Aug 06, 2012
Any day that starts with Verizon can’t be good!
Let’s just say we will cancel our account once we’re settled in Alaska – even if that is the only service in Alaska we still won’t get it! The only they’re trained to do is say “I’m sorry” – in 3 different languages and truthfully I’m tired on pressing 1 for English! If we don’t respond to emails til Monday – which is when they said they could fix the issue – blame Verizon!
The pups are unsettled (Mommy is yelling at Verizon again). Molly has learned to push open the velcro closure on the window covers so a whole new world has opened up to her – the nosiest pup in America. Who wants breakfast?? Molly, the walking stomach, is eager to eat. Bubis will eat even under these tense conditions. Princess Pushinka is very finicky, will wait til the others have eaten then she will check their bowls and even then will turn her nose up on eating from her bowl - she will be hand fed! One big burp from Molly and the wheatens are happy! Let’s walk off breakfast and my anger at Verizon so we can get on our way! This day calls for a long sleeve shirt.
The couple in front of us really have their act together – they served up a nice dinner the night before (we went to bed) on a cloth covered table, then this morning she in her dress (me in khaki shorts with poop bags hanging out and hair dried under the ac vent) and apron and he in his perfectly coifed hair (too easy and I won’t say it), tucked in Orvis shirt and pressed shorts (Jim is some ripped t-shirt and Orvis shorts – yay we have a match!) ate a leisurely breakfast (I yelled at Verizon). Then, piece by piece they put everything back in its place, he washed the windows, she stowed some items and off they drove. Jim said it’s probably not their first time. I said we could learn a few things from them! Another family played badminton while their unleashed dog lay next to their tent. Simple pleasures!
This KOA was only ok – pretty surroundings, not great services, good food, unleashed dogs! Still not knowing the little gizmos that will make RV life easier I do know a broom to sweep out debris, stones and dirt as well as window washer is a good first step (Walmart here we come). Jim is convinced it’s a 36 inch flat screen tv (ebay here we come)!
Entering Helena, the capitol (thought we’d be here yesterday) where Jim wants to scope out a sapphire mine but since Verizon ate up our morning we decide to press on to Philipsburg. First you cost us our service, then my sanity, and now sapphires – damn Verizon!
We see a little more development, services, businesses, casinos, the NBC affiliate (we are NBC fans)….which I guess you’d expect from the state capitol. But no synchronized lights! We are the only RV in town so we wonder if crossing the Continental Divide will be another one of those “Why are we here?” experiences.
Lots of beetle damage to the pines in Helena National Forest – someone will blame global warming or climate change as they now say…Jim says neither; he’s not a believer! With all these dead pine trees this is one big fire hazard! We climb further and further up to 6.325 ft, ears popping! Hello Continental Divide – all the water now flows into the Pacific. Crossing Little Blackfoot River which is not as good anymore due to pollution with mining materials but Trout Unlimited is working hard to restore. Still a fishable river by Jim’s standards.
The bright blue sky is filled with what looks like dollops of whipped cream, the scenery is spectacular, the mountains are covered with green trees – it was so worth the drive over the Continental Divide on Rt12!
Back on I90W towards Missoula (of River Runs Through it fame). A rest stop provides a comedy routine for the local truckers. I go to the back to leash the dogs, Jim goes around to the door waiting for my signal (one trucker says she really must be mad at you if she’s not letting you in – he says you don’t wanna see what’s coming out!). The leashes get tangled, the pups got excited, one leash wraps around me, Jim opens the door, I get tangled with Jim, Pushinka’s leash gets loose, I swing one leg out to stomp it and as one large mass of 5 bumbling fools (2 fools, 3 dogs) we shuffle to the dog walk area. The truckers are now howling with us……or at us? Not our best performance….nor our safest one.
Heading to Philipsburg – got off I90W and are now on Rt1. Pintier Scenic Loop – oh look Sweetums, we love loops! Thru the old town of Pintier - really nothing – scenic, not so much. Why are we going to Philipsburg, Sweetums? Sapphires, he said. Jim cut my engagement ring from a sapphire he dug up in Montana so this excursion excites me! I’d be happy to sit in the RV with the pups while he digs for gems. After all he did it for me at Rushmore….seems fair and not at all selfish on my part.
This 2 lane road brings us thru a lovely valley with big pines, horses, big wooly sheep, cows, farms, fishable streams, and sapphires! When Jim runs for office his platform will be to bury the power lines! A simple but significant stand to take! What a lovelier valley this would be if not for the poles and lines! As someone who would like to take a picture without having to photoshop out the interference I would cast my vote for him! And for so many other reasons!
