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.


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


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:




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.






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.

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.


This was taken from the trail leading to the bridge.


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





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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.





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.


Then I focused in on the creators of the mural.


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




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


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



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!


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



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.




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.

Too HOT…Gotta Go

Wifi at library

The other day I was looking for the post office to check that I could have my mail sent there by General Delivery.  I found it on Main St. (which is not even a main street) and they confirmed that I could have it sent there.  I then contacted Escapees Mail Service to have them send it out. 

But right across the street from the post office was the library.  Great!! I can now use the library’s Wifi to send and receive email and publish my posts.  I have been using McDonald’s, but I felt compelled to buy lunch and their Wifi was not very fast.

I used the library to publish my last two posts and found it to be quite fast.  I need a fast Internet in order to upload my pics.  Plus the library also has a nice picnic table out front that I can use for my phone calls.

Libby Dam Tour

I returned to the Libby Dam for a free tour.  What an amazing tour that was.  You are able to walk across the top of the dam and peer over both of the sides.  One side you are looking down about 20 feet to the water of Lake Koocanusa, while on the other side you are looking down about 300 feet to the bottom of the dam and the Kootenai River.

Then they take you about 300 feet down to the bottom of the dam where they showed the generators that produce the electricity.  The tour guides took us into one of the rooms that housed a generator that was a backup and not on line.  There they explained how they work and we could be right in the same room as the generator.

Next they let us peek into a room that housed a generator that was on line.  It was extremely loud and we could only remain there for a very short time.

They also showed us the large crane inside the dam that could move the huge parts that make up a generator.  It could lift 300 million tons.  Some of the parts of the generator weighed 250 million tons.  The company that sold them the generators they learned was going out of business so they decided to buy up as many spare parts as their budget would allow, so there were many spare parts in huge boxes around.

We then ventured out to look at the spillway.  We could actually get right up to the edge of the spillway but you got very wet.  It was very exciting seeing so much water coming through the gate up top of the spillway.  We were just to the left of the spillway at the very bottom of the dam, behind the cement wall you see in the next pic.


Need Propane

I have a 5 gallon propane container hooked up to my rig using an “Extend-A-Stay”.  I run all my propane off this tank and when it runs out I switch it over to the propane tank on my rig.  Then I take the external tank into town and get it refilled.  This way I always have propane and don’t have to drive my rig into town to refill it.  Well I had to find propane for my tank and just happened to be driving past an RV park that sold it. 

Tanks are full

My tanks need to be dumped and the ladies I had met a few days ago told me about an RV park about 1-½ miles from here that would let me dump my tanks for $5.  That may sound like a lot to just dump your tank, but they are in the forest and aren’t connected to a sewer system.  Plus driving into town will cost me more then double the $5.

I will have to button down all the hatches and put everything away in order to drive down there.  The last time I dumped my tanks was 13 days ago at the Fish Creek campground in Glacier National Park.  I could probably go one more day making it 2 weeks since the last dump, but I don’t want to be going down there on the busy weekend.

Hot…Hot… and Hotter…

Yesterday it was extremely hot.  Not sure what the temp was but heard on the radio they were getting temps in Phoenix of 115-120.  That is too hot for my blood.  We sat outside in the shade but to no avail.  Outside the flies would drive you crazy.   Even Chica noticed how hot it was so I put her in the sink and dribbled water on her to cool her off. She really loved that.  Sorry no pic.

It was even hot into the night so I had the vent over my bed in the loft wide open and still couldn’t cool off.  Hopefully tomorrow will be much cooler.

I discovered a local that lives about ½ mile from my campsite that sells fresh eggs for $2 per dozen.  I have gone from eating eggs and bacon daily to just eating Eggbeaters and no bacon.  I know eggs aren’t the best things to eat on a daily basis, but I will only be here a short time so decided to try their fresh eggs.  There is nothing like them.  They taste so much better then store bought.  I first started eating fresh eggs last year when I was camp hosting in Oregon.  YUM YUM!!

Chica hates dumpsters…

Every morning I would take Chica for a walk around the park.  I would also take my trash with me and throw it away in the dumpster at the other side of the park.  When I would get anywhere near the dumpster Chica would freak out and refuse to go near it. 

