Great Falls, Montana

Jul 12 - Jul 18, 2020

Sunday, moving day was uneventful, we are now at Dick's RV Park in Great Falls.  It was a really pretty drive up US Highway 87. This area is where Charles M. Russell got the inspiration for a lot of his work, he set up a studio in Great Falls in 1892. We had to make a quick trip to Home Depot because one of our air conditioners started making a horrible sound.  We think the intake is full of cottonwood fluff, LOL.  We got some coil cleaner and lubricants and Elard worked his magic.

Monday, I started the day with a 4 mile walking loop along the river.  They have something like 60 miles of trail on both sides of the Missouri river here.  There are many pieces of sculpture along the way too, and prairie dogs.  They also have quite a few white pelicans here.  I love to watch them fly, gliding just above the water surface.  There are 5 dams along a 15 mile stretch of the Missouri river, so we will definitely have plenty of trails to walk. I found 2 quilt shops that had plenty of material to add to my travel quilt, Big Sky Quilts and Bernina Silver Thimble. Elard spent most of the day washing the coach.  He got all three air conditioners de-cottonwood fluffed, and gave the whole coach a good bath.  It really needed it and the bugs on the front were awful.  I managed to get most of the laundry done after not being able to do it last week. We did some trail planning for our visit to Glacier National Park next week.  I also managed to get an "appointment" to visit the Malmstrom AFB museum and air park here in Great Falls.  Our RV park is between the AFB and the Great Falls International Airport.  I am amazed we haven't heard much airport noise. Both are located up on top of hills, maybe that helps block the noise.

Tuesday, best laid plans today.  We intended to do a driving tour down to Helena and around to White Sulphur Springs today.  We started at the First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park to get a 3 mile trail hike in.  We left our insect spray at the RV but we thought we'd give it a go anyway.  The mosquitoes were fierce! Elard ended up swatting his glasses right off his face and over the edge of the cliff...just like the buffaloes. We spent some time looking for them but were getting eaten alive.  We headed back to the car and met a group of park rangers and a guy who studies snakes on there way to the trail to film a video on trail safety and snakes for the park's website.  They had bug spray and the tools to help look for the glasses.  We spent probably 20 minutes looking and decided to go back to the RV to get his old glasses and come back.  We also picked up the real bug spray with Deet!  We got back to the park and Dan the snake man went back up with us with some tools to look some more.  On the drive back up to the top of the jump he said they found 7 snakes....he took two of them out onto the trail so they could do the video and the returned them to the spot where he found them...did I mention that they were rattlesnakes?! 7...7 rattlesnakes.  I no longer wanted to do the trail. We didn't find the glasses but we did leave our contact information with the visitor center so if any other hikers stumble across them in the next few days maybe they can let us know. The visitor center has a very nice display about the Indians and how they used the cliff to harvest the buffalo. This is supposed to be the largest buffalo jump in North America. By this time we knew we wouldn't be able to complete our original planned drive so we stopped for lunch at Clark & Lewie's and then just drove along the river to several of the dam overlooks. We did hit a bit of a traffic jam on the way home...goose crossing. 

Wednesday, we started the day with a visit to the Malmstrom AFB Museum.  Malmstrom is a working Minute Man base so we had to go through a background check. There was a short walking trail from the Base visitor center, through the aircraft, to the Museum.  MSgt. Turnbow met us at the door and gave us a great introduction to the museum. We watched a short video and then strolled thru the museum.  So cool.  Next we went to lunch at Fuddruckers, my choice because I remember them fondly from Florida back in the day.  I forgot that their draw was the "fixins" bar.  With COVID, the bar was closed...but the burgers were still good.  Next we went to 'The History Museum'. It covers the history of the county and is an old tractor manufacturing building.  They have a mountain goat to great you at the door and I found a painted rock at his feet.  I almost took that rock it was so pretty.  There were many exhibits of everyday life throughout.  The Ozark Club had a rich history of good times in the area.  Notice the extremely young Redd Foxx scheduled to appear at the Ozark Club.

Thursday, we made a bank stop first thing this morning and found a cool statue of Charles M. Russell, cowboy artist.  Don't he and his horse, Monte, look like they are having a great conversation? Next we strolled thru Gibson Park and the River's Edge Trail. It has been beautiful all week for walking.  Next we went to the Charles M. Russell Museum complex.  He was truly talented. The museum complex is built around Charlie's studio and home. We stopped for lunch at the Roadhouse Diner.  They've been on Diner's, Drive Inn's, & Dives, and their deal is they make all their hamburger fresh everyday.  The burgers really were good. Next, we managed to get into the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center. Only a few exhibits were open but they connect to the River's Edge Trail so we walked down to Giant Springs.  They were discovered by Lewis & Clark and flow at a rate of 156 million gallons per day at 54 degrees.  It was beautiful and peaceful. The overflow also creates the shortest river in North America at 201 feet, and flows into North America's longest river, the Missouri at 2,540 miles.

Friday, today we did a driving tour of four of the dams along the Missouri river just outside of Great Falls.  At one of the dams there was a round building that was built around 1920 to demonstrate the "new" way of cooking. They have about 5 electric stove tops.  Not sure if they are still operational. All the falls and their corresponding power generation building were pretty.  We continued on to Fort Benton, the birthplace of Montana.  They used to be a pretty rough place. At one point the US Calvary had to surround the town so a US Marshal could deliver 5 warrants.  We had lunch at the Club House and then strolled around the small town.  It is the home of the legendary Shep, a dog that followed his owners casket to the train and then met the train everyday afterword until he died.  We ended the day at the Missouri Breaks National Monument.  Montana tried to be a little more encouraging than South Dakota, they named their badlands 'The Breaks', rather than 'The Badlands'. But their landscape is the same....bad.  The river is really pretty though and the ranger said there are a lot of folks who float the river from here. 

Saturday, we didn't do too much today.  We got in a 4 mile walk along the River's Edge Trail where we saw some people engaging in white water rescue training.  And of course I found more painted rocks.

Make Life an Adventure!