Saturday, June 28, 2008

I Left Great Falls behind, but took Great Memories with me

My main reason for going to Great Falls, MT was to attend the Montana State HOG Rally, where the theme was "Prairies, Peaks and Pirate Treasures". I parked at the Black Eagles, MT Moose Lodge, which is about 5 miles from the Great Falls Harley-Davidson Dealership.
The Rally kicked off Thursday afternoon at the Harley Dealership at noon for checking-in or registering.

I was pre-registered, so check-in was easy. I received my packet, including a cool T-shirt, and my Quartermaster's Journal. Inside the Journal was everything I needed to navigate through the 3 day rally. First on the agenda was the Welcome Party Thursday evening at the dealership, starting at 5PM. Grub and Grog was served - BBQ pork sandwiches, chips and sodas. Beer was optional, and extra. The local band, "Thrillbillies" played music for our listening and dancing pleasure. And we got to test our plundering skills as we dug for buried gems. My plundering skills are pretty good - I came away with 5 garnets and one small rock laced with gold


After checking-in, and before the Welcome Party, I joined several other Pirates on a Treasure Hunt. We sailed around the city on our "Chrome Vessels" visiting 11 business establishments, that we were given the addresses to. The businesses were either Antique shoppes or some other type of store. We had to wander around the store looking for an official "Rally Plank" with one or two letters on it. The Antique Shoppes were Voyage #1 and the other Shops were Voyage #2. To make a long story short, we ended up with two sets of mixed up letters. After finding all the letters, 9 for Voyage #1 and 8 for Voyage #2, we then had to decode them. I came up with "Scurvy Dog" and "Bilge Rat". HMMMMMM ????


Friday morning I headed off on a 130 mile "Pirate's Quest" ride. The quest was to find 7 business establishments, after decoding clues, such as in Wolf Creek..... "Sunday morning, after a busy night in town, he (a Pirate) found himself heading west from Frenchy's Motel. He came to two buildings where he had to make a decision; would it be Palms or Psalm? Being true to his nature, he didn't choose the "Right" one." Well, I found the abandoned Frenchy's Motel, looked west, and found one building on the"Right" that has Sunday church services, and a saloon with palm trees on the "Left". After much deliberation I concluded I was looking for the saloon on the "Left." The fact that there were a few dozen Harleys parked in front of the saloon helped me make the correct choice. So, I went inside, got the appropriate spot punched on my Quest Map, then rode off to decode the next clue. I decoded 5 clues on Friday, while riding on a beautiful frontage road which meandered for 30 scenic miles along the Missouri River between Cascade and Wolf Creek.

Then Friday afternoon between 3 and 4 PM about 600 Harleys staged in a school parking lot for the "Chromed Armada" (parade).

We roared out of the parking lot at 4 O'clock sharp, riding west down Central Avenue for 40 blocks to the steps of the Civic Center. We all parked our bikes "Sturgis Style" taking up one whole city block. Sturgis Style means one row of bikes into each curb, and two rows of bikes, nose to nose, in the middle of the street.

Then we all hustled up the steps of the Civic Center for a group picture.

What a feat that was getting hundreds of riders all standing on the steps and smiling for the camera.

Can you find me?

We then all enjoyed the "Barbary Coast" street party sponsored by the Downtown Association. We enjoyed the festivities and camaraderie from 5-9PM while dancing to lively tunes by "The Bucky Beaver Ground Grippers". Despite their name, they were great. Food and beverage vendors were available, too.


Saturday morning I set sail on my "Chrome Vessel" in quest of two more favorite Pirate Haunts and two more hole punches. Saturday's ride took me 26 miles to the tiny town of Belt to one Pirate Haunt, then another 37 miles through Monarch, then on to the tiny town of Neibert. Upon arrival at Neibert, I decoding the clues and figured out which establishment to enter, but then found another clue there which sent me back 12 miles to the tiny town of Monarch, where I finally got my hole punched. As I rode through Monarch the first time, some other Pirates were in front of the proper establishment, trying to inform me they were at THE SPOT, but I was determined to reach Neibert and just thought I was waving back at them as I rode on by. This one was a little tricky!!!
Saturday's ride was even more beautiful and scenic than Friday's ride, which at the time I didn't think possible.


