Monday, September 7, 2015

We're Still Alive and We've Visited Wyoming, Idaho and Montana

It’s hard to believe we’ve already had over three full weeks on the road and there are only 2 weeks left!! It’s also hard to believe I’ve only blogged one time so far! Before the trip I had visions of posting every 3 days or so, but real life got in the way. When we’ve had big adventures in Audrey in the past we weren’t working, so we could camp pretty much wherever we wanted without being worried about cell phone coverage. Well, that has been a bit different on this trip and has made our time a little tighter. Our typical schedule has been to stay in a spot for 2-4 days and then one evening after work hours we’d pick up and move to the next location, getting there in time to set up camp before dark and then cook a late dinner. Unfortunately it hasn’t always been quite that simple. Several times we’ve had to try 2 or 3 camping locations in order to find one that had workable levels of cell service. Those were the frustrating evenings that ended up being late nights. And all of that is to say two things: (1) I have a new respect for all those folks I follow on Instagram who work from the road full time and (2) this has contributed to my lack of blogging time.

Now don’t get me wrong: we’ve been having an amazing trip and have found some wonderful camping spots to enjoy, it just hasn’t been as carefree as our past trips. Happily we are now on the vacation portion of our trip so let the carefree-ness begin! To kick it off we’ve been camped in areas with zero cell coverage for the past 3 days. (I’m posting this on a quick trip into West Glacier, MT) But let’s back up, shall we? Here’s a recap of the past two weeks…

August 22: Jackson, Wyoming
We took Indie to a doggie day care (two thumbs up for DogJax!) so we could spend a day exploring Jackson, WY. What a cute little town! We used the opportunity to catch up on laundry, buy more groceries, and also enjoy a delicious Mexican dinner at Hatch.
Love the antler arches in Jackson. :-) It was Farmers Market day and this guy had a great voice and great style to match.
We bought Indie and antler at the Farmer's Market and he's loved it.
Jackson is known for their wooden boardwalks/sidewalks

August 23-26: Hatchet Teton View, Wyoming
Kudos to Jeff for finding this great boondocking spot in the middle of nowhere! It had amazing views of the Tetons (after the smoke finally cleared) and blazing fast Verizon LTE coverage. There were a lot of forest service roads in the area that made great hiking trails as well. (If you’re a camper and want to know the exact location, here’s the link.) Our Instagram friends @boldadventure and @herboldadventure stayed here with us and it was so good to have company and share some meals together. Most notably, they joined us in Audrey to celebrate Jeff’s birthday on August 26th with some flat oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that I baked. :-)

Love all this open space! 
The Tetons were especially beautiful at sunset
Porter Reservoir

Aug 27-28: Somewhere North of Ashton, Idaho
We began to work our way toward Montana on this stretch and spent two nights camped off a forest service road north of Ashton, Idaho. This was one of those crazy times where we just started driving down a small dirt road and hoped for the best, and thankfully it turned out fine! We did have an incident here, though…when we arrived Indie was so happy to be done traveling that he jumped out of the halfway down truck window and took off. We think he saw some deer or elk because he took off like a rocket. He’s done this a few times before but he always comes back in 5 or 10 minutes. Unfortunately this time he had well and truly disappeared and at the 30-minute mark we were panicking because it was getting dark. We were in bear country so I was starting to think he was dead or wounded and caved into tears while Jeff took the truck and drove down the road calling for him. Finally at the 1 hour mark he trotted up to our campsite without a scratch on him and proceeded to drink 2 bowls full of water while I cried again in relief. Let’s just say it was a little hard to go to sleep that night…
Sometimes it pays to go down a random forest service road

Aug 29: Big Sky, Montana
We had the great pleasure of visiting our Las Vegas Airstream Club friends Terry and Gretchen for night at their summer house in Big Sky, Montana. This is what we call “moochdocking”  - we mooched a spot in their driveway for the night. And even better, we mooched their washer and dryer, as well as a nice long hot shower. We had a fun evening of great conversation, great food, and plenty of drinky-poos. The next morning we hiked with Terry to Ousel Falls, which was a beautiful hike and the falls were gorgeous!

Our hosts' house in Big Sky
The first bridge on the Ousel Falls hike
Ousel Falls Family Photo

Aug 30: Boulder, Montana
This was one of those times where it took us 3 tries to land in a campsite that had enough Verizon coverage for our workday and we ended up in a very unglamorous location at a city park in Boulder, Montana. That’s all we’ll say about this day.

Aug 31-Sept 1: MacDonald Pass, west of Helena, Montana
Unexpected sweet find here! We were aiming for the Cromwell-Dixon Campground at MacDonald Pass west of Helena, MT right on the Continental Divide. We drove around the campground and thought it was scenic but the cell service was less than stellar so we decided to check out the group camping area on the other side of the hill and SCORE! This is basically an unused, unmaintained old camping area where we could boondock and have the place to ourselves with the beautiful light of Verizon LTE service. The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail goes right through here and we hiked it for a bit one evening. Also in this campsite was a large beacon light on a tower. We researched it what it was for and it turns out it originated in the 1930s when they built a series of these around the country to guide the air mail pilots! There are very few remaining but 19 of them are in Montana — kinda cool to come across a little piece of history.

A boggy section of the Continental Divide trail had a nice little bridge on it.

That tower on the right is the Air Mail Beacon
Audrey liked her remote little spot.
I really like how Montana has these giant grass fields right next to huge forested hills - such a pretty combination!

Sept 2-3: Beavertail Hill State Park, east of Missoula, Montana
Our final 2 days of working on the road were spent at a little state park off of I-90. This turned out to be perfect for us because it had electricity at the campsite and since it was raining while we were here our solar panels were useless. We checked out Missoula one night and found it to be a cute little town - I’d love to go back and check it out more in the future. Indie was thrilled because we found an awesome dog park right by the University of Montana on an island on the Clark river. Such a clever spot for a dog park with natural boundaries plus access to water for those water-loving breeds.

Sept 4: The Campsite That Shall Not Be Named
Seriously. A weird, scary location. Let’s not discuss it.

Sept 5: Glacier National Park (West Glacier)
WE MADE IT TO GLACIER NATIONAL PARK! Woohoo! This was one of the main destinations of this whole trip and it was so exciting to arrive! The drive up here was gorgeous along the huge Flathead Lake. Even though it was Saturday night of Labor Day weekend we managed to score a spot at the Fish Creek Campground right in the park for one night. We mostly used it to hunker down and wait out the rain so we didn’t get to explore very much, but it was still exciting to be here!

The sun came out in the evening and clouds lifted just enough to see the snow they'd left behind.

Sept 6-7: Big Creek Campground
Since there aren’t a lot of options for dogs inside of National Parks (they can’t go on trails, only on roads such as through the campground) we decided to move our camping home base to Big Creek Campground in the National Forest. We nabbed a spot right on the Flathead River and get to watch people float by in rafts and kayaks. On Sunday we hiked an amazing trail up to a fire lookout tower with incredible views!
Cyclone Fire Lookout
View of Cyclone Lake from the Fire Lookout
View of Glacier National Park from the Fire Lookout
At 6000 ft we hit little pockets of snow 

Tomorrow Jeff gets his birthday present: we’re going whitewater rafting on the Flathead River! Here’s hoping we live to write another blog post! :-)

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