Journal and Photos
This map shows the route of my trip around the
country, starting and ending
My trip starts on Thursday September 26, 1996.
This journal is kept on a day to day basis. I leave home in a 1995 Dodge
Ram pick-up with an eleven foot 1976 Amerigo
on the back. I have just finished refurbishing the camper
and this is to be it’s first extended trip. I am excited to see how it works
out. The length of the trip is to be determined by how well things go the
first few days, but if all goes well I am hoping to go to Montana, to check out
some property, and back. We’ll see! You can read the complete journal
starting below or go to the Index
to pick a particular day or area.
9-26-96 Thursday (day 1) I leave home and drive up the northeast extension of the PA. turnpike to route #209 and up into the Pocono mountains. Nice drive up route #209 as the fall colors are just starting to turn in this area. Not a lot of color but a little bit here and there. Spend the night at the River Beach Campground in Matamoras, PA. A very nice campground on the Delaware river. I have a nice level site by a small stream that flows into the Delaware river. The bathhouse is very clean and the site has water and electric hook-ups for $19.00. There is one problem with this campground, and that comes from the fact that it is located next to a major highway and at the bottom of a long hill on that highway. All night long the truck traffic coming off the hill uses their jake brakes and make a racket that makes sleeping almost impossible.
9-27-96 Friday (day 2) Get up after a bad night’s sleep, have breakfast, then drive over to Child’s State Park for some hiking along the river. This is a nice park that has three major waterfalls in about a mile of river. These falls are about 50 feet tall. A trail follows each side of the river with a bridge every so often to connect these trails. A very scenic area! Drive up along the Delaware river on route #97 on the New York side with a stop at Skinner Falls to walk along the river and view the rapids. Drive on up through Hancock, NY., then take route #17 west through Binghamton and Elmira. Spend the night in a KOA campground just outside Watkins Glen, NY. The campground has clean, but not very modern bathrooms. Site is nice and level with water and electric, and they even have a video rental, which I take advantage of by renting a video to watch this evening. Cost of $24.00 is a little high for the site, but I find this is typical of most KOA campgrounds. Was chilly and breezy out today.
9-28-96 Saturday (day 3) After breakfast I drive up to Watkins Glen on Seneca lake, which is one of the finger lakes and hike through the Gorge. This is an area of many waterfalls, sheer cliffs, stone walkways and a whole lot of steps. You actually get to walk under a waterfall and look out through it. At night they light all this up with many lights. I really enjoy this very beautiful and scenic area. Head over to the dock in town and take a narrated boat ride on Seneca lake. I then drive over to “Taughannock Falls State Park” near Cayuga Lake and get a campsite for the night with electric hook-up for $16.00. Go out to dinner tonight and have a nice salmon dinner at a place just south of the campground. A light rainy mist fell most of the day today.
9-29-96 Sunday (day 4) Awake this morning and see a camper just like mine a few sites down from me, so I just have to go over and talk with them. Not that many 20 year old Amerigo truck campers still around. It turns out that their camper is not in as good of condition as mine, but then I have just redone mine before leaving on this trip. Drive to an overlook in the park and look at the falls which are a 215 foot vertical drop. Am told that there is a trail to the base of the falls, so I drive down to a parking area below the park and hike the trail to the bottom of the falls which gives you a completely different perspective of things. They look even taller from down here. The trail is about a mile or a mile and a half each way and very scenic as it follows the river up to the base of the falls. There is another trail up to the top of the falls, but it looks to be much steeper and much longer so I opt not to try it. Drive over to Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca and view the falls there. This is a cascading type of falls and looks to be a nice, day use only park, right in town. Pick up route #6 in PA. and head west. Around noon I am passing through a small town and notice a sign for a home cooked meal at the fire house, so I stop. It turns out to be a dinner and quilt show with a $5.00 charge to get in which includes your meal. Enjoy a nice home cooked meal, check out a few quilts and am on my way again. Route #6 is shown to be a scenic highway on the map and is a pleasant drive. Spend the night in a road side stop, which is not the safest place but the price is right, it was getting late, and I don’t like driving at night. The weather today was a little nicer than yesterday as there was some sunshine and the temperature was mild.