Saturday afternoon at 2PM I was at the Harley Dealership to turn in my map with the 7 hole punches. What that got me was the opportunity to draw 7 playing cards in hopes of ending up with a great poker hand. If a Pirate only got 5 holes punched, then he only got to draw 5 cards. I figured I needed all the help I could get, so I went for all 7 punches!! I have never done well in a 5 card poke run, so I was hoping that drawing 7 cards would give me a really good chance at a good hand for once. WRONG!!! I ended up with a pair of 10's. BIG WHOOPIE!!


At 5 O'clock on Saturday afternoon all the Pirates gathered at the Great Falls Civic Center once again, but this time for the "Captain's Feast". We started off with the "Captains Call" cocktail hour. At 6 O'clock dinner was served pirate-style. The steaks were first stabbed with a pitchfork then cooked in a cauldron of boiling oil. The steaks were served with taters, beans, cole slaw and a special dessert.

During dinner we enjoyed a slide show from the Pirate Photo Scavenger Hunt.
The following pictures are ones I took during the slide show. They are some of my entries. It was pretty exciting seeing my photos up there on that big screen. No one else seemed too interested in them though. But, hey, someone was on the stage speaking when I took the pictures of the slide show. Anyone recognize the campfire tender in the last picture?

After dinner, awards and prizes were given out. Some guy with a Full House of Kings and Queens won the poker contest. The second and third prize winners also had Full Houses. Sure beats my pair of 10's!!!

All Scavenger Hunt Photo Contest participants who entered at least 12 of the 34pictures, were entered in a drawing. I entered 24 pictures. One couple entered 33 pictures each. The only one they missed was the one with 3 Hooter's waitresses. But quite a few people DID get that one!! Anyway, I didn't win.

And the word scramble contest, well, the words WERE Scurvy Dog and Bilge Rat. I got that right, but all the correct entries were put into a tub and three names were drawn. Those three each got a key. Only one key opened the treasure chest of prizes. My card wasn't drawn, so I didn't win.

BUT, I did have a great time, met some wonderful people, went on some beautiful rides, got a cool T-shirt, a few delicious meals, and a few other goodies. The Captain (Rally Coordinator), Dale Sivumaki, and his crew, did a fabulous job planning and executing the rally.

Now I'm heading back to Wyoming and in 1 1/2 weeks I'll be attending the Wyoming State Hog Rally. I doubt Wyoming's Rally can top Montana's.

I'm looking forward to getting back to Wyoming so I can get that gosh darn song "Meet Me In Montana" out of my head. Of course, I might just substitute "Wyoming" for "Montana." ARRRRGH!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Great Falls of Great Falls, MT

Great Falls, MT has four beautiful water falls on the Missouri River. It used to have 5 falls, but one is now buried behind Rainbow Dam.
Lewis Meriwether of the "Corp of Discovery" first set eyes on the falls on June 13, 1805. His partner William Clark joined him on June 17, 1805. Lewis and Clark knew about one of the falls, but were quite disheartened when they saw FIVE falls. They figured it would take 1/2 a day to portage their dugout canoes and supplies around ONE set of falls, but it ended up taking them 3 weeks to portage 18 miles around all 5 falls. BUMMER!!!!

This is a picture of the lower falls, or The Great Falls

I cropped off the dam to try to get a better idea of how it looked 205 years ago.

This is the bridge I walked across to get the pictures of The Great Falls

Another view of the above bridge

This building was built by the dam builders to....

...introduce a new, improved way of cooking, with electricity!!!!

This is one of the middle falls, Crooked Falls

This is Giant Spring - Every 24 hours 388.8 million gallons of water bubbles up from these springs, and flows into the Missouri via the Roe River, recognized by the Guinness Book of Worlds Records as the shortest river in the world.

