On our way out of Yellowstone we stayed in Gardiner, MT and went for a white-water trip. This has become another family tradition of sorts and this was maybe our 4th or 5th such trip. No pictures, sorry! The river was extremely cold, no wetsuits so I spent a lot of it worrying about getting dumped. We didn’t though and Sam and Ben had the guts to actually swim. That is one gene they did not get from me.
After Gardiner we drove up to Butte, about halfway between Bozeman and Missoula. Butte is famous for its mining, they call it ‘the richest hill on earth’ and though they do still mine there, the larger industry is cleaning up the toxic waste leftover from earlier mining.
The Berkeley Pit is notorious for being (IIRC) the #1 site on the US ‘superfund’ list which means that by some definition it’s the most toxic place in America. That water is 1000′ deep of pure poison. Birds land on it and die from being burned from the inside out. There is a lot of corporate PR around it about how it can’t possibly hurt anyone anymore and they promise they will keep making sure it never gets into the water table etc. etc.
Of course, these problems still exist, but we have exported them to China and Korea and so forth where no doubt there are no end of Berkeley Pits in the making. Unfortunately, we have also exported all the jobs as well which is probably why America is bankrupt. But I digress.
We also went for an underground mine tour which I can’t resist doing anytime it’s offered. Our guide was a young guy who actually was a miner in real life, and extremely knowledgeable and personable. It seems in its day there were dozens or hundreds of mines all over Butte, and there are tens of thousands of miles of tunnels under the city.
Despite its unsavoury reputation as a pollution capital, Butte is quite nice with lots of leftover trappings of the wealthy mine owners.
From Butte to Missoula, we took a side road through Phillipsburg which has gone out of its way to lure people like us. There were nice lakes nearby that we stopped at briefly plus (of all things) an impressive candy store, jam-packed with people like us stopping on their way through. We had lunch here and found out that deep-fried pickes are not as good they sound (and they don’t sound very good, do they?)
Here’s our RV, it’s the exact same model we have rented every summer for the past six years. Yes, I feel like a dork driving around a massive mobile billboard, but I got over it a long time ago. I am a big believer in Cruise America, they have locations everywhere and have never let us down. OTOH, sometimes I think we should at least TRY something different, like a bus-RV or trailer…
We drove back up through Idaho and NE Washington, reentering Canada just SE of Nelson, BC. We stopped on the way at an amusement park just north of Couer d’Alene. It was not a bad park, I don’t understand how there is such a good park out in the middle of nowhere yet between Seattle and Vancouver there is nothing more than Playland. It’s not fair!!
How did this picture get into here? It’s too much hassle to move it around. Ben and me at the mine tour in Butte!
Well, THAT’S IT for the 2011 RV Trip!! Next year we are going to Tanzania (something REALLY different). We will likely do a small RV trip as well, then another big one in 2013 (if the world survives 2012, that is!)