9-30-96 Monday (day 5) Was undecided until this morning just how far this trip was going to take me, but have decided to head west on an extended trip to see the country and check out some retirement property. The camper is working out pretty well as everything works and it is quite comfortable to live in. Drive down routes #6, #66, and #80 to the Ohio turnpike and get on it. Want to make some time across Ohio as there is nothing I wish to see here. Make Cleveland by dusk and stop at an overnight rest stop on the turnpike (mile marker #140). Park in the back side of the parking area, as far from the highway as possible. Some traffic noise but not bad. In the night a refer truck pulls in along side of me and I find out a neat trick. If you park next to a refer truck, the noise of the compressor will drown out most of the highway noise and lull you to sleep, sort of like an air conditioner or fan in the summer. Temperature today was 75 and tonight is going down to 50. Weather was dry and sunny.
10-1-96 Tuesday (day 6) Awake at four this morning, grab a quick breakfast, clean the windshield and get on the road by five thirty. Notice a small chip in the lower right corner of the windshield as I am cleaning it. Oh well, part of highway travel. Reach the Indiana line by 8:00 AM. Toll for the Ohio turnpike is $9.50. Starting to see a lot of double and triple tractor trailers. Indiana toll $4.15. Temperature is 75 degrees again today. Toll booths are spaced every so often along the highway, $.50, $2.00 and five $.40 stops. It seems like you just get rolling and it’s time to stop again. I pass under two Mc Donald restaurants built over top of the highway. Go through Chicago at 11:15 AM, stay on route #90 and reach the Wisconsin state line by 1:20 PM, but have crossed a time zone so it is only 12:20 PM here. Drive twenty miles off the highway to check out Perrot State Park as a possible overnight stop. It is $20.00 and no showers, which is a little high priced for a state park, so I pass on it. Drive across into Minnesota and head north on route #74 at St. Charles. Stay at the “Lazy D campground”, eight and a half miles off route I-90. A site cost $14.50 + .94 tax or $15.44 with water and electric. Bathhouse is not well lit and is dirty, but the site is level. Campground is OK for the night, but not a place I’d come back to. Beautiful sunny day today in southern Minnesota with 75 degrees out. The sky has a zillion stars tonight. There really is nothing to compare with a western sky. Drove 700 miles today. Put in a long day as I was on the road for 13 hours.
(day 7) Wake at
5:30 AM and the weather has changed overnight. It is 50 degrees out this morning,
the winds are blowing at 25-30 MPH and the wind chill is 27 degrees. Today’s
weather is predicted to be a high of only 50 degrees, cloudy with record lows
of about 20 degrees tonight. The temperature is going back up into the
70’s by the weekend though. Get back on route I-90 headed west. There is
a strong cross wind blowing out of the northwest. That coupled with a bumpy
cement road makes for difficult driving, so I have to keep my speed down
to 50 MPH. Am 73 miles away from the South Dakota state line when I see
my first sign for “Walls Drug Store”. The road has changed to blacktop
so I can get my speed up to 60 MPH now. It’s noontime and the wind chill
has climbed all the way up to 36 degrees, but the wind is still blowing
hard. There is very little traffic on the road today as I pass
by mostly fields of corn and wheat. Get to the South Dakota line by 1:00
PM and the speed limit is 75 MPH now, but there’s no way I can go that
fast with the camper. The road has changed back to cement now, making for
a bumpy ride again. The clouds have cleared and the sky is clear blue now.
Pass an exit for Gateway computer company (I have one of those at
home) and an exit (#350) for “Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Home”. Stop to
gas up at Mitchell, SD. and the attendant says they are predicting their
first frost of the season for tonight. Stop at a Wal-mart and buy
3 kodak throw away cameras, as I forgot to bring my camera with me. By
4:30 PM I reach the Missouri River and take my first picture from an
the river. After crossing the river, the road gets a lot better and I can do 60 MPH again. Cross another time zone at 6:10 PM and turn the clock
back to 5:10 PM. Pass exit #170 for a 1888 western town. I had stopped
there on my last trip out this way and it is an interesting place. They
have collected old buildings from all over South Dakota and assembled a
small town here. This is where they filmed the movie “Dances With Wolves”.
