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.

McGregor Lake, MT

McGregor Lake, MT

After Glacier National Park, I wasn’t sure where to head.  One thing I did know is that I wanted to stay away from expensive campgrounds.  The trip to Alberta put me way over my budget in just about every category.  It had to be cheap!

I pulled out my 2005 edition of Don Wright’s “Guide to Free Campgrounds”.  By far it is not the latest edition, but may give me some ideas as to where to stay.

My choice was a National Forest Campground on McGregor Lake just 32 miles west of Kalispell.  Not a bad day’s drive.  I wanted to stop in Kalispell at the WalMart to pick up some groceries.  I had it dialed into my trusty GPS, but when it said I arrived it was nowhere around.  Don’t you just love GPS when it has no idea where it is?  Several times in Alberta the GPS had us incorrectly going down dirt roads to our destination.  Sometimes you just have to ignore its directions.

I stopped and asked someone directions to the Walmart but they were no better then the GPS.  I finally gave up and went to a Smith’s instead.  By the way it was a fantastic market.

Then it was down the road to McGregor Lake.  This time the GPS had it right on. DUH!  Wouldn’t think that the GPS could miss a lake!

The “Guide to Free Campgrounds” said the campground would cost $8 per night with no hookups, but they did have water.  Well times have changed folks.  It is now $12 per night.  Still not bad when I only had to pay $6 with my geezer pass.

I drove around the park and just happened to get the only pull through in the park.  How lucky was that!


Beautiful Lake but no communication

I checked out my cell phone and the dreaded “No Service” was showing.  My next option to communicate with the outside world was to plug in my Wi-Fi and booster.  Two RED lights appeared for 3G and 4G.  It said I had a connection but with the lights red it could not access the server.

I then decided to stay only one night and look for something tomorrow with at least Wi-Fi.  I took a hike around the campground and down to the lake.  I found these keys laying on a stump.  I hope the loser of the keys isn’t too upset.


McGregor Lake is 5 miles long and the water was crystal clear.  I couldn’t see any fish, but I bet there were plenty of them.




This was a trail that led through the picnic grounds and to the boat dock.


If I could have gotten Wi-Fi I might have stayed here for several days, but in the morning I decided to move on to Libby, MT about 54 miles from here.  It is a good-sized town and I would expect it to have both cell service and Internet.

Glacier National Park (continued)

Moved to a new site

I had to change sites from Loop A to Loop B as A sites were all reserved for the next few days.  I decided to stay an additional 2 days to get to see more of Glacier’s beauty.  I had to wait until the people in the site I had reserved had left before I could move over there.  I then drove the car over and walked back to the rig, then drove the rig over and got all settled in.

Later on I drove over to the Discovery Cabin across from the Apgar Visitors Center just inside the West Glacier entrance.  It was a small cabin that contained a lot of interesting items.  They had many of the skulls of different animals within the park.  I found this display showing a variety of antlers of many animals.


They also had a full coat of both the black bear and the grizzly bear to show you the difference between the two.  You could see the claws up close.  What a difference!  The grizzly claws were huge compared to the black bear.  I sure would not want to run into one of those guys.

I also heard a very educational talk on Glaciers by the ranger outside of the Discovery Cabin.  What I found very interesting was that there were 150 glaciers when Glacier became a national park back in 1910.  Today there are only 26 glaciers in the park and the ranger said that in 7 years there would be 0 glaciers.  Whether you believe in “Global Warming” or not it is hard to justify what is occurring in Glacier National Park.

Lake MacDonald Lodge and Falls

The next day I traveled to the other end of Lake MacDonald to the Lake MacDonald Lodge.  It was really a beautiful setting.



The lobby was fantastically beautiful.



This was taken standing on the pier in front of the lodge.


Then I traveled further to the Lake MacDonald Falls.  What a mass of rushing water.




Avalanche Creek Campground

Then my adventure took me to the Avalanche Creek Campground.  This was the end of the trail as the park was closed off at this point until they get the snow plowed.  The campground was closed for camping but actually became a big parking lot for all the hikers.

This picture does not really do this justice as it looks much more fantastic in person.  It is just up the road from Avalanche Creek Campground.





Trail of the Cedars

Then I took the “Trail of the Cedars” hike.  It was a short hike (.8 mile), but takes you through a very deep cedar forest.  It is really beautiful.





