Saturday, August 23, 2014

Road Tripping Part Two

Piney Bay Campground, Georgetown Lake, MT

Thursday Morning: Departure. 
Destination: Huntley MT/ Dave and Kathleen's place.
Purpose: more family memory building time.

morning on the lake

Thursday morning found us waking to more promising skies. Morning ablutions done, I made coffee and an easy breakfast of instant oatmeal and toast. Amazing how good such simple fixings can taste when camping.

(A word about camping at higher altitudes. I have not had much experience in cooking at high altitudes. Even waiting for water to boil requires extra patience. Then there is the breathing. Every step I took around camp found me being more measured in my pace so as to accommodate my breathing. No power walking during this campout!)

We had plans to break camp no later than 10 but there was time for a quick walk around the campground. The day before we’d spotted a mama deer and her two fawns hiding in the woods and watched in awe as they bounded away. 

We’d also seen the prairie dogs popping up near the water and we’d also seen a large hawk spread his wings and fly over us. 

Eager to perhaps view more creatures, Bruce and I bundled up and set out. Bundled because despite a dryer climate and sunshine persisting in the skies, the air was decidedly nippy.

We lapped the campground and saw a prairie dog race into hiding. 

We stopped in our path when we neared the tree where we’d seen the hawk the day before. We were not disappointed. We saw the hawk swoop down with a vengeance and fly away with something in its talons. Later we saw him perched in his tree and my photos later revealed a sad sight. A prairie dog lost the battle that morning and the hawk flew away with a prize.

Our traverse down the mountain to the town of Anaconda was mixed with sunshine and intermittent clouds of moisture. When we pulled into the Safeway parking lot to buy ice however, we could feel a decidedly warmer climate and before we’d left the city limits I was thinking about trading my jeans for something lighter in weight.

driving around the lake heading east.

Anaconda is another town of historic value. Founded in 1883, its primary resource was copper ore. A legacy of the Anaconda Copper Company is the smelter stack one can see miles away from I-90. Completed in 1919, it is one of the tallest free-standing brick structures in the world! Towering above the town it measures 585 feet in height, with an inside diameter of 75 feet at the base tapering to 60 feet at the top. (The Washington Monument is 555 feet tall).

Our goal as we drove through Anaconda was to see how close we could get to the Stack but we found ourselves on the other side of town with the Stack soon to disappear from view. We pulled over and had a quick conference with Dave and Kathy. They were eager to keep heading for home, while we were more inclined to take our time and see if we couldn’t find a way to get a closer look. We waved Dave and Kathy on ahead and we turned back to Anaconda for an adventure.

Using my mapquest phone app, I directed Bruce back into town and soon we found ourselves entering the Anaconda Smoke Stack State Park. We quickly learned that this was as close a look as we were going to get and resigned ourselves to gazing up the mountain, and gleaning information from the various plaques mounted around the park and viewing area.

Anaconda Smoke Stack State Park

mining displays

replica of the stack gives one an idea just HOW BIG the diameter is at the top. The black stuff you see inside is slag. 

The smoke, or Smelter Stack, dominates the landscape like the company once dominated the area’s economic life. The smelter closed down in 1980 but the stack remains as a symbol of challenges a community faces when finite resources are their mainstay.

panoramic view of the display. even then it was difficult to capture the entire structure.

The rest of our drive was scenic even though at time the long stretch of interstate felt monotonous.

 I think Bruce and I are learning a valuable lesson in that we are not long haul travelers. The road is hypnotic and with Bruce doing the majority (read: ALL) the driving, it’s imperative that he feel rested. When I start to feel the rumble strips more frequently  I look sharply over and suggest a stop for  coffee or a catnap.

me 'n you, and no dogs named boo...

Rain was our companion for the rest of the trip to Huntley. We arrived at Dave and Kathy’s shortly before dinner with time for HOT SHOWERS before our meal. (Dry camping means no electrical hookups and usually also means vault toilets and no showers—something I can do for a night or two but then it’s get me out of here and back to civilization!)

while at camp, Bruce and David using the teamwork approach to getting water.

We’ve been just relaxing and enjoying time with family since then. Running errands, riding shotgun, vintage shopping, (Montana being prime antique shopping opportunities) raucous card games, hot tubbing and informal bible study discussions have been interwoven with heart to heart talks about family, our pasts, our futures and everything in between. Sure, there are things we could venture out to see… Battle of Little Bighorn/Custer’s Last Stand is just an hour’s drive away, for example, and we’ll go if weather permits, but we are also content to just hole up in this warm and welcoming home, building memories with family.

God bless... our past, our present, our future...

Golden times. Yes, Golden times. 


  1. Beautiful pictures!! Looks like you're building many equally beautiful memories.

  2. It's just so good to hang out with family...What a wonderful opportunity!


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