Never left the campsite today, just sat back and watched fisherman, finally actually watched someone catch something, and read all day, enjoying the cloud cover that kept a lid on temperatures for the first time in days. It stayed very comfortable all day with the breeze blowing and the sun peeking through only occasionally. By late afternoon, the few other campers that have been here were packed up and gone, leaving the entire campground to me. This has been one of the most peaceful spots I have ever stayed, definitely has the “it” factor going for it, no road noise, wide, level sites, spaced far apart for privacy, clean, well kept, with the river 30 feet in front of your site and the imposing bluff on the opposite shore where eagles and ospreys perch.
Time to finally leave the Ennis RV Village, a nice place to stay, featuring the only truly usable Wifi I have ever encountered, clean and well kept, quiet and convenient, with a reasonable price of $35/night. Filled up the motorhome with gas and propane and then headed south to Palisades BLM Campground on the Madison River, only 24 miles south of Ennis on 287.
My hoped for spot on the turnaround was taken so I settled in on Site #3, unhooked the dolly so I could park head first in facing the river and angled to accept the cooling breezes. Since there are no hookups here, I will be living off solar only, if possible.
A very nice large, flat gravel space with a picnic table, bear proof storage compartment, and a metal fire ring with cook grill make this space, less than 30 feet from the river’s edge one of the nicer spots I have encountered yet. Oh, and the price of $4/night, with my senior discount, is pretty hard to beat. Two small tent campers about 100 yards upstream and the pickup truck camper the same distance downstream, are the only other people here.
Read for a few hours and took off south down 287 around 5 Pm to see if there were any roads heading east into the hills above 287 ( there aren’t ).
Got some nice shots of an osprey pair in their nest on a nesting platform along the highway just south of the campground.This Madison River valley must be paradise for these fish eaters.
I continued down 287 looking for a gas station so I could fillup the Prius before I headed into West Yellowstone with its inflated prices.Only problem was that I had to go all the way into W. Yellowstone before I came across a gas station.
Since I was already there, and since I already had made this a much longer trip than I had planned, I decided I may as well venture into the Park to see if the elk are gathering yet in the meadows on the road on the way in from W. Yellowstone. An absolutely gorgeous evening as I drove along the Madison River inside the park. Quite a bit of traffic heading out of the park, but very little going my way. One small band of cows and calves with an escorting bull were plodding along the edge the river bringing traffic to a standstill with people simply parking their cars in the middle of the road, getting out and taking photos, completely ignoring park rules, of course. There being no shoulder to park on, I did not take any shots since I couldn’t stop and besides, the lone bull with this band really wasn’t that great a specimen, I would doubt that he will be holding on to this little harem when the big guns get here.
It is encouraging to see at least one group of elk here, maybe by the time I get into the park, there will be more. The outgoing traffic was backed up, parked, for more than half a mile, and since I had to reverse direction and retrace my steps back to the campground, I decided to continue on into the park, rather than just sit in that line of parked cars for the next half hour, so on I went. Nothing more to be found, though, so I finally turned around hoping that the traffic jam would be breaking up by the time I got there.
My little jaunt to find gas turned into a 4 hour 150 mile trip, not what I was planning to do, but it was beautiful evening for a ride, even though it didn’t produce any great photos. Got home around 9, turned the inverter on and watched a movie. Took the dogs out around 11 to do their thing and marveled at the moonless night sky. With no street lights, houses, or other campers leaving their outside lights on, it was absolutely dark and you could see forever in the overhead sky. Makes me think about doing some night sky photography, if only I didn’t have this bear proof food container sitting here reminding me what can be out and about on these pitch black evenings. Maybe tomorrow night.
Headed north up 287 to Norris, then east on 84 for a quick day trip into Bozeman for supplies and just because I always like visiting Bozeman. I kind of hate all cities, but little city Bozeman is the exception. Another gorgeous day with blue skies and white puffy clouds.
Spotted a couple of deer in a field on the way and got a long range shot of a buck and his companions.
I stopped and explored the Red Mountain BLM campground on the Madison River about 8 miles east of Norris. A sort of developed campground with a camphost on the 287 side of the river and then another undeveloped set of 8 campsites stretched along the opposite side of the river. Either would make a good choice to stay, though the sites on the opposite side were all occupied today, so they are apparently quite popular.
As I was driving along the river, I spotted a flock of white pelicans taking off, spooked by one of the many fishing dories plying the river. I found a pullout and watched them float in circles, riding the wind currents to gain lift. While I still find it odd to see these birds I continue to associate with the ocean, here 1000 miles from the sea, it really strikes me as odd to see them feeding in fast moving river waters.
The 30 or so miles from Norris to Bozeman is a very scenic road, following the Madison River about half way, and then going through open range and then vast farmland. Then, bang, you are in the city. A nice, small city, where 5 miles from the city center, you can be in open country, probably not a bad place to live.
Got out before sunrise again this morning and went north on 287 out of Ennis to explore the area around Ennis Lake, a lake formed by the damming of the Madison River.
Next to a ramshackled dwelling, near a small fishing access recreation area just a mile off 287, I stumbled on a great old 41 Plymouth, a great watercolor possibility.
A little further north on 287 was the road that looked like it would go around the east side of the lake. There was another boat access recreation area on the east side of the lake with several nice looking sites right on the waters edge, but when I got out to take some photos of them, and the mule deer feeding in the willows along the lake, I was engulfed in a cloud of mosquitos and had to quickly retreat to the car. The campsites look quite nice, but I’m not sure about staying here if the bugs are always this bad. Incidentally, this is the first place I have encountered bugs of any sort in my week long stay around Ennis, not too surprising I suppose, with the constant 20 mph breezes.
The road around the lake soon crossed a concrete bridge and split left to the dam, and right to continue around the lake and eventually reconnect with 287 south of Ennis. I took the road to the left and went about three miles down to the dam and then a little beyond until you are not allowed to go any further. The road runs down through a narrow canyon reminiscent of a miniature Grand Canyon of the Gunnison, steep black rock walls towering above both sides of the water, where it looked like bighorn sheep should pop up at any moment, though none did. I could see a bald eagle floating way up above the opposite cliffs, and all kinds of small fish breaking the surface of the water. A sign along the banks of the river below the dam said the river here contains arctic grayling, along with the west slope trout, brookies and browns.
I had to be back at my campsite for the mobile tech by 9 AM, so I wasn’t able to wait for some sunlight to make it’s way down into this canyon and be able to get some shots, so no images, but if you are in the area, it is a definite must see.
The tech replaced two burnt out solenoids that were the root of my front jacks problems and it was determined that the springs that retract the jacks were not fully retracting them and that is what most likely caused the solenoids to burn up. I decided to bite the bullet and replace all four sets of springs as a preventative maintenance measure. The solenoids were a couple of hundred dollars each ( ouch! ) and the springs $30 a pair. Add in 4 hours of labor at $100/hr and I have pretty much blown my motorhome maintenance budget for this year, sure hope nothing else major goes wrong.
Today, with only scattered afternoon showers, I had an opportunity to make an early evening photo trip and found a few more pronghorns and this lone whitetail fawn grazing in a crop field, no mom anywhere that I could see.