Friday, August 19, 2016

Iowa to Montana

Sunflower fields lined the roads through three states

On August 5th we left Duluth before dawn to go to Forest City, Iowa to Winnebago Industries Service.  We arrived at 9:30 am after 5 1/2 hours on the road and signed in as a non-appointment and were put in line with 40+ others.  Looked like we would be here for awhile before our refrigerator was fixed. thankfully - free camping while we wait.

We took a very interesting tour of the factories that put together our RV among several other models.  Almost everything is made in-house and over 3,000 employees work hard putting quality homes on wheels together.  No photos allowed inside but here is our finished product.
Prothonotary Warble at Union Slough

We took a couple birding trips to area wildlife areas: Crystal Lake and Union Slough.  And we found a nice little church to walk to on Sunday where all 12 of us enjoyed the service and fellowship.

We got in line at the service area on Monday at 6:45 am to wait just in case a technician became available.  Kept checking with the service supervisor so they knew we were there.  Next day, same routine.  At 9:30 our name was called and we felt like we had won the lottery.  By 3pm - refrigerator fixed.  We met a lot of nice rver's in the same predicament as us and it was fun visiting about travels and petting everybody's dogs.  We stayed another night to make sure everything was working well.  Yeah!!  no more buying ice every day.
Leopard Frog

 On August 10th, we headed west camping mid-South Dakota at the Snake River State Recreation Area.  After some strong storms through the night we moved northwest camping near the Missouri River.  We kept seeing more and more western birds including this flock of Sharp-tailed Grouse sunning on the hay bales.

We drove into North Dakota and got the last available campsite at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  Next morning early we drove the 36 mile auto tour of the "badlands".  We found herds of Bison, Mule Deer, several Prairie Dog towns and a of course the beautiful rock formations.  That evening we had 50+ Common Nighthawks in migration and in the morning serenaded by an E. Screech Owl.
Prairie Dog

Mule Deer fawn

Mule Deer in velvet


The next day we drove to the Northern Unit of Theodore Roosevelt NP and the 28 miles scenic drive.  We found distant Bighorn Sheep, Pronghorns, a stampede of Bison, and some wild horses.
Wild Horses

These unique rock formations are called Cannonballs.   These concretions were formed when sand grains from an ancient river deposit were cemented together by minerals dissolved in groundwater.
American Avocet

We drove into northeast Montana and Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge.  A good start on our Montana Bird List and adding western birds to our year and even our retirement list.

We drove to Glasgow and got the last RV site (again) at Shady Rest RV park.  Next morning we drove to Bowdoin NWR and slowly drove the 15 mile auto tour.
Baby Muskrat

Mama Muskrat hauling food to den

Marbled Godwit stirring up food

Sunset over the Sage

One bird that was on our target list was the Greater Sage Grouse.  We found a likely location from the Montana bird hotline.   So we drove south to Round Up and east to Ingomar (looked like an old west ghost town).  We were hoping for 1 or 2 sightings, by the time we left the area we had 47 sightings.  Amazing!!  We camped on the open gravel road in the middle of the sage and open range.  The cattle didn't know what to make of a motorhome in their "pasture".
Large Greater Sage Grouse ( 28 inches )

Where is the pot of gold?  In the sage!

American Dipper 

We had one more day before we were to arrive in Livingston, so we decided to go up over Bear Tooth Pass and the roads of Northern Yellowstone National Park.  We camped south of Red Lodge and found American Dipper, Stellar's Jays, Mountain Chickadees and Red Crossbills and in the morning heard a Northern Pygmy Owl.
Douglas Fir cones

Cirques at the top of Bear Tooth Pass

Near the summit of 10,947 feet we found a flock of Black Rosy Finches, a Mountain Goat and many Am. Pipits, Horned Larks, Clark's Nutcrackers, and a Pika.
Black Rosy Finch

Mountain Goat


We are now in Livingston, about a mile from Ty's brother's home.  We plan on a great month of visiting with family and exploring the area.

Love & Prayers,
Ty & Ida

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