By Bob Stucklen, N8792X
Last issue, I described my 2019 trip to Cookeville, Tennessee and Ontario, Canada. The prior year, 2018, the NSS convention was held in Helena, Montana. For a long time, I had wanted to tour Lewis and Clark Caverns Montana State Park, which was on course to Helena. I called the Three Forks airport (9S5) and made an arrangement to use a courtesy car to visit the cave.
Our son, Lowell, joined Deb and myself for the trip. In order to allow room in our plane for the three of us, a Loveland friend, who was also attending the convention, agreed to transport our excess gear (table, chairs and “kitchen”) to Helena. We loaded our Cessna 182 with our luggage, tents, and sleeping supplies and departed FNL Thursday, July 26, 2018. The Powell, Wyoming (KPOY) airport made a convenient location for a fuel stop after a 313 nm flight. Another 132 nm took us to the Three Forks Airport (9S5), Montana, where we spent the night.
We were lent a vehicle to drive to town for dinner at a restaurant and use for the following day. The next morning, we drove the 18 miles to Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. The two-and-a-half-hour tour involved hiking on a ¾ mile paved trail, gaining an elevation of three hundred feet, to the cave entrance. The tour descends in the cave to a lower man-made tunnel leading to the exit. The cave tour was
worthwhile and is recommended (if you don’t mind sliding on your butt).
Saturday, we flew the remaining 47 nm to Helena (KHLN), where the NSS campground opened at noon. After landing, a woman at the FBO kindly offered to drive us to the campground. Just as we were unloading our camping gear, a down pour from a thunderstorm arrived. We loaded our gear into a conveniently located porta potty.
This kept our gear dry until the storm passed.
Sunday, July 29th, we participated in the geology field trip, for which we had preregistered. Chartered busses took our group to the Butte, Montana area, where we visited the Berkeley Pit Overlook, the Granite Mountain Memorial, and the World Museum of Mining.
The convention was held in nearby Capital High School, starting Monday and terminating Friday. Sessions were held during the week. Evening activities included a barbeque party and a banquet.
Saturday, August 4th , we broke camp and flew 138 nm nw to Glacier Park International (GPI), 6 miles north of Kalispell. After renting a car, we drove to Kalispell, where we visited with long-time friends. They had thoughtfully arranged overnight hospitality for us.
The following day, we drove to the West entrance of Glacier National Park (3660 feet elev.), where we rode the free shuttle bus on the “Going-to-the-Sun-Road” to Logan Pass (6646 feet elev.). On Monday, we drove to the east side of the park
and then to Swiftcurrent Lake via the Many-Glacier road.
Tuesday, we departed GPI and spent the night at Powell due to enroute
thunderstorms. The next morning, Aug 8th,we completed our trip, landing at FNL.