Escape from the Heat?

Trip Start May 10, 2013
Trip End Sep 26, 2013

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Where I stayed
Aspen Grove FS Campground

Flag of United States  , Montana
Sunday, July 28, 2013

I got out of town just after my meeting, for my first solo trip this year.  Lynn was encouraging. :o)

Helena has been hot, as most of you do know, so I was looking forward to cooler temps in the higher country.  I had gassed up Shorty at Safeway with a $.20/gal. off deal.  It was good as far as it went.  It went only to 25 gallons, which doesn't surprise me, I guess...

I took the Birdseye Route west, which I hadn't driven in several years.  Lots of changes out there, but the road is still rough.  It gave me pause to reflect on the marathon running days back in the 1980s.  "Firehouse Hill" still looks to be as steep as ever.  ;o)

The road improves muchly when you reach Silver City.  I used to ride my BMW R90/6 out there to enjoy the scenery and curves.  Shorty is slower, but just as much fun.  Really.  I stopped at the top of Flesher Pass just to see if there was any cell phone service and sent Lynn a short text.  The service dwindled as I reached Aspen Grove CG (Campground).  It's located about six miles east of Lincoln, about a quarter mile off of Highway 200.  Some sites are closer to the Blackfoot River, but mine, site 6 isn't even within "gurgling" distance.  I have sporadic texting ability, which is just enough to let Lynn know how things are going.

My closest neighbors are from California.  Ed grew up in Helena quite  a while ago.  He's 85, but looks closer to <80, IMHO.  Sally, his wife, age unknown looks a bit older than he, FWIW.  They've been traveling for a month, so far, on this trip.  They are from Torrance.

I rode Dolores II, the bike, through all of the loops, which is about a total of eighteen sites.  I saw some that were more private and open.  I had a bit of regret about where I was located until Ed told me later that the dominant wind blows dust into that loop on that far end when folks "visit and drive too fast."  The wind where I am is fine with me and a probable irritation to the flies.

We had a windier spell just after sunset, but it didn't lead to anything.  It was breezy when I got here, which is good.  There are numerous non-biting "PIA" flies around, if you get my meaning.  The Deep Woods OFF! spray doesn't seem to faze them, so I guess they must be on vacation from some metropolitan area.  Pesky seems to be too weak of a word to describe them, so I'll stick with PIA.

I visited with a younger couple from Florence, MT.  He's actually a Michiganian, who just retired on June 1.  He was a golf groundskeeper, and made sure that I didn't confuse his work as being a Golf Pro.  According to him, Tim, his ilk do all of the work.  As a non-golfer, I really couldn't relate.  He seemed to be a nice fellow and his partner, whose name I can't recall seemed to be a tolerable lady.  She walked to the bank of the river where we were visiting with two glasses of beer and, of course, offered me one.  Man did it look great!  I responded with "I haven't had that spirit here since nineteen ninety-nine." It worked.  They laughed.  I stayed sober.

After dinner, consisting of a Safeway Supreme Large Pizza, 2.5 slices, I walked a bit and got a few shots of the sunset. My timing wasn't very good and I was late, I think.  I'll pay better attention tomorrow night.  I brought wood for a fire, consisting of scraps from my shop and a few pieces of one of our defunct apple trees.  No campfire tonight.  I'm tired.

This morning, I slept in until just a bit before eight AM.  I haven't done that for a very long time.  The quiet really helps, as you all know.  After breakfast and checking in with Lynn, I took a walk along the Blackfoot.

It's a photogenic river, to say the least.  I spied several great fly fishing holes.  I haven't fished in years, but it was enticing.  There were lots of birds on the hour-long walk and even a Kingfisher, the favorite of a nephew of mine.  He scrammed before I could get a shot of him.  I did get several shots of butterflies and bees enjoying the nectar of the local flowers.  There's a tall, slender, yellow flower that they particularly enjoyed.  The Russian Thistle is another favorite of both.  The challenge, for me, is to get both species on a flower simultaneously.  As usual, the majority of the shots will be at>>>>>>>>>>>>> 

I tried to make the hike a "loop", but couldn't find a way back that worked for me.  After looking for a unique return route, I wandered back to the stream.  In thinking, I believe I'll take the same hike, but 'earlier, tomorrow.  The return gives one a different perspective.  I'm sure I'll see lots that was "behind my back" on the way in.

