A very nice advantage of Blogging

I received this email recently

Hi Jim,

My name is Molly. However my maiden name is Molly Blackwell and I’m originally from libby,  MT.  A  friend of mine sent me a link to you’re blog about Blackwell Flats.  And I have to say I enjoyed it very much.  I grew up I that very same spot and spent much of my childhood fly fishing right there.

My grandfather Lewis Blackwell moved to libby from Billings to build the libby dam. There was nothing out there so just above blackwell flats he built blackwell trailor court and that was for the men and their family’s building the dam.  it stayed long after the dam was built and turned into its own tiny town.  Laundry,  gas station,  grocery store….my aunt drove a garbage truck while my dad and uncle dumped the garbage.  Years after it closed Blackwell flats came to be and it was named after my grandfather. Just a little history.  Thank you for the story.  My grandpa would have loved to know it was being enjoyed.

Molly

I wrote her back asking permission to post her email on my blog.  Shen then wrote me the following email.

You can absolutely share that story…. There is a lot of fun history about libby.  We lived off hwy 2 heading towards troy.  So we were all over those trails and swinging bridge growing up.  If you get the chance the movie,  a river wild,  with kevin bacon and meryl streep was filmed at those falls. Also in the early 90’s I believe the movie,  always,  with john goodman was filmed on the other side towards kalispell out at the “airport”. I also read your other blogs about libby and the falls.  I just really enjoyed them all and it made me home sick. Thank you

Molly

Thrilled to get that email

It always makes me feel good when someone lets me know they enjoyed my blog.  But to have someone who actually grew up in that area is really special.  Then you get a sense of what it was like for them growing up.

I visited Libby back in June/July, 2013. just after my trip into Canada.  No one had mentioned Libby to me, but I just thought it looked interesting.  What a treasure that was.  Plus the camping was very cheap.

There are two blog posts that Molly is referring to:

http://jimbosjourneys.com/2013/06/27/blackwell-flats-campground-part-1/

and

http://jimbosjourneys.com/2013/06/27/blackwell-flats-campground-part-2/

There are several other blog posts about the Libby, MT area which you can read.  I loved this area and would highly recommend it to anyone traveling in Montana.

Pics from my stay in Libby.

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Thanks Molly!!

Thanks Molly for the wonderful emails and a bit of history about Blackwell Flats and the Libby area.  It brought back great memories of my trip there.

Sula, MT to Leadore, ID

Out of the forest

I decided it was time to descend out of the forest and head on down the road.  I have been in the Warm Springs Campground for 4 days and figured that was enough.  Besides I had to find a dump site and get some groceries.

I checked the atlas and noted that the Sula Country Store and RV Park was only 5 miles away so I headed out of the Bitterroot Forest for the last time and drove over to the country store.  It was a quaint little spot just off of highway 93 and a full hook-up site was $25.

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  I pulled in and found a pull through site so I wouldn’t even have to unhook the “Sami”.

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It was nice and cool here and didn’t even have to run the A/C.  The store was very small and everything was rather expensive so planned on hitting a Walmart soon.

This place is right on the Bitterroot River and you could walk right down to it.

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Treated myself to a great breakfast

This little country store had a restaurant as well that was open for breakfast and lunch.  Since I didn’t have any breakfast fixin’s left in my rig I decided to have someone else cook breakfast for me.  Two eggs over easy, sourdough toast, bacon and coffee.  YUUUUM!

Oops – took the the wrong turn

When I left the next day I filled up with gas and turned left on the 93.  My goal was to turn east on the 43 over to Wisdom, MT and then up to Butte, MT.  I wasn’t paying much attention and continued down the 93 for a ways then realized I should have turned right coming out from the gas station.  By this time I had climbed up a rather steep pass and almost down the other side.  I didn’t want to have to turn around and go up that pass again so checked the atlas to see what was available in Idaho.

I passed a recreation site but it was right off the highway.  Then I came to Leadore, ID where there was a ranger station.  The nice lady inside told me of a couple of spots.  One was a forest service campground about 10 miles up into the mountains and the other was a BLM site about 4 miles out of town.  Since I was only going to stay one night I opted for the BLM campground.  It was a nice little campground and again had a stream running about 20′ from my rig.

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It was also at the base of the the Beaverhead Mountains, which run along the Continental Divide.

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Found an old miner’s cabin

There was a old mine around there somewhere and I happened to spot this old miner’s cabin while on a hike.

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It was very dilapidated.  I walked around the cabin to see if I could find any relics, but all I saw were a bunch of ammo shells.  Someone else must have cleaned it out.

