Once we left Glacier national Park, we headed to Missoula, MT. The ride was very scenic...mountains, rolling hills and ranches. Definitely "Big Sky Country"! The distant mountains had snow on them. Although we were cruising along, we did manage to see one bison sitting in a field. And another wildlife highlight is seeing pronghorn antelopes running through fields and ranches.
From Missoula, we headed into Butte. Along the way, we were treated to the same beautiful scenery. And although we like to camp in gorgeous sites, sometimes we are staying overnight at a truck stop, Wal-Mart, or Cabela's. Typically, not so pretty. However, we lucked out a bit at a Pilot truck stop. Turns out there was a huge field with mountains in the background, and we were able to park along the edge of it, away from the constant din and overshadowing of the big 18-wheelers. We ended up staying two nights and each night there was a beautiful sunset!
We try and shoot for as many free camping sites as possible. We are always in the "save money" mode, and these parking lots, although not so attractive, are free. At truck stops, we have had some decent interactions with some truckers, but mostly we are left alone. Envision our tiny trailer with an 18-wheeler on either side! However, at one recent truck, as I was attempting to back up into a spot (and backing up is a whole other story!!), an 18-wheeler was aiming right for me. So I hit the gas, and the nightmare I hoped to avoid happened, our trailer jack-knifed. What this means is that the rear panel of the car hits the front corner of the trailer. I thought I had hit a car when I heard a "pop", but Michael's reaction let me know what I had done. There's good and bad here...the trailer was absolutely fine (thankfully), but our poor 4Runner has a big ol' dent on its side. Everyday when I see it, my heart sinks. At some point we'll need to get an estimate for repairs.
Most Wal-Mart 'super centers' allow RV's and trailers to park for a night in their lots. There's a sense of security here as typically there are 8 or 10 or even more campers there on a given night. Cabela's isn't usually very crowded with other campers, but it is a last resort for us.
On Friday, September 11, we thought of all affected by the World Trade Center catastrophe.
We zipped through Wyoming and made it to Rapid City, South Dakota. The scenery turned more to open plains and ranches with "black hills" in the background. Once we hit the Badlands National Park, we knew we had to stop! Right before we got into the park, Michael spotted a gravel road that led into a big hay field. Since there was no "no trespassing" sign and no fence or gate, we drove right in! We found a spot away from the road and behind a group of trees, surrounded by wildflowers and loads of sulphur butterflies of yellow and orange hues. The area had these neat stone ridges and round bales of hay scattered around. It was a little slice of heaven! And speaking of heaven, the night sky was heavily sprinkled with stars! We even had great looks at the Milky Way! Awesome!