Forward to Montana for Year 2

We headed for Montana for our second season of camp ground hosting in Glacier National Park. We were on I-90 in Montana and decided to stop for a couple of days somewhere. We got close to Clinton, Montana and saw signs advertising an RV campground called Bearmouth RV Park and Chalet. We decided to stop for a couple of days and check out the area. It was beautiful with all of the mountains and rivers running along the interstate.

We saw the campground off to the right side of the interstate. The next exit was the way to get there. Just from what we saw from the interstate looked really nice. It was right on the river with mountains on the other side. A huge log chalet was the office and also a bar/restaurant upstairs.

We got of the interstate and drove up to the office. They were not real busy as this was early in their season in May.  We talked to the people there and immediately liked the people and the campground. We got a site almost right next to the crystal clear river.  To early in the season to go swimming as the water was ice cold. We got settled in and went up to the bar to see what was in the area.

They told us about a ghost town not far from here that we should go and check out. It was called Garnet, Montana ghost town.

 

They told us the history of the town and how it is actually haunted. This is how the town is officially described by the BLM. They are actually the people that take care of the town.

      After sundown, the spirits of the town’s former residents reportedly come out to engage in what used to be their daily activities. Locals have reported hearing eerie piano notes struck from inside the old saloon, often accompanied by the chatter of distant voices.

     Some local residents claim the ghosts hide in the shadows of the town. There are also reports of transparent figures in period clothing walking between the buildings, though there have never been any sightings actually captured on video.

During a visit to Garnet, Bureau of Land Management historian Allan Mathews reportedly saw the figure of a woman standing in the window of the town’s old hotel. He was never able to confirm whether he’d actually seen a ghost that fateful day…

We decided to go there the next afternoon. They gave us directions to get to it. The next day we just went driving around and checked the area out.  We did come upon something that was really strange. It was at the next exit on the interstate, still calling itself as Clinton, Montana,  advertising a Testicle Festival.

After we talked to some of the people at the campground about it we decided it was nothing we were interested in going to. Just recently I went online to check out the so called festival and it is as nasty as it sounds.  Some people we spoke with from the area said it was pretty nasty. Lots of nudity and some really perverted things go on there. You can go online and see some pictures of the past festival and see just how nasty it is. It has been going on for 31 years and they say they have thousands of people show up. We will never be one of them.

It was early afternoon and we decided to go and check out the ghost town. We headed up the gravel road they had told us was how to get there. They told us to take the second left gravel road and it would take us to it. We got to the second road and took a left. Big Mistake. We went about a mile and it changed to a dirt road going up a mountain. Not long after that it changed to a one lane dirt road. We  had a several hundred feet dropoff on the right side of the road and up against a wall on the left side. No where to turn around as we were in the 4 door dually truck. So we kept going a ways and it was now nothing but a lane with grass in the center and 2 paths for your tires. Looking over the big dropoff on the right we could see at the bottom the remains of what looked like a Chevy Blazer on it’s roof at the bottom.  We went just a little bit farther and there was a gate on the left side that led up the side of the mountain. I pulled into it as far as I could and then proceeded to go forward and backward inching the truck around. It took a long time but we finally got turned around and headed back down, relieved that we finally were able to get off that road.

When we got back down to the main road we turned left and headed farther the way we started. Sure enough we got up the road just a little bit and there was another road to the left with a sign pointing up it and saying Ghost Town. It was getting dark s we knew we would not get to see much but we went up anyway. It really looked deserted and spooky as we got into the town. We stopped for a minute and decided to head back to the campground. About that time we saw a sign on the front of one of the buildings and pulled up to read it. Karan put her window down to try to see it in the almost dark and all of a sudden there was a voice that said Can I Help You?  On the porch was a tall man that looked dead, talking to us. He was dressed in black western style coat and clothes that looked dirty and worn. He looked like an undertaker, pale white face but still looked dead. Scared the crap out of us!  We told him we were just looking and quickly turned around and left.

When we got back to the campground we went into the bar and ask why they told us the second left. They kind of laughed and said they forgot about the road we went up. They said we were lucky as the road got even worse had we gone on and no where to turn around. They apologized but still think they did it on purpose. But, we still love the campground and will be going back there again.

We talked about going back the next day but decided to go on to Glacier and add that ghost town on a to do later list.  Headed out the next morning and got into Glacier to see where we were going to be parked. We talked to the ranger in charge and they told us we would be in loop D until they saw our new 40 ft fifth wheel. They said that no rv’s over 28 ft could get around D loop and that we would need to go around the loop because our site was at the very beginning of the loop and had to be backed into. We went to look and as you come into the campground the signs say that rv’s over 28 ft can not make the loop around D loop. That part is right, it is a very sharp and narrow road around the loop and no room at all to maneuver around and back into the first spot. And then they said that the campground host site was too narrow probably for our unit with slideouts on both sides.

