My Journey

So we're just driving these back roads not paying much attention at all.....listening to Cowboy music (not country.....there's a definite difference) on the radio.....

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Occasionally I'd hear Google Maps tell me to go left or right.....and occasionally there'd be no road right there when it said go left or right.....it directed me down fence lines and sometimes right through the middle of wheat fields.....

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Of course I'd ignore it then and at one point it said we were 40 miles from the ferry (remember we started at 29 miles).....

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Well, I wasn't freaking out or anything.....like I said we were in no hurry.....we passed that same truck that I posted earlier later in the day.....I wondered if he was lost just like me.....

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I finally had to get out my paper map and get things sorted out.....some of these roads we took got pretty rough.....

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It took us better than half a day to drive those 29 miles.....lesson nearly learned (I say nearly cause I did it again).....we parked on a bluff above the Missouri River.....and we ended up staying right there for the night.....

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That evening we hiked down to the river to check things out (3 miles round-trip).....

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I stood there on the shoreline of the Missouri River with a leash in each hand.....I'm looking at this box and I see a woman on the opposite side of the river yelling "I'm coming" and I yelled back "tomorrow please".....

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This was a good place.....

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Foy

Explorer
Your posts stir up good memories of a fine 3 days of our 2020 trip to that area! We'd camped out at a motel in Great Falls for a couple of nights and on the day in between we went to see the Ryan Dam, thence up to Fort Benton for a couple of hours (a rodeo was under way at the fairgrounds!), further up to Loma to see Decision Point, across the river there, and on to the Virgelle Ferry, guided by our trusty Benchmark Road and Recreation Atlas. The ferry pilot lady was a highly personable treat to talk to even though our trip interrupted her grandchild's birthday party under way in the shade of some big cottonwoods. We shopped up some essentials at the Virgelle store (high end junk) and returned to Great Falls.
The next day we provisioned up at the Wal Mart in Black Eagle the next morning and went right back up the highway to Big Sandy, fueled up with diesel there, and proceeded on a spectacular traverse of the southwestern and southern edges of the Bear Paws to and across the McClelland Ferry, and an ill-fated drive from just outside of Winifred, through part of the CM Russell NWR, to James Kipp Rec area at the US 191 crossing. Lots of wheat harvesting under way pretty much everywhere, and genuine characters at the Virgelle Ferry, the store in Virgelle, and at the McClelland Ferry.
 

ITTOG

Well-known member
Great shots of the wheat fields with the dogs. I loved them. I don't believe I have ever seen such deep green wheat like that.
 
Foy.....I'm curious this morning.....did you by chance stop at the Cultural Center when you were in Big Sandy, Montana ? I purchased a book there that I believe you recommended to me more than a year ago. I had forgot about that book until I opened their door and it was the first book I saw.....

ITTOG.....the wheat fields are stunning this year.....add a Golden Retriever and it's difficult to post only 8 pictures (I would imagine people are thinking one would have been sufficient).....



Up early as always.....I've noticed a change that has come over me this year.....I never seem to miss a sunrise and I seldom see a sunset anymore.....

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Early morning clouds and cool temperatures.....and a changing environment.....

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.....gave way to clearing skies and warmer temperatures as we began to make our river crossing.....

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The Virgelle Ferry would be our second Missouri River crossing.....why ? No idea.....

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But I can say that I was happy that we came here.....the lady pilot was charming.....and we were able to make some good trouble during our brief visit here.....

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My guess is that these ferry rides last more no than several minutes.....maybe several hundred feet is the river width here.....

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Unlike the last river pilot that we had encountered, this river pilot had no problem with me exiting my vehicle.....

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I did choose to leave the dogs in the truck.....

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This woman.....she was just so pleasant as she showed me around her place.....what a difference this experience was compared to the last.....

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I asked her about those eggs for sale and that's right about when all hell broke lose.....

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When I went to get my wallet from the truck, the dogs made the big break.....

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Trapper she dove right off that ferry and had herself a swim in the Missouri River .....the pilot lady was as gracious as could be.....she didn't seem to have a care in the world.....we loved her almost immediately.....as you can see one of her dogs jumped right into the fracas.....

