Most Excellent Free Campground

(Marred by Racists Hate-mongers)

After we left Lake Koocanusa, we drove down that lovely, long, valley lake, past Libby Dam, and into a Corps of Engineers campground right on the Kootenay River near the town of Libby, Montana.  

It’s a practically perfect campground. It’s one paved oval road, with level pull-through spots right on the river, each with a picnic table and fire ring (although, of course, no fires right now). There’s even pit toilets and a camp host, and, close to our hearts, trash cans.  

Clearly, the folks here are full-timers, for the most part.  There are no hook-ups, and there are plenty of campgrounds around with them that are packed, so only the hard-core have picked this place.

We chatted with two couples our first night here who fulltime, and they were both generous with advice and even gave us info on health care in Mexico and card games to pass the years (one couple has been full-timing for 20 years).

The river is gorgeous, although so cold that Tracy can’t stand in it to fish for more than about 15 minutes before his feet and legs start to ache.  Banjo took only a dip. 

Cabinet Mountain Brewing Company

The brewery in Libby checks off all the requisites:

  • Outside seating
  • Mask mandate inside
  • Good beer
  • Good food
  • Allows dogs!

Needless to say, we camped near Libby for two days, and we went to the brewery for both of them.  It’s like some people getting their hair cut or going back to the gym: it feels like normal again (even if we’re still far from it).

Kootenai Falls

We made the mistake of waiting until the afternoon to visit Kootenai Falls, a culturally significant site here much visited by tourists.  

And they were all there running amuck by the time we got there. We left Banjo in the truck (many, many dogs on the trails) and walked only to the swinging bridge.

I did really swing.  But so worth the views of the emerald-green Kootenai River rushing underneath. 

Hate Waiting for Us

Alas, when we got back to the campsite, the two full-timing couples who had been so friendly had left, and in their place were a couple of big rigs with Florida plates on them.  Before I noticed anything amiss, I spoke with one old guy, who asked why the campground is closed next weekend.  

“I don’t know,” I responded. “Something regarding reservations for golf,” which is all I’d heard.  

He retorted, “With the government today, who the hell knows,” and snickered like somehow Joe Biden had personally closed his free campground the weekend he wanted it. 

It was only later that Tracy noticed they’d put out these flags: the Stars and Stripes bookended by an odd thin white line (with a bit of red?) and a confederate flag. 

I get so angry at this confederate shit, I want to knock on their door and ask what the hell they’re doing in a government-funded campground if they want to overthrow the government.  In Eureka, Tracy was in line at the grocery store behind a guy wearing a MAGA hat who used food stamps.  Really?  You want to overthrow our whole damned country, but please, “give me free food, government,” before you burn it all down?  

I thought I’d left this behind in the South.  In Eureka we heard Lynyrd Skynyrd everywhere we turned, and near Helena I saw a sign on some guy’s lawn that said, “Finish the Wall!”, as if Montanas are physically or fiscally threatened by illegal immigrants so much that this is the most important topic they have to spread on their lawn.

So, no, the campers beside me have said nothing worse than that one snide remark about the government today assuming everyone agrees with them, and the site is still beautiful.  I just get so worked up by stupidity and hate-mongering. When the editor of our daily RV newsletter wrote about Black campers, he received hate mail.  Once again , I’m back to my motto: To see America, you have to see Americans. 

Ukulele Segment

Here’s All Along the Watchtower from our last campsite.  The ominous hints at societal upheaval juxtaposed against the gorgeous Lake Koocanusa seem fitting.