Sunday, June 05, 2011

Hockey Night in Montana

With so many campgrounds across the northlands closed due to flooding, we haven’t had a lot of choices in places to stay. And now with the Canucks in the Stanley Cup Final, Cable has become one of our crazy considerations. I know, we could have a satellite dish, but aside from now during the playoffs, tv hasn’t been all that important. Besides, we’re supposed to be ‘camping’ -- aren’t we?

Our goal for the night, Fort Peck, is the site of an earthen dam built in the ’30s. The lake beneath the dam, although it looks beautiful, turns out to be much higher than normal. When we stopped at an overlook, a local pointed out the water’s traditional boundaries. Where the beach has always been is far out from the current shore. It looks as though it will take some while for the waters to recede, revealing that strip of land again.

There’s something downright weird about looking out over a lake and admiring how lovely and calm it is – but then realizing that it’s way too big, that it constitutes a disaster for many, and that despite its placid surface, it holds such menace for those who live near its shore.

As is the case at so many dams this year, even the spillway at Fort Peck had been opened, in hopes of redirecting some of the water. This is such a rare occurrence, our local friend couldn’t remember it having happened before. Still, in the midst of all of this, we knew we had to find a place to settle for night. Phoning around revealed campgrounds that were closed – or, of the couple still open, none with Cable.

Resigning ourselves to a night without hockey, we spotted a campground high above the lake, one that wasn’t on our list of possibilities. It didn’t have hook-ups for Cable or Wifi or water (we have a tank on board), but it did have great views. Turns out it also had hook-ups for electricity -- and nice, clean washrooms with big roomy showers, complete with deliciously hot water.

I made an easy supper and George prepared the site for a bonfire; we were set for a peaceful night of watching the stars come out.

But then, he came inside and started fiddling with the funny, old-fashioned antenna on top of the Rattler. And as it turned out, even though it only picked up three or four stations, one of them carried the game.

Happy campers, or what – especially with the results of the game!

PS We still had the fire, and had ourselves a great view of a sky full of stars, some of which we thanked – for finding this place and for not living on one of these vast floodplains.

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