Big Timber, MT
Approximately 37 miles north of Cody, Wyoming, we cross into our ninth state - Montana!
For awhile it looks like Wyoming, but before we reach I-90 just north of the Yellowstone River the sky is truly bigger. I vaguely remember that being the case during a brief visit I made in 1979, but figured I must have just "gone along" with the hype. But no, it's still bigger. Can't say if it's taller, or wider. Just big. And beautiful.
Often when I'm planning our route I want to go where others have gone. They've seen things I want to see, and done things I want to do. As long as there's a place to fish, Bill's in. But sometimes I'll pick a route for the opposite reason. Because others haven't stopped there (or they did but it didn't make my list), and I want to see and do something different.
Occasionally it's just on the way to somewhere else, and we're open to there being nothing at all - this has yet to happen as there's always something we find interesting wherever we are.
With the exception of Janna and Mike, who are blessed with a beautiful home in this area, I don't recall reading about Big Timber, MT, or folks camping here. We pull into Spring Creek RV Park on the Boulder River around noon, and I'm immediately smitten. Two miles south of the tiny town, it feels like we are forever from civilization. All sites are grass or gravel, with great spacing. We have electric and water as we're very close to the river, but there are FHUs in the back of the park (these are much closer together). Site 26 is an "island" spot with lots of grass and a couple trees, surrounded by the park roads and no one close to us. The river is 20 yards from our front door, the sound of it rushing over the rocks a pleasant background to the birds above and around us.
The park includes a couple trout ponds. You don't need a license, they supply everything (if you need it) from rods to bait. No catch and release, they'll even clean them for you free of charge. Bill isn't interested, and during our stay I only see one adult fishing. But the kids are having a ball - limit two per person per day - with how easy they are to catch.
Instead we take the Jeep further south on Hwy 298 to a river access point Bill finds on his map. The fish are liking what he's dropping, but after a few catches other people start showing up to the very small area, and he leaves the spot to them.
Since leaving New Mexico we've had rain several times a week. Even an occasional thunder storm. Always for just a couple hours though. Sunday it rains all day. All. Day.
The temperature drops 20 degrees, it smells heavenly. We spend the day reading and watching television. And watching the rain.
|I remember to get a pic of our site in between showers|
|Boulder River is the other side of the picnic table, past the small lake|
The rain is gone, the clouds are intermittent, and the wind is blowing like mad! The tall trees are swaying wildly, there are ripples on the rain puddles, and white caps on the ponds. Monday the 35+ mph wind blows all day. All. Day.
Fortunately the direction of the wind doesn't make the slide toppers go crazy. We're able to leave them open without it sounding like a Blackhawk landing on the roof (I really hate that sound).
We venture out for an early dinner at The Thirsty Turtle which has the best selection we've seen in weeks. The food is tasty, the service fast and friendly, and although we just have tea and water, the selection of brews is large and local.
|After seeing the hood of this car (roof and trunk look the same) parked next to us in town, we're glad we've just had rain and wind - ouch!|
Hwy 298 follows the Boulder River to Natural Bridge State Park, our destination. But when we get to the parking lot we note on the large map that the highway winds through Custer Gallatin National Forest, with several points of interest along the way.
|A few of our neighbors|
|enjoying the improved weather|
|Main Boulder Station - built in 1905|
|At the base of Grouse Mountain|
|aka Lion Head and Mouse|
|What an incredible place to call home|
|A beautiful, occasionally rugged, drive through the forest|
|Wildflowers cover the hillsides|
|Lots of horses here, sometimes you just need to photograph one of them|
|The trees are dense on both sides of the river|
|and in the middle of huge rocks (nature is so bad-ass)|
|Marmot Security on duty|
|Take it slow on those blind turns!|
|So cute, even through a smeared windshield|
|Look at those spots!!|
|The road follows the river|
|with lovely places to stop and enjoy its beauty.|
|Double cliffs north of the state park|
|Dramatic changes in scenery|
To celebrate our full tank, we return to the Turtle where I enjoy a shaved ham, smoked gouda, and fresh pear sandwich with raspberry sauce. Yes, it's fabulous. I don't even remember what Bill has :-)
We enjoyed our big introduction to Montana, and I'm glad we have a couple weeks to see more of it. Wednesday morning we head west to Three Forks.