Eastern Utah
EMAIL ME AT: mgypsy97 at aol dot com

Monday, May 16, 2011

Miles City, MT

After driving 5 hrs today and 265 miles, I decided to stop early. Lucky Lil's Casino is next door, and it's tempting, but I'm strong!

I LOVE Montana! I'm considering this just an exploratory trip, and hope to make my way back through the state when I return to CA. I am also considering spending a couple of months in Idaho and Montana next summer. I want to see Montana from border to border, north to south and east to west. I'm in the southeastern section now and it is absolutely gorgeous. The colors are subdued, unlike some of the red rocks of the southwest, but I feel like I'm in an important place.

Just across the road at the motel I stayed in last night were trains going by fairly often, and I thought they would keep me up all night. I didn't hear a one! But thinking about trains made me think of that time in our country's history, when someone decided that the "final solution" for the Indians would be to get wealthy sportsmen to shoot buffalo from the trains. The theory was that if the buffalo were eradicated the Indians would die of starvation, and they nearly did. And to think that the government named a national monument after a man who would have killed all the Indians himself if he hadn't taken the hit first. I don't understand why he is glorified by having his name on a national monument. I know you can't stop progress, but I find it difficult to exalt the settlers, land grabbers, politicians, and all the rest that committed genocide against the first inhabitants. I normally dislike expressing my views on subject such as this one, because I know I'm in the minority on the issue. But remember it is just my opinion and I don't claim superiority for my opinions.

I drove over US 12 today and what a great road. Just two lanes, but nearly devoid of traffic. The only hassle is when you come to a town, the speed limit goes from 70 to 45, then quickly to 35 and finally to 25 mph. It's not easy to drive 25 after you've been going 65, without feeling like you aren't moving at all.

Shortly after I got on the highway I came to a field with a lot of cattle grazing near the fence - black angus I think. One little calf seemed to be on the wrong side of the fence and all the other youngsters were up against the fence on the "safe" side, to give him comfort I hope. I wonder if his mother would be able to get him back. I though about it for several miles but realized I couldn't have done anything, as I certainly couldn't have lifted him across the fence by myself, and there was no one in sight. The hazards of growing up!

One thing I found conspicuously missing in Montana, for all the wind there are no windmills to be seen. Maybe they have them in a different location - nearer the interstate perhaps.

I mentioned that I plan to come back to Montana, and as you know the weather is not exactly conducive to tent camping, at least this time of year. Maybe I need to rethink what kind of vehicle I will buy, possibly 6 cyl. SUV rather than a smaller (and more fuel efficient) 4 cyl. car). I don't ever want to think of getting even a fair-sized RV again. I'm thinking maybe more in terms of a very small trailer such as a Scamp or Casita, or a Scotty. I really don't want to do anything more than sleep in it, and don't even know if I'd want a kitchen. I could use my 2 burner coleman stove to do any cooking I want to do, outdoors in good weather, plus maybe a very small charcoal grill, and I have a fine Coleman steel belted ice chest that would be better to me than fooling with an RV type fridge.

You see, I want to completely avoid having anything to do with tanks - filling them, and emptying them. That goes for fresh water as well - I can buy large jugs of spring water that is probably more reliably clean and safe than what you might get at campgrounds. Electricity I might go for - lights and plug ins for my small electric heater as well as the little personal fan, however, I can easily set up to not use electric.

I still want to find a permanent place to live, and just travel when I can. Maybe I can do that and maybe I can't, but it's going to be fun thinking about. In the meantime, I just LOVE Montana, and the folks are as friendly here as they are in Georgia and the southeast!


  1. It sounds like you're enjoying your trip very much. I would very much have liked to see Montana's big sky but I guess it wasn't meant to be.

  2. I've never been to Montana, but hope to get there this year or next year. I agree with not wanting a stove/flame in the camper. And I just have a small "electric only" fridge in my coach. Electric is nice to have, you could do solar power.

  3. Sounds like all those miles of driving alone has given you plenty of time to think! :)

  4. It would be nice to know who you are talking about when you mention a man who has had a national monument named after him. Who is he?

  5. Maybe just a canopy on your truck would do the trick. My husband and a buddy went to Mexico in a truck with a canopy and it turned out great. They slept in it and cooked on the tailgate. It could work for you. No setting up of a tent, off the ground and out of the rain.

  6. You are not in the minority, Gypsy. I also think that the Native Americans got a very raw deal.

    But the ones before them came from other lands, like the Paleo-Indians from Siberia and the Vikings from Greenland. There were probably many cruels acts then, as men are always going to fight over territory.
    Shooting buffalo from a train is kin to shooting AK wolves from a chopper.
    What is sporting about that?
    Don't mess with Mother Nature!

