Last Days at Swan Lake – September 2019

Clifford and I close out August and begin September at Swan Lake Recreation Area where we have been camped for two weeks.

A favorite spot at the Swan Lake day-use area

One day we make a trip to Bigfork to the laundromat and a stop at Harvest Foods Market, which is a way bigger and better store than any other Harvest Foods I have ever seen.

Sign at the laundromat

On our way back to our campground, we go exploring. We find our down to Swan River where three young women are putting in kayaks to float the river. They ask me to take photos, which I do, of course.

Women on Swan River

Then on we go to a fishing access, which turns out to be a small lake in the mountains, Horseshoe Lake. The water is kind of murky along the shoreline, but there are turtles on the logs, which are fun to see, and the reflections on the water make it quite a pretty place.

Horseshoe Lake

Another day, since we will soon be leaving the area, we go to Bigfork again, this time to check out the brewery, having a local on-tap beer with our lunch, sitting out on the outdoor patio overlooking Flathead Lake. This is quite the lark for us, since we seldom eat out and seldom have beer. But it was fun!

View of Flathead Lake from patio at the brewery

The other days at the campsite are full of our usual activities: research, dulcimer, flying, and ham radio for Clifford; walkabouts, photos, blogs, editing, journal writing, and viola for me. Soon it will be time to move on, but for the moment, we are enjoying the peaceful beauty of this campground and nearby Swan Lake.

Sunset at Swan Lake

More Swan Lake Days – August 2019

August 26th through 30th are full days spent at our campsite at the Swan Lake Recreation Area in northwest Montana. Being retired, we are busier than ever with our projects. Clifford is doing some research in connection with his non-profit – Carnicom Institute, flying via flight simulation software, working with his ham radios, and playing the dulcimer. I walk around the campground and down to the day-use area alongside Swan Lake to take photos, write blogs, edit books for a couple of authors, and play viola. Now and then we get a bit of rain, and for the most part, the weather is mild for August.

Sunrise at the Swan Lake
Leaves after the rain
One of my favorite spots at Swan Lake day-use area

Every morning I sit out to write in my journal, sometimes going down to the lake and sometimes making a campfire at our site. A book of poems by Mary Oliver is a daily inspiration to me.

Journal and coffee at a morning campfire

A couple of times we drive to the pull-out about a mile from the campground where we can get cell service. I post a blog and send texts to my kids and siblings while Clifford downloads whatever software he needs for his next project.

Swan Lake view at the pull-out

One highlight of these days is a visit from a CI supporter who happens to live in the area and who treats us to a great dinner at a fancy place in Bigfork – Show Thyme. If you are ever in Bigfork, check it out.

A bit of excitement is the bear that was seen by our RV neighbors at the day-use area and then seen at the other loop of the campground. On one of my walks to the lake, I could smell a musky odor and knew that the bear had recently passed by. Clifford, on his bicycle, also smelled the bear and saw fresh scat. The hosts are very attentive and make sure everyone keeps a clean camp, so we don’t expect trouble.

Evening light at Swan Lake

Big Fork – August 2019

Friday August 23: As soon as I get up, I make coffee for the little thermos and head down to the day-use area here at the Swan Lake Recreation Area of northwest Montana where Clifford and I are camped. I find a picnic table in the sunshine where I can sit to write in the journal. The mountains on the other side of the lake are nearly obscured by mist. When the mist lifts and the sun goes behind a tree, I gather my stuff and head back to camp.

Coffee and journal in the sunshine
Mist in the mountains

In the afternoon, an independent film crew comes to our campsite to get footage of Clifford and his research. Hopefully, some of this material will make its way into a documentary on environmental issues.

A walkabout in the later afternoon includes another visit to Swan Lake. I also spend time editing for a couple of authors. Since there is no cell service here, writing blogs, posting photos, and texting family get put on a back-burner.

Swan Lake

Saturday August 24 and Sunday August 25: We meet the film crew in the town of Bigfork, Montana, about 15 miles north of our Swan Lake campground. This gives us a chance to discuss the work that Clifford has done over the last two decades. The place we have chosen to meet serves an excellent brunch. We also have a chance to see a little of Bigfork, an attractive and vibrant town with a resident population of about 5,000 people. Many visitors swell this number at certain times of the year, as there is an active theater group here, as well as many other activities and events.

In the evening, Clifford and I sit at a campfire and relax. It has been a busy several days and it is nice to have a little time to just be.