This is Riley the wonder dog

The upper most falls, Black Eagle Falls

Besides visiting the falls of Great Falls, I also visited the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center. The center is sponsored by the US Forest Service. I've traveled around quite a bit in the areas where Lewis and Clark explored waterways looking for a Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean. But I never had much interest in their perilous journey until visiting the Interpretive Center. I watched several movies and explored the informative exhibits showing elements of the 28 month, 8,000 mile trek. They began near St. Louis, then traveled up the Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains, crossed the Continental Divide, and proceeded on to the Pacific Ocean. All of this without maps or power boats. They spent their first winter near what is now Washburn, North Dakota, where temperatures plunged to 40 degrees below zero. Their second winter was spent on the Pacific Coast at Fort Clatsop, near Astoria. During the four months they spent there, they had only 4 days of sunshine. Quite an arduous endeavor!!! I have a new sense of awe for these fellows and their crew!!

I also saw a presentation on 14,000 things to do with a 2,000 pound Bison. The speaker didn't actually cover all 14,000, but apparently there is a book that covers them all.

Monday, June 23, 2008

My Last Day in Helena

Sunday I went on a 140 mile motorcycle ride. I was hoping to add a few more pictures to my Scavenger Hunt Photo collection. I've sent in 21 pictures so far and hoped to add three or four more on Sunday. I found three of the right scenes, but I didn't have the required number of bikes and people to qualify the picture for the contest. :-(

Monday I did a little more shopping in tax free Montana. My first stop was at Von's for diesel. I got 14.47 gallons at $4.55 (3 cents off with Von's card) for a total of $66.00. My mileage clocked at 14.1 MPG :-) Then I went to the mall. At JC Penney's I bought a few unmentionables (on sale) and some socks (also on sale.) Then I went to Dillard's and bought some Estee Lauder makeup (never on sale!!). I bought some really good, I hope, shampoo and conditioner at half price from a beauty supply shop going out of business. I got my hair trimmed, then found another Wheat Montana Deli and treated myself to the same kind of sandwich I had a few days ago. Then I had HALF a chocolate, cherry, macadamia cookie for dessert :-)

I was amazed at how void the mall was of shoppers, and how many shops sat vacant. But I know where all the shoppers are - AT WAL-MART, of course!!

Condo update - There's another possible buyer for my neighbor's condo. If her's sells, she still wants to buy mine. :-)

Oliver sleeping in his Pet Patio

AHHHHHHH!! Cute little Ollie!!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I WANT TO SEE THE MOUNTAINS IN YOUR EYES. WHOA, WHOA, I'VE HAD ALL OF THIS LIFE I CAN HANDLE. MEET ME UNDERNEATH THAT BIG MONTANA SKY... (cut and paste the link to hear Marie Osmond and Dan Seals sing their 1985 #1 hit "Meet me in Montana.")

Thursday morning I left my campsite at Yellowstone’s Mammoth Hot Springs Campground and headed north. I drove through the quaint, but touristy town of Gardiner, MT then straight up HWY 89 to Livingston, MT where I fueled up. 21.58 gallons at $4.57/gal. The best since May 25th in Vernal, UT. I checked my digital read out for my mileage. I have a vague recollection of it reading 12.9 MPG. Not too bad for all the mountain driving I had been doing. After fueling up I veered west onto HWY 90.

AHHHHH!!! So here I am in Montana. It gets prettier and friendlier each time I visit. Snow capped mountains greeted me around each corner. I cruised past my favorite overnight Wal-Mart in Bozeman. I made an obligatory stop at the Harley-Davidson shop in Belgrade. I browsed the aisles but didn’t buy anything. I stopped at the intersection of HWY 90 and HWY 287 for a scrumptious sandwich at the Wheat Montana Bakery and Deli. (

I was only going to eat half of the sandwich, but it was so good I just had to eat the whole thing!!

Determined to do the whole Montana experience, I continued west on HWY 90 to HWY 69 where I turned north toward the town of Boulder for a soak at the Boulder Hot Springs.

“One of the last remaining grand hotels from the golden age of Montana’s hot springs resorts. “ “The 32 hot springs flowing from the hillside behind the hotel range from 125 degrees to 180 degrees F. The outdoor pool is kept at 95 degrees and the two indoor hot plunges average 104 degrees. The bed and breakfast inn features antique-furnished rooms in the east wing of the hotel. Nourishing breakfasts are served to overnight guests………”

I alternated between the hot plunge, a very quick dip in the 70 degree cold plunge, and a short, painfully hot experience in the very hot steam room. I did this for about an hour then returned to my trailer for a few hours, then hit the plunges and steam room again for another hour. Then I topped it all off with a very loooong shower - a rare treat for a boon docking Rver.