Run Chica Run

I am very careful to always have Chica on her leash, especially in campgrounds and around other dogs.  I am also aware of birds of prey such as hawks or eagles.  There was another couple camping but they were at the far end of the campground.  I also didn’t see any hawks or other animals in the area.  So I let her off her leash for a short time.  We walked around and with a bit of coaxing she walked out on the bridge to see the creek.

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Then I let her run.  Chica loves to run and she will run circles around me.

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Then when she is finished running she heads straight for the rig.

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It was really a fun time.  Tomorrow I will head to the Walmart in Idaho Falls, ID to pick up some supplies and then who knows where I will be.

Warm Springs USDA Campground – Conner, MT

Found a great spot

I was looking for a spot that was not too far off Highway 93 since I would be driving south on it.  I was fortunate to find a great campground just about 1.5 miles off the highway.  No highway noise and lots of dense forest.  I got parked and took this pic out my window.  You can see that the forest is very dense up here.

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Here is a pic of the campsite just a short distance down the road.

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The sound of the creek is very soothing

We are parked about 100 feet from Warm Springs Creek.  The sound of the water is very soothing.  I wish I could find a place like this every time I decide to camp.  We could hear it but you couldn’t see it.

Chica and I would take walks around the entire campgrounds each day.  Since the forest was so dense there were only a couple spots where you had access to the creek.  They were somewhat steep and Chica did not like them when I first introduced her to these trails.  She was a bit nervous but with a bit of coaxing she did OK.  However, Chica does not like water and doesn’t even want to get close to it.

Here is the only spot where we were able to get down right by the creek.

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The temps got into the 90’s the entire time we were there but we were able to keep cool since we were in the shade.  However we still got plenty of sun for the solar panels to restore our house batteries.

Found a great spot

I had Internet and cell phone service here but the Internet kept cutting out and it took forever to upload pics for these posts.  But I wanted to catch up so usually did Internet stuff in the late afternoon when I was able to stay on line more.

These is a pic of the surrounding area.  We had peaks on either side of us.

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I originally signed up for 3 days at $4 per day with my “Geezer Pass”.  I swear you can’t believe the cost of these fabulous Montana Forest parks.  They are everywhere and so inexpensive.

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After 3 days I still had room in my tanks and plenty of water.  However, I was out of beer and just enough wine for another day.  So Chica and I went down and paid our $4 for the next day.  So now we have been here four days and enjoyed every minute.

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I have been in the Bitterroot Mountains and Bitterroot Valley since July 15.  I cannot say enough about this area.  It is really beautiful and a place I would always like to return to.  There are so many campgrounds that need to be visited.  Unfortunately I will only have one more day in this area and then heading to new adventures.

Way up in the Bitterroot Mountains – Slate Creek

Campground Full

After I left the Crooked Tree Ranch I headed south to Darby, MT.  I wanted to stop and call my sister.  I try to keep in contact as much as I can to see how my Mom is doing as well.  Everyone is OK.

Painted Rocks State Park

I looked on my atlas and thought that Lake Como just north of Darby might be a nice spot.  It was about 6 miles off of 93 and not too far to drive.  It was a beautiful setting, however the campground was completely full.  Lots of campers pulling boats for fishing.

So back to the 93 and headed south again.  I saw signs for the Painted Rocks State Park that was 23 miles into the Bitterroot Mountains.  I have not stayed at any of the Montana State Parks thus far so thought I would check it out.

About a mile before the park you turn a corner and this is what you see.

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A beautiful mountain lake.  I drove another mile to the state park.  The cost for camping for non-resident campers was $20 per night with an additional $5 entrance fee per day, plus there were no hookups.

Slate Creek Campground

Just about where I took the pic above I saw a sign for Slate Creek Campground so I decided to go back and check it out.  It was a small campground made up of about 6 sites and right on the Slate Creek.  But the best part was that there was NO FEE as in FREE.  What a deal!  I found a nice site and made myself at home.

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Chica and I took a walk down to the creek.  This creek flows into the large lake seen in the first pic.

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The forest was very dense up here although we did have access to the creek.

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Chica was looking out the door in the evening and saw a large deer pass by our camp about 25 feet away.  I wasn’t fast enough with my camera to get a pic.  However the next morning I got this pic of a doe and her fawn.

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The next morning before departing, I took a ride over to the lake to get some pics.

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I went down to the State Park where they had a boat landing and a dock and got this pic from the end of the dock.

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I stayed at a beautiful campsite and the best part was that I was able to save $25 by not staying at the State Park.  Not too shabby!

Visiting friends – Day 3

Just horsing around

I was a good boy and stayed away from too much wine last night since Tad had mentioned that we should ride horses in the morning.  He saddled up Trinket for me and then worked on his horse named Blue.

