Sunday, July 14
Today we move to a new camp! On the way out of Stoddard Creek Campground, I stop to say goodbye to Lyn who is the camp host along with his wife, Velma. These two are exceptionally fine hosts — friendly, helpful, and hardworking.
I tell Lyn we’re moving northward.
“Have you had your breakfast yet?” Lyn asks. “If you haven’t or you want a piece of pie, stop at this place in the town of Dell. You’ll go through Lima. Dell is beyond that. There’s a restaurant called Yesterday’s Calf-A.” (Lyn spells Calf-A for me and adds, as an aside, “That’s Montana humor.”)
He continues . . .
“The restaurant used to be a schoolhouse from 1903 to 1963. They took out the desks, but the rest is still there. You know, Washington and Lincoln on the walls. It’s a great place. You may end up sharing a table with a rancher . . . .”
Before leaving the campground I fill up the one-gallon jugs with water and throw trash in the bin.
And off we go to Montana!
In only a few minutes, as I-15 takes us through Monida Pass at 6,907 ft. elevation, the Montana welcome sign appears.
The landscape spreads far and wide in characteristic Montana fashion.
The mighty Beaverhead Mountains are swathed in green-gray velvet in the morning light. Cumulus clouds cast soft shadows across the slopes and valley.
We zip by the small town of Lima and take the exit to Dell.
I find the restaurant easily. The schoolhouse tower with bell is the tallest structure.
I step inside and take a seat at the counter.
A smiling lady with a long, dark ponytail brings me a cup of coffee which I drink as I survey the cozy room. There’s Washington . . . and Lincoln . . . and the old classroom blackboard.
And it looks like the ranchers are here this Sunday morning. I overhear snippets of friendly conversation. Politics is the subject. “The economy would be a helluva a lot better if we had Romney.” “. . . because Obama’s a likeable guy.” Something about McCain that I can’t quite pick up . . . I notice choices of pie written on the blackboard: four berry, pumpkin, peanut butter and chocolate, oatmeal, and others.
I consume one of the free donut holes on the counter before me.
I order one egg over easy, hash browns, and rye toast.
I like this place already because it serves rye toast! The waitress (a blur in the photo above) has that relaxed, friendly, small town manner that makes you feel you’re hanging out in her living room. In between waitress tasks she hugs customers who are obviously longtime friends and asks about the welfare of their family members. She has something cheery to say to everyone.
My turn comes as I swallow the last bite of breakfast.
She takes a seat next to me at the counter, turning toward me to give her full attention. I find out her name is Jackie. During the week she’s a heavy equipment operator “over at the mine” and on weekends she works in the restaurant, the latter something she’s done for over 25 years. Soon she has me sharing about my life on the road and this blog.
“That’s what I want to do when I retire!” she exclaims.
Outside I take another photo.
I board the PTV to a happy welcome from Spike and Bridget.
We get back on the interstate.
“It won’t be long now and we’ll be at our new home,” I reassure the crew. (Bridget knows the word “home.” Spike? Well, I don’t know. He rarely listens to me, so the extent of his vocabulary is a moot issue.)
I love going to new places, but it’s also fun to return to a good memory.
Ah, there’s the blue of Clark Canyon Reservoir!
I look it over like an old friend I haven’t seen in a while. Hmm . . . Water level is still down. Pretty as ever though.
My anticipation grows as we approach the exit to the campground.
I hope there’s a good spot open. One that’s away from the boat ramp and next to the water.
This is great! We’re on the far end by ourselves. Immediately I walk Bridget and Spike around the loop. Then I set up their pen and toss them in while I go about positioning and leveling the BLT, as well as other set-up tasks. Yay! Four bars for internet!
My plan was to stay here for a day or two and move on, since we’ve camped here before. Now that we’re here . . . with the soft breeze, sparkling diamonds on calm, blue water, the wheeling gulls, the occasional drone of a motorboat . . . . Oh, I want to stay!
Did I mention it’s free?
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