August 24, 2013 Ennis, Montana

Prospecting for wildlife along the Madison River

Pronghorn family crossing the road
Pronghorn family crossing the road

Unfortunately I have to address my HWH hydraulic leveling system problem. For a week or so I have had one front jack that will not descend, now I have the other front jack deciding that it will not retract, so time has come to find a service technician. Fortunately, the people here at the Ennis Rv Village had the card for a local tech who does work on these HWH systems and I was able to get an appointment for Monday AM. Unfortunately, his hourly rate is $100/ hr., sure hope he is worth what he charges.

Fleeing pronghorn family
Fleeing pronghorn family
Pronghorn family fleeing
Pronghorn family fleeing

 

I took off this morning at sunrise hoping to find some deer to photograph and maybe even some pronghorns. I headed down a road on the west side of the Madison River out of Ennis heading toward the fish hatchery. It didn’t take long to find both deer, though no nice bucks, and my first pronghorns of the trip.

 

 

 

Doe and fawn
Doe and fawn

 

There was a doe with her fawn grazing in the tall grass alongside an irrigation ditch and I stopped to take some photos. I was horrified to see how badly tick infested the fawn was, while the doe had no visible ticks. You would think mom could help her poor kid out somehow, but I guess that is not how it works. Perhaps the fawn should consider signing on with a baboon troop.

 

 

uch! You'd think mom could help with those ticks
Ouch! You’d think mom could help with those ticks
Fawn and thistle
Fawn and thistle

 

 

 

 

 

Scouted out a couple more small campgrounds along the Madison River and got some shots of couples heading out flyfishing with their guide. Looks like a great way to spend a gorgeous day like today.

Jenny inspecting my Madison River campsite
Jenny inspecting my Madison River campsite

 

Flyfishing the Madison
Flyfishing the Madison
Flyfishing the Madison
Flyfishing the Madison

 

 

 

 

 

The open range
The open range

 

Crossed over the Madison River, from the west over to the east side, and drove through a couple of miles of open range pasture, where I could see hundreds of black angus, and hoped to find more pronghorns.

 

Determined not to let me pass
Determined not to let me pass

After getting through my black angus road block, I ran into a few more female pronghorns and their fawns and then finally found where all the big boys were hiding.

Pronghorn bachelor herd
Pronghorn bachelor herd
Pronghorn girls watching the boys go by
Pronghorn girls watching the boys go by

 

 

 

 

I would guess that the mating season has yet to start for them as the males are still herded up together and the females and youngsters are still in separate bands.

Horses follow the leader
Follow the leader

 

Freckles
Freckles
Red horse portrait
Red 2
Red horse portrait
Red

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the way home, I stopped by a horse pasture hoping to get some full body horse images for my painting references. There were a couple light horses, a few beautiful reds, and one paint that I thought would make a good addition to my reference gallery. Well, before I could get up to the fence to take my shots, they had all covered the hundred yards or so between them and the fence. They must be used to people bringing them something to eat, or were they just being friendly?

Anyhow, I couldn’t resist taking some horse portraits since they really were beautiful animals.

Two pronghorns
Two pronghorns
Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier takes flight
Northern Harrier takes flight

 

Doe in the stream
Doe in the stream

 

Freckles 2
Freckles 2

 

 

Flyfishing the Madison
Flyfishing the Madison

 

August 23, 2013 Virginia City and Nevada City, Montana

Two days spent exploring the gold rush towns of Virginia City and Nevada City

Took off at 6 AM for some soft light, no traffic photos in Virginia City and Nevada City. Ran into a mule deer family, a nice buck and some does and fawns right on the side of 287 barely out of the commercial strip in Ennis, but unfortunately wasn’t ready for them and so got no decent photos. I really need to be prepared for this sort of thing because you just never know what you may run into every time out.

Main Street, Virginia City
Main Street, Virginia City
General Store. Virginia City
General Store. Virginia City

 

 

 

 

 

 

( As usual, click on any image to get a larger version )

Getting to Virginia City before the people were up and about yielded some nice opportunities to get the shots I was looking for when I came here yesterday a little later in the day. It also was a bit cooler here at 7 AM than yesterday at noon when it hit the 90’s.

Virginia City, view from Boot Hill
Virginia City, view from Boot Hill

 

Store cash register, Virginia City
Store cash register, Virginia City
Dry goods store, Virginia City
Dry goods store, Virginia City

 

 

 

 

 

 

These two towns and Adobe City ( a mile out of Nevada City ) had a population of over 20,000 during the 19th century gold rush. A very interesting stop for any history loving travelers.

Nevada City, Montana
Nevada City, Montana

 

In addition to many old buildings, Nevada City has several old railroad cars and a rail station to investigate.