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Here I am on Trinket all ready to to hit the trail..  What a cowboy!!  HA!!

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Then Tad saddled up Blue and off we went down the great trails in the forest.  I didn’t take my camera so didn’t get any pics.  I had my IPhone but was enjoying myself too much to remember to take any photos.  Sorry!

Riding horses is probably one of the best ways to see the beauty of the forest.  I can’t begin to explain my feelings.  We took the dirt road for a while and then it was off on some forest trails.  I am not a horseman and knew nothing about riding a horse or getting the horse to do what you wanted it to do.  But Tad is an excellent teacher and told me what to do and how to do it.  It was so much fun.

We even went up and down some trails that seemed rather steep to me (although probably not to Tad) and I hung right in their.  It probably was a good thing that I had a wonderful horse.

We were gone a couple of hours and probably went about 8 miles.  I was ecstatic throughout the entire ride.  Thanks Tad for the ride of my life in a beautiful forest setting.

 When we returned, Tad cooled down the horses and put them back in the corral.

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After they are watered down they love to roll around in the dirt.

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Thank You Tad and Diane

I cannot begin to thank Tad and Diane enough.  I had the time of my life.  I am really lucky to have such wonderful friends.

The Crooked Tree Ranch was much more then I ever expected, even after I had seen pictures of it last year.  They have worked very hard in making this a wonderful place.  I told them that this ranch is like a western Disneyland.  It truly is.

Good Bye to Crooked Tree Ranch

After riding I hooked up my rig, said my goodbyes and headed on down the road.  I really wasn’t sure where I was going to go except I knew I was heading south.

I am behind on my blog posting and reading by several days.  Some of it was due to the fact I was just having too much fun at the Crooked Tree Ranch and some was due to the fact I couldn’t get Internet service where I went after leaving the ranch.  I am going to try to catch up in the next couple of days.

 

Visiting friends – Day 2

Brave Chica!!!

I forgot to mention in my last post that after the quad ride we sat out in front of their house and watched the horses.  Diane took one horse out of it’s stable and of course Chica went wild.

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I don’t think she factors in the fact she is outweighed by the horse 1,200 lbs. to 2 lbs.  She showed no fear whatsoever and let that horse know who was boss.

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Finally after telling that horse who was boss she decided to kick back with us.

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What a great watch dog!

My head is killing me!!!

Unfortunately we drank a bit too much and felt it the next day.  We had planned on going horseback riding but that was definitely out of the question.

So while we were recuperating I decided to walk around their property and get some pics.

Tad set up a target for his bow and arrows.  I would have liked to try that but just ran out of time.

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This is their storage building.  It matches their house perfectly.

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The campfire area and the tree the ranch was named after.  Crooked Tree Ranch is a great name.

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Stables for the horses…

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A pic of the corral showing the Bitterroot Mountains in the background.

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Plus their beautiful home.

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This shows the entrance to the Crooked Tree Ranch.

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Changed Plans

We decided not to ride the horses but instead they drove me around their area in the Bitterroot Valley.  Our first stop, I was treated for lunch at a neat little restaurant in Victor and then drove to Corvallis, Darby and Hamilton.  We stopped at the Daly Mansion and walked around a bit.  What a fabulous place!

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A beautiful pic of the Bitterroot Valley and Bitterroot Mountains.

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Then we stopped for an ice cream cone in Darby.  They must have scooped at least a pint of ice cream in each cone.  We walked around this small town for a while and checked out some great shops.  One had a fabulous display of antiques and another had a fantastic array of taxidermy of all the animals you would find here in the valley and up in the mountains.  I am sorry I didn’t get any photos of those.

Then it was back home where we just had a relaxing time of watching the All Star game on TV.  I had planned on leaving early tomorrow, but they invited me to go horseback riding in the morning.

Visiting friends

Tanks full!!

The next day we made our way to the Missoula area.  I needed a place to dump my tanks and decided to spend the night in an RV park.  After being out with no hookups for the last 10 days, I wanted to take a good shower and not have to worry about water usage.

I drove through Missoula, MT and then on to Victor, MT and was surprised there were not too many campgrounds.  My friend Steve had suggested the Black Rabbit RV Park in Hamilton, MT just south of Victor.  So Black Rabbit it was.  Thanks Steve for a great suggestion.

The lady at the desk only had one campsite left so I was very lucky.  The longer shower was sure nice and I was able to clean up my rig from all the dust I accumulated.  After all I had been down a bunch of dusty washboard dirt roads going from campsite to campsite.

