LOCATION: Columbia Falls, Montana
CAMPGROUND: Mountain View RV Park
WEATHER: Very nice. High 89. Low in the AM – upper 40s!
We found another great hike to take this morning. Whitefish has a very large network of trails. The one we took today eventually ties into the Big Mountain one which then leads you to the summit at the ski resort where we were the other day – some 30 miles later (if one survives). We hiked about 6 miles roundtrip. Most of it was paths like this with a lot of switchbacks that took us up high. Got the heart rate going!
Our huffing and puffing were rewarded with a view of Whitefish Lake.
We saw some mysterious poop on the path. It looked like horse, elk…or maybe bear poop. When we looked for paw prints, we saw one that looked like a bear claw. We were a little skittish after that.
On our way back down, George spotted this little deer in the meadow chomping on huckleberries. She was very tame. I walked down to flush her out so George could get a photo. She was so happy eating that she let me approach her closely.
Then…..luxury. We stopped at the Boat Club restaurant at a fancy lodge right on Whitefish Lake. We sat outside on the upper deck and had a lovely view of the lake. Later I looked at prices – $400- $700/night! We ordered smoked whitefish (of course) and drinks. Just lovely, lovely….
Montana takes its Covid-19 precautions seriously. This bear was masked up in the hotel’s lobby…
And, this moose was wearing one too, outside another lodge….
A bit about RVs…..We have heard that this year there is a 300% uptick in the number of RVs being sold. People want to get out into nature, and think this is one way to travel safely, without the coronavirus. We believe this is true, as so many campgrounds have no vacancy. We have talked with RV park registration people who say that they have met a lot of people for whom this was their first stay. These newbies didn’t know anything about hook-ups, setting up, etc.
Montana does not have sales tax on RVs, so many people come here to buy RVs, especially the $100,000+ big motorhomes and 5th wheels. With a big ticket item like this, you can really save when you don’t pay the sales tax. Even before Covid, we often would see Montana license plates for people not from MT. In this RV park alone, we have 3 neighbors that have bought their units this week. We watched our next door neighbor happily opening new purchases – the water hose, gas grill, levelers, etc. All new. He and his family left yesterday for an outing. The wind came up and his awning started flapping around dangerously, as he had set it up incorrectly. Several men went out to try to fix it. Finally, I suggested that we ask the office to call the owner to tell him to return. Problem solved, but damaged awning.
Also, in RV parks you see a lot of license plates from Texas, Florida, and South Dakota. These are states that don’t have state income tax. This results in many full-timers calling one of those states their “domiciles”, thus avoiding those taxes. When we were first camping, I was confused when I saw so many S.D. license plates!
On our way home, we stopped at a seafood market, probably the nicest one I have ever been to. They fly all their seafood in, mostly from Alaska and Hawaii. We bought some MT mountain trout and a Alaskan halibut fillet.
DINNER: That halibut, of course! George grilled it perfectly on the gas grill. I made rice and fixed a big arugula salad (local arugula we had bought at the farmers’ market). I served the halibut on a bed of sauteed onions and mushrooms. A nice glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc completed the meal!