 

Old railroad cars, Nevada City
Old railroad cars, Nevada City 

Click on any thumbnail for a larger image

Virginia City window display
Virginia City window display
Tin ceiling detail, Virginia City
Tin ceiling detail, Virginia City
Great Northern Railway faded emblem, Nevada City
Great Northern Railway faded emblem, Nevada City

 

 

 

 

 

Dry goods store, Virginia City
Dry goods store, Virginia City
Store cash register, Virginia City
Store cash register, Virginia City
Great Northern Railway caboose, Nevada City
Great Northern Railway caboose, Nevada City

 

 

 

 

 

Behind Main Street, Virginia City
Behind Main Street, Virginia City
Storefront detail, Virginia City
Storefront detail, Virginia City
Railroad car detail
Railroad car detail

 

 

 

 

 

Railroad car wheel
Railroad car wheel
Display window, Virginia City
Display window, Virginia City
Main Street, Virginia City
Main Street, Virginia City

 

 

 

 

 

Hollyhocks, Virginia City
Hollyhocks, Virginia City
California store, Virginia City
California store, Virginia City
Blue door and a light in the window
Blue door and a light in the window

 

 

 

 

 

Virginia City Doorway
Virginia City Doorway
General Store. Virginia City
General Store. Virginia City
Grocers building, Virginia City
Grocers building, Virginia City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 21, 2013 Scouting trip to Yellowstone National Park

Washed the car and the motorhome first thing this morning to try to remove whatever the clear glaze that was sprayed all over both while going through the construction zones yesterday ( calcium chloride? ). Fortunately, though hardened and yet still sticky to the touch, it did seem to come off. Kind of neat to be able to wash vehicles in a campground, especially since this campground’s well sits above a geothermal hotspot and the water comes out of the spigot warm, works well for car washing but would take some getting used to for drinking.

Decided to head to Yellowstone to check out if there would be any chance of getting into Mammoth Hot Springs campground for the next couple of weeks. I knew it would make for a long day, but with the temperature hovering around 90, I figured why not spend the day in the air conditioned car. So I took 287 south to 191 south into West Yellowstone, a very pleasant and interesting route, especially along the shore of Hebgen Lake. Then 20/287/191 into the west entrance of the park, then north up 89 ( Grand Loop Road ) to Mammoth Hot Springs Campground.

Checked out two National Forest Campgrounds on the way in just north of West Yellowstone to see if they might be viable options. Spoke with the attendant at Mammoth and she said it normally is not a problem getting in if I were to show up at 11 AM . Looks like there are a few nice sites for rigs my size here.

Quite a rack, Yellowstone bull elk
Quite a rack, Yellowstone bull elk

On the return trip home I stopped for a bull elk shot, but couldn’t help but notice the lack of all types of wildlife while driving through the park today. I assume the elk are just now probably starting to descend to the lower meadows for the breeding season. I have never been here this early before so the lack of elk and bison was a bit of a surprise ( did encounter one bison grazing along the road ). I was also a little surprised that the traffic in the park really wasn’t all that bad at this time of year.

Lesser Scaup
Lesser Scaup

 

Stopped at a beaver pond on the way back home for some shots on what I think are Lesser Scaup, a new duck to me.

 

 

Lesser Scaup, mom and ducklings
Lesser Scaup, mom and ducklings

Back on 287 about 25 miles south of Ennis, I drove into a couple more National Forest campgrounds to check them out. One was completely empty and the other had but two tent campers set up.

Sandhill crane pair, Montana
Sandhill crane pair, Montana

One was on a bluff looking down on the Madison River ( this is where I was surprised by the sandhill crane pair ) and the other had sites that back directly up to the Madison River. Also stopped to check out one private campground of Hebgen Lake that had full hookups for a now shoulder season rate of $35.

 

Sandhill Crane, Montana
Sandhill Crane, Montana
Sandhills in the sagebrush
Sandhills in the sagebrush

 

August 20, 2013 On the Road

Glacier National Park to Ennis, Montana

Well, finally it’s moving day so off we go towards Yellowstone. I figured to try to make it to Ennis, Montana for today and then have just a short trip to the park left for another day. Weather has turned quite a bit warmer and as I headed south, it became quite hazy and downright hot, low 90’s.

Took 464 back to Browning, then 89 south to Choteau, where I picked up 287 south to I-15 south to Helena. Route 287 had a 5 or 6 mile stretch of construction where you were traveling on fairly rough gravel detour road, otherwise not a bad road for big rigs. Stopped at the Walmart Super Center in Helena ( easy access right off Exit 192 ), without a doubt the largest, most highly stocked Walmart I have ever been in, and stocked up on staples for the next month of camping in Yellowstone. There is a 5 mile stretch of construction on I-15 as you approach Helena where you are forced to drive on the rumble strip for the entire 5 miles. This zone has several spots where it really gets quite narrow for a big rig and it is a little stressful trying to avoid the freshly sprayed oil and the guard rails while rattling along on the rumble strip.

Stayed on I-15 until I picked up 69 south and then 359 south that once again connected to 287 south and took me to the Ennis Rv Park, right on 287 just short of the small town of Ennis. It was very interesting watching the terrain and geology change as you proceeded south on this route, and, other than the construction zones, the roads were in pretty good shape.

This fairly new RV park turned out to be a very nice place to stop and I probably will stay here a few days to ride out the heat wave. This place is very well thought out, sites are still fairly close, but there is well maintained small grass lawn on each site, a choice of two sewer connections ( for the convenience of different length RV’s, I presume, but a nice touch ), picnic table, actual usable Wifi, a great laundry room, a very friendly and helpful staff, and the absolute cleanest restroom and showers I have seen anywhere. And all this for $33/night with my Good sam discount. The owners obviously take pride in this place. The place is pretty full and there are a lot of what appear to be seasonal rentals, I assume staying here mostly because of the proximity to the ( famous for its trout fishing ) Madison River, since I do see a lot of dories and float boats on trailers in the park.