I get off at the Kadoka exit and go a half mile south on route #73, then
a quarter mile west on route #90 to “Dirks Campground”. Get a site for
$10.70 with electric hook-up (the water has been turned off for the season).
The site is level and the bathhouse is clean, heated, and well lit. A
small park, but nice for the money. They have no pay phone though, and you
have to go down the road to use one at a service station, but what do you
want for $10? Have driven 500 miles today, with 11 hours on the road. Another
long day of high winds, rough roads, and a slow speed of 50 MPH for most
of the day really wore me out. Turn up the heat, slip into my winter PJ’s,
throw 2 covers on the bed and go to sleep.
10-3-96 Thursday (day 8) Awake to 34 degrees this morning, but they are calling for 70 by this afternoon and 70 to 80 on Friday and Saturday. Not bad at all for this time of the year. I’m just outside of the “Badlands” and “The Black Hills” of South Dakota. Think I’ll wander some of the back roads and scenic sights today. Gas up the truck and have breakfast at the "Texaco Cafe" next to the campground. Good food -- ham, eggs, hash browns, whole wheat toast and hot chocolate for $6.00. Drive to the Badlands and get a Golden Eagle Pass which lets you in all the national parks for one year -- cost $25.00. Stop at a visitor center, watch a video of the Badlands, buy some post cards and a map. It’s 10:00 AM now and the temperature is up to 51 degrees and sunny, but it’s still windy. Hike a trail up to an area called the notch which takes about 45 minutes. One of the hills is so steep you have to climb a ladder to get up it, then the trail follows along the edge of some steep drop offs, but the view at the end of the trail is worth the climb. Take the back road out of the park on route #44. Nice smooth road and a scenic drive. Get back on to route I-90 and head west. Decide to take a side trip up route #14A to Deadwood, Lead, Cheyenne Crossing and then back down the “Spearfish Canyon”.
|The ride up to Deadwood is absolutely BEAUTIFUL, on up to Lead and Cheyenne Crossing is pretty, but the drive back down the Spearfish canyon is beyond words. Pass some really breathtaking views and some beautiful homes that I wish were mine. Spearfish creek with numerous waterfalls runs though all the front yards and the white birch trees are a bright gold in their full fall colors. This road is a national scenic highway and I can easily see why.|
|Make a stop at “Roughlock Falls”, which is just up the mountain from Savoy. Get to speaking with a local and they say that the fall colors are the best that they’ve been in many years. Looks like I've picked a good time to visit this area. Drive down to Spearfish and speak with a realtor, get a multi listing book, then go to look at some homes around the area. Drive up to Belle Fourche and check out a campground on the river which turns out to be really bad. Go up the road to a trailer park and get a site for the night. A nice level site with water, electric, and sewer hook-ups for $10.80. Bathhouse is clean and well lit. Good place for a one night stay. Drove 247 miles today and the weather was beautiful.|
