Though our Yellowstone reservations started yesterday, we took advantage of a previously mentioned semi-chance meeting with some old Park City friends to do a “boat day” at Hebgen Lake instead.  This is exactly the type of thing we were hoping would continue to happen this year – bump into people we hadn’t known were in a certain place, and spend a day or two catching up in some cool setting we hadn’t planned on.  In this case, they were staying for a couple weeks at a family cabin on the lake and had brought their boat / toys up.  Their two girls are close to our girls’ ages, so some kiddo play time was on tap as well.

Hebgen Lake is an interesting place.  Just inside Montana and just out of Yellowstone, it’s formed by a dam on the Madison River just prior to its descending into the Madison Valley, which we drove up a week or so ago.  While that’s not especially interesting, what is is that the entire lake was in effect tipped by a large earthquake back in 1959.  It changed the shoreline dramatically, just as if you’d taken a pool and tilted it.  Their family cabin had originally been built on the lake shore.  Fortunately they were on the “up” side of the tip, so instead of their cabin ending up underwater like the cabins on the north shore of the lake, the lakefront moved a few hundred yards away from the cabin.  Many of the residents banded together after that and dug channels back toward their cabins so that they could dock their boats nearby.

Our plan was to decamp from West Yellowstone and drive out to their cabin, spend the day playing on the water with them, and then make a call on the fly whether to just spend the night in the RV parked in front of their cabin or drive back into Yellowstone to start our reservation.

It was a short drive out to the lake.  Theoretically.  Perhaps you remember my diatribe on rough roads and Davista’s inability to take the “bump” out of them.  She’s kind of like a stagecoach in that way.  Well, this is what we saw when we turned onto the dirt road that took us out to their cabin.

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Six miles of that.  This turned out to be a particularly exquisite hell.  I could only manage about 10 mph at best.  Slower in the really rough patches and a tiny bit faster where I could find some non-washboarded areas of the road, which I was weaving all over like a drunken sailor looking for the smoothest bit.  The noise of everything in the motorhome bouncing was almost deafening, and it felt like the whole rig was shaking itself apart.  It can’t have been good for it.  At one point I had the bright idea to try going a bit faster, reasoning that maybe I’d get some sort of resonance where I was only hitting the very tops of the bumps.  WRONG!  That lasted about 10 seconds and was chalked up in the “worst ideas” column for the trip.

We did make it eventually though, and pulled up to this cabin, which is exactly the type of place you want to hang out with friends at a lake in Montana at.  The inside was filled with hunting trophies going back 50 years or so.  Such a cool place.


We made our way immediately to the boat and spent the afternoon tubing, paddling, and living the boat-on-a-lake life, which is of course far superior to normal life.


In the evening we returned to the cabin to clean up and relax.  We discovered that our friends were leaving for Park City in the morning, so we opted to go ahead and leave that evening in order to give them some space, but they plied us with wine, tempted us with the smell of flank steak on the grill, and very convincingly told us that our presence there wouldn’t make any difference in their preparations to depart.  No wonder they’re both so good at business.  We stayed, and we’re so glad we did. Amazing hospitality, awesome evening!

We left the next morning for Yellowstone, probably just a few minutes before they left for Park City.  It’s looking probable that we’ll head down to Park City after Yellowstone and Grand Teton, so hopefully we’ll see them again when we head down to Utah.

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