Tag Archives: Montana

Camp Bighorn – Adventure with Purpose

Wow – We had such a good month at Camp Bighorn. In our 12 years as SOWERS, we’ve worked at dozens of Christian Camps across this country. We’ve worked at big camps and small camps, mountain camps and desert camps, lakeside camps and oceanside camps. And all those camps, regardless of their size, or activities or facilities, have one purpose in mind. To share the Good News of Jesus Christ and disciple young (and old) people. This camp has the same goal, but they go about it in a way different from any of the other camps that we’ve experienced. One of their taglines is “Adventure with Purpose”. And the purpose is to “steward environments where questions arise and hope is shared.”

At Camp Bighorn you won’t see the typical morning and evening worship/chapel schedule. (Although each day starts with a personal devotion time and ends with a group gathering.) Instead, they use the great outdoors as their chapel, and one-on-one interaction with counselors and  staff during and after “adventures” as venues for discipleship.  We were here for three very different camping sessions: Achieve Camp – a program for kids and adults with disabilities (inspirational to say the least),  Youth Adventure Camp (many kids coming from the foster care programs in the area), and finally Family Camp.  As always, it was great to see this camp in action –
(Truth in journalism – I got this picture off of Facebook. The action we enjoyed was mostly during meals and watching kids leave for rafting or paddle boarding or kayaking or high ropes, etc. After all – we were working, right? But even though we didn’t see THIS type of action – we knew it was going on! And you could tell the kids LOVED it!)

So while the camp’s action plan is a bit different that others that we’ve worked at, our SOWER work was right in line! Like all camps, big or small, they all need help! The ladies, with a fair bit of help from the men, continued on where the last group left off – cleaning and recovering 225 +/- chairs. What started out looking like this –
ended up looking like this –
(Pay no attention to the summer staff (and Gary) standing on our beautiful chairs. It’s a camp, right? They were just welcoming the campers to lunch.)
Here are a couple of “Hard at Work” pictures of the Chair Rehab Station –
(Look – they let me play with the staple gun! Happy to report no fingers were stapled in the production of these chair covers.)
While there were three couples working this month, one couple had worked through the break, so they were only there for the first week. I don’t think we could have finished up those chairs, though, if it hadn’t been for their faithful contribution (and the fact that by the time we got there they had figured out a good system.) While Gary came and helped occasionally, he was mostly working from his own list. Like A/C checking and ice machine adjusting, and electrical-type stuff. He’s handy to have around for those things. Plus he was busy building a concrete base for a generator that was being installed after we left.

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Here is our group, posing in our “Album” cover look.

This was a very memorable month, from our rafting start
to our fancy dinner-out finish –
and all of the crazy camp moments in between!

Yes, that’s “Slip ‘N Slide kickball. Who knew!.

We continue to be thankful for the opportunities we have to see Christ in action, working in the lives of staff, and campers, and yes – even us old SOWERS! To HIM be all the Glory and Honor!
Parking majesty


