Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fire and Ice: To Phillipsburg Bay Campground, Montana

When Bozeman finally let us go with a new windshield wiper, the drive was brutally windy and wet, but there were clear skies ahead. We pushed along on I90 to get as many miles toward blue as possible.

Montana's landscape is an almost painfully beautiful geological confluence.

It's the last day of September and we don't know where we're heading, but we're ready to leave hotels behind and be back in camp.

They don't call it Big Sky Country for nothing.

The navigator proposes we get off the interstate on Montana 1 and point it toward Anaconda and Georgetown Lake, where our map shows a cluster of campsites (and speaking of clusters, is the country still funded tonight?).
We pass three campgrounds that are chained up--either because the season has ended or in preparation for the federal closure. But Phillipsburg Bay Campground on the lake is open. And empty except for the host, who waves us off when we ask how much we owe him. It's free tonight, and he'll be chaining up the place Oct 1 (because it's end of season).
That's fine with us. Camping reminds us to stay in the moment. Chop wood, carry water. Immerse ourselves in nature and breathe. We have a spot for tonight. Tomorrow's another day.
As Art chops wood for a fire and I make late lunch, a German man drives in in a tiny and very cool VW camper. He tells us they shipped it from Germany and got a round-trip airfare deal that landed them on the east coast to meet up with the camper and flies them out of Las Vegas...just like the two other German groups of campers we met at Tioga outside Yosemite.They'll store the rig near Las Vegas and return next year to do another tour.

Drying out wet Bozeman gear in the late afternoon sun

We're still working the (well-chilled) rotisserie chicken we got back in Missoula. Tonight's dinner: torn chicken breast sauteed with garlic, tomatoes, mushrooms, oregano, spinach, and onion.

With a few shots of fish sauce to liven it up. Have you noticed that one-pan meals are a camper's dream?

Eaten out of steaming bowls next to the campfire, with hot tea and bourbon on the side, a wholly sustaining meal. And then magic: snow flakes float down on us, gathering gently in the folds of our tarp on the picnic table and melting on the hot coals of the fire. This is why we camp.


  1. "It's the last day of September and we don't know where we're heading, but we're ready to leave hotels behind and be back in camp."

    Brings to mind: If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there.