The most scenic thing on the short Idaho leg of the journey was Lake Coeur d'Alene.
In the Idaho panhandle, the distance to Montana is only about 40 miles, and so we passed into Montana shortly thereafter.
We drove through some beautiful country, up and over mountain tops. The St. Regis River ran on one side or the other of the road for most of the day.
We passed by some idyllic homesteads, ranches, and farms,
on our way to the National Bison Range.
When we first started planning our trip, one of you told me about the National Bison Range. I've forgotten now who it was, but thank you. We enjoyed this very much. It was a nice break in our journey of many miles. And we got to see some elk and bison to boot.
You can read a little more about this place in that link I've given you above. It has an interesting history. When I read such stories, it renews my faith in humanity. When we got out of the truck, the first thing we saw was this pile of elk antlers. They were piled approximately eight feet high.
The contrast isn't very good in this next image, but I'm hoping you'll be able to see it well enough to read some interesting facts about antlers. (Remember that you can always make an image larger by clicking on it.)
Up close, they appear as white-washed wood.
Here's another little brief history of the bison range.
And here are some interesting little statistics about bison.
While we were at the visitor center getting our bearings, a herd of elk strolled by. These are the cows and a few juvenile bulls.
This guy was standing off by himself, and we figured he must be the head bull in charge of everything.
He was rather majestic.
The scenic drives were gravel and bumpy, and so we unhitched the trailer and took the shorter of the two roads, the Prairie Drive. Right away, we began to see bison. Here are all the ladies with their little calves.
I was having the hardest time getting a shot of one of the closer animals. They kept their heads down, and mostly showed me their backsides. Finally, Mike yelled something like, "Hey, your mother wears Army boots!" and this one looked directly at us. He seems to be considering his options for taking care of this ne'er do well.
We went back to the parking lot, had some lunch, and then continued on our way. Our destination for tonight is Havre, Montana, and we drove until we felt like stopping. While I was planning this trip, I updated our library of tourbooks and directories and happened on a national state park directory. State parks tend not to be on our radar screen, but they are usually nicer and cheaper than staying in an RV park. We checked out our options and found a few along the way, and so we decided to just keep driving and stop when we were ready.
We drove through some beautiful wide open spaces. Big Sky country, you know.
Lately, I've been taking pictures of barns. If I ever finish the Doors of Ireland quilt, I'd like to make a Barns of America quilt. I don't know if this one would be included, but it's in my library of barns now.
We stopped for fuel in the tiny town of Ronan. There happened to be a feed store there. Apparently, in Montana, the convenience stores associated with gas stations are also feed stores. If you're a city girl like me, strolling around a feed store can be a fun little trip. Need any tack for your horse? Vaccines for your cow? Feed for your chickens? They have all of it. This one, being a convenience store, didn't have a lot, but I did get a thrill out of these shelves lined with boots for the cowboy or cowgirl of the family. Something in purple for me, please.
So, on the eastern shore of Flathead Lake there are several state parks. One of them even had hook-ups. It was a bit of a slow drive getting the four miles out to Finley Point, and there was no promise there would even be a campsite available. Nevertheless, we decided to chance it. This state park even had hook-ups, which is kind of unusual in the more primitive campgrounds of the state parks. When we arrived, we were in the location you see in this satellite image below.
A tiny little hook-shaped peninsula into a very large lake, and let me tell you, it was lovely! Not only that...there was a campsite waiting just for us! When we stood on the lakeshore and looked to the right, this is what we saw:
When I turned directly around 180 degrees, our trailer was right there.
Looking to the left had me looking directly into the sunlight. I used the "low key" setting on my camera to get the shot below.
The campground is essentially a small parking lot, with narrow slots for trailers, side by side by side. Maneuverability was a bear with our big rig, but the driver backed the trailer into that narrow slot like a pro. And then he took some well-deserved relaxation time beside the lake, beer in hand.
The folks in the motorhome next to us were gone when we arrived. When they came back, they had three big barking dogs with them. Smitty was not at all happy about that. He climbed up into his secret ninja kitty cave and kept an eye on those bad woofies from there. I might add that he was also afraid of the yipping puppy, smaller than some rodents Smitty has caught and eaten.
As the sun started to set, the lake took on a golden glow. Our dinner was hot, but we left it sitting on the warm stovetop while we went out for a walk. Smitty had his photographic portrait done while he continued keeping an eye on the now-sleeping woofies.
There is a nice marina associated with the lake, and boaters can rent slips for $5 per day...not bad. Resident campers can stay here for $12.50 per day, and so it makes for a relatively inexpensive trip.
Of course our shadow selves tagged along.
They are such camera hogs.
Mike's shadow self fancies himself an Espheni Overlord. (You have to be a Falling Skies fan to get that reference.)
Here's another shot looking south from the marina across the lake. You can see our trailer on the left side of the image there.
Today we're traveling west to east across the northern part of Montana on US Hwy 2, known as the Montana Hi-Line. I'll say more about the Hi-Line in my next post. Our goal is to reach Havre, Montana tonight, and then continue on to North Dakota and Teddy Roosevelt National Park tomorrow.
With that, it's time to warm up our breakfast burritos and get on our way.