The Orphan and The Boot turn towards the north to the mountains of Idaho and Montana
So on the eighth day, The Orphan, The Boot, The Beasts and The Great Arvee drove the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway on the way to Twin Falls, Idaho, but saw far fewer than one Thousand Springs, because they were diverted to power plants. The springs emerged from the sides of cliffs along the
way, and soon may be restored so that the cliffs will once again be covered with many many more flows from the Thousand Springs.
They went a total of 76 miles and arrived at a KOA Kampground at Jerome/Twin Falls, Idaho, after viewing the Snake River gorge from the Perrine Bridge.
The team did laundry and, after martinis, had food ordered in to The Great Arvee – superb barbecued ribs!
But their campsite was very tiny and narrow and their picnic table shaded the utility hookups for the next site. In this next site, The Orphan and The Boot met a nice Canadian family from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, on a seven-week long trip down the Alaska Highway from the Yukon to Utah and back. Their names were Ron, Susan, Spencer and Tatum. The Orphan gave Tatum The Orphan’s web site address and promised her
she would appear on the Internet (Hello, Tatum!).
The Orphan with Ron, Tatum, Spencer and Susan from the Yukon
On the ninth day, after breakfast in the Outback Cafe – again at the same KOA -- The Orphan, The Boot, The Beasts and The Great Arvee went north to the Sawtooth Mountains instead of east to the Craters of the Moon National Monument and the national parks beyond.
They drove 200 miles over Galena Pass to Stanley, Idaho, and drove farther until they could find a shaded RV park. Several more butt-ugly RV resorts were rejected in both Ketchum and Stanley – but the team did say hello to Mt. Baldy as they drove through Ketchum and Sun Valley.
The scenery from Ketchum north and over Galena pass and on the way to Challis was gorgeous – beautiful colored rock formations – quite like the Painted Hills at John Day in Oregon – and, from the pass, The Orphan and The Boot saw the beginning trickle of The Salmon River.
Finally they found Challis Hot Springs RV Park, after winding four miles on a country road to the Salmon River, next to high red cliffs. There were nice grassy, treed sites with large groups of people who were camping together like a country social.
The Susie the Dog Beast, the Dijon Mustard, thought she had died and gone to Beast Heaven because someone had spilled dog kibbles and crumbled corn chips all over the site. Beast Heaven turned into Beast Hell as soon as The Evil Stepmother Boot espied this forbidden contraband and swept it mostly up and put it in the garbage – but not before the
piglet Dog Beast had scarfed a considerable quantity.
For further punishment, The Evil Stepmother Boot got out the brushing and haircutting torture instruments and carved out of the dirty gray Beast dustmop a white figure resembling a dog. Susie the Dog Beast does not like brushing or haircuts.
On the tenth day The Orphan, The Boot, The Beasts and The Great Arvee traveled 57 miles to a small RV park by the Salmon River named Heald’s Haven after being appalled by a site rated “red” (“AAA highly endorsed”) that was the worst and ugliest campground in the world. Butt-ugly would have been a compliment. Fortunately for the traveling
people, it was closed.
Heald’s Haven was listed in only one of The Boot's many directories, but it was on the way to the town of Salmon and another “highly rated” campground, so The Orphan and The Boot decided to take a look. They turned off the highway at their sign and drove down a short road and into the campground.
The Boot immediately blurted out,
Heald’s Haven was beautiful!
It was only $15.00 a night for full hookups and was located right by the Salmon River with trees and grassy sites surrounded by beautiful canyon walls and filled with wildlife. The Orphan even spotted four Bighorn Sheep across the Salmon River and a White-tailed Deer fawn -- still with spots -- walked by the site –
fairly quickly, though! They watched Lewis’s Woodpeckers catching bugs in flight and ospreys and herons flying along the river.
The Orphan and The Boot immediately booked three nights!
That evening The Orphan and The Boot decided it was time for Mexican Rice so there were Gimlets and Red Wine. There was considerable alcohol abuse since both The Orphan and The Boot each spilled a Gimlet. The trimmed alcoholic Dog Beast was happy over the spills as she greedily licked the grass clean!
The Orphan and The Boot met other campers who had relocated from the “highly rated” campground in Salmon to Heald’s Haven because the Salmon Meadows Campground was crowded and unpleasant with few trees, narrow sites, grumpy owners and too many rules.
