The early, pre-dawn light trickling in through the forest foliage and our rain fly is cruel and wakes us before we are ready to leave the human burrito like cocoons we have fashioned for ourselves. We both burrow deeper in our respective sleeping bags and snooze a little longer.
Soon enough our bellies begin to protest and we lazily roll out of our cozy den like bears coming out of hibernation, on the hunt for sustenance.
First order of business, hot drinks. West, my master Jetboiler, shuffles into action and in no time we have our mint tea in hand and we go about prepping breakfast. I am very excited about the meals this year as I just recently got my very first set of cast iron pieces and am going to be breaking them in during this trip! Nothing like starting out the life of a cast iron with a little camp food seasoning.
Our sweet potato hash breakfast is interrupted by a swarm of wasps intent on raiding our table. I set a small portion out for them to feed on in the hopes that they will leave us in peace. However, they seem to think that our plates have much better tasting food than what was laid out for them and continue to hover about occasionally landing on us or our food.
After hastily wolfing down the hash, we start to break down camp. If there was ever a Tetris Olimpics, West would win gold by a long shot. Everything fits like a glove and the entire process only takes us about 15 minutes before we are on the road again.
As we draw closer to Kalispell, we slowly get above the smoke that is plaguing most of the state. The views, as always, are breathtaking. Not as mountainous and much more pastural, the rolling hills and seas of fields give way occasionally to patches of big timber and aspen groves with enormous barns and quant farmhouses dotting the landscape in the distance.
We pull into Whitefish around lunch and decide to grab a bite to eat before moving on. It’s here we strike gold. I am casually flipping through Yelp looking for recommendations, when I see Piggyback BBQ and instantly stop knowing that West will never forgive himself if we go anywhere else. Bozeman has a good selection of restaurants except for two categories: Mexican and BBQ. Anytime we have a chance to go to either on our travels, we take it!
I order a half rack with ribs and sides and West gets a chopped brisket sandwhich with sides and hush puppies to start. The food is absolutely incredible, especially the cornbread, and our chatter is halted in its tracks as we both grunt our satisfaction and rapture to each other, forcing samples of our meals on one another. It’s not southern BBQ by any means, but it’s one of only two places in the north (the other being The Notorious PIG) that I would drop everything to go to if I was in the area.
Our pit stop is over presently and we head out pointed north. We fuel up in Eureka and then on to the border. The line is fast moving and after a rapid fire game of 20 questions with the guard, we are in Canada!
We drive the rest of the afternoon until we reach Radium Hot Springs and the Redst. reak Campground. Thanks to having moved up our departure date by a day about a month ago, we had to make reservations for whatever was left at the campground and hope for the best, and boy did we luck out! All of the loops except for one bend of ours and a few sites on other loops are in the middle of a beatle kill forest with no good views. We have a site that looks over a meadowed drop off down to the town below with their miniaturized houses, toy cars, and city lights winking up at us. The falling sun sets the river ablaze in pink, orange, and violet hues, a neon ribbon snaking along the valley floor.
Showers are in order, and we both indulge in the warmth of the steam and the satisfaction of watching days of grime trickle off our bodies leaving us squeaky clean and feeling refreshed.
We cook the obligatory camping meal of hotdogs and then watch the sunset over the horizon leaving the valley in darkness and us that much closer to the stars above.
We retire to our cots and work on the blog, edit photos, read, and play a couple rounds of Phase 10. We drift off separately having made good progress on each of our respective hobbies and with another good day done. That night, I dream of ribs.
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