Whenever I have a quiet moment on this trip, I’ve been reading John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley, about his journey across and through the United States, camping with his dog, Charley.

Steinbeck said it better than I ever could:

“The next passage in my journey is a love affair. I am in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection, but with Montana it is love…”

And he also said this:

“The land is rich with grass and color, and the mountains are the kind I would create if mountains were ever put on my agenda.”

“Montana has a spell on me. It is grandeur and warmth…of all the states it is my favorite and my love.”

When we were ready to settle in Montana for the week, we chose Big Arm Unit of Flathead Lake State Park. I had read about so many different camping options before we made that decision, but the opportunity to camp right on the water sealed the deal for us. There are no hookups at Big Arm, but there are showers and water spigots nearby, although they were closed up a few days after we arrived. We pulled into the park late in the afternoon, nervously driving through hoping to see an empty site. Loop A is for tents and small trailers, and Loop B is for motorhomes and trailers only. Lucky us! There were only a few campers there, and we had our choice. We picked site number B-14, which was plenty long enough for our rig and afforded us the most gorgeous views and a little beach area for Vera to swim. Another benefit of camping so late in the season: free camping after the first few days!

Bob went to school with his good friend Mike Seynei, who now lives in Kalispell, Montana with his wife, Kim. Both of them took a week of vacation from work to show us around and gave us so many good days. They were the perfect tour guides, as they know this area so well. Mike took us out in a boat to fish on Flathead Lake, and we beached the boat for a picnic on Wild Horse Island…alas, no wild horses to be seen!

You can hear my BEAR BELL, which I wore all the time because I’m ridiculous!

It was a warm day in Montana for late September, and Bob enjoyed this particular view!

On our way back to the campground in the boat, Bob snapped a photo of the June Bug parked in beautiful site 14.

Our friends Jeff and Natasha just happened to be camping in this area, so we invited them to Big Arm to join us for a night of camping. We sat down together at our lakeside picnic table to record June Bug Podcast number 6. I hope you have listened to the unique story of this full-time RV family. If not, find it here: June Bug Podcast. And here is where they blog about their own adventures: https://wildplacesopenspaces.wordpress.com

Their BIG RIG next to our June Bug

We visited Glacier National Park twice for the drive up and down Going-to-the-Sun-Road. So many people warned us about how the weather can change quickly up there. But we were blessed with abundant sunshine both times! At Logan Pass, we even convinced Bob to hike all the way up to Hidden Lake, which turned out to be worth the tired feet and sore hips. My Fitbit showed I tallied 71 flights of stairs, which has to be some kind of record. The view of that blue gem is spectacularly gorgeous, and we didn’t even take the optional (long) hike down to the water’s edge. I kept saying, “All the adjectives! All the adjectives!”

An aside: Logan Pass Visitor’s Center has the absolute worst vault toilets. I don’t like them in the best of condition, but these were so terrible people were gagging as they waited in line. Awful. (Just a word of warning…)

We stopped at Lake McDonald and other viewpoints along Going-to-the-Sun-Road. Please take a second to enlarge these images and LOOK AT THE GLORY OF GLACIER!

At the east side of Glacier lies the blue water of St. Mary Lake. We stopped at the water access to let Vera take a quick dip. There was nobody else around, so we let her off the leash…don’t tell anybody!

Special personal post (bear with me):

My sister Susan took a mission trip in 1966 to Babb, Montana to help build a Methodist church. It is a trip that became part of our family lore, and because Babb was so close to the east entrance of Glacier, we took a little side trip so I could see the church she helped build. The tiny little town is terribly depressing, and the government subsidized housing is worse than terrible. Government money hasn’t done those people any favors…don’t get me started!

I kept thinking what our late mom would say if she knew I would be in the Glacier area: “If you’re so close, you really ought to go to Babb. You know your sister Sue went there in 1966! The kids stayed in teepees! They bathed in the ice cold water of the St. Mary River! That church is still standing, if I remember correctly!”

Well, the church is still standing, 50 years later. I was proud to stand there, thinking of my wonderful sister and my dear mom. It was an emotional moment for me, and I know Susan was thrilled when she saw the picture of me there. Huge thanks to my husband Bob and to Mike & Kim for indulging me. And thanks to you, dear readers, for letting me tell this little tale.

p.s. Please come back to the website soon because Bob will be posting some incredible video footage that he’s compiling from his bag of tricks…GoPro, etc….

Yellowstone National Park
Where the Pavement Ends
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