop, as at many other stops, people stand around the Earthroamer marvelling at its construction and commenting about our world trip.
Parked beside us was a vehicle with soldier’s ribbons on the door. We commonly saw these in the USA, people showing their support for the servicemen in Iraq.
|Stickers on a vehicle supporting the US Troops in Iraq|
On the road again we travelled through magnificent grazing country and sighted a swaggy sitting beside the road
We couldn’t believe it. We stopped and offered him a lift. He was delighted. We threw his swag and walking stick into the back of our vehicle and the swaggy, Robert was his name sat in the back. He was a taciturn person, hardly spoke but we were able to find out that he was 62 years of age and had worked on ranches, probably as a cowboy.
|We saw a swaggy standing beside the highway wanting a lift|
|Robert travelled a short way with us|
Robert was heading to the east however we were turning south just past Belt so we dropped him at the road junction. It was extremely hot so we gave him some cold drinks, fruit and $20 to buy a beer. His face lit up into a huge grin when he saw the money. We drove off leaving this ‘local’ waiting for the next ride.
We were now heading towards the Lewis and Clark National Forest. Lewis and Clark are famous American explorers similar to our Burke and Wills but more successful. They are hero worshipped everywhere in the USA with countless publications, monuments and national historic sites.
We were heading along Belt Creek, following the route of an old railway line which took ore from silver mines in the area.
We stopped at the lookout of the Sluice Boxes Primitive State Park which was described on the notice board as a wilderness. Unfortunately it had large power lines heading through it.
|A farm we passed just before entering Sluice Boxes National Park.|
|Looking down at Belt Creek Canyon in Sluice Boxes Primitive State Park|
It was 82 degrees F outside as we drove into the mining town of Neihart. Just before we entered the town we stopped and photographed the remaining timber work of Queens Mine.
The town itself was in a word, quant with its old buildings and history of silver, lead and zinc mining.
|Ruins of Queen Mine at Neihart|
|Old buildings in the silver mining town of Neihart|
Over the summit at Kings Hill at 7,393 feet, low for Montana, but a few feet higher than Australia’s highest mountain. The road descended and we entered the town of White Sulphur Springs. At this point we thought how lucky we are to be driving in the United States, every American we have met has been extremely friendly and we have been free to drive anywhere without any restrictions. We recognise that other parts of our drive may be very different.
On the radio the most important local news is border protection. It appears there are tens of thousands of Mexicans crossing the border illegally and working in the USA without any approval.
At White Sulphur Springs we stopped at a supermarket to buy some groceries, fresh bread, milk and fresh fruit. The supermarket could have been in one of our country towns in Australia. Globalisation and big companies tend to make everything the same.
Leaving the town we noticed we were on a plateau of 5,000ft however there was a thriving farming community with crops being planted and huge silos signifying farming success.
|A huge irrigation machine in action|
In Montana we have been seeing some of the strangest speed signs ever. They are dual rated – 60mph in the day and 55mph at night. We wondered what authority had come up with that minor difference and how that was justified
South of White Sulphur Springs we turned right onto highway 12 and came across a huge road construction project. Even though this was a relatively minor road, and in excellent condition, the Government was spending millions in removing curves and improving it.
|A new part of the road being constructed|
We joined highway 287 at Townsend and were soon on the main freeway – highway 90 driving through Three Forks. We turned to the south on highway 191 and followed the Gallatin River towards West Yellowstone.
The river was roaring beside the road with major rapids
Every now and then we passed a rafting company’s establishment. There was no one on the River as it was just too dangerous at this time of the year.
|The roaring waters of the Gallatin River|
Just before entering Yellowstone National Park we stopped beside the road, parked, made a quick cup of tea and went for an hour bush walk on the Sage Creek Trail.
We climbed about 600 ft through lodgepole pine forest but turned back when Pip thought she heard a bear growling behind the tall trees. There were signs everywhere telling us to be careful of bears, but it looks as if they are a bit like sharks. The risk is small but there, never the less and there is nothing much you can do if one decides to get you.
|Beautiful scenery walking along the Sage Creek Trail|
As we climbed through 6,000ft we entered the Yellowstone National Park – the first national park in the world and Dick believes the best.
|Entrance to Yellowstone National Park|
Beside the road were strange devices mounted on poles. They were animal test radars, possibly a system for counting the number of animals that cross the road.
|Radar unit set up as a test to check on animals crossing the road|
We were still on the Gallatin River however at 7239 ft with snow around us, we crossed a summit ridge and were following Grayling Creek down hill. Just before West Yellowstone village we turned west onto a small road and spent the night parked beside Hebgen Lake.
There were millions of small insects and mozzies joined us.
|We stayed overnight beside Hebgen Lake|
Pip cooked a pot roast in the electric frypan including gravy and vegetables
|Pip cooking dinner|
Amazingly enough the Verizon broadband worked perfectly so we were able to do necessary emails and Pip could send her photos and edited words for the web site to Phil.
|Dinner is served|
476km for today 4739km total
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