After looking I said I would back it down the road, over a 1/4 mile and just back into the site. They all laughed and said I could try but they would see about us getting a different site.  We got turned around and started backing down the curvy road, slowly. I made it all the way to the campground and backed into the site. I tried to center it between the big trees hoping for enough room for the slideouts. Got it to where it looked good and started putting the slides out very slowly a little at a time. And when we got them fully out we had a little over an inch on each side so we unhooked the truck and leveled, hooked up water, electric and sewer. We were so happy that we did it. Not long after we had a lot of park personnel coming down to see the 40ft fifth wheel near D loop.

We started exploring this new campground and fell in love with it. Fish Creek campground is directly on Lake McDonald.

You can walk from the campground  directly along the lake shore. Beautiful views and crystal clear water. There are big trees everywhere and it was just lucky that the forest fires from the year before did not take the entire campground out.

Our job in this campground was the same as last year in Apgar. We were assigned loops D and C and occasionally we would help with B. There were 3 couples in Apgar working as camground host. One couple, Joe and Mary, from Pennsylvania, had been there for many, many years. They came back every year and were kind of a fixture in the park. Super nice people that everyone loved. People that came to Glacier camping over the years knew them and knew that if they had a question about anything in Glacier National Park Joe and Mary could answer it. The other couple working with us were Al and Sharon, really nice people from Cincinnati, Ohio. This was their first year doing the campground hosting in a National Park. We would work 5 days a week, no exact hours. Our job was to walk around the campground checking to be sure no food, drinks or coolers were out with no one around them. We also checked to make sure everyone had the payment tag on the post in front of their site.  Mostly we just tried to help people with any problems or questions they may have.

We met lots of friendly people in the park from all around the world. I carried a camera around my neck all the time. I enjoyed taking pictures of scenery, animals and people. I never did like seeing families taking pictures and there was always one person left out because they were taking the pictures. Anytime I would see that I always went up to them and ask if I could take the picture for them. Whenever I would see a family sitting at the picnic table together eating  I would ask them if I could take their picture. After I took it I would go back to the camper and print out an 8 x 11 photo and take it back and give it to them. A lot of times they thought I was selling the pictures and say they did not want it, but I would tell them it was free and no strings attached. Several times they cried and said they could not afford a family portrait and that was the first one they had. It just felt good to do that and I really enjoyed it. Once I asked a young couple if I could take their picture and they said as long as I did not show anyone else. I thought that was strange but I agreed. After I took the picture one of the rangers told me not to tell anyone who they were because they were famous movie stars sneeking away from the press. He told me who they were but I did not know them. I took the picture back to them and they thanked me for it. Since then she has become very famous and I don’t remember who he was.

I had someone tell me about a magazine that would pay for pictures called the Montana Magazine. I contacted them and they explained that each month they would send out a list to photographers of what pictures they needed for next months magazine. They would pay $50 for each picture they would use. The trick was that they would pick the one picture they thought was the best of all of them submitted. So I signed up for the list and started taking pictures for them. This was another way to make some money while fulltiming. Then, I expanded by taking lots of nature pictures in Glacier. We went into town and found a store that had a large selection of cheap picture frames. They were wooden and looked like something you would find in a log cabin or rustic house. We framed the pictures I took and then went to different gift shops in town and sold them. Some of the shops would just buy them and some would put them in on consignment. Cost about $3.00 total for the picture and the frame and we sold them for $20 to $25 dollars. Fun and easy hobby to make a little money.

That’s it for now, keep checking back, more to come.

Save

Save

Glacier National Park – Year 2

One thing we found in Glacier that we did not have in Kentucky is huckleberries. These were new to us and did not take long to find out just how good they are. Karan is an excellent cook and can make almost anything. When we found out what huckleberries were we found out they make excellent pies. So, I went out thru areas of the park and picked a lot of huckleberries. She took them and made pies with them.

Another thing that is outside of Glacier is cherry orchards. One of my favorite foods is hot cherry pie. We bought several quarts of cherries and Karan made pies. Whenever we would see one of the enforcement rangers we would invite them to stop by our camper and have a piece of pie. The pies were so good that we had people stopping by on a regular basis to have some. Karan got a nickname in the park and was called the Pie Queen of Glacier. We enjoyed meeting everyone we could and got to know most all of the rangers and we did know all of the campground host on the west side of Glacier. The other campgrounds on this side were, Apgar, Fish Creek, Kintla Lake, Bowman Lake, Sprague Creek and Avalanche Creek.

