That quote seems appropriate because one of the things we've been
doing the past week in Great Falls is trying to figure out where to go
the next few weeks, before landing in Arizona for the winter.
Sometimes we think it's harder to make travel plans since we began
RVing full time than it was when we had a house -- we had more
time structure/constraints then. Now we have so many options that trip
planning gets overwhelming at times.
Our home for the past week at
We have several possible scenarios of how to spend the next five or
six weeks. We'll all have to wait to see where we end up. You can be
sure there will be scenic pictures . . .
I think we surely must have brought the last week of rain with us!
Like much of the northwestern U.S., Great Falls has had a hot, dry
summer, with temperatures in the 90s F. right before we got here and a
major drought. Everything is rather brown, like this large field next to
the campground where I walk the dogs:
Fortunately, the heavy smoke from wildfires lessened some before our
Since then, five days of rain have also helped to get rid of the
smoke haze. Two inches of rain fell in a two-day period,
which is unusual for Montana. The other three un-summery days had some
rain, hail, overcast skies, high temps only in the 40s-50s F., and/or 40-45 MPH winds.
Only the first and last full days that we have been here have been at
least partly sunny and warm.
We're leaving tomorrow, and the next week is predicted to be sunny,
dry, and in the 80s. What's with that??
After all the rain and cold temps we had in Alaska and Canada, it's
ironic that our timing was off so badly for this visit to Great Falls. We
can use some dry heat about now.
Picnic area near the campground
at Malmstrom AFB;
this was nice and green in May
when we were here.
We can't complain, though. We know this area desperately needs the
rain. We got a lot done on both the sunny days and the more miserable
ones while we've been here. And we have full hookups and good TV and
WiFi signals at our spacious campsite. It's all good.
Rather than getting out for a long bike ride or hike on our first
full day -- when it was still sunny and in the mid-80s
-- we did major cleaning inside and outside the Cameo, including
shampooing the carpeting (that entails moving furniture), cleaning every
surface, washing all the bedding and throw rugs, even caulking the roof
of the camper. Jim washed the dogs, too, and I did five loads of laundry
Jim continued doing routine cleaning and vehicle
maintenance on the camper, truck, and car the rest of the week between
rain showers. While it was sunny this afternoon he washed off several
weeks' worth of bugs from the front cap of the Cameo and waxed it
In addition to major cleaning and laundry, on rainy or
windy days we did some reorganizing (even in small places it's too easy to collect
more than we need and/or get disorganized), shopped at our favorite big
box stores, did some trip planning, visited the museum on base, and
walked/rode the dogs several times a day.
Cody is almost back to normal now, with no wobbliness
from the Old Dog Vestibular Disease. The only symptom remaining is a
slight head tilt, which should also go away. Otherwise he seems fine and
he's able to walk longer distances like he did before.
Most of the photos in this entry are from activities we
did today, only our second sunny day in the past week. And you can see from the
photos that gray clouds threatened rain today, too -- but we
didn't get any.
Great Falls is so named because of the five major waterfalls on an
eighteen-mile stretch of the Missouri River, which runs right
through town. The city highlights much of the riverfront with beautiful
parks and a long bike path on both sides of the river.
The five falls were a major obstacle to Lewis & Clark on their famous
expedition to the west coast. When they got to this area in 1805 it took
them three weeks to portage all their boats and supplies around the falls.
Large commemorative plaque at Ryan Falls
At least three of the falls now have dams to control the flow of
water and produce electricity. We've seen all the falls and dams
previously from the bike path except Ryan Dam, which is the farthest to
the northeast of town.
This morning we drove out Hwy. 87 and Ryan Dam Road and walked over
to a park-like island in the middle of the river so we could get good
views of the falls and dam:
Suspension bridge across half the
Above and below: Try as he
might, Jim couldn't get that sturdy bridge to budge.
"Warning! Evacuate the island if you hear 8 short
blasts." You betcha!
We walked behind the shelter below to a path that took us to an overlook
where we could see the dam, waterfall, and operations facility:
The island is just two or three acres but very attractively landscaped.
The dogs would have loved all that grass but pets aren't allowed over
Shady picnic area at the confluence of the two
parts of the river
Close-up of fluffy stuff on the fence
On the way back to town we checked out a trailhead for the lengthy North
Shore bike-hike path along the river, part of the 60-mile network of
paved and dirt/crushed rock trails on either side of the Missouri.
Because we had only two good weather days to ride our bikes or hike we didn't
get out this far on the trail:
I also took these dramatic, expansive photos of the "Big Sky Country"
on the road back to town:
LEWIS & CLARK VISITOR CENTER
Great Falls is very proud of its connection to the
famous Lewis & Clark Expedition, one of my favorite historical
And one of my favorite places to visit in Great Falls is
the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center, managed
by the U.S. Forest Service. I've been through it several times in three
previous visits to Great Falls and had to come back again today.
It's a beautiful visitor center full of interesting
historical displays and information. There is a fee to enter but it's
free with any of the National Park Service passes. I think it's well
worth whatever small fee is charged for folks without NPS passes.
Here are a few photos from inside the handsome building,
which sits high above the Missouri River:
Large bronze statues depicting
the main characters on the expedition, including Seaman,
the Newfoundland dog; there is
another statue of him outside the visitor center.
The next picture shows a Mandan buffalo robe painted
with detailed people and horses in a 1797 battle. Painted robes are a
form of recorded history.
Meriwether Lewis collected the original robe during his
winter at Fort Mandan and sent it to President Jefferson in 1805. It is
displayed permanently at Harvard University. This replica was created
with permission of the Peabody Museum to be displayed in Great Falls:
And then there's some kitsch in the gift shop, like this
Lewis & Clark chess set. I've shown just part of it so you can see the
detailed characters -- even Seaman the dog!
The road and bike path past the visitor center continue
to Giant Springs State Park. So do dirt trails on the bluff and along
After I toured the visitor center this afternoon I took
Cody on a two-mile hike on the trails to Giant Springs and back. I'll
show photos from that on the next page so they are easier to load.
Continued on the
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil