It has been a week since we have had internet access so there is a lot to post. We are now in Cache Creek, British Columbia. Here is where we have gone and what we have done since South Dakota.
Reluctantly, we left the Bad Lands. We could have stayed another week and not seen all there was to see. But, I went fly fishing for the first time in more than forty years and caught a nice 8” brook trout which I released. The fishing was done on Spring Creek just below Sheridan Lake in the Bad Lands National Forest.
We took I-90 past Butte, MT to the town of Columbus where we stayed at the city park, Ich-kep-pe, on the banks of the Yellowstone River. The river was near flood stage, sand bags were piled along the main roads and stockpiled nearby.
From Columbus, we drove on I-90 because it was the only road through the mountain passes to Missoula. We stopped on the continental divide and did our first boon-dock (camping at a remote area without any utilities) at Beaverhead – Deer Lodge National Forest. Being the weekend, it was well populated with ATV enthusiasts. But, we were able to find a secluded meadow to camp for the night. We made a camp fire and cooked beer-can chicken on the coals.
The next day we arrived in Missoula, MT at our niece Grace's home. We were very impressed with this town. The central residential area is vibrant and the houses are universally well maintained. The city is extremely cycle friendly with bike lanes on all the major streets. My impression was that there was a very strong feeling of community in this place.
Grace's friend, Josh, is an avid fly fisherman. He invited me to join him in exploring a creek he had not fished before. Eager to learn from someone with much more experience, I didn't hesitate to accept his offer. While I didn't catch anything, I learned a lot and really enjoyed Josh's company. He pointed out another creek that I fished the next day. Alas, I didn't catch anything. The scenery was spectacular along with the wildlife, which included a Golden Eagle that morning.
Grace brought us to they Bayern Brewery in Missoula. One of several excellent breweries, this was her favorite. Grace enjoys the Dragon's Breath Dark Hefeweizan, Sarah's favorite was the Dumptruck Summer Bock while my favorite was the clear refreshing Pilsner. See more about the brewery here: http://www.bayernbrewery.com/index.htm
When we were in Sarah's uncle’s driveway in Lisle, IL I noticed some irregularities in the side walls of the tires on the trailer. On the way out of town we stopped at the Goodyear dealer to have them checked. The agent said the tires were defective. Moreover, he said that they were not the correct tires for the trailer. He offered to sell me another brand. I called Colonial Airstream in New Jersey, where we bought Mary Joan and had new tires put on. They told me that these were indeed the correct and best tires for our trailer. Because it was a weekend, I could not contact Goodyear to discuss warranty concerns. Since I was driving conservatively, I decided to drive on to Rapid City, SD and have the tires checked there. The Good year dealer in Rapid City determined that, indeed, the tires were defective. Unfortunately, he didn't have replacements in stock and it would be 5 to 7 business days before he could get them. So, we contacted Roemer's Tire Factory (www.roemerstirefactory.com) in Missoula, Mt. They arranged to have tires for us on this past Tuesday. They inspected the tires and made arrangements with Goodyear to replace all four tires. Our only cost was $53 for mounting and balancing the new tires. The knowledge and professionalism of Shane Sterner and Jenny Hockman at Roemer's Tire Factory was exemplary.
With our new tires we can confidently continue our journey to Alaska. We wanted to take the Highway to the Sun at Kalispel back across the continental divide then go north to Calgary. But, the road is still closed due to snow. So, we headed for Idaho.
We stayed on I-90 until Couer d' Alane then went north on US-20 to Colville National Forest and stayed at Millpond Campground only several miles from the U.S./Canada border. This campground is very small with a one lane road leading into it and a very tight turning circle at the end. I am glad we don't have any larger trailer.
We crossed into Canada on June 24 at 9:30 AM. The stern border agent wanted to know how much alcohol we had and did we have any fire-arms. When we replied that we had about 10 – 12 bottles of wine plus some beer and a little bourbon, he told us to count all the bottles and come back to the office. He then told us we would have to pay a steep duty (tax) on the amount of wine over and above the allotted amount. Sarah had done a good job getting bargains on wine along the way. We actually had 16 bottles of wine. While it was tempting to short the amount, I am glad we didn't, despite the almost $10/bottle duty we had to pay. Once we paid the duty, the border patrol agent and his buddy proceeded to thoroughly inspect the trailer and tow vehicle. They knew where every compartment was on both the trailer and the truck.
From the border we traveled north and stopped in the town of Nelson to stretch our legs. On the way we saw our first Elk. Nelson is a town in the middle of no-where. It is a very picturesque town full of modern day young hippies. Sarah had a great time shopping in the food co-op. It reminded her of the days she worked in the co-op in Minnesota. We did find some nice coffee and veggies. Lunch was obtained in New Denver at a small cafe on the main street of this neat little town.
Sarah in Nelson:
After a day of continuous oohhs and aahhs of seeing mountains, glaciers and water falls, we spent the night in the Municipal Campground at Nakusp, BC. The campsite was just a few blocks from the center of town. We broke camp at 8 AM to catch the ferry at Galena Bay. British Columbia maintains a number of ferries across the lakes created by the damming of the Columbia River. They are all free and most of them run on the hour. We arrived at 9 AM and were well ahead in the queue for the 9:30 ferry. We spent a good deal of time talking with Lorne, a motorcyclist traveling with about a dozen of his friends across British Columbia.
We wanted to put some miles on today, so our only other stop was for lunch in the town of Salmon Fork. We then pressed on to the town of Cache Creek at the beginning of the Carriboo Highway.
The flora and geography has changed so dramatically in the last three days it is amazing. From the Ponderosa pine forests of Idaho to the mixed fir and deciduous forests or North East Washington to the sage brush high desert here in South Central British Columbia we have been stunned by the dramatic vistas. We eagerly anticipate the changes further up the road.