10-4-96 Friday (day 9) Awake to 33 degrees this morning, but the sun is coming up and the temperature is going to climb into the high 70’s today. Meet my neighbor, a camper from AZ. who used to live up here. He is now 81 years young and lives in Camp Verde AZ. I just have to take one more drive up Spearfish Canyon today before I leave this area. Check out a few homes for sale up here. Stop and speak with a family vacationing in the canyon in their family’s cabin. They came from Colorado to spend 10 days up here. Say they come up here 3 or 4 times a year to stay in their old log home on the creek. He says it is nice up here, EXCEPT for the 2-3 weeks that the motorcycle rally is in Sturgis and that they really make a racket running up and down the canyon. It’s 1:00 PM now and the temperature is up to 78 degrees, Looks like another beautiful day. I take to the road heading west again and at 1:20 PM reach the Wyoming state line. Speed limit is 75 MPH in Wyoming. Stop in Gillette and get some information. The woman in the information center suggests route #14 to Sheridan and over the Big Horn Mountains on to Cody, then routes #120, #296, and #212 over Beartooth Pass to Red Lodge Montana. Why not? Sounds good to me! So I head out route #14 to Sheridan. Pass by many large cattle ranches, see a herd of deer, and pass a bison ranch. Come up on a six mile stretch of road construction which is really rough as they have taken the road out and we have to drive over ruts and loose deep sand. Part of it is fresh tar and you can hear it kicking up from the tires. Go through some really small towns such as Clearmont (population 219) and Ucross (population 25). Reach Sheridan and pick up route #90 to Ranchester then back on route #14 again to Dayton (population 500) where I spend the night. Stay at the “Foothills Motel and Campground”. A nice level site with water and electric hookups cost $10.00. Looks like a nice campground , with fairly clean pay showers. I have tar all over the right side of the truck from that detour I went through. I’ll have to pick up some WD-40 and get it cleaned off. Drove 290 miles today and the weather was beautiful as it reached 82 degrees this afternoon.
10-5-96 Saturday (day 10) Awake to 53 degrees this morning and go out to breakfast at the local cafe. It seems to be the only one in this town. I have the $4.49 buffet which is very good. They have ham, scrambled eggs, sausage, home fries, french toast, pancakes, fruit, juices, coffee and teas. Stop at a store and get some WD-40 and take most of the tar off the side of the truck (it works great). It’s now 10:00 AM, the temperature is up to 68 degrees and I’m heading up route #14 into the “Big Horn Mountains”. The drive up the mountain is beautiful. Pass some buffalo in a field on the way up. Stop at an overlook and check out a hang glider launch site. Some locals at the overlook tell me that people have jumped off this hill with their hang gliders and have went 100 or more miles before coming down to earth. Sounds like it would be a fun thing to try one time. They also tell me about how beautiful the drive through Shell Canyon is, but say to look out for snow in the Yellowstone Park area. The temperature has dropped from the 68 degrees that it was in Dayton down to 59 degrees up here and the wind is really blowing. As I drive up the mountain I’m starting to see some snow along the edge of the road. Drive by beautiful Sibley Lake, “Prune Creek campground” and “Tie Flume campground”. I’m starting to see some snowy peaks up ahead. Go over Granite Pass at 9,033 feet, pass another campground, then stop at the site of a 1959 tornado. This is believed to be the highest tornado site in the country. Stop at an overlook and hiked part way down a trail to view Granite creek, but when it gets too steep, I head back up the hill. I am huffing and puffing at this altitude by the time I reach the top. A little exercise helps to break up all this driving and feels great.
