After our long awaited sighting of the wolf, we head for the northern exit of Yellowstone, which means driving back into the park from where we were camped. A little over an hour later and the spell of Yellowstone is burst suddenly. Sitting just outside the park’s boarder’s are the tourist businesses that aren’t allowed in – bars, day trips, white water rafting etc… Advertising boards everywhere.
We drive through this first town and continue to head north. After 5 days of National forests and parks, it feels odd to be on the road going somewhere again. After discussing this in detail, we have decided to head to Glacier National Park. We had originally planned to stay a little further south, but forest fires burning through our other choices tipped the scales.
This does have a benefit, as we now have to make our way through the Montana plains.
The first night we stay in Big Timber, known for…sheep farming, for an all important hook-up site to charge our dead batteries, do some laundry, all the boring stuff. We meet a lovely couple in their 60’s from Arizona. We have a chat and before you know it they’re helping me patch the roof and, in the morning as we are driving off, they catch us up to give us a spare pair of binoculars for our trip. This is a common theme in the RV community, willingness to help and share stories.
The man, Mark, told me “I was fishing the other day in the early morning. Sitting in this small paddle boat in the middle of a still lake I saw an eagle flying, and heading straight towards another bird of prey, a buzzard. They looked like they were on a collision course with each other when suddenly another larger bird appears. It was a pelican, also flying towards the same meeting point. None of them change course and all 3 collide in mid-air with each other at the same time. The eagle gets its bearings and flies back the way it came from. The buzzard turns back and limps home too, and the pelican simply flies down and lands directly below the collision next to me, un-fazed, and settles on the water. One of the oddest things I’ve ever seen.” I have to agree with him.
Big Timber slowly gets smaller in the rear view mirror as we leave, and now that we’re clean and charged, we’re ready to make some real progress on the map. We start heading to Glacier and, as the evening comes, Katie looks up a campsite that’s in a national forest and is $6.
As we head across these remote Montana plains, it’s scary but also liberating. We’re doing what I had hoped, and seeing the remote America.
We drive past a few lightly populated towns and then we fall back into the vastness of this state. We’re driving for an hour without seeing any other cars on the road or anyone else.
We turn off on to an even more remote road that’s little better than the one that we first took at Jackson. 4 miles of crawling over pot holes and we’re in our site with only one other person. I speak to her for a bit, another American nomad living out of her car, hoping to see all the national parks in one trip and, by the looks of it, she’s not rushing either.
The following afternoon we’re approaching Black Foot country. A Native American reserve that boarders Glacier National park. We find a spot in a small campsite and actually chill out for the afternoon having got there for 5pm. We’ll make Glacier in the morning and I’m not sure how I feel. Some people have told me how great it is, but I’m guessing that after the highs of Yellowstone, it might be a let down.
We’re woken up again in the morning, this time by cows next to our camper, and head up to the start of the Going-to-the-Sun road, that I’ve read is “Arguably the most scenic road in the world”. At the entrance a overly cheerful National Parks ranger informs us with a smile that Al Dente’s too big for this ‘must see’ road, and we retreat back to camp at the start of the road, to find a solution in the morning.