This weekend we drove 700 miles. Well… 701 to be exact. Considering that we’ve been averaging 50 miles or less between stops all summer this was a very long journey for us. Why are we covering so much ground in such a short amount of time? Well, we have some exciting plans at the end of the month. First we will meet-up with seven or so other Airstream couples and families, then participate in our first caravan into BC where the final destination is the town of Banff deep in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. The whole shebang starts off in northern Washington where our friends Leigh and Brain own a piece of property. We haven’t seen them since the end of last January, so we decided to arrive early and spend two weeks hanging with them before everyone else arrives. All this meant that we had a lot of ground to cover if we wanted to make it from Custer, SD all the way to northern WA. The plan for the weekend was to drive from South Dakota almost all the way across the very large state of Montana to the city of Missoula. We’ll be spending the week in Missoula and then continuing onto Washington the following weekend. Instead of cramming all those miles into two long days, we decided to turn it into a three day journey with some fun stops along the way. So after work on Friday we packed up and left South Dakota for the first leg of the journey that would take us to Sheridan Wyoming.
About halfway to Sheridan we stopped for gas and decided to wait out a passing storm while we ate dinner in the parking lot. The timing was perfect and by the time we finished eating the rain was slowing, the sky was clearing and a rainbow even appeared outside our dining room window.
That night we slept at the Walmart in Sheridan with at least a dozen other RVs. This particular Walmart had a huge parking lot with an area off to the side where the RVs congregated Because we were parked on the side of the building away from the road it was a very quiet night and we slept surprisingly well in our parking lot home for the night. We woke up on Saturday ready to tackle the drive to Bozeman, Montana. It was only a four hours drive, but we decided to make a day of it and stop a few places along the way. After all, we planned to spend another night at a Walmart so there really was no reason to get there an earlier than we had to. Our first stop was two hours away in Billings, Montana. I researched ahead of time and learned about the Downtown Billings Farmer’s Market. We lucked out and found a place to park the Airstream at the Albertson’s grocery store only a few blocks from the market. It was a fairly large market and we spent a happy hour perusing the booths, waiting in line for corn, picking up a tasty tray of assorted berries, and eating a the most delicious savory stuffed crepe for lunch.
From Billings we continued down the road another hour before stopping at the Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park. To put it nicely it was not the most exciting place in the world, but we parked and hung out for an hour or so enjoying the peace and quiet. Upon arrival we walked around the “town” and saw one or two prairie dogs, but since I left the camera in the truck we have no photographs. I think most of them were hiding in their underground homes anyway in an effort to escape the hot and sunny afternoon.
Since the state park was kind of dull, and it had turned into a pretty warm afternoon, we decided to drive across the street to a fishing access spot on the Yellowstone River. Even though the water was fairly low it was much cooler by the water and we all enjoyed some time on the river. Some of us more than others.
After a nice cool down at the river we jumped back in the truck and continued on to Bozeman which was now only a little over an hour away. We timed it just right and pulled into the Walmart just in time to enjoy another parking lot dinner. The Walmart in Bozeman is apparently a very popular RV overnight stop. When we arrived a little after six o’clock there were at least a dozen other RVs, and they just kept rolling in. By the time we went to sleep my conservative estimate would be that there were around twenty-five RVs dominating the far corner of the parking lot. This was our sixth overnight Walmart stay and we have never seen even close to that many other RVs. The best part about our Walmart overnight was that one of the other RVs happened to belong to some fellow Airstreamers who we have previously encountered on Instagram. I’ve mentioned here before how I love Instagram because of the connections it allows us travelers to make with each other. Well once again Instagram helped turn a virtual acquaintance into a real life encounter. Earlier in the day I posted a picture from the farmer’s market that mentioned something about our drive through Montana. Loren (you can find them on Instagram @franstasticvoyage) then commented asking if we were going to be in Bozeman because that’s where they were spending the night. Well you know the rest of the story. We ended up in Bozeman, they ended up in Bozeman and we both ended up at the same Walmart parked right near each other for the night. We enjoyed a few hours with Loren and Andy talking all things Airstream, travel and life in general. We also did what Airstreamers always do and toured each other’s rigs. They have a 23′ and it’s amazing how different the layout is from our 25′. Unfortunately, we are headed in opposite directions as we travel west and they travel east. Hopefully someday we’ll cross paths again.
Another amazing thing happened that night at Walmart. We were treated to a fireworks show! There was a grand stand behind the Walmart where we could hear lots of cheering all evening. Tim looked it up online and it turned out to be a rodeo. As darkness fell the show must have come to an end and suddenly the sky exploded with fireworks. Of course we ran outside to see. This is a horrible, blurry phone pic, but I had to share.
Sunday morning we departed Walmart and made the final leg of the journey to Missoula. Sometimes I like to try and capture out-the-window photos while we’re driving, but I wasn’t really into it for that drive and only took one shot as we neared Missoula. This scene was pretty typical of what we saw most of the drive. Rolling hills dotted with trees and an occasional river.
Our home for the week in Missoula is a park to the west of town called Jim & Mary’s RV Park. I haven’t taken any photos of the park yet, but I think we lucked out again with another very nice private RV park. The sites are spacious with lush strips of green grass, plenty of trees for shade, and tons of flowers everywhere. The biggest downfall is that once again we are at a park without a lake or river for our water loving pooch. Lucky for him there is a river only a few miles away. Since we’re very nice to the old guy, as soon as we settled in and ate lunch we made a quick trip over check it out. The water seemed a little low, but it was beautiful anyway and he enjoyed himself very much.
It should be a nice week here in Missoula. We have some exiting plans including a few nights out and our first rodeo.
Oh…a rodeo. We have been looking for one since we were in Cody, Wyoming last year….our timing had been off!
Love the pictures of Phineas in the water…one happy pup!
Billings has a great farmers market.
Do Loren & Andy have a blog? Are they full-time?
Love that you’re getting closer!!
They are full-time, but no blog yet.
Oh goodness.. a very close encounter!
We’ve been parking in Billings for the past 6 weeks having our engine rebuilt, and we finally sprung free on Saturday afternoon. Too bad we didn’t know you were passing through, it would have been fun to finally meet up! Have a great time on your caravan into Calgary.
We have been following your saga of the engine rebuild in Billings. We thought about contacting you, but from your facebook updates it seemed like Saturday was a busy day for you and we didn’t want to get in the way. Hopefully someday we’ll have a chance to meet up somewhere!
It was so great to meet you! Can’t wait to see you on the road again soon.
So great to meet you two as well- and have some company for our night in the parking lot. We’ll see you again someday I am sure.