|Farther down the mountain I stop to walk along the creek again and view some waterfalls. Drive on down to Shell Falls and spend about an hour talking to the ranger who works in the information booth there. She and her husband are retired and work part time for the National Park Service in the summer months here at Shell Canyon. They live in a 37 foot fifth wheel King of the Road trailer and the park service provides a site with full hook-ups free of charge. In the winter months they take off and head south. This year they are going to AZ. for the winter. All this beauty up here, and they get paid for this too! She tells me to stay off route #14 into the west side of Yellowstone as there is a lot of road construction going on there this year. She says they have elk, mule deer, moose, and mountain lion up here, but no rattle snakes above 5,000 foot elevation. Buy a video on the Big Horn Mountains, gather some information, and head on down the mountain. Go through the big town of Shell WY. where the population is 50. It is 3:30 PM and the temperature is up to 80 degrees today. I’m starting to see some really big mountains in the distance. Pull into Cody, WY (population 7,800) at 4:30 PM and make a stop at Wal-Mart to buy 5 more throw away cameras and some more WD-40 to finish cleaning the tar off the truck. Drive through Cody and check it out. Seems to be a real nice town. Sure are a lot of people wearing cowboy hats here, even the little kids. Get a campsite for the night at the “Ponderosa Campground” in town. A really nice park with clean hot showers, laundry facilities and a very informative staff. These people seem to know the answer to anything you might ask. This is the kind of park you would return to if in this area again. The cost was $16.00 + .96 tax. Go out to diner tonight and then watch my new video on the Big Horn Mountains. It is OK on the little black and white TV in the camper, but will probably look better in color when I get home. Look over some of the information that I collected today to see what is in the area. I drove 136 miles today and the weather was sunny and warm.|
10-6-96 Sunday (day 11) Wake up to 44 degrees this morning. On my way back from the showers I meet a man from Washington state, who tells me that you just have to see the Columbia Gorge while in the Washington area. He also says to check out the town of Sequim if you get over by the Olympic Mountains, and the towns of Bend and Sisters in Oregon. Go to breakfast in town at a place called Granny’s. Real good food, have scrambled eggs with diced ham, 2 large pancakes and herbal tea all for $4.75. I gas up the truck and head out of town on route #120 towards Beartooth Pass and Red Lodge Montana. Drive through 2 miles of road construction which is a little rough, but not too bad. Turn onto route #296 and have a mule deer run out in front of me. Pull into an overlook to check out the view and get to talking to a man who had come from Delta PA., moved to Idaho and then wound up here in Cody, WY. He says he loves it here and that they have fairly mild winters. He says they have some snow, and the worst he remembers is a 2 foot snow fall, but most of the snows usually melt off in a few days. He also says that they have plenty of bright sunny days in the winter and a big thing around here is snowmobiling up in the mountains and in the Yellowstone area. Says the property taxes are low and there is no state income tax, but there is a sales tax. He says a lot of people go over the state line to Montana to make their larger purchases, as Montana has no sales tax. He tells me they have just paved this route #296 about two years go and before that it was just a gravel road up the mountain. I sure am glad they paved it. Drive down into a valley and pass “Dead Indian Campground”, primitive but a nice location. Looks like a great place for an overnight stay. Stop at another overlook and speak to a ranger there who tells me that Beartooth Pass had been snowed in last week, but is open to traffic today. Sounds good to me, so on and upward I got. Pass by “Hunters Peak Campground”, about 55 miles out of Cody, and then “Lake Creek Campground” at 59 miles out. These are both National Forest campgrounds with primitive sites. Turn right onto route #212 and head up into the Beartooth Mountains. Stop by a bridge to view a waterfall. Pass by a sign that says “Grizzly Bear Country- Be Careful”. Pass another sign that says “roads not cleared between 4:30 PM and 8:00 AM - May need tire chains”. The road narrows down and has 10 foot snow stakes along the edges of the pavement. This is so they can find the road when it snows up here. Make a stop at “Beartooth Lake Campground” on top of the mountain and speak with a family that is having a picnic lunch by the lake. They are from Billings, Montana and tell me that their winters aren’t that bad up there. They say it has been 50 or 60 degrees around Christmas time, but they also say that they do get some cold spells. One of his daughters spot a moose across the lake, but we can barely see it. This is when I realized I need a pair of binoculars. Reach the top of Beartooth summit and the temperature has dropped to 47 degrees outside and is quite breezy. There is lots of snow on the ground along the road and the views are spectacular.