On my return trip to my campsite I took these pics of Lake MacDonald.



It was a great day visiting just a few of the attractions of Glacier National Park.  The ranger in the Discovery Cabin told me that I should return after July 1 when all the roads are open.  She suggested the Logan Pass Trolley that takes you to many scenic spots.  You can also get off for pics and hiking and get on the next trolley.  I am not sure I will be in the area at that time, but for those of you who mentioned they were coming to the park around that time, I would highly recommend it.

No to slow Internet

It has taken me a while to upload this post.  I am in a spot where there is no Internet so I went into the town and my Millenicom WiFi was extremely slow.  So I am now in a McDonald’s using their fast WiFi.  I will be posting more in a couple of days regarding my present location.

Glacier National Park

Border Crossing

We crossed the border at a little town called Coutts, AB.  It went without a hitch as John and Linda went first and paved the way for the rest of us.  Just the usual “Do you have any fruits and vegetables?” question and I was back in the good ole USA.   Here is a pic of me crossing the border taken by Linda of adventureswithsadie blog fame.


As much as I enjoyed this trip throughout Alberta, I am really glad to see the prices go down for gas ($3.65 vs about $4.62 per gallon) and wine ($9.99 vs $5.90 for a bottle of Yellow Tail).

The day started out beautiful but as soon as we got across the border it started to rain.  It was a huge downpour and it was difficult to even see the road for a while it was coming down so hard.  It then turned to a light rain which followed us almost into West Glacier NP.

Fish Creek Campground

I had made reservations online prior to the start of the trip for 2 days at the Fish Creek Campground.  We were all camped in Loop A for our final get together.  Everyone in the group had made reservations for 2 nights.  This is a couple of pics of Lake McDonald from the Visitor’s Center boat dock.



Fish Creek is located on Lake McDonald on the west side of Glacier NP.  It was a beautiful setting among the trees.  I got settled in and took Chica for a walk.  We hadn’t gone 100 feet, when a large deer crossed the road in front of us.  At first both the deer and Chica stopped and just stared at each other.  Then as the deer started across the road Chica began getting braver and started to bark.  It was very funny.  Sorry but I didn’t have my camera at the time, but this is the same deer I saw later looking for food inside the campground.  It is between the two tall trees just right of center.


I Brake for Bears too!

The  next morning I decided to take a drive north of our campground.  About 10 miles up the road I saw a bunch of cars stopped on the road.  Up here that only means one thing.  There must be something for a photo opportunity.  I stopped also and sure enough there was a black bear (only it was colored brown) foraging the area at the side of the road for food (probably berries).


I didn’t want to get too close to this guy.  I may have come within a foot of a rattlesnake but did not want to get within a foot of this guy.




Happy 75th Birthday

That night we all met for a 75th birthday party.  Randy found out he was not the only one celebrating this milestone birthday.  After checking with all the others in our group, he found out that there were 6 of us who have or would be celebrating their 75th birthday shortly.  So he and Suzanne bought a cake and we all celebrated with them.

Here is Randy emceeing the party.


And the delicious cake!


Here are the 75’ers.  Age means nothing to any of them as they were all very active.  From left to right standing, Linda, Al, Randy and Suzanne.  Sitting is Dian and Pete.  Happy 75th guys!  I hope I too will be as active at that age as you are.


Our last night together

We had fun getting together for the celebration since it was our last night together.  We took a group picture of those camping at Fish Creek.  However it is missing John and Linda, Coy and Cynthia, as well as Tony and Michelle who departed earlier.


Standing from left to right: Linda, Carole, yours truly, Suzanne, Al, Anna, Randy, Nikki, Steve, Pam and John.  Sitting and kneeling: Dian, Pete and Zoe.

Pete from the Lazy Daze Northwest group was the wagon master for this wonderful trip.  I only knew a few people prior to starting this adventure, but got to know everyone before it ended,  I had a fabulous time and it is an adventure I will never forget.  I had never been in Alberta before but certainly enjoyed all it’s beauty and the congeniality of it’s people.

Many thanks to Pete for organizing such a wonderful trip and to John and Linda who suggested it to me back in January at Quartzsite.  Plus to all the wonderful people who went on this trip who I can now call my friends.  I know we will all meet up at other times throughout our adventures.