Curvy, Curvier, Curviest

That’s what the last two days have been all about. As we plotted our drive from Plains, MT to Marsing, ID we knew we had a couple of choices. Either stay on interstate-type roads, but add at least 100 miles to the trip, or go the most direct route that kept us on mostly two lane roads.
Bighorn to Snake River Resort
We opted for the shorter and scenic route, knowing it would be curvy and involved a mountain pass or two, but also knowing that we weren’t in a great rush and could take our time. (Don’t worry – we’re very courteous ‘I’m not in a hurry’ folks, and pull over every chance we get if there are vehicles behind us.) By the end of the two days, Gary decided it was probably the most challenging two days of RV driving that he’d done in the 12 years we’ve been on the road.
After distributing hugs to our friends at Bighorn, we got an nice early start on Friday.
Curvy Roads-2
(Aren’t those fun clouds just hanging there?)
We picked up Rte 12 just south of Missoula, and began our first windy UP to Lolo Pass.
Curvy Roads-11
Route 12, known also as the Lewis and Clark Highway, closely follows the trail taken by those early American explorers. Today it is a scenic and beautiful drive over the Lolo Pass, with many points of interest, hiking and camping opportunities along the way. (If you’d like more info about Route 12, HERE’s a nice little pamphlet about it. I had to chuckle when I saw it was subtitled – A Long and Winding Road.)
So it was 34 miles UP to the pass – a nice, steady and gradual climb with its fair share of twists and turns.
Curvy Roads-14
We checked out the Visitor Center at the pass, stretched our legs, and began the drive DOWN. Hello Idaho – thanks for the warning!
Curvy Roads-12
You don’t see THAT sign just anywhere!
Or one like this, either!
Curvy Roads-13
(Thanks 26 miles, not 2.6. Sorry for the blur!)
But when we stopped for lunch, and had this for a view –
Curvy Roads-15
well, it seemed those curves were well worth it!
Curvy Roads-16
It was a beautiful drive, although an exhausted driver was happy when we finally made it to Kooskia, and a bit more of the regular!
Curvy Roads-18
We picked up our connecting road to get us over 95, and maybe should have paid a bit more attention to the local name of the road. Around there it’s not called Rte 13, it’s called the Harpster Grade Rd. Yep, 6 miles of winding road, leading us UP.
Curvy Roads-20
And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that if there’s a long UP, somewhere in the near future there will be a long DOWN. In this case, we had a brief reprieve as we went through some lovely farmland and drove on some (mostly) straight roads.
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Curvy Roads-22
It’s a good thing we enjoyed those nice flat miles, because unbeknownst to us (though not to a local traveler, I’m sure) there was a BIG down just outside of town!
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You know it’s going to be a challenging drive when
1. The view is incredible.
2. The signs at the top give you mile markers for the THREE runaway truck ramps.
3. The term “8% Grade” is mentioned more than once.
Curvy Roads-29
Curvy Roads-28
(Oh, Yea – the Grade STEEPENS!!! Catch the runaway truck ramp?)
I was a very quiet rider, as Gary did a great job getting down that hill. And when we rounded the final bend and could definitely smell our brakes (Gary even felt they were feeling soft. Uh-oh), we were oh-so-delighted to see a nice big parking lot just waiting for us pull in. And cool down our brakes. And begin to breathe. In fact, it was so nice that after we unhooked the truck to see if there was dinner to be had in the little town of White Bird (pop. 106 according to the sign, but actually only 93 according to the restaurant owner), we decided to just tuck in there for the night. And man, that felt really, really good!
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The next morning, with nice cool brakes, we set off to follow the beautiful Salmon River for a ways. It was a beautiful way to start the day.
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After we fueled up with a hearty breakfast in Riggins, where the Salmon turned off, we continued on following other lovely rivers and streams that kept the roads winding, and the scenery beautiful!
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There were still a couple more UPs and DOWNs in the drive, but nothing compared to the day before.
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Soon we were in the final stretch –
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and enjoying the beautiful agriculatural scenery of this area.
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So, here we are at the Snake River RV Resort
with a great view out the front,
Our new view. We'll be gazing at the Snake River for the next week. #r&r #snakeriver #idaho #ahhhhhh
sunsets to warm my heart,
A beautiful end to our day. So thankful for our safe arrival and looking forward to our week off! #Godisgood #sunsets
and a campfire that will call my name.
We are both looking forward to a week of no alarms and no (major) agendas. Sound like a good plan to me!
Thanks for stopping by,

PS – More Curvy Road Pictures can be viewed HERE!

Last Weekend in Montana

Our time in Montana is drawing to a close (we head to Idaho on Friday), so I wanted to make sure we filled our last weekend with a bit more Montana beauty. We put about 200 miles on our truck again on Friday, but all of them were paved. And I think all of them were lovely! Our destination – Flathead Lake – one of the largest natural freshwater lakes west of the Mississippi.
We came up Rte 28 from the west (bottom of map) and drove the entire circumference of the lake. The drive TO the lake (almost 50 miles) was lovely in and of itself!
Flathead Lake Day-1
Flathead Lake Day-5
But when the lake came into view – Oo-la-la!
Flathead Lake Day-6
Flathead Lake Day-7
We made a couple of stops along the way – either at fishing access spots or pulling into some of the many state parks that dot the edges. Each little mini-stop was full of delights!
A panorama from one of the fishing/boat access areas –
Flathead Lake Day-8
A glimpse of just how clear the water is –
Flathead Lake Day-9
Lakeside camping at one of the state parks –
Flathead Lake Day-17
As the road continued around the lake,
Flathead Lake Day-11
we stopped at a pull-out that seemed to have a little access to path down to the lake.
Flathead Lake Day-12
Look, there’s a dock down there! With Gary shaking his head, I traipsed down the path with my Croc sandals on (only slipping a time or two and never with any bodily injury) and was greeted with this beautiful view-
Flathead Lake Day-13
Seemed like a random place for a dock, but no one asked me. 🙂
Flathead Lake Day-15
This area is also known for Flathead Cherries. Along the Eastern shoreline there are a myriad of cherry orchards, and we finally gave into the temptation and purchased our own bag.
Flathead Lake Day-18
Which may or may not have been empty by the time we got home. Just sayin’.
We enjoyed a great lunch out at one of the many lakeside eateries, and finished up the drive in style.
Flathead Lake Day-20
Flathead Lake Day-21
Flathead Lake Day-23
As we drove home I was once again struck with the the pioneer history of this area. Seeing these random shacks, still standing in the middle of a field, makes me wonder-
Montana Old Buildings-3
Original homestead?
Montana Old Buildings-4
Cattle drive shack?
Montana Old Buildings-1
We passed an old barn that I tried unsuccessfully to get a good clear shot of (always a challenge in a moving truck with traffic behind us), but when I cropped it down, I really liked how it turned out.
Montana Old Buildings-2
Oh, the mystery of the history!
It was, to be sure, a great day!
Saturday was a bit quieter. We stayed around camp, which had just said good-bye to their last batch of summer campers. The summer staff took the opportunity to have some end-of-summer fun
by getting the director’s car up on the dining hall porch. (Not so sure he was that thrilled when he returned from his board meeting, but at least they cleaned it out before they moved it, and got his wife’s permission.)
That evening we gathered by the river and got to witness the baptism of one of the summer staffer!
It is so exciting to see the Lord working mightily in the lives of these young people! Not to mention all of the lives that were touched throughout the summer. 

