Great to get back on the road again in our Tacoma pickup truck. As we approach an intersection of routes, I ask Marilynn, “Which way should I go?” She shrugs. “I don’t know.”
We have googled so many campgrounds, forests, and parks that the infinite number of places to go in the Montana woods and mountains overwhelm us. “Just keep driving north,” she says. “We’ll find something.”
About two hours later, we settle into a cool campsite in the woods, across the road from Georgetown Lake which is nestled below the Pintler Mountains somewhere near the town of Anaconda. Again, my National Parks Senior Pass/Access card gives us half-price at Lodgepole campground. We book three nights for twenty-four dollars. The woods be the place to be.
No doubt that we sleep better in the back of the truck in the woods than in any motel. Motel stays are weird in this complicated pandemic world. If you continue reading, you will hear a weird motel story.
After a morning walk to the top of the hill behind our camp, we take a short scenic drive to the town of Philipsburg to purchase fishing licenses.
This historic mining town was going ghost, before renovations turned it into a charming tourist destination. We have a brewery beer that only serves outdoors. Luckily, the laundromat still sells six minutes of a shower for five dollars. Good to know.
Back at Georgetown Lake, we fish and do not catch. Here we go again, eating beans and weenies and corn on the cob for dinner, which of course must be cooked over the fire.
Oh no, another day of fishing and not catching. While hanging out in the cool woods surrounded by mountains is nice, eating fresh caught fish would make it even better.
Upon our return to camp, Rich from the next campsite over asks how we did. He feels bad that we have had such poor luck. He says if we join him and his wife Elisabeth on their boat for some fly fishing this evening, that we will be rewarded with fresh fish for dinner. Although we are dog tired and sick of fishing, how could we refuse?
Several hours of fly fishing, lake tour, and enjoyable conversation result in no catch, but made some nice friends. Good thing we have sardines, mustard, and bread!
Rich and Elisabeth join us around the fire for sandwiches and watch a bull moose walk right past our camp. Click on the link below for a short video of the bull moose:
Time to take a break from fishing and explore Storm Lake.
We can only get so far on the rough road in my four-wheel drive, and then hike the rest of the way up to this peaceful, remote, glacial lake.
The Storm Lake Loop in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness area rewards us with clear mountain views and fields of wildflowers in bloom.
Not quite ready to give up on the fish, we extend our stay at the campsite for a few more days. However, it is time for a shower. We are not the only ones who feel this way. Many very dirty, coughing, smelly others feel the same way and they are lined up to use the one working shower with hot water at the laundromat. We got in and out of that nasty shower in under six minutes, but not before I drop my toothbrush onto the muddy floor.
The fire roars back at camp. Fallen trees make for endless, free firewood. But the time has come to move on. Next stop, the Economy Inn in Missoula. Here is the weird motel story:
Masks are mandated to wear indoors in public places in Montana. They have exceptionally low infection numbers and want to keep it that way. Whenever we tell people that we are from Phoenix, they back up a few steps. So, we try to enter our assigned room, but a worker will not let us because of a dripping ceiling. Okay, we enter our re-assigned room directly above this one, and of course need to use the bathroom after being on the road, but cannot as the toilet is clogged full to the rim. I understand why the floor below has a leaky ceiling. The same worker comes up and plunges the toilet back to freedom.
Meanwhile, in the parking lot below, police are taking two transient, filthy, young inebriated men out of their tent into custody. As we eat pizza, a different hotel worker walks right into our room with a Swiffer mop. He freaks out when he sees us and apologizes. “So sorry, I’m just under orders to do lots of extra cleaning and didn’t know anybody was in here.” Guess he missed the “Do not disturb” sign. We do not have a good first impression of this motel.
While Marilynn does laundry the next day, I decide to undertake a bit of long overdue “manscaping”. The bathroom door opens while I am standing in a rather compromising, private position, and of course I think it is Marilynn, until I lock eyes with a middle eastern man wearing a mask. He screams and runs out of the room. I throw on a pair of shorts and bolt down the hallway, just to find out if this guy works here for sure. He does, and he apologizes a million times. He is more freaked than I. Has he not seen a very hairy man before? When we check-out the next morning, guess who is working the front desk? I should show him how less hairy I am now. Motels are weird these days.
Cannot get back into the woods quick enough! It be the place to be. We sleep better there.
Thank you, Abundant Universe!