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Day 249 – Charlie Russell Country, August 22, 2011

We returned to Livingston this morning to visit an old train
depot, to see world famous Dan Bailey’s Fly Shop, and to find a geocache in
Montana. The old depot displayed a
variety of old train paraphernalia and some fantastic western paintings and
black and white frontier photographs. I
just window shopped at Dan Bailey’s. It
was full of flies and rods and a variety of other fly fishing gear. The visitor’s center was a nice place for a
geocache. I have now found a cache in 46
of the lower 48 states. Two more to go…then
I’ll have to make a trip to Hawaii and Alaska.

After visiting Livingston, we traveled north on Highway 89
which is surrounded by national forest;
Helena National Forest to the west, Gallatin National Forest and
Lewis and Clark National Forest to the east.
I hadn’t stopped at a roadside historical marker for a while, so since I
had a long drive ahead before my next stop, I took a break near the Shields
River Valley. The river was named by
Clark (of Lewis and Clark) in honor of John Shields, a member of the
expedition. The team camped at the mouth
of the river on July 15, 1806.

As I continued the drive, I passed several turnouts for
campgrounds and then ran across a sign pointing to a trailhead. The scenery around the trailhead, high cliffs
and a babbling brook was enough to peak my interest. I pulled VANilla into the parking lot and
found out there was a short hike to two waterfalls…can’t beat that! I don’t recall the name of the falls, but we
enjoyed a lovely hike which followed the creek with a steady ascent through
piles of rocks resting on both sides of the trail.

After our hike we visited Giant Springs State Park, home to
one of the largest fresh water springs in America and home to one of the
shortest rivers in the world. Over 150 million
gallons of 54 degree water flow from the springs into the Roe River. The Roe River, only 201 feet long, flows into
the Missouri River, the longest in the country stretching 2,540 miles, 200 more
than the Mississippi. The park also has
a fish hatchery with some healthy trout swimming around in the clear water.

Nearby Giant Springs Park was the Lewis and Clark National
Historic Trail exhibit. The park service
describes Lewis and Clark’s expedition. The exhibits include examples of boats
and clothing and wall signs describing their trials and tribulations throughout
their journey. Specific to Great Falls,
Montana they had received word that there was only one waterfall and they would
only have to portage their gear for a mile and a half. Instead, there were five waterfalls, many
dams now, and they had to portage 18 miles across cactus covered land and

From this museum we moved to the Charles M. Russell Museum. I’m not the biggest museum person, so I just wandered around the grounds surrounded with bronzes and didn’t even go inside. The complex with a grassy lawn that showcases the house as well was very nice.

It was a rather warm afternoon, so Petey and found some
shade and addressed real life on the computer for a while before taking an
evening drive at Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge. I’ve been driving
through the fields and by the lakes in the heat of the day recently, so this
time I tried to improve my chances at spotting some wildlife. We saw a variety of birds, deer, and
pronghorn…though the sunset stole the show.
The pinks and purples reflected in the glassy water as ducks floated through
the image! ETB

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