The Orphan and The Boot decided that “highly rated” in the AAA and Good Sam directories often meant “biggest ad” and that AAA or Good Sam “discounts” meant nothing when sites cost up to $37.50 per night so they could pay for the “discounts” and the “biggest ads.”
During the tenth, eleventh and twelfth days The Great Arvee rested at Heald’s Haven and, at night, the air conditioner rested. However the awning was not lowered because high wind gusts had blown wildly from about 4:00 to 6:30 p.m. on the first afternoon, and a tree provided all the shade that was needed anyway.
The Orphan and The Boot walked trails along The Salmon River and in the evenings watched the sun set by viewing the shadows climbing the canyon walls. One morning they sat by the river with cameras and binoculars scanning the cliffs and riverbanks for more sightings of Bighorn Sheep or deer or other creatures.
Each of the first two nights the door and windows of The Great Arvee were all open so cool fresh breezes could flow around the inside. On the eleventh evening, The Orphan and The Boot decided it was time for Spaghetti so The Boot made spaghetti sauce and pasta and garlic bread and there were martinis and Red Wine.
Finally, on the twelfth day it turned hot and muggy in the afternoon so the air conditioner had to be awakened.
The Orphan decided there should be cornbread with the Barley Soup planned that evening, so The Orphan borrowed an egg from Connie Heald of Heald’s Haven and baked some cornbread in a small skillet from which the
plastic handle had been unscrewed. One of the other RVers who was going into town agreed to buy The Orphan a dozen eggs so the loaned egg could be repaid. After martinis, wine and some Barley Soup and cornbread, The Orphan and The Boot -- thoroughly sated and rested – snuggled under the covers and slept.
On the thirteenth day, after repaying the egg to Willie and Connie Heald, The Orphan, The Boot, The Beasts and The Great Arvee traveled 183 miles north and, after a humongous high pass at the Idaho-Montana border, entered Montana.
The team went east from the highway 5.5 miles to Broad Axe Lodge and Restaurant to look for Bighorns but did not find any, for it was the wrong time of day, a recurring problem since the two traveled during the middle of the day.
They also took a back road called The Eastside Highway which passed the Daly Mansion, home of one of Montana’s “Copper Kings.”
The Eastside Highway then took them to Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge where The Orphan and The Boot walked a short trail and drove the gravel auto-tour road. The Orphan spotted birds, ducks, ospreys and an otter and The
Boot watched them. There was no office or visitor center on this refuge so The Boot did not have her Blue Goose Passport stamped.
The Orphan, The Boot, The Beasts and The Great Arvee continued north to Missoula and found Jellystone RV Park – again highly recommended by AAA and the other directories – and found a huge parking lot with somewhat spacious sites but only tiny useless trees and with RVs as far as the eye could see – no people – just RVs.
All the people were inside their RVs with blinds closed and awnings down and air conditioners on and there was no sign of human life except at the swimming pool. No camp chairs or amenities could be left out because the sprinklers came on in each site at night and no picnic tables could be adjusted or moved without
It was important to the campground to have green lawns so they could have “high ratings,” even if all the people had to stay inside.
After martinis, The Orphan and The Boot dined on Libby’s canned corned-beef hash – fried and topped with poached eggs -- and ate the remainder of the cornbread. After listening to Hoyt Axton and Jimmy Buffett the tired and sated couple slept with their blinds closed and their awning down and their air conditioner on.
On the fourteenth day, The Orphan, The Boot, The Beasts and The Great Arvee traveled 178 miles through Montana’s Swan Valley to West Glacier KOA Kampground for a three-day stay.
During this trip, they saw and heard loons at Salmon and Seeley Lakes. The Boot bought a book about Rocky Mountain wildlife and The Orphan posed in mock fear with a stuffed grizzly bear. They had sandwiches at the Hungry Bear Steak House in the Swan Valley on the way. They took back roads and avoided the traffic
and lights and many towns and tourist attractions between Kalispell and West Glacier.
When they arrived at the “top-rated-10” West Glacier KOA Kampground they found narrow dusty sites with almost no grass but with great views of lodgepole pines and mountains with rows of RVs in the foreground. After martinis the Orphan and The Boot dined in the KOA restaurant on ribs and corn-on-the-cob.
