LOCATION: Near Big Fork, Montana
CAMPGROUND: – Not a campground – staying with Texas friends on a ranch
WEATHER: Beautiful. High 75. Cool morning again
DRIVE: 45 minutes
We packed up, hitched Joy back up, and left the RV park in Columbia Falls. We would highly recommend Mountain View RV park for those liking RV parks (although we would have preferred something more rustic in the woods). It had all the amenities one could ask for, and is in a very convenient location. The owner works very hard to keep things clean and the grass mowed and watered.
We only had a short distance to go from Columbia Falls to Big Fork. It is quieter here – not as many tourists. We are still surrounded by mountains and are near Flathead Lake.
Our friends, the Skinners, live in Retama Village (in south Texas) in the winter, too. They are staying at a family friend’s ranch, and had invited us to stay with them. We got settled in a nice, flat spot, nestled under some pine trees, next to their RV. This ranch used to be a Christmas tree farm, and there are trees everywhere.
We took off for Big Fork, to the Big Fork Brewery, for lunch. The view of Flathead Lake from the deck is outstanding.
From there, we went to the Jewel Basin Mountain area for a hike. The last 5 miles of the drive were horrific. A former logging road, the road (and I use that name generously) was full of ruts and big rocks. It was really only wide enough for one vehicle, but is used as a 2-way road. When another car approaches you, one vehicle has to stop or back up in order to find a place wide enough for 2 vehicles to pass. There is no shoulder of course, just a sheer drop-off. Did I mention who was driving!!!???
When we got to the top of the mountain, at the trailhead, we were surprised to see how many cars there were. All had Montana license plates, demonstrating that these locals are used to such road conditions.
We took one of the trails that was marked as 3 miles. Once we started up the trail, we asked other hikers how it was. They told us that first you walk 6 miles to one lake, and then an additional 7 miles to an even prettier lake. That would be 26 miles round-trip! What happened to 3??? We hiked for awhile until the flies started bothering us, then turned around.
Speaking of bugs….we have been very lucky so far on this trip. Virtually no mosquitoes or biting flies. The flies today were just annoying, not biting. We do have a screen tent in case we camp somewhere where the bugs are unbearable. (It is kind of like an insurance policy – we tote it around hoping that we will never need it.)
After the hike, we drove around pretty Echo Lake that is right near where we are camping.
Back to Joy, we joined the Skinners for happy hour. They had originally planned to be here 4 days, but have been here about 6 weeks as they enjoy it so much.
DINNER: I made shrimp cocktail as an appetizer and orzo salad (with orzo, olives, diced chicken, feta cheese, and pepperoncini slices, on a bed of arugula. I added a tiny bit of sauce so it would not be dry – a combo of feta salad dressing, white wine, and kalamata olive juice. Very tasty. The Skinners made some pork fried rice – also very yummy. We shared a growler of stout that George had bought at one of the breweries. Such a nice evening! It is so fun to meet up with people on the road.