This trip is to Montana. I had planned to take this trip a year ago, but with significant forest fires last year in Montana I went to the Owyhees instead. This year I visit Montana!
The first day was spent driving. Not really vacation time – it was driving time. I stopped for the night at Rose Lake Sportsman Access in Idaho. A simple quiet place to spend the night.
Five miles were all I drove the next day before my first vacation stop – the Old Mission in Idaho. Although the mission building has had extensive renovations, after watching the video in the visitor center I could image the work required to build the building with nothing more than axes and knives. The priest didn’t stop working when the basics were done, he carved ornamental accents and made lighting from scrap metal. It reminded me of being a kid and having a pocket knife so I could whittle while on vacation. I had the basic understanding about making something from wood with a knife, but all I remember making was a stick with a point. I admire the ambitious priest working long hours to create beauty, not just a stick with a point.
I drove on to Wallace and stopped at their Railroad Museum. I love going to small town museums. The people are talkative. It helps to absorb the area. In Wallace I could hear in their voices that the people are proud of their mining heritage. At the museum they had a model train set. It reminded me of my brother’s train set. We would set it up on the ping pong table with all it’s fancy stuff; a depot, a tunnel through a mountain, and more items that I’ve forgotten.
As a kid, we use to drive from Seattle to Red Lodge each year to visit my grandparents. Lookout Pass was an important milestone. We would sleep close to the pass on the west side so we could tackle the pass in the cool morning. We had a green Pontiac, and dad hung a burlap water bag on front of the car in case the car over heated. We would start driving up the pass with my dad vigilantly watching the car thermostat. About half way up he would announce he was turning on the heat to cool the car down. All the windows would get rolled down. It was an adventure. Today one zips over the pass with no concern.
- Most of the campgrounds in Idaho along I-90 close after Labor Day weekend.
Camping options after Labor Day include sportsman access sites and the Silver Dollar Bar.
- There are two locations for Rose Lake sportsman access. Take a left turn into the first access point. The second location is small and doesn’t allow camping. Free.
- Currently it is estimated that there is 70 years of silver yet to mined. However, it isn’t like the past. There are only two active mines. One state employee at the Old Mission use to be a mining engineer. She lost her mining job but didn’t want to leave the area.
- The next night I stayed at Beavertail Hill State Park. About a half mile from I-90. A good functional spot for the night. Look for a spot as far from the freeway as you can get. There are trains tooting their whistle all night adjacent to the freeway.