Day 4, 6/2/15
Weather: Partly cloudy all day, temperature in the 60s.
As much as we enjoyed our short stay in Devil’s Lake State Park, Baraboo, Wisconsin, it was time to leave and continue our trip. We rejoined Rt. 90 and continued through Wisconsin. This is a beautiful state with flat farm lands in the east and hills in the western part of the state. It was also noticeable that the amount of traffic was less now then when we were in the eastern states.
A few hours into the travel, we reached Minnesota. As with Wisconsin, this state was primarily crop and cattle farms. The beauty of the American heartland opened up before our eyes with every mile that went by. The crops had not been planted that long ago and the corn was just rising as small plants awakening from sleep. As we drove further west, the farm crops began to give way to wind farms. As with many points on this part of the journey, we passed through mammoth size windmills as far as the eye could see on both the left and right. It was a perfect spot to place these because we constantly had to battle the strong cross winds coming from the south. The driving became laborious as the hours passed because of the constant winds that buffeted the RV. Added to this was the additional wind impact as a semi passed. None the less, the sheer beauty of these farm lands was worth what little annoyance that had to be endured from the winds.
During the afternoon, we decided to stop at Fairmont, Minnesota. There was no particular reason for choosing this town except that we felt it was time to check one of the communities and also pick up some food supplies. Fairmont is a beautiful community that boasts of having five lakes. We met a woman in the supermarket who was interested to discover that we were passing through. She recommended that while we were in town we should take time to drive to the nearest lake and see the beauty it offers. We took her advice and used this lakeside beach of have our dinner. From former trips that we have made, we often made a practice to stop in towns, sometimes get a copy of the local newspaper, chat with people and discover the things we wouldn’t have known otherwise.
As we continued again on Rt. 90 we decided to call it a night in one of the rest areas just east of Sioux Falls.
Day 9, 6/7/15, Sunday
Weather clear, temperatures in high 70s to low 80s
We left Rushmore Shadow camp grounds at 9:30 and drove a short distance to Ft. Hays for breakfast. Similar to the dinner of the other evening, this was chuck wagon style, pancakes, biscuits and sausage, coffee or tea. Again we had the opportunity to chat with other travelers as we all sat at the long family style tables. With breakfast concluded, we attended a non-denomination service that was being offered in an adjacent room.
Our trip commenced as we rejoined Rt. 90 to Spearfish, SD. At this point, we turned northwest and eventually picked up Rt. 212 which brought us across the border into “the big sky country” Montana. Our destination for this day will be the St. Labre Indian school in N 45° 36’ 19” W 106° 16’ 43” elevation 2,909 ft.
At 5:00, we arrived at the school to find it closed up for the night. We met a few workers that were leaving and they told that the kindergarten graduation had taken place this afternoon. If we had been able to arrive a little earlier we would have loved to attend this.
We checked with security and were given the OK to stay on the property. Tomorrow morning we will take a tour of the elementary and high school and chat with the staff. The reason that we chose to visit this location is because we had chosen many years ago to donate to the school. As a donor, we were invited every year to visit. So, this year we are accepting the invitation.
Day 10, 6/8/15, Monday
Weather was clear all day. Temperatures were in the high 80s.
The St. Labre Mission School is located on the Northern Cheyenne/Crow reservation in Ashland, SD (http://www.labre.org)
The summer staff began arriving at 7:30. By 8:30, after having breakfast, we went into the school’s museum and met Barry. He let us know that there would be a student from the junior class who would be our guide and show us all we wanted to see. We took time to view the objects on display and found that the greatest majority of the items were donated over the past years from people across the country. Serena, our guide, joined us in the museum and introduced herself. Serena said that she was working at the school for the summer as a guide and assistant in the main office.
The three of us then began our tour of the campus. We discovered that St. Labre is one of three campuses all under the direction of the administration of St. Labre. This campus serves 450 students. The reason for the multiple campuses is because of the vast size of this reservation. The mission school was founded during the time of the Indians being placed on the present reservation. Little attention was given to them so some of the leaders approached the Jesuit priests. The Jesuits in conjunction with the Bishop established the school on the same grounds upon which the present campus is located. Eventually the Jesuits turned the school over to the Capuchins who still maintain the responsibility. In addition to the priest who is in residence there are sisters from the Ursuline order that teach in the school. The arrival of the Ursulines date back to 1884.
We were very impressed with the campus and did get to see all of the facilities. Among the number of buildings was a dormitory building that can house up to eighty-five middle school through high school students who live too far away to even be bused daily. It was very evident to us that they rely heavily on the generosity of the donors. The buildings were not elaborate. The architecture exemplified Indian culture and tradition. The classrooms had the necessary support materials such as computers and white boards. Many of the students who have graduated from the high school have gone on to impressive four year colleges. As for Serena, her plan is to go on to become a pediatrician. By the end of the tour we were very pleased that we decided to make this one of our must-do stops.
Our next destination was to stop at the Little Bighorn Battlefield. This federal park occupies a small area within the Crow reservation. Here we took a bus tour run by members of the Crow nation. The guide described in great detail the events that took place leading up to the fatal battle that took the lives of many of the 7th Cavalry. These depictions were later supported when we attended a talk given by one of the Park Rangers. It is disheartening to realize how limited the information of this time is reflected in the history books used in our schools.
It was now getting late in the afternoon and we wanted to get back on Rt. 90 and put some more territory behind us. To our dismay we discovered there were no camp grounds along our route that were not miles off this highway. We also realized that Montana would not permit overnight parking in the rest areas. Ah ha, now what will the plan be? Since it was too far to Bozman we spotted a Pilot service station, N 45° 49’ 36” W 109° 58’ 19”, elevation 4,096 ft., just off 90 that was a significant truck stop. This gave us a place to stay.
G & P
Special question for our grandchildren.
How are you doing each evening figuring out the location of the latitude and longitudes of the places that we are spending the nights? Send us an email or text to let us know.
Day 11, 6/9/15, Tuesday
Weather: Sunny and clear all day. Temperatures in the low 90s
The day dawned clear and sunny. We left the overnight parking area again headed west on Rt. 90. However, this would be the day that the westward movement would take the turn to the north.
A few hours out, we reached Bozeman. As a result of our first trip here, Paul fell in love with this town. After thirty years, this area still is very beautiful and still #1 on Paul’s list of where to move. We took the opportunity to drive through the main street and also fuel-up for the continuation of the trip.
We eventually reached Billings where we made our turn on to Rt. 15 and our movement toward the Canadian border. The average mountain climbs and descents were six degrees each time for about 3 miles. The RV and Paul handled the mountains well. We also crossed the continental divide at about 6,363 feet, took a decent and re-crossed the divide again as the road twisted through the mountains. At about 3 pm, we reached a service area in Great Falls, Montana. We stopped primarily because our supply of propane had depleted. While the attendant was completing the propane fill he detected a leak near one of the pipe elbows. On his recommendation we contacted the Breen Oil Co. located here in Great Falls and found that they would be willing to check our problem out as soon as we could get there. One hour later the problem was resolved, thanks to Tucker. One of the two regulators on the propane system, the one for the refrigerator, had gone bad and was leaking. A leak such as this is a dangerous problem to encounter. A potential trip ending event was avoided.
Expecting we would have no propane to cook dinner and needing to relax, we decided to go out to dinner. We simply chose a restaurant along the road that we were taking back to the original service area. This interlude was just what we needed to also discuss our plans for tomorrow. It is possible that we will not have access to wifi tomorrow.
Since there were no camping parks in the immediate area and, it was a long drive to our next destination, we spent the night at the service area N47° 28’ 06” W 111° 21’ 29”, elevation 3,695., down almost 3,000 feet from earlier!
G & P
Weather: Sunny all day. Temperatures in the 80s
The early morning sun rose over Great Falls, Montana. We had breakfast at the Denny’s restaurant located at the service plaza and fueled the RV for the day’s travel.
We resumed our trip northward on Rt. 15 with the Glacier National Park as our intended destination. As we neared the mountain climb, we entered the Blackfoot Indian Reservation and the town of Browning. Naturally, we stopped in the town at a store that sold Blackfeet made products, clothing, and visitor novelties.
As we now continued the climb of the mountains again. Although in many spots the speed limit permitted seventy miles per hour, for this northeastern driver that was pure insanity. We went from steep climbs to steep declines, sharp turns and most of these with no warning what the road was like around the turn or as you reached the summit what to expect downward. Of course the locals had no problem although there were crosses and flowers decorating intervals of the road. The only real aggravating part of the drive was the driver that followed so closely that he disappeared from view of the outside mirrors.
We decided to stop at the Glacier Haven RV and Campground, N 48.36491 W 113.66320, elevation 3,850 and enter the National Park tomorrow morning.
G & P
Weather: Sunny all day. Temperatures in the 80s. Very pleasant
The temperatures during the night dropped as did the humidity level. Sunrise brought a beautiful bright morning. We left the Glacier Haven Campgrounds in West Glacier, Montana and continued our mountain climb to Glacier National Park.
After approximately two hours we reached the entrance to the Park N 48° 31’ 31” W 113° 58’ 48”, elevation 3,269. Before entering, we continued another few miles to fuel the RV. It is not difficult to find diesel fuel but, the distances between gas stations tend to become greater the further we move from populated areas.
When we turned into the main gate entrance we stopped at the visitor’s center. It was the Canadian information center which surprised me. However, I did come to realize that the border of Canada is only one to two miles further north and that Glacier park ends at that border and beyond that is the Canadian Park. The visit there was very informative. The young representative provided us with a great deal of information on Alberta and other points of interest that we would have available on our drive through Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon Territory.
As we moved further into Glacier Park, I found it very interesting on how you are assigned a camp site. The fact is the site is not assigned. You drive to the camp area in which you want to stay. At the entrance to the chosen area, you take an envelope from a box on a notice board. You drive through the camping area and when you find a site that delights your fantasy you simply take a marking tag from the envelope and place it on a hook located on a pole. Then drive back to the notice board and place the amount of money inside the envelope for the number of nights that we will be staying (2).
We stopped briefly to see Lake McDonald that is adjacent to our camp area. Since we came equipped with an inflatable kayak, our plan is to take it on its first voyage tomorrow. The lake is quite large, beautiful, and the water is crystal clear.
G & P