We’ve continued our slow roll through Montana and have day tripped some incredible places. Eight years ago I did a solo motorcycle trip that included a ride over Glacier National Park’s Road to the Sun. I’ve always wanted to get back and to bring Jeanne and this year we made that happen. See, 2020 isn’t ALL bad.

We camped at a woodsy and quirky little RV Park and Campground set in the hills by Flathead Lake just south of Kalispel, a couple nights in a casino parking lot while the jeep got fixed in Missoula, and now we’re in a fairgrounds RV Park in Helena.

Camping locations since entering Montana – if you consider sleeping in your own king sized bed to be camping.

After roaming around the Kalispell, Polson, Flathead Lake area for a week, we came over McDonald Pass to Helena, the Mountain City. As a side note we had a wee bit of excitement coming over the pass. Jeanne was driving the jeep in front of me and we were just a the crest of the uphill climb, and it’s a steep one! We noticed a travel trailer on the shoulder of the road on the downhill side and as we approached it we noticed it was missing a tire….and a wheel. Looking ahead at the remainder of the hill – we found the wheel! Rolling down the pass at freeway speed and bouncing right at BOTH of our rigs. It’s a scary sight seeing an unguided tire and wheel bouncing down the middle of the lane right at ya! Jeanne got around it safely and, driving 36′ of coach, I picked a line that I didn’t think it would bounce into and drove along side it watching it roll on down the road beside me! Lucky nobody was in the passing lane next to me as I would have pushed them right off the road!

Safely in Helena we set out to explore. Now the first order of business was to visit Jason, my brother/step-brother who lives in Bozeman. He knew a great little bar and steakhouse that was very reminiscent of the Wisconsin Supper Clubs we grew up going to with our Dad, his mom Marlene and our sister Betsy, and this was a perfect reunion.

After this emotionally uplifting reunion we got back to the business at hand: EXPLORE MONTANA! Our friends Rick and Dawn are accompanying us (or are we accompanying them?) and they knew of a boat tour on the Missouri River here in Montana that passes two historically significant sites – one adventurous and a milestone in the development of America as we know it today, and the other a tragic event and still a learning lesson seventy years later.

First: The adventurous landmark. July 19, 1805 Meriwether Lewis and his party, including Sacajawea and a mixed race crew, floated along the same segment of river we toured and declared it the Gates of the Mountains. A phenomenal canyon featuring awesome wilderness, limestone cliffs hundreds of feet high and hundreds of thousands of years old.

Jeanne and Dawn Abbey Road the Missouri River

If you want to learn more about this segment of what Lewis called “a most sublime and extraordinary spectacle we called the Gates of the Mountains” a great resource can be found here.

Along the way is the site of a piece of firefighting history from 1949 that is studied and continues to tech lessons to Hot Shots to this day. Rather than try to paraphrase the story I will provide this link to the Wikipedia page for the Mann Gulch Fire and you can read about it there and we will share pictures of the monuments to the dead.

What’s next? Well, we are heading towards Yellowstone for a week of two so stay tuned! More Tales on the Trails coming at ya!


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