Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ft. Benton and a rest day

Hello all from Ft. Benton, Montana! Hold onto your seat belts because this is going to be a bit of a longer blog. I am going talk about the past two days first and finish with a little literary dessert.

After Norm Miller(to whom I am extremely thankful for all his help and guidance), dropped me off at the Widow Coulee site, I settled in for the night. The Great Falls portage went very well and I was super excited for the upcoming section of the trip. Now, according to Gill and Linda, the Widow Coulee site has something of a reputation for a local party spot but given that it was Sunday night, we agreed that it would probably be quiet. And, that was how the night started out. However, at 1am I was awoken by two very loud un-muffled engines that came tearing across the camp, and out jumped a bunch of rather well intoxicated local hooligan youth. Needless to say this did not make me very joyful and I stealthily went out and locked up my boat. I then waited up until about 5am when they finally went on to cause a raucous somewhere else.

When I finally left my tent at 6:40 am ( a later start for me on the trip as I have been waking up around 5:15 most days) I was greeted with a very dense fog. However, as I was cooking breakfast and roasting up the oh so important coffee it started to lift. That started to improve my mood as I was still a bit embittered about my experience with the hooligans the night before.
(Carter's Ferry, on the way to Ft. Benton)

The paddle into Ft. Benton from Widow Coulee was 28 miles and took me a casual 4.5 hours to paddle. The current was really moving and I could sit back and enjoy the views for most of the trip. This was a welcome change as I had been paddling pretty hard the past several days. I saw what seemed like a bald eagle a mile and huge flocks of pelicans. These pelicans perplex me, I have no idea how they survive; I never see them eating anything, they just chill on the side of the river.
(photo above is a bunch of swallow nests on some cliffs I passed by)

Anyhow, I arrived around midday at the Ft. Benton Canoe Camp, which is a really nice campground on the west end of town. I set up my tent and went and talked to the campground hosts, Janice and Bill who told me there was a shower(WWWWAAAHHOOOO!). After getting cleaned up and eating a little bit I went in to town to work on my resupply.

In town I was greeted by some of the friendliest folks I could imagine. The park wardens were offering me their bikes to ride around town and get supplies and local business people drove me around. I was really overwhelmed with how well the resupply went and how nice everyone was. After eating a great dinner at Bob's Riverfront Restaurant, I walked back to the campsite. As I was walking back I decided to take a rest day in Ft. Benton in preparation for the upcoming challenge of Ft. Peck reservoir.

After a very restful evening, I awoke today to clearing skies(AWESOME). I have headed into town to send out a bunch of emails to sponsors as well as check out the town. Ft. Benton has a very long and very interesting history. Ft. Benton was originally the town that marked the farthest navigable distance on the Missouri River, so all of the paddle boats would stop here. With the fur trade, gold rush and ranching boom, Ft. Benton exploded in size and its downtown was known as the "bloodiest block in the West" at one point. This is of course very different than what I found. I found a town full of very nice people, a beautiful water walk, and very well kept up historical buildings. If you are every thinking about a trip to Montana, make sure to check it out. Here is the community website http://www.fortbenton.com/ .

I am going to try and get some more photos up here from the past couple of days but alas, the computers are a little slow right now. Check back in later.
(breakfast at Bob's Riverfront Cafe....delicious)

My next post will be quite some time away as I am going to be heading into a pretty remote and wild section of the trip. My faithful blogger brother, Jared, is going to be keeping up the great work he as been doing though so you will be able to follow along.
(Shep the famous dog of Ft. Benton. This is a good story,http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/4367)

And here is the literary masterpiece I promised.

" Pelican's Twilight"

Dipping across the ebb and flow,
Of the Missouri running deep below,
This unique bird of black, tan and white,
Searching for a restful night.

When he alights on a driftwood branch,
And tucks his beak under his wing,
What ponderings to him occur,
As the sun sets across the stream?

Does he dream of fish uncaught,
Of turns around the bend,
Or does he concern himself with other thoughts,
And dream the dreams of men?

Concerns of future successes and goals,
Where will he go in life,
Worrying about love and loss,
Or about famine, war and death

I hope that as I pass him by,
His thoughts are not the later,
And that as he falls asleep at night,
He dreams of fish.
That would be better.

-Until next time......Joe

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