Monday, June 11, 2012

Great Falls, Friends & Canada

We left Billings and headed to Great Falls where we planned to fill our cabinets with items that we knew would be more expensive in Canada. It was also one last chance to touch base with Mark and Renita who were there doing the same before heading to Alaska. Plan A had been to meet them Up North but we decided to limit our Northern adventure to the Canadian Rockies because of all the money we have spnt on RV repairs. We will be following them closely on their blog, Doing It On the Road  (PartII), which I highly recommend.
One part of the Up North adventure that we were not sorry we would be missing was the bad roads. Apparently the Montana Highway Department wanted us to have that experience anyway. We had to travel through three sections that were really more highway replacement than highway repair. Oh well, onto every RV a little mud will be splattered.
After we got to Great Falls Mark and Renita had decided to spend one more day in the USA soof we all went to the local museum dedicated to the works of Charles M. Russell. Here they are outside the museum under a very appropriate sign for full timers, “The Journey”.
The C. M. Russell Museum exhibits the work of this cowboy artist who was a Great Falls resident along with other art related to the old West. Russell was from the East, but came west as an adventure and to work as a cowboy in the late 1800's. The museum has an extensive collection of Western art, Indian artifacts and a special exhibit on Bison and their affect on the Plains Indian Culture. No pictures were allowed inside. Above is the museum entrance and a statue of Russell.

These sculptures are on the grounds of the museum. The Bison, Grizzlies and Big Horn Sheep are often the theme of many Western artist.

  This is Russell's studio that, along with his home is part of the museum complex. The log studio, which was originally smaller, was a throw back to another time when it was built next to Russell's home in a neighborhood of modern houses.
The interior of the studio has been restored and contains more than 1000 artifacts. Here is a work in progress and some of the small models he used. I sure would not want to encounter the Diamond Back that the snake skin come off of.
A few of the Indian artifacts that are on display in the studio where pictures are allowed.
For those of you who think driving across the plains is all flat or small rolling hills, think again. When we left Great Falls on Monday we encountered this very short, but very, very steep hill as we drove through the Marias River Valley. You do need to be aware of these kind of hills when driving a 15 ton vehicle.
This is the fourth time we have crossed into Canada with the motorhome and each one has been different. On our first experience when heading to Vancouver, RV “friends” told us to use the truck lane, WRONG!!!! The Customs agent was not happy, but he let us in even though we were in the commercial lane and not planning to sell the motorhome. Next we did a two hour visit to Campobello Island, where the Roosevelt summer home is located and we were thoroughly searched by Canadian Customs going in and American Customs coming out. We later learned that the tiny island is often used by smugglers. The day after that we entered on our way to Newfoundland and it was by far the most uneventful crossing. This time it was a few minutes of the routine questions about food, money, length of stay and our intended destination, then we were on our way to the Canadian Rockies.

1 comment:

Suzycue said...

We have been to Great Falls several times. We also enjoyed this museum, giant springs, & the Lewis & Clark museum. My husband was in the air force and spent 5 yrs here. We plan to make it back again this summer. Enjoy reading your blog!