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A Happy Independence Day!


7/4/12, Three Forks, MT - In the month of July, when this country was but 29 years old, Meriwether Lewis arrived at the three forks of the Missouri River and named the largest and western branch after Thomas Jefferson, the writer of our Declaration Of Independence and the current President of the United States. 

Tonight, I type this web journal while sitting on the bank of the Jefferson River, just upstream of where it joins the Gatlin and Madison Rivers to form the Missouri.  In the company of three stalwart steeds and a great wagon, able to travel freely throughout the nation, I couldn’t think of a better place or a more perfect circumstance to celebrate the 236th anniversary of our nation.

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At dusk last night, Doc faced towards the fading sun and pondered what lies below the western horizon. I called out to him, “You’re about to find out Doc”.

This morning, I had Doc and Bill hitched for the pull up the hill from our evening camp to the road above.  I was still trying to shut the wagon door and gather the lines as they charged up the hill.  (I forgot about that horse telepathy-thing and thought too hard about the hill - They zoomed in on my thoughts like a heat seeking missile.)

Three miles down the road, I came to the town of Harrison. Seeing there was enough room to park my rig at the local diner, I went in to treat myself to some biscuits and gravy and a couple of eggs. What actually occurred is that the ladies at the diner decided to treat me instead - Thank You!

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Having a great, free breakfast at the Harrison Diner.

The lads set a blistering pace.  Before I knew it, we were 11 miles down the road and approaching the crossing of the Jefferson River.  It was only 11 am, but I decided an early lunch was in order when I spotted the boat launch on the far bank.

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Stopped for our second morning break.  The lads keep reminding me that I have about half of the 50 pounds of horse treats I have been given on the trip.

By the time I had watered and fed the team, the boat launch began to fill up with people looking to ride tubes down the river.  The following pictures give an idea of what happened when a lot of kids met some really great horses:

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I think Doc finds it easier to digest his oats when he has some little kids on his back.

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B.O.B. thinks the oats go down better when his flank is rubbed.

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B.O.B. - “Don’t worry kid. I follow the 10 minute rule. As longs as you pick the dropped horse treat up within the next 10 minutes, it hasn’t had time to pick up any germs and I will still eat it!”

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Sitting on a giant horse, then tubing down the river - now, that’s a 4th of July!

After traveling several miles away from the river, the highway parallels the river for several miles. I thought I would find a public place near the river to camp for the night, but so many traffic deaths have occurred on this road, the county installed guard rails for the whole length.  Finally, two miles south of Interstate 90, at the last point where the river and road run together, Dave and Diane asked if I needed some water and agreed to let me camp on their property.

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Old Homesteader cabins dot the west. What intrigued me about this one was the grass growing from the roof. This is probably the result of a homesteader putting sod on the roof to keep the place warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.  It probably worked great, but I bet a pioneer wife got a little tired of sweeping and dusting the place!

Tonight, I guest of my gracious hosts at their beautiful, riverfront home. Not only to the lads have some really good grass and water, the ambiance of their evening resting place ain’t too bad!

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Oh, the hard life of a wagon horse!

Several people have stopped to chat and see the team.  These city kids from California had a great time!

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“Wow, that about sums it up.”

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Bill had to get in on the action too!

Tomorrow morning the boys and I are once again headed north towards the Capital City of Helena.

Happy Independence Day!