|I’m stopping at all the overlooks to take full advantage of the scenery. Meet and speak with lots of people from all over, Missouri, Colorado, Montana and Wyoming and they are all very friendly. Pass by another campground down in a valley about 100 miles out of Cody or 17 miles before Red Lodge Montana. Reach Red Lodge (elevation 5555) and drive around town to check it out, but am not really impressed with it. The drive coming down into town from the mountains seemed like a nicer area than the town itself. Head out route #78 through Roscoe. There are a lot of fall colors in this area which makes for a nice drive. Drive through Absarokee and into Columbus where I find an outside car wash for $1.00 and wash the truck and camper. It washes about half the bugs off the front of the camper and now it looks almost clean. I had been collecting a collage of bugs from all across the country. It is 5:30 PM and I get back onto route I-90 headed west. which is blacktop in this area making for a fairly smooth ride. Speed limits in Montana are 65 MPH at night and 65 MPH for trucks. For cars during the day the speed limit is whatever you think is safe for that given road, or should I say whatever the cop that stops you thought was safe. Follow the Yellowstone river west as it crosses back and forth under the highway. Spot some rafters out on the river at about 6:30 this evening. It looks like a real nice river for a float trip. Have a rain shower tonight, but that figures since I did wash the truck today. Drive into Livingston and stay at the “Livingston campground”, which is just off the highway. The cost is $9.50 for no hook-ups or $16.95 for full hook-ups. I take the no hook-ups for $9.50. They do have nice clean hot showers, but also have a lot of traffic noise all night long and no telephone. Don’t think I’d come back here. Go out to dinner at a local cafe and have a not so good meal. I drove 255 miles today.|
10-7-96 Monday (day 12) Awake to 45 degrees , but very windy and cold. Gas up and meet a local man at the gas station. He tells me that he has come from Greybull, WY. and now works up here in the Livingston, MT. area. He says that he really liked it down in the Greybull area as that whole area around Greybull is what they call a banana belt and has a mild climate. He tells me that he used to have some nice gardens down in Greybull and would like to move back down there when he retires. He gives me his business card and says if I get up this way again to look him up. His name is Paul. I head to the bank to get some rolls of quarters for the telephone then stop at the post office to get some stamps for the post cards I’ve been sending home. Stop in at Aspen Realty office at 105 south second street and speak with a realtor named Barbara. Check on a property that is listed in Silver Gate, a small town just outside of Yellowstone Park. It is a 3000 square foot log and stone home on 3.3 acres with a six person hot tub. Has moose in the back yard and really looks beautiful in the pictures, BUT they are asking $398,000. The realtor tells me that the weather here in Livingston is fairly mild temperature wise in the winter and the most snow she had seen in the last five years was 8 inches and it melted off in a few days, BUT it can get very windy here at times. Livingston is at 4,400 feet elevation. She says that Helena and Bozeman get more snow and Butte at 5,700 feet elevation gets even more yet. She tells me that she has paddled the Yellowstone river in August and the water is fairly warm that time of year. The Yellowstone is a wide and shallow river. Make another stop and speak with Karl at Paradise Properties, ERA. Check on a 25 acre parcel on Rock Creek $79,000, but it had just sold last week. He tells me that Livingston was the third windiest city in the country and that 60-70 MPH winds are common in just this one area around town. He says that under 7,000 feet elevation the snow is not bad, but above that you will have snow on the ground from November through February. Livingston has two nice tall car washes for campers. About 10 miles out route #895 there is a National Park campground called “Rock Canyon”. “Yellowstone Edge RV Park” is a little farther out that same road and sits on the river. As I drive through the Jim Yankee Canyon, I stop and take a picture of the Yellowstone river. The water is green and crystal clear. This river sure does look like a great paddle stream. Reach Gardiner at 1:30 PM and drive into Yellowstone Park were I stop and take a few pictures of some mountain sheep. Back on the road I pass a herd of elk in a field. Go past “Mammoth Campground” which is open and head east toward Tower Jct. Pass by a herd of bison and some pronghorn antelope in another field. The Tower Jct. to Cooke City road is awful rough. The Soda Butte and Pebble Creek area is loaded with buffalo. Drive through Ice Box Canyon and stop to view the stream. As I drive into Silver Gate, there are three buffalo standing in the middle of the road and I have to wait till they get good and ready to move Drive through Silver Gate and Cooke City and check them out. Stop to look at the $398,000 home in Silver Gate. It is over priced and has quite a few close neighbors. Not for me! Head back toward Tower Jct. in the park. The road follows the Lamar river and there is a lot of fly fishing going on. Cross over the Yellowstone river and the view from the bridge is beautiful, so I stop and take a picture.