Campfire at close of the day

Swan Lake – August 2019

Tuesday August 20: Clifford and I arrived at Swan Lake Recreation Area earlier today and were happy to find a great site, which will be home for the next couple of weeks. After getting Cougar set up, I explore the campground and find a path to the creek that I can hear, while Clifford gets his ham radio antennas up and working.

Cougar tucked in with a meadow behind us
A creek in the campground

Then we ride our bikes to the day-use area and up the bike trail to a view point. Hard work for me! Dinner is left-overs warmed up and eaten by lantern light at the picnic table.

Sunset at Swan Lake

Wednesday August 21: After a walkabout, I make coffee and sit outside to write in my journal and read Mary Oliver. My favorite poem “Messenger” speaks of “My work is loving the world….. Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.” I feel like she is my soul-sister.

“Learning to be Astonished”

Clifford and I bike around the campground today, checking things out and getting some exercise. Later he plays his dulcimer and then takes out his microscope in preparation for the upcoming interview to be done here at our campsite. I play viola outside and do some editing and blog-writing.

We have chili for dinner, sitting out at the picnic table. We cover the table and Clifford’s lab gear with a good tarp before I head to bed. Without the distraction of cell phone or family visits (I do miss seeing my kids and siblings!), I am able to focus on better self-care: not skipping supplements and going to bed earlier, for starters.

Thursday August 22: This morning I walk over to the day-use area. A light rain in the night makes everything bright and fresh this morning.

Rain in the night makes things bright and fresh

I find a spot by the lake with a cluster of boulders big enough to sit on and watch the coming of the light on the far shore before it reaches where I am. It is an overcast morning and the light is dull, but I like sitting here anyway.

Boulders to it on
An overcast morning at Swan Lake

Back at camp, I make coffee and write in the journal before making our smoothies. Today we drive down the road to a pull-out alongside the lake, just a mile or so away where we can get cell service. I send texts and photos to family while Clifford downloads a music program for his dulcimer.

View of Swan Lake from the cell phone pull-out

In the afternoon I work on a blog of my trip to Atlanta in February to visit my daughter Becka. What a fun wonderful time! When clouds move in, we cover the picnic table with a tarp to protect Clifford’s lab set-up from rain. Because of the clouds and rain, Clifford starts the generator, which we don’t do very often, but now we can have light and continue with our projects. After dinner, I edit for awhile before getting ready for bed, while Clifford stays up late “flying,” using flight simulator software that allows him to fly anywhere and tonight he is flying over the Appalachian Mountains.

Sloway to Swan Lake – August 2019

After my return from the recent road trip with my daughter Becka, Clifford and I only have a couple more days at Sloway Campground in western Montana, along the I-90 corridor. I spend these days organizing for our next trip and getting another blog posted. I am WAY behind. Clifford continues with his projects – some work on CI website and ham radio.

Clark Fork River near Sloway Campground – Western Montana

Sunday August 18: We leave Sloway Campground this morning. It was a good place for Clifford to stay while I went visiting family and friends east and west.

Crossing the Clark Fork River east of Sloway Campground

We are spending the night in Missoula to get supplies and an early start to Swan Lake in the morning. Bretz RV parking lot, where we intended to go, is full, so we head on over to Walmart. It all seems to be fine until the STENCH! We find out that this area is known for an unbelievable bad stench that comes and goes, and supposedly no one knows why. It only takes Clifford a little while and a bit of research to figure out where its coming from. But the fix is a whole other issue. Between the traffic, the lights, and the bad smell, it was not a restful night.

Monday August 19 is another Missoula day, the highlights being Barnes & Nobles and Cracker Barrel. This afternoon we are able to find a spot at Bretz, but it is a tight squeeze because the slide-out on the RV in the next space extends into the space we are trying to back into. But we make it and the folks are friendly.

Tuesday August 20: We pack up what little needs to be packed and are on our way by 9:30, heading north on highway 93 toward Flathead Lake (northwest Montana).

Traveling highway 93
Impressive Mission Mountains loom to the east.

Near Bigfork, Montana, at the north end of Flathead Lake, we turn south on highway 83 to the Swan Lake Recreation Area.

Swan Lake
Swan Lake

This is our first time at this campground and we are surprised to see that most of the sites are reserved. However, as we drive the two loops, we find a first-come first-serve that is one of the nicest spots in the whole campground.

Swan Lake Campground

After we are set up, I walk the ½ mile or so to the day-use area that is right alongside the lake. We are very pleased to be where we are. This will be a great place to hang out for a couple of weeks.

A friendly visitor