Near Picabo ID
The morning started out overcast and cold. The clouds dropped some fresh snow on the mountains near our camp while the wind whipped up some whitecaps on the reservoir. The drive south into Idaho was scenic with leaves changing colors, and mountains on both sides of the interstate. Once out on the plains of Idaho we hung a right and followed the foot of the mountains south and west past farms, the Idaho National Lab, and Craters of the Moon. We stopped for the night at an Idaho Fish & Wildlife camp spot/ river access point at the end of a mile or so of wickedly washboarded roads.
Near Dillon MT and like everything in these parts named for either Lewis or Clark or both. The Bureau of Reclamation built a dam and a campground (a free one at that!) so we stopped for the night and camped near the water. I let the boiz out and they got to have a little romp around camp before the wind kicked up and started rocking the coach.
Near the campground, and likely at the bottom of the lake, is where Sacajawea was reunited with her birth-tribe on the outbound leg of the Corps of Discovery trip.
The north wind is cold and reminds me that winter is on its way. The trees are turning yellow and it won’t be long before the white stuff drifts down from the sky.
The caverns Lewis and Clark passed by but didn’t find is too long a name for a State Park so there we have it.
The trip from Tongue River to L & C took all day, some of it into a steady head-wind but was otherwise uneventful. The boiz and I caravaned with Jim and David and their doggies. Jim and David caught up with us near Springtime MT then we headed west to the mountains. Once we got off the interstate at Three Forks the two-lane highway wound through some very picturesque valleys along the Jefferson River. The campground at the park is a bit small and tightly wound, but it feels open enough. We though it would be mostly empty two weeks after Labor Day, but we got the last two open spots with power. If we had arrived after 4 the place would have been plumb-full.
Next day we drove the rather steep and narrow road to the cavern’s gift shop and entrance station. The tour we opted for was 2 hours long and had about 600 stairs. $12 got us a front row seat on the walking tour the caverns. We also had to chip in 2 miles of walking, climbing, and stooping.
After the tour I took the mountain bike for an hour-long climb up a nearby trail. It took 15 minutes to get back to camp. Silly gravity.
A strong northern storm pushed all the smoky air out of the area and for the first time in weeks the sky is smoke-free and clear as a crystal. All the colors are more vibrant. The air has a sweet arctic smell. Mmmm
Later that week –
The clear skies were short lived. When the wind returned from the west it blew the smoke back in and the temperatures climbed back into the high 80’s
Wrapping it up!
We’ve been here for almost 5 weeks now and the first week of September marks the end of the season at Tongue River State Park. Next week we are back on the road heading for Boise ID. Our route will be back west across Montana on I-90, which will make the number of times we’ve driven that route three. Planning to stop at some of the places we skipped the first two times.
Raymond and Judy-Rae had us over for cake on our last night at Tongue River. Jim, David, and I had a great time volunteering at the Park and working with Raymond and Judy-Rae!
The boiz have not been in their travel-crates for 5 weeks so it will be interesting getting them back into travel-mode. They have been enjoying our month of sitting still and have marked out the nearby field as their territory. I underestimated how important it is for them to have a territory they can mark out and explore each day.
Pro-tip: don’t take outdoor cats on a road-trip