Saturday, July 25, 2015

Northfork and Glacier Update

As most of you know - My plans called for a lengthy trip from Kalispell to Big Creek Campground on the North Fork of the Flathead River for a vacation. My plan was to head up on the 15th of July and stay until the 23rd or so - with Pat Millhoff joining me on the 20th for a few days...promised to be a great trip.

I did not have reservations at the campground, although my friends did, so it was a risk to find a good walk-up site nearby where my friends had reservations. I was lucky, my first choice was site 11 and lo and behold when I got there it was available - I quickly backed in and secured the spot for my entire stay! Luck was with me...

Site 11!

My friends had a site for one nite the evening of the 15th then they were moving to their reserved site for the remainder of their time on the good friend Jim Flinchbaugh was not arriving until the 16th and his reserved site was site 1 - directly across from my chosen site - other friends Tim and Deb Adair were in site 13 - two down from me on the river - so we were all set to be within hailing distance of each other to enjoy the week.

Camp Chef Grills were ready to go!

My place to relax!

My good friend Jim Flinchbaugh!

Campground Visitors!

The Last shot of this little guy!

I was sitting in my chair relaxing and this little guy posed on the rock near my chair - I grabbed the shot and put the camera down on the chair beside me - this guy leaped off the rock and headed across an open area, I heard a huge swoosh and a huge Owl swooped down and made a meal of the little guy - of course by the time I grabbed my camera it was over - but the above portrait is his last picture in life!

I picked Millhoff up on Monday the 20th and we made the rough ride to the Campground - we had a huge welcome dinner planned and we arrived in plenty of time for introductions and a relaxing afternoon and a great dinner.

The dinner was a shrimp boil - potatoes, smoked sausage, corn and was amazing!

Night two Dinner for Millhoff was an Alaskan Favorite - Dynamite Halibut - there was also some Northern Pike and Cod in there - I only had two pieces of Halibut works well with any mild white fish!

Pat and I made several day trips into Glacier NP while our friends floated the river and fished, we met back at camp in the evenings for meals and conversation. The weather was not real conducive to good floating with some very strong winds which made the float a struggle and the fishing was not that great!

Pat and I drove North to a small settlement and bakery - Polebridge Montana.

Took some pics around the "Village"!

Then we drove into Glacier and went to Lake McDonald and the Lodge at Lake McDonald.

Let Millhoff use my back-up Camera...

The next day we headed up the "Going to the Sun" Highway for the views....

On the TOP!

Then Millhoff convinced me to hike a trail that was purported to be EASY by Tim and Deb Adair....2 miles each way - and it was a BITCH!! Damn near killed me...

But I paused long enough near the beginning to take a pic of Millhoff!!

The trip was worth the hike - Avalanche Lake!

The trip down was much easier thank God - but it was a long afternoon and we both were tired - back to camp and decided to stay one more day - since Flincbaugh had another night reserved.

The next day we went back to Polebridge where Millhoff enjoyed another Huckleberry Bear Claw and we bought some wonderful home made sandwiches for lunch as we were DRIVING to a remote lake - Bowman Lake - 12 miles of rough narrow bumpy dirt kind of hiking! That is why I have a 4 wheel drive truck!

Bowman Lake a beautiful spot in this world!

We broke camp Friday morning and made the 30 mile trip back to my friends house where I am camping, enjoyed a hot shower and got the camper set back in its spot...ready for a few more days of travel.

Stay tuned I have some more adventures planned!

Capt. Jim - "The Wanderer"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!

Monday, July 20, 2015

North Fork Daily Log

Yesterday July 15th was set-up day. My Kalispell friends all had reservations at the Big Creek Camground outside of Glacier National Park on the North Fork of the Flathead River. Their reservations start on the 16th of July and extend through the night of the 22nd - departing on the 23rd. I decided to go up on the 15th since it was a Wednesday and the middle of the week in hopes of snagging a non-reservation site, thinking that weekend people may head up on Thursday, I hoped that maybe the campground would be more empty on a Wednesday. Not sure I will get pictures up on this right away as limited internet while traveling to pick up Millhoff on Monday is all I will have time for, if not I will add pictures later.

Day One - Wednesday - Arrival

I decided to save time and fuel to take the dirt road into the campground - it is about 12 miles after the pavement ends to the campground It was a huge mistake, there were times when I was in 1st gear going 5mph and still I felt like I was going to lose the trailer. The road was rough!! Anyway I arrived at the campground and made a quick circle and saw several open sites, decided to make another circle and see if my 1st choice site 11 was available. Sure enough, it was empty I quickly backed in and started to get set up. It took me a few minutes, I was hoping to stay left enough to be able to put my awning out and slowly jockeyed the trailer as close to a tree as I dared, unhitched and attempted to get the trailer level, however because I was so far off the pad to be able to get the awning out, I could not level the trailer, and lo and behold the awning still hit the tree on the other side. So I hitched back up and moved the trailer over to level ground and not as far back in the site to avoid the tree. Then it was time to get things squared away. By now it was almost 3 in the afternoon and the parade started with people driving through looking for empty sites..several people asked if I was leaving, nope just got here!