When I found Chica in Mesa, AZ (or should I say when Chica found me) I talked to several people around me to see if they knew her owner.  Joe and Jane who also worked with me at the ballpark said they had seen several Chihuahuas always hanging around the dumpster.  I guess they were looking for anything that didn’t make it into the dumpster.  I don’t know what scares Chica so much about the dumpster but there must be some reason why she is so afraid of them.  So now I will take the trash down there myself and not have to submit her to that awful reminder.  How could anyone hurt this little girl?


Moving into Libby

There is a 14-day limit on staying here and I it also applies to all COE parks in the area so I have decided to move into Libby and stay at the Fireman and Memorial Municipal Park in town for $10 per night.  I will be able to avoid the holiday madness, plus I would have great cell phone/Internet service.

There are no hookups but they have a dump and water available, plus the park is really nice and located right in the heart of the town.  I can walk to everything here.  After driving back and forth into town I think I will like the fact I will have cell phone/Internet access and get a chance to catch up on the blogs I enjoy reading.

So I am only going to be at Blackwell Flats through July 2 then moving on July 3 to Libby. 

Change of plans

We decided to move in to Libby today and for now I am staying at the Woodland RV Park in town.  We both needed the A/C.  Today the high was going up to 102 degrees and with no A/C running it makes the inside of an RV like a hot box.  We  just need to get cooled off.  It sure is nice with the A/C running.

I still am planning on moving to the Fireman’s Municipal Memorial Park once I think it is cool enough.  There are lots of trees there and should keep us cool.


Blackwell Flats Campground Part 2

Met my neighbors and a visit to Libby Dam

I finally met my neighbors today.  It turns out they are two very independent women who are traveling full time in their rig.  One is from England and the other is from South Africa.  They bought their rig and have been traveling in it since 2010.  They travel in it until there money runs out and then work for 6 months and then are on the road again.  This past year they toured the entire outside of mainland Mexico and are now on their way to Alaska.

They too have become fond of free camping spots as it gives them more time on the road before they have to return to work.

I decided to check out the Libby Dam just 4 miles up stream from my campsite.  It was closed for tours on Sunday so will have to return some time through the week.  I was able to check out their Visitor’s Center and it was very informative.  The dam is huge as you can see.




 It creates the giant Lake Koocanusa reservoir, which extends all the way into British Columbia.


I will return sometime during the week to take the free tour.  It should be really interesting.

Nice drive on a forest road

Later before returning to my campsite I found the two other Corps of Engineers parks.  Alexander Creek was closed but Dunn Creek Flats is open I will probably stay there once my time at Blackwell Flats is up.  Then I found an interesting forest road that I decided to check out.  It was a one-lane gravel road that went along Dunn Creek.


It was a very smooth road so I took it for 4 miles back into the forest.


What a neat ride.  This is what I really intended when I purchased my car.  To be able to venture down these old forest roads.


I went up the road to the 4 mile marker and then turned around.  This is a pic where it crossed the Dunn Creek.


It was a fun ride.  Looking at the map there are many of these forest roads to explore.  Hunters probably use them during the hunting season.

Today I awoke early to turn on the heat for Chica.  The weather has been very nice and I don’t even run the Wave 3 at night.  However it is overcast this morning and there was a small sprinkle last night.  I hope we aren’t in for more rain.  Anyway I happened to look out the window and saw these two in the meadow.  Unfortunately when I opened my door they heard it and took off shortly after this pic was taken.


Those two got even braver the next day and came down to the river at the next site over from mine.



I love this spot, as it is so tranquil.

Chica goes wild

Some of you have asked to include Chica in my blog more often.  I took this pic of her finishing off my Ben and Jerry’s Cinnamon Buns ice cream.  She loves it and so do I for that matter.  If you haven’t tried it you should.


Yesterday a group of picnickers came to the site next to mine.  Their huge Golden Retriever was not on a leash and happened to stroll into my campsite.  Chica could see it through the screen door and without even hesitating ran right out the door knocking it open.  She leaped off the step and was right in this dogs face.  The dog was big and must have weighed at least 75 lbs. but that made no difference to her.

The dog looked at her and slowly started heading back to its master.  I grabbed Chica and put her back in the rig.  I had to calm her down, as she wouldn’t stop barking.

