Our trip to Montana proved to be full of surprises, but unfortunately, not all of them were good. That’s just one of the things I love about traveling, no matter how thoroughly you plan, something always happens that isn’t expected. Robbie and I continue to re-learn this lesson, but we always adapt and embrace the chaotic harmony of travel.
Surprise No. 1. Our first day in Montana, we headed to the small town of Phillipsburg to meet a friend for lunch. He graciously invited us to join his family for dinner that evening and stay the night as their guests. After traveling around for weeks in Ruby Sue, I jumped at the chance to sleep in a real bed! So we followed our host to his home in rural Montana, traversing bumpy, unpaved roads. A few minutes before arriving at our destination, we heard a clunk, and then the unmistakeable sound of something dragging underneath Ruby Sue.
Once we pulled into our friend’s driveway, we jumped out of the camper and quickly realized the culprit was a rock battered tail pipe dragging on the ground. Great! But the surprise didn’t end there, a loud hissing sound indicated the tail pipe wasn’t our only issue. After following the sound, we realized that the inner rear left tire was leaking air due to a newly acquired nail! Fortunately, Robbie, our host, and Jack the Lumberjack worked as a team to make Ruby Sue roadworthy again. The next day we were off to Hamilton, Montana, and then further North toward Glacier National Park (GNP).
One of the highlights of our time in Montana was our visit to GNP. Located in the northwest corner of the state, GNP is known for its glacially carved mountains and lakes. To access both sides of the park, we had to drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road, a treacherous road that winds up and around the steep mountainside. When we arrived at GNP, we were told that Ruby Sue, our pride and joy, was too long and wide to travel the Going-to-the-Sun Road. We were also told that there was no other form of transportation available to traverse GNP (Shuttles usually run during the peak seasons). So we decided to buckle our seat belts, roll the dice, and make a run for it. Our bet paid off in the end, the views in the park were not to be missed, and it wasn’t nearly as life threatening as the Park Service indicated. (However, we should note as responsible and respectful travelers, we of course recommend that you always abide by posted rules and regulations.)
Surprise No. 2. On our way out of GNP, we stopped by a book store to pick up a new sticker for Ruby Sue. Our plan was to stay at an RV park just outside of the park so we could plug into an outlet and charge up our batteries, however, our plans changed once again. I know what you’re thinking, what’s broken now??!! This surprise was actually a good one. While Robbie and I were in the book store/train station, we started chatting with the clerk about how much we enjoy the area. As a resident of a nearby town, Whitefish, he encouraged us to attend the town’s Octoberfest, occurring that same weekend. And surprise, he happened to have two extra tickets, and just gave them to us! Folks in Montana are so nice!
So Robbie and I pointed Ruby Sue toward Whitefish, found a place to stay, and headed to Octoberfest. The festival had great beer (obviously), a sampling of traditional German food, and the attendees were from both near and far. We met a couple from Germany who were cycling the states for their honeymoon. We also met a family that lived in Whitefish (he’s a professional smokejumper) and they almost had us convinced to move there! Overall it was a fun night that happened by chance, thanks to our friend in the book store/train station.
I can’t wait for our next trip to Montana, and hopefully more pleasant surprises!