Great friends at Crooked Tree Ranch

The next day I got up and headed to my friends ranch outside of Victor, MT.  They had given me directions to take to get there and then said to call them once I hit the dirt road.  I called and Diane said they would be down shortly on one of their quads and escort me to their place.  Tad came down and led me to their place.  I would never have been able to find it on my own.

They are way up in the Bitterroot Mountains, where they have built the Crooked Tree Ranch over many years.  They used to come up there on their vacations from work and live in a trailer.  Their property is heavily populated with trees and it took them many summers just to clear them before they could start building.

This is the entrance to their ranch and you can see the Bitterroot Valley far below.

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Their trailer reminded them of all the hard work they put in and had it enclosed in a log cabin.  How cool is that?

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They had both 30 amp and 50 amp hookups with a dump station and water for their RV visitors like myself.  Here is where I was camped for two nights.

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Driving quads – What a blast!!

The first day I was there they got out the quads.  They were 4WD and could go anywhere.  This was my first experience driving a quad.  I am hooked for life.  These things are a blast.  You can go anywhere in them.  At first we stayed on the dirt road until I got used to driving it.   We made this stop at the Bear Creek Trailhead.  What a gorgeous view of the creek.

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We stopped at one of their neighbors homes built right on a creek.

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Here is a pic of my gracious hosts, Tad and Diane in front of their neighbor’s home.  Those were the quads we drove over there on.

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Here is another pic of a different portion of the creek.

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Then we drove home through many really neat forest trails.  Later in the evening, after dinner, Tad and I took went for another ride through more steep terrain and found some bones.  I didn’t really run over them. HA!

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Then we drove over to a lookout where another neighbor had built a home.  The scenery around here is breathtaking.

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Here is a pic of Tad under the neighbor’s outdoor shower.

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What a wonderful day!  Then back to their home where we got out the wine and enjoyed some great conversations and star gazing.  

Cabin City, MT

Taking my friends suggestions

After staying a couple of days at the North Shore campground outside of Trout Creek, MT, I continued my trek south to a USFS campground just a few miles north of Saint Regis, MT.  My friends Linda and Carole, who were part of the caravan through Canada, I stopped here and highly recommended it. Thanks Linda and Carole for the great suggestion!

I get a lot of recommendations from many people suggesting, “I stop at different places” or “don’t forget to see this”.  Of course I can’t fit everything into my schedule, but I do try to check as many out as I can.

Although Saint Regis was a bit out of my way I thought I would check it out anyway.  Just 11 miles north of Saint Regis is a very small town called Cabin City where I found a wonderful campground.  They have two loops and I found a nice spot in Loop B.  There was no electricity or dump station, but they did have water.

I found this campsite, which had lots of room and settled in.

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They had a new camp host who was a gold miner and we had several good conversations about finding gold and camp hosting.  He was really a great guy.  Just in front of where I had the Sami parked was a dirt road that led into the forest.  However it was closed, so couldn’t drive down it.  But Chica and I took a nice long hike down it to see what was there.

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We found a beautiful patch of flowers.

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All around the campsite were trails that led off into the forest.  It was very dense up there and since we were in bear country I decided that it would not be a good idea to have Chica as bear bait so we stayed close to our camp.

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Bear in camp

The first night in our camp the host came by to warn us that a bear had come into someone’s camp in the other loop and ransacked their food.  The lady was camping in a tent and was able to scare the bear off, but not after it had destroyed most of her food.

This was a case where a camper was too complacent about keeping their food in a vehicle.  The host told me that she had all her food out on the table and it was easy pickins’ for the bear.  DUH!! Not too smart.  When up in bear country you need to take precautions and not invite the bear into your camp for a meal.  Oh well, live and learn.  At least no one was injured.

I did not hear anymore about the bear the next day and two days later we will make our way toward Missoula, MT and then Victor, MT for a couple of days with my friends at their ranch.

Kootenai Falls, MT

Kootenai Falls were spectacular

The last thing I wanted to do before leaving the Libby area was to hike to the Kootenai falls.  I was going to drive out there Monday since I thought I would be driving east when leaving Libby, however after talking to Butch, the camp host, he suggested driving a different route to the Missoula area.

This would take me past the falls so I decided to head to the laundromat and did about two weeks of dirty clothes.  I’m glad I got that done so I wouldn’t need to look for a laundromat later on down the road.

So I got all hooked up and headed west toward Troy, MT.  The falls were about 11 miles out of Libby and you could tell where they were by all the parked RVs and cars.

It was a short hike to a swinging bridge where you could get a great view of the river.  There were signs posted stating how dangerous the river is in the spot.  Nine people have lost their lives including rescuers attempting to save others.  I hiked to the swinging bridge and took this pic from it.

