Friday, August 22, 2008

Random selection = perfect choice

August 17, 2008
When we last wrote, we were hoping for some relief from the heat. Well, we got it! More on that later. First, let me catch up.

Today (Aug. 17) we were at a random campground I selected merely because we stayed in Missoula so late playing on the carousel that it was getting pretty darn dark. After passing the second freshly killed deer along the side of the road in this forested area, I decided we’d be better off pulling off and making a temporary home than continuing on in deer/elk/bear country in the dark. There’s a plethora of fishing access sites along the rivers here, and I finally just picked one. Of course, no camping was allowed, but signs directed us to a campground 4 miles up a graded dirt road. It was PITCH black when we arrived, but I could hear the gentle river nearby.

In the morning, we found ourselves about 30 yards from the water down a fairly steep embankment with a good trail. There were only two other campsites here, both occupied, one with a family.

At the grocery store yesterday I discovered the source of the odd smell in the van: the water cooler had been leaking its water for a week, apparently – plug open! So, with high temperatures forecast, I figured we might as well empty the van, pull out the carpets, then enjoy a day on the Blackfoot River.

The girls had a great time with McCoy (7) and his dogs, Dozer and Keisha, on the sandy shore, digging for rocks, building sand castles and playing in the cool water. Mid-morning, a family walked through with their canoe. While their mom, Laurie, waited onshore, their dad, Bob, took all the kids for a canoe ride along shore in the eddies of several rocks that protected our side of the river from the current. Then Laurie, Bob, Ben and Max climbed in their canoe and disappeared downstream.

Two hours later, Bob showed up again. He asked if any of us wanted to take the 2½-mile float down to the next campground where Laurie and the kids were napping. Initially I balked, but I thought about it and the float would take a lot of effort on Bob’s behalf. He portaged that boat down the trail once, and wouldn’t take any help. It also meant somehow getting back up and down the road to get his truck back. I’d met his family and learned a bit about them, and locals had already assured us that this section of the river was a pleasure cruise. (Seeing the folks float by in party rafts and inner tubes all morning also helped assure me this was a safe float.) Plus, when would we get such a chance again?! So, an hour later with life jackets on the girls we were enjoying a pleasant cruise down the Blackfoot. We stopped along shore where Bob caught a water snake (non poisonous and only about 8” long) which E really enjoyed (she wants one for a pet now), and V caught a sizable frog.

Everything was dry by the time we returned to camp at sunset. Of course, sunset around here is at 9:15!

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