As much as we were enjoying the ocean breezes along the Pacific Coast, it was time, by late July, for a change of scenery. We RVers like to call it getting the “hitch itch.” And the only way to scratch it is to move. Get new neighbors. Change the view out the windows. Explore unfamiliar ground.
Time to head for the hills. The mountains of far western Montana.
There’s so much to love about the tucked-away areas of Montana (of which there are many… it’s the fourth largest state, land-wise, but it’s also 44th in population). So many ways for people to live the way they want, collect what they want, display it where they want:
We’ve been returning to the tiny town of Trout Creek for a few years now. But, like every place we go back to, we seek — and usually find — places we haven’t been before. This time, hidden right in the middle of Thompson Falls, we found Island Park.
There to greet us was this stunning Trumpeter Swan:
We crossed two footbridges — the first onto the island, and the second to the other side of the island, which was also the other side of the Clark Fork River.
Did I say that even a block out of Thompson Falls the scenery is gorgeous? This is a view of the river from the second footbridge:
If you hike at all, or even visit spots like this unique city park, you’ve probably seen your share of signs like this one, reminding you to (essentially) be nice to the property and others you meet along the way:
But how often do you look behind the sign? This might make you start doing that:
At some point, for some reason, someone started printing notes on the stones scattered around the base of the sign, and then others started responding and adding their own. Now there’s a bit of a dialogue…
…including one from a VIP (or someone pretending to be):
There’s a story behind these stone messages, I’m sure!
We hiked one of our favorite nearby trails, and struck out on one we’d heard about but couldn’t access on our last visit to the area because of wildfires nearby. This time, the day was fabulous:
Little critters of the forest scurried about…
…and the flying ones crawled around, trying to bite!
It was a beautiful hike!
But sometimes the best things we see are spotted on the way to and from the hike itself, like this Osprey nest, with a pair and their nearly full-grown offspring:
We wandered as close to the nest as we could, heeding the warning given by one of the parents when it circled us overhead:
They say when wildlife knows you’re there, you’re too close. So we bid our winged friends adieu, climbed back into the Jeep, and went on our merry way.