I ask in the office for directions. A young girl says, “There’s a river that runs through town . . .” I chuckle. “Might that be the Missouri?” Her coworker laughs and replies, “You might have heard of it.”
We start our day at the C. M. Russell Museum. Born in St. Louis, Charles Russell moved to Montana when only sixteen. He worked as a cowboy. At twenty-nine, he quit cowboy work and devoted himself full time to his art.
Throughout Russell’s career, he worked to keep the Old West alive through his recreations of Indian life, as well as documentary images of cowboys and other westerners. I very much like his watercolors. He also painted in oils and created bronzes. The museum does not allow photography.
In the afternoon, we find the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. The word find is accurate. There is roadwork. We follow the detour signs. Our route includes a short gravel road. The detour is well marked.
We stop at the Rainbow Dam and falls. When Lewis and Clark arrived at Great Falls, they found not one but five falls. It took them eighteen days to portage around the falls.
Today the Missouri River has a series of dams on it. These falls below the dam are impressive but I imagine what Lewis and Clark saw.
We visit The Interpretive Center. It has a great display showing the Great Falls portage. We watch a movie about the portage. We listen to two talks. One talk is about the animals Lewis and Clark “discovered” at Great Falls. The other talk is titled “Why Did They Go?” Both are good.
We wind our way back toward the campground through the detours. It is hot. We are on the same side of town as our RV Park. This is good.
BAM! What happened? John gets the RV as far off the road as he can. Fortunately, we are traveling slowly. It sounds like the entire rear of the RV collapsed.
We look at each other and both jump out of the RV. I look under the RV. Nothing is lying on the ground. We have a shredded tire. It must be that gravel road! Our last flat was in northern Saskatchewan on a gravel road.
Fortunately, the tread is shredded but the tire is still inflated. We limp to a nearby parking lot. The owners of the store are outside. “We heard it!” They make sure we are okay. We call AAA.
The tire is changed. We buy two new tires. We go out to dinner. All is okay. We always look on the bright side. If you are on the road for four months, “things” happen.
Campground: Great Falls KOA