Unpacked the Camp Chef and table and all the other accessories and made camp. Got the truck bed cover back on and the storage container on the back of the trailer unpacked with the griddle and propane bottle for the Camp Chef. By now it was 4 in the afternoon and time for a beer. The Camp Host came by and I paid my money for 8 days - if Millhoff and I decide to stay longer than my friends we can do that. I had found out that Tim and Deb Adair had managed to reserve a spot for tonight and then have to move to their long reservation in the morning. So grabbed the camp chair and a beer and waited. In the meantime the wonderful camp host and his wife came by again in the golf cart and presented me with a container full of wonderful home made beef stew. Nice fresh vegetables and very good. So my dinner was provided. Such Nice people. Lo and Behold Tim and Deb pulled in about 7:30 or so and I walked down as they backed in to their spot for one evening, then enjoyed some cocktails and snacks until bed time.

I am writing this the following morning after a wonderful cool evening and restful sleep. Fresh coffee in the morning and now to wait for my good friend Jim Flinchbaugh to arrive this afternoon, that will be easy as his reserved site is directly across from for some breakfast.

Day Two - Thursday

Day two was pretty relaxing - nice quick breakfast and then helped Tim and Deb move into their new site. Borrowed a level and got my Camp Chef all ready to cook. Then back to the camper and made some hard boiled eggs and then deviled eggs for Happy Hour. I also filled my water tank again, it was getting low from all the dish washing and cooking. I mistakenly left the kitchen window open on the dusty ride up the road and all the dishes in the dish drainer were covered in dust and dirt. I also mixed up some stuffing and cleaned some Jalapeno peppers to grill for happy hour. Tim and Deb went floating and fishing a short trip from the Camas Bridge back down to camp. Had some strong cold winds and rain while they were gone Jim and Aleena arrived a little after two. Dropped the raft trailer at my site then got Jim backed in and unhitched and set up, then off loaded the raft frames and finished setting up camp I washed all the dishes from my cooking and then waited for happy hour. Lit the grill and put the peppers on when Tim and Deb got back, 45 minutes later we were enjoying happy hour with roasted stuffed Jalapenos and deviled eggs. It was fantastic. Then we threw some burgers on the grill and had dinner dodging light rain showers all day. Cooling down so getting ready to close up the camper and enjoy a little camp fire. Then to bed early.

Day Three - Friday

Morning coffee is so good! Cold again this morning...40 degrees outside. Next thing to fix on the camper is my propane heater..stove is having to do the trick with making coffee. Weather report calls for a high of 63 and rain showers so, my plan for today is more relaxing and maybe shuttle Jim and Aleena and Tim and Deb up to a put in spot. Hang out in the campground and take a few pictures...

Just saw Jim and Aleena out taking Clyde for a walk - and we both remarked that the damn global warming is affecting our vacation - damn it is cold! Love the new batteries in the camper - plugged the inverter in and can charge up the laptop and so far after three days the battery indicator is still on green the highest level. No generator needed to run this year. It is early morning and not sure what the plan for everybody is today - cool and rain so I know what my plans are - nothing...more later after the day - evening recap.

Today was a nice slow day - took care of a few maintenece issues before the MB - Millhoff arrives on Monday - fixed my water fill system and topped up the water, emptied the grey tank and also swept out the trailer and cleaned up a bit put some things away that got washed yesterday and made some room for Pat Nobody hit the river today - on and off showers all day and cool - damn cold this morning and only reached about 62 or so for a high. River water is cold and everyone decided it was a day for rest. I cooked up a batch of bacon for crumbling for more stuffed peppers and ground that up, ready to make more tomorrow. Steaks are cold smoking on the weber and we are going to cook and eat at Tim and Debs, they have company today so it will be a crowd.

Nice relaxing day....

Day Four - Saturday

Up early this morning, not as cold as yesterday but still only 45 degrees out there. Processed some pictures with my morning coffee, in hopes to get them uploaded and a blog post published on Monday when I go to town to get Millhoff. Have not been taking too many, but the pace will pick up when Pat and I start touring around the park. I have enough campground pics for a start and got a real good one of a wonderful little chipmunk who has been hanging around. Today I am gonna get the truck squared away to make room for cameras and Pat. I also need to stow my two toolboxes I keep in the trailer in the truck so Pat has foot room at the dining table. Sweep out the trailer again and general tidy up. Making peppers again for this evening and may make some macaroni salad. Sunday we have company coming up and it will be a busy day - the group is making ribs in the Dutch Ovens for dinner and that takes a long time, so want to get most everything I need to do, done today before Pat on Monday.

Not much going on today - the sun finally came out in the afternoon and the crew took the rafts out for a short float and fish...from Camas Creek back to the campground. Only about 8 miles. I finished all my chores and took a few pictures of the deer wandering through the campground and chased the chipmunk some more and cleaned and stuffed some peppers for the grill.