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This was taken from the trail leading to the bridge.

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Finally as I was returning I discovered a trail that led closer to the falls.  What a view this was.

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Heading South

My plan was to head west and then south to Thompson Falls, MT.  But as I was traveling down Highway 200 I noticed along the Noxon Reservoir many signs indicating National Forest campgrounds.  I decided to stop for a minute and check in my “Free Campgrounds” book what was available in the area.  I found many in the area and headed for the North Shore NFS Campground just outside of the town of Trout Creek, MT.  What a find!

There were quite a few campers there but I was lucky to find a nice site among the trees.  It also looked like it might be a good spot for my solar panels as well.  Plus the cost was only $5 per night with my “Geezer Card”.  I paid for two nights and got settled in.

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I am behind on my blogging and I apologize, but unfortunately I have been in areas where I have very poor Internet access.  Sometimes I can get on and other times forget it.  As far as uploading pics it is very slow.  The pics in this post took between 20-30 minutes EACH.  I can normally upload 10-15 pics in just a few minutes with a good Internet signal.  I am hoping I can catch up once I get to Missoula tomorrow.

Murals of Libby, MT

Moved to Fireman Memorial Park

The weather finally started to cool off (80’s) so I decided to move to the Fireman Memorial Park.  It is a small park in the heart of Libby, MT with lots of trees to keep us cool.  There are only about 10 sites so decided on this one.

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It is a great little spot, but if you enlarge the pic you will see that I am camped out about 50 feet from Rosauers Supermarket.  This has really come in handy though especially for brewskies and fresh veggies.  Unfortunately there is a path through the park that is used by a lot of people that live outside the park as a shortcut to the market.  It does get a lot of traffic and got Chica to barking a lot whenever someone would go by.  After a few days though she has finally gotten used to them and has settled down.  Now she only barks at the occasional dog being walked down that path.

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There really aren’t too many campers here even though it was the 4th of July weekend, but I did see a few come and go.  There is a 5 day limit on camping here so will I will probably stay 4 days and move on down the road. Changed my mind and am going to stay an extra day and leave on Tuesday.

A plus that Chica really enjoyed was a walk over to the park, which is right next to the campground.  Here is a pic of Chica sitting in the laps of two cuddly bears.

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She is also a great guard dog whenever any other dogs go by.  She lets them know who is the real boss.

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Murals of Libby

One of the neat things I noticed about Libby were the many murals painted on the sides of many of the buildings around town.  After spotting a couple I decided to keep an eye open for them.  Then I really started to notice many of them.

Yesterday I got my camera and started carousing about town to see what I could find.

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I happened to notice a street fair down the main drag of town so decided to check it out.  As I saw more and more of these fabulous murals I stopped to ask someone if they knew who made them.  Sure enough he did and directed me to Todd Berget who also had a booth displaying statues of eagles he had created.

I had to meet this guy so went down to his booth and introduced myself and we began talking about the murals.  He is an art teacher at the Alternative School and told me that the murals were created by he and his students.  The students did the initial work and then he finished up.  He mentioned that he did not take any credit for the murals and did not put his name on them.  Instead all the students that took part in creating the mural added their names to it.  That is why you will see so many names in the corner.  This next pic is a good example.

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Then I focused in on the creators of the mural.

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He explained to me that there were many murals throughout the town.  Here are a few more pics of these fabulous murals.

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Finally a HUGE fishin’ pole that caught a wopper in the creek that runs right next to the supermarket.

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Todd also created the huge eagles on either end of the town.

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Very unique creations

Todd also worked with a student to erect this unique statue out front of the Ace Hardware.  They found the old truck, painted it and formed the firecracker and then erected it.  How cool!

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I don’t know if he was responsible for this one, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he was.

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Cozy little campground

I really enjoyed my stay at the Fireman Municipal Park Campground.  It was $10 per night but no electric.  They did have a dump station and you could also get water.  It was within walking distance to just about everything in Libby.  There were very tall Ponderosa pines everywhere making it very shady.  However I had to run my generator in the morning.  In my location I would not get good sun light on my solar panels until about 5pm.

But the wildflowers were beautiful as you can see.

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Stop here if you get the chance

If you are anywhere near this area I suggest you take a few days and see the wonderful sites around here.  I didn’t have any knowledge of Libby, MT and it’s surrounding area, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I wouldn’t mind staying around here longer, but have committed to visiting friends in another week so need to head out.

I was going to leave Monday morning but since I have another day left at this campground I have decided to stay through Monday and leave  on Tuesday.  There is just too much to see in this little town and it’s surrounding area.