I can leave my door open all day long and she will never go out of the rig until I call her.  Now I am going to have to fasten my screen door so that she doesn’t do the same thing again.  It could be an aggressive dog or even a wild animal next time.

Watch out for this wild animal the next time you are camping in the wild.


Both Chica and I are having a wonderful time in Montana!

Blackwell Flats Campground Part 1

Blackwell Flats Corps of Engineers Recreation Area – Libby, MT

In the “Guide to Free Campgrounds” I previously mentioned I found a park in Libby called the Fireman & Memorial Municipal Park.  They have RV sites there and the price in the guide was only $2 per night.  Plus they have water and a dump station.  That sounds like my kind of place.

I pulled it up on my GPS and started on my way.  It got me right to the place with no problem.  However economic times have changed drastically for this park.  Now they are charging $10 per night. Wow, what an increase!

I checked out my cell phone service and it was 3G so called my sister to let her know where I was located and then decided to see if I could find a cheaper spot.  Cheaper as in FREE.  HA!

I found a National Forest campground called Timberlane and figured with my geezer pass it wouldn’t be too expensive.  This showed up on my GPS and it was the closest campground to Libby.  So off I went.  But when I arrived the gate was closed.  What, no camping at the end of June!

I then looked for other campgrounds in the area using the extras on my GPS.  I had input campgrounds using the POI Factory website.  It came up with the Blackwell Flats Corps of Engineers campground.  I looked it up in the “Guide to Free Campgrounds” and it was listed and showed that there were 7 primitive sites, but no drinking water.  The cost listed was FREE.  That cost is more up my alley.  So off I went.

It turned out to be a great place with nice campsites along the Kootenai River.  What a deal.  It also had a picnic table and fire pit.  I found a great site that even had a cement slab so I was fairly level.  So this became my home for a while.

And then it rained…


And it rained…


We were actually almost in the clouds.



Weather is finely starting to clear up

When the heavy rain turned to a sprinkle I got this pic.  You can see the river flowing about 50 feet from us.  It is very picturesque.  I can’t wait until it stops raining.


So I cranked up my trusty Wave 3 heater and kicked back the remainder of the day and watched the rain.  The big excitement from then on was when a Corps of Engineer employee came over to tack some new reading material on their bulletin board.  It is about 100 feet from our rig.  Chica went absolutely berserk barking at this guy who is standing out in the rain.  She even started growling at him.  I wonder what she would have done if the guy happened to come over to our rig.

It finally stopped raining so got out my dish to see what I could get on TV.  I was able to get it set up and had quite a few channels.  But I am only about 50 miles from the Canadian border and it doesn’t give me all the channels.  Unfortunately I am unable to call Dish unless I drive into Libby, but my TV is out where there is no cell phone service, so I will just wait until I get in an area where both my cell phone and my satellite dish are operating.

I was all by myself here for several days while it rained.  Then a motorhome drove in here and parked and has been here for two nights.  Yesterday two more campers came by so the place was getting busy.  But this morning, everyone was gone but the motorhome and me.

I am planning on staying here until I need to dump, then I will go into the Fireman’s Memorial Park in Libby where I will stay for the night.  While I am there I can dump my tanks and take on fresh water.  Then I will move to another Corps of Engineers park called Dunn Flats where I can also camp free.  Dunn Flats COE is about ½ mile from here on the other side of the river.  I am in no hurry to get back on the road.  On the Alberta trip we were on the move quite often, sometimes every day.  I am in the mood to just settle down for a while, do some hiking and sightseeing in the area, and work on my rig.

Yesterday I had repaired a 12V bulb that had broken off in its socket.  I had to scrape all of the glass out of it.  I had a 12V bulb but it was too big so bought one at Ace.  I have been cleaning my rig and also need more cleaning supplies.  I also need to get all the dust out of it after the 2500 mile trip through Alberta.  I also organized my passenger seat compartments.  Now everything is at my fingertips while I am driving, including Chica.

The past couple of days have been very overcast although it has stopped raining.  Today I got up to bright blue skies with hardly a cloud.  Here is a pic of the Kootenai River as it flows nearby my campsite.


This is my campsite for the last several days and many days to come.


I am trying to post more often, but my poor Internet reception does not allow me to post until I drive into Libby, which is about 17 miles from here.  So I will post as often as I get into town.