|The road from Tower Jct. to Canyon is very rough, but the road from Canyon to Norris is real nice and smooth. Lots of elk out along the road now as it’s getting to be dusk. Stop to take a few pictures of them. The road from Norris to Madison Jct. is half good and half rough. Spot two or three more herds of elk and a bunch of mule deer. I reach Madison Jct. and the campground is open, so I get a site and stay in Yellowstone for the night. The cost is $12.50 for a primitive site. These are real nice sites with fire pits and picnic tables. They have quite a few rest rooms and water faucets here and there throughout the park. Firewood is for sale at the ranger station along with two telephones and a dumping station. There was a big buffalo standing just outside the entrance to the campground when I pulled in. There were elk out in abundance tonight. This is a very scenic park, but the roads really are in need of major repair. I did see them paving the road at the north entrance when I came into the park today. The ranger said to keep all your food in your camper as you are in bear country. I drove 195 miles today and the weather was clear and mild.|
10-9-96 Wednesday (day 14) Awoke once during the night, and got up and opened the sky light above the bed to look outside at the sky. It really was a breathtaking sight to behold, an ink black sky with zillions of stars and not a light for miles around. You don’t get skies like this back east. I spent quite a while just sitting there looking up at it, taking in the beauty of it all, then finally went back to sleep. I was woke up at 5:30 AM by the howling of the local coyotes. It is 31 degrees out this morning. Grab some breakfast, put my $4.00 in the box for the campground fee, and head north on route #83 toward the town of Big Fork, Montana. Drive past Salmon Lake on my left. Pass a beautiful large home on an island on a lake, with a garage on the shore line. This looks like a real nice setup to me. Drive through the town of Seeley Lake, then pass Lake Inez, Lake Alva and Summit lake. Go through the Flathead National Forest and see many deer all along the edge of the road. Pass many logging trucks and three log home builders. Drive through the town of Condon, through the “Swan River State Forest”, and into the town of Swan Lake. It is 9:30 AM and the temperature has reached 38 degrees outside. Swan lake is a really nice little town situated on the shore of a mountain lake with the same name. See a "for sale" sign on a house on the lakefront, so I stop to check it out. Speak with a woman, who actually has two homes side by side on the lakefront for sale. They are asking $215,000 for one and $270,000 for the other. A beautiful setting on the lake, but the homes aren’t much for such a high price. The woman is very friendly, and tells me that they live here full time in a home across the street from these two homes. She says that this is a real nice little town and she really likes it here, but then of course, she is trying to sell me a house. Drive on to Big Fork and stop at a realtor’s office to check on a lot that was for sale on Swan Lake. Turns out that it is only a half acre and they are asking $290,000. Too much for me. Drive 25 miles down Flathead Lake to look at a home on Finley Point, on the southeast corner of the lake. This home is $263,000 and has a beautiful setting, but needs a lot of work. No thank you! Head north on route #35 back to Big Fork, then take routes #82 to #93 north into Kalispell. Stop here at the ranger station to buy some forest service maps of the Northfork, Libby and Troy areas. Get 2 maps at $4.00 each. Start talking with a telephone company worker that was born in Cody, WY. and now lives in Kallispell. He says that normally Sept. and Oct. and also April and May are their rainy months, then from the end of Oct. till April is snowy. He says June is spring time and July and August are summer. He also tells me that this is hunting season up here, so be careful while in the backwoods areas. Drive through Kallispell and head out route #2 to Libby. When I get to Libby, I drive up route #37 and get a campsite at the “Libby Dam RV Park”. Cost is $10.00 for full hook-ups, but they have no bathhouse or telephone. There are only about three campers in the park this time of year. The site is right on the Kootenai river and has a beautiful view across the river. I really find myself using the word "beautiful" a lot, but I can’t help it because there is no other way to describe most of what I am seeing. I really enjoy traveling this time of year, as the summer vacationers are off the roads and the crowds have really disappeared. Hook up the camper and settle back for a relaxing evening meal and a good night's rest.
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