Philipsburg is a sweet, quaint town filled with shops, restaurants, cafes, galleries, B&Bs – a very old fashioned mining town. We don’t stop – Jim says he wants to come back when we can stroll the street and mine for sapphires together. He was satisfied enough just to see it for now. He had visions of a narrow, undeveloped alpine valley leading to Gem mountain (yes, that’s the name) where for hours you can grab some dirt, sift it and filter it for sapphires – a romantic notion as is his way. It was much more of a commercial operation than expected but we’ll come back.
Back on I90W to Missoula (47 miles) but I start freely handing out directions now so as not to relive yesterday’s experience. Some rafters along the Clark Fork (which Lewis named after him) but no fishermen much to Jim’s surprise. Jim said this place was hopping with fishermen in the 90s – such pristine water and no one is fishing. Not even Jim.
As we drive to Missoula Jim tells me of a huge glacier back in the major ice age that would block the mouth of this valley and water would build up for 100s if not 1,000s of years with 1,000s of gallons. Periodically, the dam would break releasing this water into the state of Washington like a tidal wave washing away all the topsoil in the center of the state, Even now if you look at it from a satellite it would look like a giant streambed. Even the valley in which we’re driving would have been under water. There are supposed to be high water marks in the mountains of Missoula – we will look. Thank you National Geographic for that interesting piece of information and to Jim for sharing it.
East Missoula has some nice homes, a wider part of Clark Fork River – people are rafting, a nice golf course, an airport, University of Montana – go Grizzlies, a conference center, CostCo, REI and also some cow fields on the side of the mountain – an interesting mix!
We see the exit for our KOA and the sign points to places to eat. Taco Time!!! A college favorite of Jims! We don’t know exactly what lane to get into, how many lanes of traffic we have to cross but as we merge, veer and cross Jim exclaims “There it is, Taco Time”! Like a hawk spotting his prey in a field of danger!
Our KOA is back behind a shopping plaza – it doesn’t look very outdoorsy being in the middle of town but we’re pleasantly surprised. A little oasis in the middle of Missoula’s downtown. Of course first order is to walk the 3 hoodlums – they have a fenced yard so they get to romp! Pushinka seems troubled by something so all she does is run in circles and bark. Molly spots a little dog and tries to pick a fight…c’mon, I can take ya you little scrawny schnauzer (until she gets scared and will want to be picked up). Bubis is happy to be peeing. Jim is planning his Taco Time dinner. He now understands why people tow cars behind RVs…not to tour more easily on difficult roads….to drive to Taco Time! I offer the girls at the check in some of my homemade doggie cookies for their dogs and while there I ask about taxis. I do not disclose to where. Jim is all a flutter with my surprise information. I call, she asks to where, I say Taco Time and please wait because you’ll have to bring him back, she will arrive at the KOA in 10 minutes! Jim grabs his wallet and runs off. I’ve never seen him move so fast. He returns in less than 3o minutes. He said he and cab driver had a nice chat about life in Missoula, the weather and then she asked the question all of you are asking “What’s the big deal with Taco Time?” He grabs 4 tacos, Mexican fries, some burrito thing for me and a cherry empanada for dessert. He said (with the exception of my delicacy) was his favorite and regular order! Taco Time offers mild Mexican food that eventually led Jim to trying more elaborate selections like chicken enchiladas. Jim is Norwegian with a delicate tummy so spices are not his friends. I am excited to share this memory with him. He opens each selection and the tacos look ok, the burrito looks tightly packed, and the Mexican fries were….were tater tots!! He was delighted to show them to me, knew they were tater tots and was excited to be reunited with them! Tater tots! Nothing Mexican about them. Then the “piece de resistance” Jim says in his Pepe LePew voice… cherry empanada…which I have to say was yummy. Hey, it’s a college memory that must be relived!
A quick walk of the dogs to the dog park which once again Pushinka runs in circles, Bubis is lost in thought over a scent and Molly, who is now stretching her XL wheaten suit, would rather stay inside and eat dinner (eyeing those tater tots no doubt). It was a quick trip back inside where Jim reads to me about Norman McLean, the author of “A River Runs Through it”, a real life story made into a movie, directed by Robert Redford…a must-see!! A beautifully directed movie Jim describes as trout fly fishing being a metaphor for life. I describe it as a movie with a young Brad Pitt. What’s not to love?! It was set in Missoula...Jim finds info and pictures on the internet and shares more than what the film showed. Jim buys some local Rhubarb wine in the RV store so we toast to Norman, a beautiful film, a tragic end to his brother, Paul (played by Brad – I canNOT watch this part!) and fly-fishing…YUCK, oh my goodness, this wine sucks! It was the thought that counts.
One more trip around the park, once more trip down memory lane, one more amazing day!!...Verizon who?????