|We’ve just arrived, but we wanted to catch you up on the journey north. We made good time through northern Utah, a bit of Idaho and on into Montana, stopping each day with enough time to relax a bit while it was still daylight. There are always chores and things to do when you travel in an RV! The temperature in the northwest has been unseasonably warm (highs in the 80’s) although someone we talked to who lives in northern Montana said that until a couple of weeks ago it was winter! We know they had some late snow in parts of the state, but it all looks fairly clear where we are.
We stayed on the Interstate most of the way until we left Helena MT, but had little traffic once we left the metropolitan area around Salt Lake City. The countryside is beautiful, with occasional glimpses of mountains, lots of streams (and some downright rivers) and few houses. We can tell how far north we’ve come by the fact that the trees are just beginning to turn green in many areas.
Just south of Helena MT, we ran along the Boulder River for quite a way, driving between fairly high cliffs on either side, with lots of people fishing. The river looks pretty healthy and there were regular flood warnings throughout the area because of the threat of flooding caused by the snowmelt.
Helena is an interesting town, although not large. It is typical of what we’ve seen in so many other places, in that it seems small for a state capital. In this case it also seems not very central. The capitol building itself is, to us, anyway, an undistinguished building that could have been lifted from a number of other states and plunked down in Helena without anyone knowing the difference. It has a dome that is reportedly copper, although it looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in decades at least. Helena is an old gold mining town (the main street is called Last Chance Gulch) and it shares a history with other towns in the west that were built mainly by mining interests. There are a number of large, formerly (and sometimes still) impressive mansions around town built by early settlers who made fortunes in mining or railroading. The architectural influences also show the diversity of background of the early settlers: the Cathedral of St. Helena is modeled on the great cathedrals of Europe (although on a smaller scale); a civic auditorium is in a former Shrine Temple that is distinctly middle-eastern – with a minaret and all.
Unfortunately, we have no pictures of our drive around Helena because someone (oh, OK, it was Margaret) forgot to bring the camera when we left the campground. Some photographers, huh!
Moving right along . . . from Helena we drove north to Glacier National Park. The weather all along the way was beautiful, with fluffy clouds in a mostly blue sky and mild temperatures. We left the interstate just north of Helena and drove a two-lane highway through mostly empty countryside. Empty of people, that is. There were rolling hills, cattle, deer and antelope (or so Brian told us when we stopped – we, of course, never saw them), horses and distant glimpses of the Rockies. In fact, for about the last half of the drive, the Rockies were to our left until we got to the area of the Hudson Bay Divide, when it looked like we had just run out of Rockies! The terrain is rolling, with sometimes-steep hills and twisting roads. It is clearly glacial, with moraines and many small lakes and streams.
There was little traffic, other than a few farm trucks and one tractor, only a couple of small towns and it was a pleasant drive through country just beginning to emerge from early spring into . . . well, late spring, I guess. Rain and cooler temperatures are forecast and, as I write this, it is, indeed, raining and the temperature is steadily dropping. Looks like that’s the forecast for the next few days, so we’ll break out the raingear for our explorations in the Park. We understand that the Going to the Sun Road, which is the main road bisecting Glacier NP from east to west, is not yet cleared of snow, so we probably won’t be able to drive that route. But we hope to see lots more of the surrounding area and will be reporting back at the end of our stay here. We’ll be here about 4 days and then we move across the border and on into the Canadian Rockies.