    I have an aversion to tanks, too, especially black ones, and porta-potties. That is why took the flush toilet out, and replaced it with a Bio-Gel toilet in my B+. No water, chemicals or sewage to mess with.

    Used dish water can water a plant here and there. It is nice to have water on tap, so filling a water tank doesn't bother me, and gray tanks are easy.

    My B+ like most MHs, has a chassis mounted propane tank, so it gets filled at a propane dealer, so no tanks to lug around there. If I have propane, that's OK, and if I don't that's OK, too. I have my portable cooking stove, and my water heater has a HottShot, if my portable propane water heater is out of little propane bottles.

    They make RVs so complicated these days. I am all for camping, but not in a tent, as it doesn't have closets and drawers.

    How is Lady enjoying the trip?

    Happy Trails, and Trails, Penny, TX


  7. Gypsy, have you read this blog?
    She travels part time in a 2004 Toyota Prius. She's set it up to be fully self-contained - it's a pretty cool blog, and proves you can turn your car into an RV if you want to. You could do the same with a smaller SUV. My 2001 Ford Escape is a small SUV and gets 18+ mpg and has lots of room.

    Your header is gorgeous! Montana sounds really nice.

  8. Glad you are having a good trip. I know what you mean by those speed limits. Here in Texas a two lane road will have 70 mph limit in the country and in the city 45 (mayber 35 in some places) is the norm. When I go to Pennsylvania to visit relatives and friends, I have troulbe driving so slow. 25 mph is imposible.

  9. "I'm thinking maybe more in terms of a very small trailer such as a Scamp or Casita, or a Scotty." Have you googled teardrop trailers? Those look interesting to me. I also like the idea of a SUV. When we were in Louisiana someone had a minivan that they slept in. What I like about that was they were contained in a regular vehicle.

  10. Gypsy, if you are a minority in thinking the Indians were treated horribly then I'm in the minority with you. It was their land and we had no business running them off and starving them half to death.

  11. If I were traveling alone I would prefer a Class B Van or a small Class C. I like the security of having solid walls & lockable doors around me & prefer to be up off the ground out of the way of crawly things & water. Also would prefer not to tow anything unless I had to. I traveled around Canada's East Coast by myself in an old Volkswagon camper van one time & it was the best trip I ever had...........

  12. We may have to give Montana a second look. I thought that much of it was the same scenery.

  13. We love Montana too. Our favorite is still Wyoming, but Montana runs a close second favorite. Our first trip there in 2003, we actually were driving in the clouds and it was 3 hours before we passed another car. It was so nice. I think if anything happens to my hubby, and I am still able to travel, I would get a Casita. BTW, you are not in the minority. I hate what we did to the Native Americans.

  14. Montana was home to us for nine wonderful years, so we share your enthusiasm for that state. We much prefer the western part of the state, but the eastern side has it's charms. Will you stop at Pompeii's Pillar? Neat place. You can climb the big tower that Lewis and Clark climbed.

  15. Gypsy - There is a group called VanDwellers that I have been reading for many years.


    They have excellent files of information, personalized advice, and great camaraderie, much like WomenGoSolo.

    Suanne, whose blog was recommended, has been a member for quite a while, too, and has shared much about her having used her Prius as a camping unit to tour most of the national parks in the last year or two.

    For myself, I think I would prefer a van in which I can stand up any time, and allows one easily to camp within, or to grab a motel room occasionally for a good hot shower.

    Our current van is a Sportsmobile, and while it is possible to stand up when the top is up, it is also possible to do everything necessary with the top down.

    The small propane tank gets filled in place (no lugging it around), and there is a small electric refrigerator and electric hot water heater, so if we are plugged in at a campground, there is unlimited hot water. The water will stay hot all day while on the road, too, so that is very nice for use during the day.

    There is a two-burner stove and a cat heater that use the propane, but we also carry an electric heater for plugged-in nights. I keep an electric "eye" in a cabinet for cooking when there is electricity; this saves on propane.

    We have a Porta-Potti, which my husband deals with, but were I alone, I would use some sort of gel or sawdust system, and use public restrooms as often as possible.

    The propane system makes it totally possible to stop absolutely anywhere for the night. The "Golden Geezer" pass makes it possible to camp in the National campgrounds either free, or for a small fee, and there are usually restrooms of some sort available.

    I'm sure you will come to some conclusion as to what is best for you, but I would not want to be dependent upon motel rooms for months at a time when there are so many other options.

    It is interesting to follow your travels and to hear your thoughts as you experience different situations.

    Virtual hugs,


  16. I sure hope we're still around in MT when you come back through. I could not believe the number of people in SUV's who were camped in them in the last couple of campgrounds we were in. They slept in the back and had their coleman stove and chair sitting out. Lots of tents also but so many just in their vehicles. So there are lots of options out there for you.