Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Road Trip: Bozeman, MT and Idaho Panhandle National Forest

Following two days of driving throughout Yellowstone (and the fainting episode), we decided to treat ourselves to a relatively short day on the road and traveled only as far as Bozeman, Montana. Bozeman is teeming with locally sourced foods and beers, welcoming residents, and loads of dog-friendly establishments. We rolled into town hungry and found our way to the outdoor seating area of Montana Ale Works.  The dining space was full when we arrived, but two locals noticed our longing gaze and welcomed us to their table, Parker included.  He was one of four dogs happily enjoying the Ale Works that afternoon.  The bison potstickers and local, grass-fed Montana beef burger were delicious, and the $3 Drifter Pale Ales went down easily.

Feeling refreshed, we stopped at a climbing and mountaineering store on Main Street to inquire about nearby hiking opportunities for the next morning.  The proprietor suggested the classic "M" trail up Mount Baldy in the Gallatin National Forest just a few miles outside of town.  With that information in hand, we located the nearest dog park and Parker wore himself out with some friendly Bozeman mutts.

We spent the night at "Camp Walmart," always free and welcoming of overnight guests.  We were one of two dozen  RVs that evening, and with the stunning back drop of the mountainous National Forest, it was easy to forget where we were parked.

The morning hike was relatively short but very steep on the ascent. It followed winding switchbacks down. This outing was a perfect way to start the day before returning to the Vanagon for a long journey across Montana and into the Idaho Panhandle. 

We reached Coeur d' Alene Lake and the Idaho Panhandle National Forest early in the evening, camping at Beauty Creek. To our surprise and delight, of the 17 sites, there were two other VW campers, tops popped.  

Over the 4,000 miles we have covered so far, only a half dozen or so Vanagons and Buses of various vintages had crossed our path, so to find the three of us in this small campground was shocking.  We shared some road trip stories and wished each other smooth travels. 

From Coeur d' Alene, it's Seattle or bust!

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