Overnight parking was not allowed in the Hot Springs parking lot so I continued up the HWY to a very scenic rest stop about 12 miles south of Helena. Only one or two non refer semis joined me during the night, and didn’t even run their engines. So, it was very quiet and peaceful. I was entertained for a few hours by a lady who spent the remaining daylight hours moving from picnic table to picnic table, singing, walking around in circles, and going back and forth to her car. I went to bed when it got dark. She was sleeping in her car when I awoke in the morning. She drove off in her packed-to-the-gills Volvo station wagon before I departed. I was glad not to be on the road with her.

I then proceeded on to Helena. I had read somewhere that the fair grounds in Helena allowed free RV parking around a meadow. I drove to the fairgrounds but was told by employees that dry camping was $15 and full hook ups was $20/night. I thought I’d save a little money over the $10/night charged at the Ekl's Lodge, but being that the fairgrounds was more than the Elk’s I ventured over to the Elk’s. I parked in the same spot I’d parked in the last two times I stayed at the Helena Elk’s. It kind of felt like home. After I got parked and unhitched I drove Bubba The Truck to the nearest do-it-yourself car wash. Bubba got a bubble bath and looked GOOD!! Then I “did” Wal-Mart. I picked up a few things I knew I needed and a few things I didn’t know I needed until I saw them.

Saturday morning I continued to do the Montana experience by going to the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market in downtown Helena.


I couldn’t resist buying two large chocolate, cherry, macadamia cookies. I’m going to test my willpower and eat only half a cookie per day. :-) Yeah, right!! I resisted buying other things I really didn’t need. I had a large purchase looming ahead of me at my next stop. I drove to the fairly new Costco in Helena and dropped Bubba off at the tire shop for fancy new French rubber shoes. The cost was $768 for four new 10 ply tires. Thank you Prez Bush for my tax rebate check. It really came in handy going towards new French tires!! :-) Seeing the tread on the new tires made me realized how little tread I had left on the old ones. While Bubba was being tended to I managed to spend another $138.00 in the store. It was all stuff I really needed, like a suitcase of Moose Drool Beer, which really came in handy later Saturday afternoon when the temp soared above 90 degrees!! UGH!! I also did some serious grazing of the free samples in Costco. The store wasn't terribly crowded and the grazing was great!!! Ah, life is good!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Yellowstone Part Deux

On my second full day in Yellowstone I rode around the lower loop road. My first stop was in the Mammoth Hot Springs Village hoping to see all the Elk I had seen the day before. I didn't take pictures the first day so I planned to take pictures the second day. Well, there wasn't an Elk in sight on the second day. So, I headed south towards Old Faithful.

This is a picture of the Mammoth Hot Springs Village.

The following four pictures were taken at the Upper and Lower Terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs


The two following pictures were taken somewhere along the road.


The following is a picture of "Roaring Mountain"


The above picture was taken two miles north of the "Museum of the National Park Ranger." As I was getting back onto my bike after taking the picture, I realized the family in the car parked in front of me had just discovered their only car key was locked inside their rental car. The father spoke a little English. I think they were from India. The father was sure I had tools on my bike that would unlock his door. I gave him a screw driver then headed towards the nearest Park Ranger. Another American was on the scene also and he reached the nearest ranger just ahead of me. When I passed the scene of the crime heading the other direction, about three hours later, the family and rental car where gone. I guess they got their door unlocked and got on their way.

All the rivers were at full capacity making all the falls quite spectacular!!

She's spouting faithfully about every 90 minutes these days. I arrived about 15 minutes after a spouting. I had some lunch, than sat and waited for about half an hour for her next show.

After Old Faithful I headed east toward West Thumb and the beautiful Yellowstone Lake. I was hoping to get one more picture for my photo scavenger hunt - two people and their bikes, with me and Piggy Pirate of course, in front of a lake. All the bikes I saw and all the beautiful pullouts next to the lake, I never found the right opportunity. Well, maybe tomorrow. But I did get a great picture of the lake!!


One more beautiful water fall

The view from my RV spot in the Mammoth Hot Springs Campground, looking north to beautiful Montana

My trailer