Tuesday, July 3

Pretty strong storms last night with high winds. My camper is fairly protected by being in a low area and bordered on one side by cottonwood trees but it’s still a pop-up camper with soft sides. Those soft sides moved around quite a bit!

(Sun setting last night with storm clouds in the distance starting to move in)

All was well in the morning though the shower tent took a beating, the radio antenna blew off the roof and the little bottle of hot sauce on a shelf got tossed off. When I drove into town this morning I saw some damage there: a billboard sign snapped off, a quonset hut canvas roof in shreds and a portable trailer set up to sell fireworks had been upended. I noticed no hail out on the ranch but had a pretty significant rain.

I’d noticed the “gift” of little brown things in the camper so put out mouse traps in four strategic locations and sometime during the night heard the distinct, sharp “snap” then a bit of wrestling around, to silence. I’m not violent but do not wish to share the camper with mices! We’ll see if the word gets out to stay away.

I went into town and checked out a local coffee shop that took care of my need for an occasional Chai latte; it was great. I decided to do a day trip since trails would be wet and sloppy going and the hills nearly impossible to climb up or down until the afternoon. I drove west to Miles City and enjoyed a lunch stop there then drove on to Billings, the farthest west I’ve been in Montana. Enjoyed passing through Miles and found downtown Billings fun as well. Most of the drive west from Miles City to Billings follows the flood plain of the Yellowstone River. Many parts of the drive are very picturesque. I stopped at Pompey’s Pillar along the way; where Wm Clark carved his initials in 1806 in this huge natural stone formation on the south bank of the Yellowstone River. Very cool to be standing in the spot where one of the Lewis & Clark leaders left his mark. The river was running fast to the east. Got me thinking about the crazy trip where that large team of people oared, paddled, & pulled with ropes their boats UPSTREAM all the way from St. Louis to much farther west than this spot. Unimaginable to go against the current with no motor that whole expanse of country.

On my return trip the wind picked up in Billings and really blew once I was out on the open highway. The clouds started looking very serious and was definitely raining to the north of my path.

It was two hands on the wheel for the first hour to hour & a half out of Billings to keep the truck between the painted lines. Heading east I eventually drove out of those really strong wind gusts.

Hopefully will be able to go out and do some prospecting tomorrow then thinking I’ll check out a rodeo for July 4th celebration.