Time for a beer and get ready to put the peppers on....the crew arrived back all happy with some fish stories and finally a day of some sunshine and warmer temps. I showed 76 degrees, happy hour at my place the peppers were good as usual, although the wind played havoc with the Camp Chef, first time I ever had that problem, but I worked it out. After happy hour everyone returned to their respective camp sites to fix dinner...another beautiful day on the North Fork.

Day Five - Sunday

Morning coffee and plans for a busy day with company coming and dutch oven ribs to cook...should be a fun day! Cool again - 45 this morning, calm wind and clearer skies, forecast calls for 90 degrees. We shall see...

The day went exctly as planned - Jim's Mom and Dad and Brother Dave and daughter Megan arrived about 1:00 pm or so then ribs went in the cold smoker for an hour or so then the Dutch Ovens got cranked up and the ribs cooked for several hours and smelled wonderful. Tim and Deb went for a short float then Tim put his ribs on. Deb had us all down to their site for dinner. Jims Mom brought home made Pasta Salad and Deb made cole slaw and it was a meal to remember. The ribs were fantastic a few libations were consumed, world problems solved and then the fire got cranked up and the Smores came was a great day!

Day Six - Monday - Millhoff arrives.

Good morning coffee a quick sweep of the trailer to put a few things away...then I'll head to town and get this posted along with another. Pretty hard rain early this morning and some overcast skies. Pick up Millhoff at noon then hit the gas station and grocery store for a few items...then back to camp - group dinner tonight a shrimp boil - had it last year and it was fantastic - potatoes, corn, sausage and shrimp...then a campfire so Millhoff can meet everyone and learn how Montanans feel about the world issues. Should be fun!

More of an update later in the week when I can add some pictures and comments about them - for now only the running log.

More later...

Capt. Jim - "The Wanderer"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Final Project before camping the North Fork

The outdoor shower arrived the other day and it was time for the well planned install. Of course it never goes as smoothly as anticipated, but it is in and working.

I also did my next to last shopping trip before leaving this Wednesday and the freezer is full.

But back to the shower install. The plan was to put it on the rear of the trailer right under the bathroom sink for easy access to hot and cold water lines.

Under the sink before install!

Drilled some pilot holes and then the task of cutting a huge hole in the back of the trailer, always a little reluctant to do that...but I avoided any wires!

In place under the sink from the outside now to hook up the plumbing...

Final before caulking around the enclosure!

Working under the sink proved to be an arduous task and caused me some damage, was bleeding all over everything. So I decided to make my life easier and removed the sink so I could work from above. Sink valves were old and leaking so that will get replaced later, for now no bathroom sink - never used it anyway - easier to use the kitchen sink...

Arm damage!

New fridge stocked up for trip!

The freezer is packed full - Millhoff won't go hungry!

My plan is to hitch up Tuesday and dump the waste tanks and then pressure wash all the sap and cottonwood tailings from the trailer then head up to the North Fork on Wednesday. After that will be out of touch for about 14 days or so.

Stay Tuned for more updates after Millhoff arrives...that will be interesting!

Capt. Jim - "The Wanderer"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Blog Update - Montana Heat Wave and a couple drives! And Maintenance!

It has been very hot here the past 10 days or so - 94 to 102 and only getting into the 70's at night. Tough to get the energy to do much....

Had a few maintenance items yet to deal with on the RV. With the trip to the North Fork right around the corner it was time to replace the batteries in the RV to try and avoid running the generator while there. The new fridge runs on propane and I took out the small electric freezer for the trip and to make room for Millhoff, so just need the batteries for lights and control panel for the fridge. All new LED bulbs in the trailer so electric draw should be minimal. I have wanted to replace the batteries for quite some time, but the battery compartment would need some re-engineering to fit in two 6 volt golf cart batteries which is what I wanted.

Finally bit the bullet and bought two new 6 volts at Costco!

Removed the old ones and took out the shelf - the old ones were one above the other - but the new ones are taller and would not fit.

New ones in and wired up! Only smashed one finger getting those heavy bastards in there!

Also had time to turn on the A/C in the truck and take a couple afternoon drives. Went up to the North Fork to check out the fire and water level of the is low and the fire was pretty much out. So that was good. We are all happy they banned fireworks to hopefully prevent any more fires - Fire Danger is listed as extreme and with the heat and lack of rain it is really bad.

Here is the North Fork!

On the way home drove through Glacier NP and saw a bear - Flinchbaugh had the good seat, I was driving. He got a couple good pics...I had to try and shoot through his ass!

Yesterday July 4th - we headed on a long drive to explore some new territory - headed down a long dirt road about 20 miles or so...

At the end of the road was this....just what we were looking for - took about an hour and just relaxed and enjoyed the view...every other place we stopped was packed with July 4th people - this place was empty, just us.

Clyde went for a long swim!

Before leaving took a 5 shot panorama of the was beautiful!

Stay tuned - head to the North Fork on the 15th or so and Millhoff arrives on the 20th. One more project for the trailer - put in an outdoor shower - parts are ordered and hope to get it in before leaving.

More Adventure Awaits!

Capt. Jim - "The Wanderer"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!