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I made the purchase of two dozen fresh eggs, we talked for much too long, and eventually we went on down the road.....

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Riversdad

Active member
My guess is that these ferry rides last more no than several minutes.....maybe several hundred feet is the river width here.....

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Unlike the last river pilot that we had encountered, this river pilot had no problem with me exiting my vehicle.....

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I did choose to leave the dogs in the truck.....

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This woman.....she was just so pleasant as she showed me around her place.....what a difference this experience was compared to the last.....

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I asked her about those eggs for sale and that's right about when all hell broke lose.....

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When I went to get my wallet from the truck, the dogs made the big break.....

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Trapper she dove right off that ferry and had herself a swim in the Missouri River .....the pilot lady was as gracious as could be.....she didn't seem to have a care in the world.....we loved her almost immediately.....as you can see one of her dogs jumped right into the fracas.....

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I made the purchase of two dozen fresh eggs, we talked for much too long, and eventually we went on down the road.....

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Those dogs sure do keep your life interesting don't they?
 

Foy

Explorer
Jerry, we arrived in Big Sandy at around 9:30 am on a Sunday and if anything was open, we didn't find it (and, as you probably realize, ain't anywhere for an open business or center to hide in Big Sandy). We hooked a U turn at the highway rest area in town, toured the bathroom facilities (perhaps attached to the culture center?), and doubled back the short distance to the MT 236 junction at the edge of town, where we topped off the diesel tank at the unmanned pump there.
I'm sorry I don't recall a book recommendation I made, but there's at least one prime suspect inasmuch as I often recommend it: "God is Red", by Vine Deloria, Jr. It's a terrific read which tells the story of Native American religion with comparison/contrast to Judeo-Christian religion. It was the textbook for a Philosophy of Religion class I took in my freshman year of college in 1974. As much as I loved my geology major classes, the class in the Department of Philosophy and Religion Department stuck with me just as thoroughly. I took the class when the aftermath of the events at Wounded Knee were still much in the news, so the whole experience was an introduction to Native American experience for one particularly curious Scots-Irish youth from North Carolina.
I can hardly wait to see what came after the Virgelle Ferry ride!

Foy
 
Riversdad.....indeed they do.....I was reminded of a prison break in that particular instance.....that type of escape had never happened before (as best that I recall anyhow).....I guess that the pull of the river was just too much to handle if you're a Golden Retriever.....

Foy.....Old Jules by Mari Sandoval.....I had just completed Crazy Horse by the same author and maybe it was you that recommended Old Jules also by Mari Sandoval (and maybe it was early this year that the recommendation was made) which I am currently reading.....and enjoying.....also, I left Big Sandy, Montana on a Sunday morning maybe a bit earlier than you but I can confirm that nothing is open.....



Just up the road from the ferry is the almost nothing town of Virgelle, Montana.....

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The general store I guess would be the star structure still standing here.....

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My curiosity won me over and I went inside to have a look.....seems like more of an antique store than a mercantile.....

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There's an old state bank building here.....also crammed packed with more antiques.....and then some other various weathered buildings.....

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Our stop here lasted no more than 15 minutes at most.....then back on the road continuing north.....

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The Bear Paw Mountain Range to the east of the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation and Big Sandy, Montana.....

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Tell me that's not a smile on Trappers' face as we drive north.....nothing like a good adventure.....

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Next up.....the not bustling city of Big Sandy, Montana (population approximately 600).....home of the world's largest tractor.....

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AbleGuy

Founder, Too Much Fun Club
Your posts, adventures and beautiful, evocative photos continue to inspire. So few people take the time to deeply explore the back roads like you have been sharing with us. Rural America is still often a magical place, somewhat frozen in time and one can experience a sense of living history while exploring here, as you have continued to share such with us.

Your numerous pictures of green fields, snow capped mountains and flowing and expansive waters provide such a wonderful emotional respite from these too hot, too dry 100°+ days here in the droughty desert.
 
AbleGuy.....this trip has turned out to be much like a float trip down the river.....we pretty much have had no idea as to what would be next, we've had no expectations, and we've pretty much had no plans. It's been a slow one like a river with no rapids, sometimes bordering on being boring.....yet, when you look a little deeper each day you find that gem that keeps you moving along.....and thank you.....



