We noticed signs in the large field just outside West Yellowstone advertising a Mountain Man Rendezvous, Friday, July 31 - August 9. Since we were pulling out on the first, we decided to take a look on Friday afternoon.
As a veteran of years of outdoor art and craft festivals, I wondered what crafts and products would be offered.
We were impressed by the authentic dress, tents, and presentation of goods by the vendors. Sure there were a few "mass-produced" resale items to be found, but they were mostly cheap toys for the little people. Kids like to get something, and parents often appreciate the availability of low cost kid stuff. (I paid many show fees by selling under $5 stuffed toy fish on a stick that I had made myself.)
Most of the things for sale seemed quite authentic. One lady had quite a nice display of porcupine quill work that she had made herself. The person in pink was the child of another vendor.
Something that made me slightly uncomfortable were the many furs for sale. I know at a real rendezvous, selling and trading furs would be the primary goal, but I didn't realize how available fox, bobcat, coyote, bear, wolf, buffalo, elk, beaver, and skunk pelts are. Almost every tent had them. I asked on man where they came from, and he told me most western states have trapping seasons for these creatures, and they were all legal.
Both Craig and I admired these antler eagle wall hangings. This tent also had a nice selection of authentic Native American art.
One good thing about living in a motorhome is although I am momentarily attracted to certain crafts, I have a good reason not to buy anything. (No place to put them.)
On Saturday we drove north to Great Falls, Montana. A good drive, smooth, with no problems. We had four days to get to Glacier National Park, so we planed two, two day stops. Originally we were going to be visiting an old friend who now lives just north of Yellowstone for a few days. Something came up for her, and we my be able to stop on our way back. No big deal, RV plans are made in Jello.
After getting settled at our RV park, we were very happy to see a real large chain grocery store and a Walmart. We rarely go out to eat, and although I never had an empty cupboard, I found the fresh vegetables and meats available at the market in West Yellowstone somewhat lacking in freshness and a bit overpriced. A trip through Albertson's fixed that. And, like every house, we need a variety of non-food items. A stop at the Walmart in Great Falls renewed our stock of things like toothpaste and dish soap.
On Sunday we played tourist.
We went to see the Great Falls. We were surprised to see the large dam above it.
|A painting of Lewis at the Great Falls, from the web|
At that time there were five falls in an eighteen mile stretch of the Missouri River.
Most if not all now have dams above them. In the picture above you can see the rock shelf that the river flowed over before the dam was built.
The explorers had to portage around all of these falls. I guess that is why the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center is in Great Falls, and not somewhere else along their route.
Craig and I like Visitor's Centers, tours, museums, and even roadside historical markers. When we have time in a new place we always check Trip Advisor's list of what to do. The Interpretive Center was number one, and because it was going to be a hot day, suited us to a T.
It was very well done. In addition to two short movies about the expedition, the displays and dioramas were clear, interesting, and as you passed through each hall you were surrounded by the culture and way of life of each tribe that the explorers met and were helped by on their journey.
As we looked at the personal items owned by a typical Indian of the time we were reminded there were no department stores, there was no plastic. And because they were mostly nomadic, they had to carry everything they owned on horses or on their backs. As RVers we appreciate the thought that everything should be light and functional.
One of the most impressive parts of the saga, the portage around the falls, was illustrated in part by this exhibit. When they reached this area they were traveling in six, 1000 pound, 22' - 26' dugout canoes.
They had to haul them up and over the steep terrain by hand without using horses.
Standing downhill from this massive boat gave us an impression of just how hard that must have been.
We also stopped at the number two on the Trip advisor list: Giant Spring State park, not far down the road along the river.
This huge spring is the worlds largest freshwater spring. It is on the edge of the Missouri River and pumps 156 million gallons of water into it per day.
There is also a fish hatchery in the park, so of course we stopped and looked at the fish. Some of the largest trout we had ever seen were in this pool and the kids were having fun feeding them.
The day was a bit warm, but there was enough breeze to be comfortable. All in all, it was a very informative and enjoyable day. Great Falls now means more to me than just another name of a city on the map, and the Lewis and Clark Discovery Expedition is more real in my mind than what I remembered from a long ago lesson in American History class.
Our second stop was a bit of a bore. On the map, Shelby Montana looks like a perfect midway stop between Great Falls and Glacier National Park. It has a good location, but nothing else, so Tuesday was spent just hanging around the rig. But I did have time to write this rather wordy post, and to prepare some packages of the dry ingredients for my special homemade whole wheat bread. Since there are seven dry ingredients that need to be measured, I like to prepare six zip-lock bags, each with the dry mix for one loaf. I bake one, and put the rest away in a plastic container. Then, in the future, when I want to make a loaf in the bread machine, all I have to do is measure the four wet ingredients, pour in the dry mix, and top with yeast. Big mess once, no mess the next five. As I write this the heavenly aroma of baking bread is filling the coach. Yum.
We drive to Glacier Wednesday. There has been a fire north of the place we are going, but it is pretty well contained. We hope.
I'll let you know how it goes in the next post!