This morning all of the staff left for their end of summer staff retreat, so it’s especially quiet around here today. But the sun was shining as we drove to church
and we were blessed to be worshiping outside on this glorious Lord’s Day!

And it didn’t hurt that the worship service was followed by a picnic and some great fellowship!

So that about wraps up our weekend here at Camp Bighorn. We did get a couple of chores done over the weekend (let’s be real – mostly I was sewing!), and as the week progresses we’ll be tying up loose ends and finishing up our SOWER assignments.  Seems like we just got here – and soon it will be time to move on down the road!

Thanks for stopping by – hope your weekend was blessed also!


PSSST – there are a couple more Flathead Lake photos HERE if you’re interested!

50 Miles of Dirt Road (or so it seemed!)

When we set out for a country drive on Saturday after lunch, we had no idea that we would be gone until almost dinner time and put over 100 miles on the truck. We THOUGHT we were just going up the Siegel Pass Road to ‘catch the view’. And we knew it would be a dirt road. What we didn’t know was once we made it to the top we’d be in travel conundrum.
So going up –
About 50% was fairly decent one lane (but not one way) dirt road.
After a bit, though, it narrowed even further,
turned into hairpin turns,
and became decidedly rougher. But still we pressed on!
As we neared the top, we stopped to take in the view (someone needs to clear some trees!)
and at the very top we were surprised to come into a nice clearing with a choice of 5 (including the one we came on) roads. Quite the major intersection of one lane dirt roads!
(I know that only shows two, but I forgot to bring the drone so I could get a full view of the traffic pattern!).
There was even a road sign, though it only specified two choices – going back the way we came or continuing on to the interstate!
Yes. A sign for the interstate on the top of a mountain, only accessible by narrow dirt roads. Who knew!

Of course, where there are roads converging, there is likely to be traffic (sooner or later) and sure enough, a dusty SUV soon came down the hill behind us and paused for us to ask directions. Since we didn’t want to go back the way we came (it had really gotten pretty rough) and we were told the other option (that would have gotten us closer to home) was rougher than the way we came, we opted for the road to the interstate. Yep, another 23+ miles of dirt road!
Although it started out one lane and through the dense woods, it was in (mostly) better shape than the road we came up on. And eventually, once we were off the mountain, it turned into some pretty civilized dirt road.
At one point, I even thought we might have been transported to New England!
We finally got to some blacktop (near Albertson)
(Guess they didn’t need that section anymore!)
and then the interstate took us home.
It was a bit more of a drive than we had expected and we probably would’ve stopped for an ice cream cone to celebrate our return to civilization. But turns out that neither one of us had come away with our wallets. Oops!

Although it was a bit more of a drive than we anticipated, it was, as they say – All Good!

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam…..

We got a super early start on Friday as we headed to the National Bison Refuge about 30 miles away.
OK, it wasn’t pre-dawn or anything, but for what normally is a no-alarm day, I think we did pretty good. The plan was to get to the refuge early enough that the critters wouldn’t all be taking their mid-day nap! And while we weren’t overwhelmed with the amount of wildlife we saw, we still counted it a good day!
Even without the wildlife sightings, the views were spectacular –
The drive through the refuge was also delightful!
To say it was a bit windy might be an understatement!
And as for wildlife sightings, we really did just fine –
There were Mule Deer –
Bison (of course!)
Some Pronghorn and Bison –
Some Bison rolling in the dirt
And then some up close and personal Bison –
Pretty good morning at the bison refuge! #reachoutandtouchme #idareyou #bison #buffalo
And a Bison or two who just seemed to want to pose for the camera –
So it was a pretty good day for the Bison sightings!
We also saw some Bighorn Sheep, though they were doing their best to hide in the tall grass –
Can you see them where the grass meets the trees?
Here it is with a bit of zoom –
and then a bit more –
Can you sense just how excited they were to have company?
It was a delight when a large family of Ruffled Grouse crossed the road in front of us –
and even the White Tailed Deer managed to come into our range –
Or maybe we came into their range. Or maybe they’re mule deer. But they were there, and we got a picture!
We also saw, but did not document a Coyote (with a Pronghorn watching him very carefully) and a Golden Eagle looking for lunch.
And of course, I had to stop and take a couple pictures the beautiful late summer thistles and grasses.

We finished off our excursion with a run into Missoula (and a Costco stop, or course) and then back to camp. As you can see, it was a beautiful day to be out and about. And we were glad to be able to take it all in! There are some additional pictures of the Bison Refuge HERE if you’re so inclined!

Hope you had a good weekend! We had a couple more adventures, but I figured I’d better get this one ‘on the books’ before too much time went by!
Thanks for stopping by-