BIG Sandy, Montana could easily be exactly what I was referring to in my reply to XP member AbleGuy.....there probably shouldn't have been anything here that would interest US (I use caps on US to emphasize that what we found in Big Sandy, Montana actually interested all three of US).....

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No, it was not the world's largest tractor that interested the three of us.....on a Saturday afternoon we walked the streets of Big Sandy, Montana.....the streets were pretty much void of people & cars.....

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There was lively music coming out of the one of two bars in town.....

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I wasn't sure if this was decor or maybe it was the real deal......I mean it is cowboy country.....

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The only mural I saw in town tells the visitor what's important here.....

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We left the rig at the grain elevators.....that would eventually be our campsite for the night.....

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.....and also where we were reminded of the things not to do.....I couldn't help question if that was just for Big Sandy, Montana or if maybe it was a general statement.....

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Anyhow, back on Main Street.....

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Sometimes in my travels people will say to me if you want to meet the locals, you've got to go to the bars.....maybe.....but I don't drink & I don't much care for the atmosphere.....on this Saturday afternoon there was a craft show and a community yard sale.....and I was right in there.....and yeah, I met some good people around town.....

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Big Sandy, Montana.....well, it's really beginning to show it's age.....I wouldn't call the buildings weathered.....I'd call them nearly falling down.....

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Late afternoon.....maybe it was 4:00 p.m. when the town began to rock.....compare the number of vehicles in this picture to the one in the last post.....it seemed that everyone was headed into that tavern.....and everyone had a thirst.....

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.....but maybe not the Odd Fellows.....

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And finally I share with you the Big Sandy, Montana Cultural Center.....it was the "Free Books" sign that attracted my attention.....and this is the place we found interesting in Big Sandy, Montana .....

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When I turned the door handle to enter, I was certain that it'd be locked.....not a single light was turned on. I stepped inside (without the dogs of course) and within a few seconds an old man steps up and excitedly says "Come In !".....and almost immediately he says "Come with me. Let me show you around !" (I was only searching for a free book I remind you).....

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So this place was massive and it was filled with all kinds of interesting stuff.....the old man was building his own interactive museum.....the only problem was that nobody would come. He told me that I was his only visitor that entire Saturday.....he said it's typically no one.....

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And the next picture is Doug.....the 85 year old curator of the Big Sandy, Montana Cultural Center .....he showed me around the entire complex.....he insisted I get the dogs and let me tell you the dogs absolutely loved adventuring in his place. We had cold bottles of Root Beer together, he told me his life story.....he proudly posed in front of a picture of his uncle, a writer of many books.....

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About 2 hours later we finally left.....and now I had yet another new best friend.....and six new to me books.....

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Foy

Explorer
Totally forgot about the "Old Jules" recommendation. Mari Sandoz was a fine, fine writer, and her father Jules Sandoz was a mad genius (and by mad, I mean miles beyond eccentric, complete with violence inflicted upon his family and many others). I expect you'll enjoy "Old Jules". Try and find "The Cattlemen" by Mari Sandoz. Another fine read.

Our traverse from Big Sandy to the McClelland Ferry had us looking for "Big Bud 747, world's largest tractor" at a huge spread on the edge of the Bear Paw Mtns. The Williams Brothers Farm was home to Big Bud for long enough for it to merit a place name on the Benchmark Road and Recreation Atlas we had on board.

Foy
 

longhorn1

Observer
How I long to get back to the Crazy's. The land all around us a checkerboard of USFS and private. On going negotiations to make trades for trails and roads through the private land. Numerous arrests for hunters with permits in areas that they couldn't get to without stepping on a corner of private land or a portion of their body. I saw a map somewhere.

On another note the flooding took its toll on the Main Boulder River. My cousin still hasn't been able to get into his cabin. The garage had 2' of water and my guess water severely damaged the first floor.
 

tgil

Active member
I'm just going to drop this pic here, for now. I'm about a week behind on my reading.
Jerry, I'm guessing you will know the spot right off, as many others will likely recognize it as well.


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