On the fifteenth day, The Orphan, The Boot, The Beasts and The Great Arvee drove up the Going-to-the-Sun road only as far as the Avalanche Lake Campground (because beyond the campground no vehicles longer than 21 feet were allowed) and finally found parking for The Great Arvee at a shaded and wooded day-use only campsite in
the Avalanche Campground.
They left the Beasts and hiked the three miles up to the lake.
The data said that there was only a 500-foot elevation change – but failed to say how many times that 500-foot elevation change occurred!
They hiked to the end of the trail and found the beautiful blue-green Avalanche Lake at the base of the mountains and snowfields and waterfalls in a spectacular basin.
While at Avalanche Lake, The Shy Orphan met two young women named Stephanie and Beth who laughed at The Orphan’s jokes and took pictures of The Orphan and The Boot hugging. The Boot then took pictures of The Orphan hugging and talking with Stephanie and Beth. No pictures were taken of The Boot, Stephanie and Beth
After the six miles of the steep trail – uphill both ways -- both The Orphan’s and The Boot’s butts were dragging the ground. They returned to The Great Arvee, still parked in the shaded day-use campsite, then both showered and decided to eat out at Lake McDonald Lodge on the way back to West Glacier.
The entrées were good Rocky Mountain trout dinners followed by good Rocky Mountain huckleberry ice cream. The Boot went to the gift shop and bought her daughter a metal shot glass (The Boot was heard to mutter, “…let’s see her break this one…”) and bought herself some huckleberry topping.
On the sixteenth day, The Orphan and The Boot rented a car from a helicopter company to tour the Going-to-the-Sun Road over Logan Pass both ways. The round-trip distance was 114 miles on a road even more crooked than the Oregon road on the first day of the third segment of the trip!
The Beasts and The Great Arvee were left at West Glacier KOA because the Going-to-the-Sun Road was closed to any vehicle over 21 feet long and the helicopter company prohibited any Beasts from the rental car. The Great Arvee was cool and air-conditioned and in some shade.
There were many stops along the steep, winding narrow road to view scenery, wildflowers and wildlife. There were even mountain goats on the cliffs for The Boot to watch and photograph.
It was at Logan Pass that The Orphan and The Boot relearned the National Park-in-the-summer lesson. The winding narrow road was filled with tailgaters and red open-air tour buses. At the parking area at Logan Pass there was a sign saying “Lot Full – 30-minute wait.” All of the parking lot aisles were crammed with cars waiting
for someone to leave.
The Orphan and The Boot decided to wait until the return leg of their journey to park. They drove to St. Mary and visited the Visitor Center, then returned along Two Dog Flats and St. Mary Lake back to Logan Pass.
Alas, at Logan Pass the “full” sign was still there and the aisles were still crammed. The Orphan had to invoke his parking spot magic to create a spot.
The weather was really hot and the planned hike on the Highline Trail was shortened to a few hundred yards – but “lo and behold” The Boot came on a mountain goat sitting on a pile of snow cooling his butt and with a beatific smile on his bearded face. Around the next bend another mountain goat was waiting next to the trail to
pose for The Boot to photograph! The Boot was ecstatic and watched and photographed both goats.
They drove the rental car past the many red open-air tour buses and around the hairpin curves and returned down to McDonald Creek and Lake McDonald, while sadly viewing smoke from forest fires in the northern part of the park.
The Boot exclaimed:
“…I forgot my National Park Passport so we must go to The Great Arvee, get it and return to Glacier Park to get it stamped before we leave tomorrow…”
It is better not to write The Orphan’s inner reaction to this delay in martini time, but suffice it to say, the team returned and the Passport was stamped. The Boot has whims of steel!
The Orphan, The Boot, The Beasts and The Great Arvee were then again reunited but electrical power in the campground went out, so after martinis and dinner and The Boot buying jars of huckleberry jam in the KOA store, an early bedtime occurred.
However before bed and again the next morning, The Orphan said to The Boot,
“…I am tired and sickened of touristy places and think we should avoid Flathead Lake and go west and north by back roads and see new places as we wend our way back to The Lair…”
The Boot responded that night with,
but the next morning with,
“…But Flathead Lake is so beautiful … you will lose the placidity of the trip and try to drive straight home … I have not seen Northwest Montana, Northern Idaho and Northeast State of Taxes…Wait, I will get the books, maps and DeLormes and plot a course…”
Jackson Glacier, east of Logan Pass on Going-to-the-Sun Highway