Travelers Rest

Monday, May 19, 2008 -- Lolo Square Dance Center and Campground near Lolo, Montana

Yesterday, Saturday, we boogied out of our one-night stand at Lolo Hot Springs and headed down the road toward Lolo. (All these "Lolo's" are getting confusing.) The distance is only about 25 miles. With that short a distance to go it didn't make sense to take the time to hook up the car behind the bus-house. So Dar took the car, left about 20 minutes ahead of me, with the intention of scouting ahead and checking out the options.

On my way down the mountain I came upon a string of traffic stopped in the road ahead. My first thought was a construction zone. But it's Sunday morning! Then I saw people out of their cars and milling around talking to one another. Hmmm. Maybe it's an accident? As I drew closer to the stopped line of traffic, I could see smoke ahead. Hmmm. It must be an accident. Wait a minute... Dar went ahead of me... I hope she wasn't involved. About then I got a call from her on the two-way radio -- she was in the line of traffic well ahead of me and saw me drive up. So much for scouting ahead.

The story was that, somehow, a power pole had come down bringing hot power lines down and over the roadway -- stopping all traffic in both directions. The police, power company, and fire department where already there working on resolving the problem and getting the grass fire out. After about 45 minutes of meeting new friends in the vehicles ahead and behind, the road was re-opened.

And just a few more miles down the road Dar, doing the best 30 second scouting job I've ever seen, found the Lolo Square Dance Center and Campground. It's our kind of place -- not because of the dancing thing, which most of you know I don't do, but the campsites are heavily wooded and large, it's quiet, not crowded, and right along Lolo Creek. It didn't take long and we were parked, set up, and made the decision to stay here for the next three nights. It's one of those places that's peaceful and good for the spirits.

Since it was early enough, we visited the "must-see" Lewis & Clark site known as Travelers Rest, just down the road from our camp. This is the only L&C campsite along their entire trail that's location has been positively identified through archaeological study. (And we were there!) It's a Montana State Park Historic Site as well as on the National Register of Historic Places. Here, as well as at other L&C sites along our path, we found hosts who have made the study of this expedition their passion. They're full of knowledge and information and trivia that'll amaze. We're learning something new all the time.

We also heard about other people that have gone "over the top" (my comment) in their pursuit of the L&C Trail. There's one fellow, a dentist I believe, who walked from St. Louis to Ft. Clatsop at the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon. I don't know what he did with his dental practice, what caused him to make the decision to do it, or how long this feat took him, but this isn't the kind of thing most people would consider for their summer vacation. There's another guy who started at the mouth of the Columbia and kayaked all the way up the Columbia, Snake, and Clearwater Rivers on the L&C Trail -- against the current. When the mountain streams became too fast to paddle against, he sold his kayak and walked over Lolo Pass, down into Missoula, where he purchased a canoe. He then pushed the canoe on some kind of wheeled canoe-carrier and hiked over the continental divide at Lemhi Pass, where he met up with his girlfriend and, together, they canoed down the Jefferson River to the Missouri River, and all the way down the Missouri into the Mississippi at St. Louis. Sheesh, and I though we were doing something a little "over the top"... these guys can make someone feel a bit inadequate.

While I admire these feats of endurance, I'm not sure if should admire the people or consider them crazy. I do know a dentist that's a little off and I've admired his feats of courage and approach to life. I know another couple that have pretty much disdained conventional expectations for most of their adult life, preferring to work only to earn enough money to fund their next outdoor adventure to the Alaska or Canada back-country. In fact, this couple's approach to life was a factor in our decision to try an unconventional lifestyle. So I think I'm coming down on the side of admiring them. We need people like this... if for no other reason than to stretch the idea of what's "normal". It's good to be a little crazy.

T
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