Flathead and Big Fork

The day started out great because we found a farmers market that allowed dogs, so we went and got some green vegetables (broccoli, kale, cucumber and zucchini) and some peaches. And I also couldn’t resist getting the cookie shaped like Montana. While we walked through the market, a man stopped me to ask how I trained him to be so responsive to my reminders to walk at my side whenever he forgets. I briefly explained the training philosophy and the theory behind the prong collar and he said he’d probably get one for his Chow that he can’t keep from pulling on the leash. As we chatted his toddler and River spent some quality petting time.

Driving through Kalispell is charming; especially the Historic District, which looks like a set from an old western. There was even a saloon with swinging wooden doors.

We spent the rest of the day around Flathead Lake.  I learned that it is the largest fresh-water lake in the USA after the Great Lakes. It was enormous. It look an hour to drive all the way around it, not including the stops we made.
I was surprised how much fun River had on the boat launch in Flathead Lake
He was so excited by being at Flathead Lake that he completely destroyed his armadillo

Discovering the town of Big Fork was an unexpected surprise. It was a tiny little town with tons of character. River and I stopped and we practiced some more proper leash-walking and did some sight-seeing at the same time.
In Big Fork, River was fascinated by this power dam on the Swan River

After a long training session, River relaxes in the gazebo in Big Fork, Montana
While driving around the lake, I giving River a little scratch on the head, but when I looked back up at the road there was a large deer right in front of the bonnet of the car! I gasped and startled River. Fortunately the deer was mid-run and cleared my car before we collided. Although it was close and I think all three of us had to take a few seconds to recover from that. About a half hour later I saw a dead baby deer on the side of the road. That one wasn't so lucky. I'm so glad I didn't hit that deer.

Once we made the loop around the lake, we headed for Helena. Driving on MT 83, MT 200, MT 141 and US 12, we passed through the Flathead National Forest, the Lolo National Forest and the Swan Lake State Forest (I don’t think I’d ever been through a state forest before). We also passed through the Blackfoot Indian Reservation and we passed by Lake Inez, Seeley Lake and Salmon Lake.

Just as we were passing Swan Lake, I noticed that Thumper rolled over 10000 miles. And now the “Service due!” light that used to only come on when I started the car, has now become a triangle with an exclamation point inside of it that stays constantly lit. So far on this trip we have logged 967 miles.

Outside of Helena, I notice some terrain that was new to me. It looks like the floor of the desert with rolling dunes covered in scrub, but there are evergreen trees scattered all over. Not enough to call it a forest, but there are individual trees everywhere. I’d never seen such a big expanse of sparsely placed trees.


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