As mentioned earlier, I carried a camera around my neck all of the time. One of the ways we made money while fulltiming. The magazine that I mentioned earlier, Montana Magazine, had sent me a list of photo’s they needed for the next month. One of the things they needed were photo’s of a local restaurant that was famous for making pies. I went to the restaurant and spoke with them and then took pictures of their pies in the display case they had for sale. When I got back to the camper I downloaded the pictures to a disk and sent them to the magazine hoping some or all would be picked to be published. Well in a few weeks they contacted me and said one of my pics was picked to be published. That was great, and easy $50 added to the account. When the magazine was published they would send all of the photographers a copy. We got it and opened it up to see my picture published and really got a shock. Somehow I had accidentally included a picture of one of Karan’s pies and that is the one they published. Her pies were really pretty pies with the crust on the top criss crossed across the pies. Since it was published I figured it was better to not say anything and just let it go.  That pie sure looked good.

Towards the end of the season I was called into the main office to see Chris, he was in charge of all of the campgrounds and rangers. When I went in I had no idea why but found out real soon that I had received a complaint on me. The complaint was that I was not in uniform correctly because I wore a camera around my neck and a camera was not part of the uniform. I was asked why I carried the camera and I told him how I would see a family having fun together and take their pictures, print them out and give them the picture to help remember their trip to Glacier National Park. He said that is what he thought because he had received several letters from visitors to the park thanking him for the great time that they had and for the family pictures that the campground host, me, had given them. He told me that I could continue to take pictures of the people like I was. I was then shocked when he gave me a couple packages of photo paper to print the pictures on and thanked me for promoting the goodwill in the park. By this time most of the other campground host called me flash, because of the camera I always had with me. I never did know who filed the complaint about me carrying the camera but never heard anything else about it.

            

We heard something about how a person could rent a firetower to camp in. That sounded like a really neat thing to do, sleep up in a firetower overlooking the mountains and forest. We checked into it and found out that Montana does rent out the towers to people. We checked our schedule and then made reservations for 2 nights in the tower. A new adventure for us but we enjoyed adventure and we never backed away from a chance to get some. Below is the official description of the Mission Lookout tower at Swan Lake, Mt. from their rental website.

Overview

Mission Lookout towers above the forest canopy, providing guests with unrivaled 360-degree views of the beautiful Swan Range, Mission Mountains and Swan Lake. The site served for 75 years as a fire detection tower, and the current lookout has been around since its construction in 1959.

The tower can be accessed by vehicle. A parking area is adjacent to the facility. Guests are responsible for their own travel arrangements and safety, and must bring several of their own amenities.

Natural Features:

At an elevation of approximately 3,700 feet, the cabin affords views of Flathead National Forest, including the Mission Mountains and Swan Lake.

A variety of wildlife make its home in the area.

   

Recreation:

Along with the spectacular scenery, the immediate area offers visitors an unlimited array of outdoor activities ranging from fishing and swimming at the nearby Swan Lake, to watching migratory waterfowl at the wildlife viewing area.

Hunting is also popular not far from the lookout. Shooting within 150 yards of the Lookout or from/across roads is prohibited.

A variety of hiking and mountain biking trails can be found in the area.

Facilities:

The 15-by-15 facility sits atop a 40-foot tower. It is equipped with a built-in double bed and two folding cots, to accommodate up to four adults. The lookout also has a propane cooking stove, simple cooking utensils and a table with four chairs. A modern vault toilet, picnic area and fire ring are located at the base of the tower.

No water or electricity is available. Guests should bring plenty of water, bedding, food, firewood, toiletries and a non-open flame light source, such as a battery-powered lantern, as candles are not allowed within the cabin. Click here for more cabin details.

Nearby Attractions:

The town of Swan Lake, about 15 minutes away, has a general store with limited groceries and a restaurant.

We went on the afternoon of our first night and drove up a 2 lane dirt road to the base of the tower. We had brought everything they recommended, a cooler with ice, water, food, bedding, toiletries and a battery powered light. Candles are not allowed in the tower. The hardest part was carrying all of the stuff up the stairs. It was beautiful up in the tower with a wonderful breeze blowing and views forever in every direction. As darkness came it was even more beautiful. It was then that we discovered the only bad part of staying way up in the sky. The bathroom was in the area at the base of the tower. I did bring a spotlight with me so we had light going down the steps to get to the outhouse.  Hoping now bear were in the area, we made it and took care of business with no problems.  We were then hoping we would not have to go down in the middle of the night.

     

There was a gate at the bottom of the steps that you lock after you come in and no one can come up until you go down and unlock it. We were told to lock the gate when we went up for the night. We were told that sometimes some undesirable people come up there that don’t belong there. Later that night we heard a vehicle coming up the road and I went out on the deck around the tower and watched. As they got close to my truck I shined the light down at them and they took off fast. Never heard anything else while we were there. Had a great time and want to do it again some day.