For the first time on such a hike, I used my trekking poles today, which saved my "assets" a few times, I'm sure.  There are lots of surprises along a stream bank, not counting the flora and fauna.  The poles worked great.

Later in the day, I took Dolores II out to the trail just outside the CG.  David, an ol' camping amigo, told me about it when I asked his advice on a good biking CG. It's an easy trail with only one hill in the first two miles.  I rode to where it drops down to the river area and turned back.  There's a challenging hill there that I really didn't need, if you know what I mean.

The beauty of the river is amazing there.  There are lots of good looking fishing holes.  I'm hoping to get back and verify that.  It's a bit tricky to access the river, but I figure that with the trekking poles along with the backpacking fly rod I still have, it could work.  I haven't had a licence in several years, but the "geezer version" is only about ten bucks or less.

On my way back, I stopped at the first hill I've mentioned and found that I have cell service there, IF, you face east.  I checked my voicemail, just to check it out.

Anyway, we've had several "overnighters" here, since it's handy to Hwy 200.  Some visit, some not.  Most seem to be from Washington State.  They've all been quiet, but Friday night is coming and we all know what that can mean.

After dinner, inside, I moved back out and read.  The basic OFF! repellant works fine.  It's old.  I checked the copyright date and it showed 1988. Probably contains a bunch of illegal ingredients, but it does work.

After another stroll to get some sunset pics, I read long enough so that the flies flew the coop,  and I retired a bit later.  Quiet.

This morning, Friday, before Lynn texted me, I ate and started my hike on the same trail I had ridden yesterday.  I stopped at the same first hill, which I now call Communication Slope or Commie Hill,for short, and surprised Lynn with a call.  She was amazed, more or less.  She had just come in from picking more raspberries.  Our total, so far, is 13.5 pounds.  A banner year, it is.

Oh, on my way back from the hike I noticed an older Ford truck moving very slowly down the CG entrance road.  I also noticed a sizable  amount of oil on the road behind where it had driven.  I waved the ol' guy down and told him about it..  I left right away, but couldn't help but noticed that he had NOT shut off the engine, yet was walking behind the truck and checking the oil track.  Hmmm, he hadn't looked like "Fulbright" material, but he WAS driving.  Sheesh!

I had a short visit with the CG Host.  It's the first time I'd seen him outside of his trailer.  He'd driven by Shorty twice, but hadn't looked in my direction.  He was a sociable sort, from Wyoming, and in his second year here.  We discussed the "Wyoming Breeze", as I referred to the wind there last year in the blog.  He agreed. How could he not?

Temperature-wise, it's gotten up to 87 so far and down to 48 this morning.  The "authentic" breeze here, is ever-present, but helps to confound the flies and keep me cool.  That's a good thing. 

Everyone on this end of the campground left today, Friday.  In moving around later I found that two couples from WA state  were headed to my ol' stomping grounds, White Sulphur Springs, for the Red Ants Pants Concert.  We had considered going also, but with the death of our dear neighbor, Jolene, it has worked out for the best. Her Celebration of Life is tomorrow.

Those folks were so excited about the Red Ants, that I hereby make a flexible vow to head up there next year.  For those of you who don't know, Lynn, Lisa and I lived there for two years while I taught high school.  Joe, the late comer, live there for just about his entire first year.  The fest is on land owned by one of the school board members from back then in the "dark ages."  Enough history...

There's smoke in the skies here.  Bad for the lungs, but great for sunset photos.  I rode Dolores out to the highway and got a few decent shots.  You be the judge... They'll be you-know-where...

I'll be returning to Helena in the morning, so this just about does it.  As always, thanks for stopping by and making this all worthwhile.  I'm going inside and having an ice cream bar in your honor. Cheers!

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photodon on

Quiet is good. Coolness is good. Traveling solo is good. Wind is good as it is nearly constant here in the Sacramento River Delta notably known as “The Delta Breeze," it keeps the air fresh and cooler on hot days. Staying sober is good. That’s true about the return trip along the same trail give new, unique views. One of my mantras is “turn around and see a different view.” Beautiful sunset & other images, Ralph on you know where ;)

ferdie on

That was a GREAT commentary! When are we going back to fish the BF....that was a good tease for me! I have one rod off getting repaired but spares for sure! 13 lbs. holy cow!

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