Another chapter in our life, more to come.

 

Save

Fish Creek Campground

We got up the next morning and packed everything down from the fire tower and headed back to Fish Creek Campground. Really enjoyed our 2 nights in the tower. Amazing views into forever and so close to the stars it seems like you could just pick them out of the sky.

Back at the rv we unloaded the truck and got back into our daily routine. This campground hosting in the national parks is probably the easiest work camping job there is. We do not clean bathrooms or fire pits. We just get to walk around the campground and talk to people, try to help with any problems and just enjoy the beautiful surroundings. The only real physical work we do is if we find a cooler or any type of food or drink sitting out without the camper present, we must confiscate the food or drinks or coolers and lock them up in our secure sheds. When the people come back and ask us if we know where their stuff is we explain the rules about leaving them out and how the bears know what a cooler is and what may be in it. If the camper is friendly and not threatening we just give it back to them. If they are not calm and friendly we just call an enforcement ranger and let them handle it.
Fish Creek campground is right on Lake McDonald and the water is amazing, it is crystal clear and pretty darn cold all year round. Just before we headed to Glacier we had bought a peddle boat. I built a rack over the cab of the truck that we could put it on and tie it down. We decided on our next day off we were going to put it in the lake and peddle around. This was one of the boats, for 2 people, that you had peddles, like on a bicycle, that you would both peddle to make the boat go. There was a small handle between the 2 seats to steer it.
http://
We got the boat in the water, the sun shining and the temp was comfortable. We had put on just shorts and a tank top for our boat ride. We headed up the lake looking around, enjoying the beautiful mountains in the distance. The water was so clear and cold and smooth as glass. Just a little breeze made it feel wonderful in the sun. THEN, after we had peddled for about an hour and a half, we pulled up to a clear area on shore. We had brought a picnic lunch with us and decided it was time to eat. As we ate we noticed that both of us were really getting red. We had not noticed it so much while in the boat but now it was starting to burn a little. We finished eating and packed the boat and decided we should get back as soon as we could. We figured only an hour and a half would not be a sunburn but we were wrong. The only way back was straight down the lake, and if we hurried maybe we could get back in an hour. We peddled faster and got back to the campground. We were really burning now, red all over our legs and shoulders. We had some of the seasoned veterans of the area told us that because of the elevation here that you would get sun burned a lot faster than we were used to. They were right as blisters began coming up. We started putting anything that was supposed to help with sunburn all over us. For the next 3 or 4 days we were miserable. Just wearing a shirt hurt, but we finally got over it and peeled just like a sunburn back home. Learned our lesson with that one, didn’t happen again.
On one of our days off we went exploring, to a place called Polebridge. This is located in Glacier National Park but it is privately run. The only thing there is the Polebridge Mercantile.

This is a store with camping supplies and misc stuff and souvenirs of Glacier, but, the best part of the store is that it is also a bakery.They have all kinds of fantastic sweets, breads, cakes and cookies. It is known world wide as one of the best bakeries there is. We got some chocolate chip cookies and headed up the road into the backcountry. There are 2 more campgrounds that you can drive to past Polebridge. The first one is called Bowman Lake. You can drive to it but it is for tent camping on beautiful Bowman lake. The road is a dirt road and not a very good one.

The lake is beautiful, clear and cold. This is backcountry Glacier, and you never know when you will see all types of wild life, including bears. After we had looked around we headed on farther going to Kintla Lake and campground. It is for tents also but we did see a few trucks with slide in campers and on small C class. I would never recommend taking either one up the road to Kintla Lake.

The road was narrow, rutted and mud holes in places. If it had rained any time recently I do not believe it would be passable. We made it to Kintla Lake and looked up the campground host. The host here stays in a small cabin, no electric or water. And the worst part is that the mosquito’s were terrible. We went into the cabin and the bed was hanging from the ceiling and wrapped in mosquito netting. The host said he had to sleep under the netting or the mosquito’s would carry him off. We knew then that this was not a campground hosting position that we would want.
We headed back out of the backcountry headed to Fish Creek campground. The rest of the summer went pretty well with no major problems of any kind. We met some wonderful people from all around the world. You would be surprised how many people from other countries come to Glacier National park as tourist. Many rent campers and come to the campgrounds but even more of them stay at the hotels in the park, such as McDonald Lodge.

The red vehicles in the picture are for tours of the park and the Going to the Sun Road. They are busy with all of the people the want to see the park but don’t want to drive the Sun Road. There are also boat tours you can take on Lake McDonald.

We have come to the end of the season at Glacier. We have been discussing what we want to do now and have decided accept a job offer in Apache Junction, Arizona. In our next post we will tell about our adventures there.
Please click the sign up button to be notified of new post.

Save

Save