The first cloudy day, began as I left NE Wyoming for Montana. Aside from the early-day storms in western Montana, this was the most interesting day of the journey so far. Most of the day (588 miles) was spent traveling across the length of Montana, but the most spectacular part of the trip was in the last 200 miles or so: about 50 miles east of Butte, MT, there was an abrupt, upward climb on I-90. It is as though the highway developers found a way upward, snaking through deep canyons bound by massive, rounded rock formations, spotted here and there on the vertical slopes with pine trees that managed to find purchase in a pocket of fertile soil on the boulders. The climb lasted about 15 minutes, and at the top, there was a highway marker proclaiming the top of the International Divide at ~6400 feet.
Then, it was a gentle downhill ride towards Butte, and then on toward Missoula. It was during the last 50 miles or so before Missoula, that the spectacular downhill ride began: this time there were no massive boulders…the interstate snaked down through valleys, bound on both sides by steep, pine tree slopes rising hundreds of feet, in a myriad of peaks and valleys, spinning past the windshield in a breathtaking panorama of pine green, mountain earth brown, and granite gray. And, it seemed, for the case where anyone could be jaded by the natural display on both sides of the Interstate, there was a BNSF railway train with several miles of loaded coal cars pushing four diesel engines down the mountain on the south side of the interstate at nearly the same speed as auto traffic (75 mph!).
It was impossible to take pictures on the up or down experience, but even if possible, those images could not possibly capture the intensity of seeing the magnificence of this small bit of nature. I-90 through Montana…definitely a worthwhile NATURE trip.
Back to earth, Billy. Rest in Missoula tonight, and it is on to Ellensburg, Washington tomorrow.
This was the typical view through the windshield for most of the day. Not very stimulating. Today’s trip was 572 miles, and it was an easy and pleasant trip up and across South Dakota. The side trip to visit the Devil’s Tower National Park is going to have to wait for another trip. To get there from here would add another 120+ miles to the 578 miles scheduled for tomorrow to get to Missoula, Montana.
But, just passing through this area, and observing the markers along the way is a strong reminder of the “original” inhabitants to this area…the various Indian tribes. The lessons learned in early history classes rises to the conscious very quickly.
More tomorrow, from Montana.
No GARMIN GPS problems…I have been assertive with this little electronic beastie, and today we did it only my way!
Traveled all day under a cloudless sky, across Missouri, and then north through enough of Iowa (to really appreciate Black Eyed Susans…that species must be easy for the highway departments to use to color the sides of interstates) to get into South Dakota.
Very windy, all day. Driving today for eight hours was pleasantly-uneventful, and at 488 miles, it was just 10 miles over my planned route, way better than yesterday, which became 83 miles more than planned (the actual total was 600 miles).
Anyway, tomorrow I’ll be on to Gillette, Wyoming, and hope to get a chance to detour to Devil’s Tower (remember that it was featured in Close Encounters of A Third Kind or something like that).
G’night, says BillyComeLately
Good news is that I made it. Bad news is that I had to jumpstart the GARMIN Navigator to get here. I was insufficiently adamant with it about going MY WAY, and ended up sharing rush-hour traffic with some really interesting drivers in southern Indiana. Did not get any pictures of the ARCH in St Louis…it was already dark, and spectacularly storming when I got there about 10:00 PM. Warrenton is about another hour further west along Route 70.
Tomorrow, the GARMIN has to prove its mettle, otherwise, I have to use paper for the SCR routes, otherwise, based on what happened today (100 extra miles and 1.5 hrs), I might end up in Saskatchewan…I don’t really know where that is…I just think that DJ would say I ended up there, if I got lost on the first ever, Lions White Cane, Scooter Cannonball rally.
As my internet buddies on the SCR website know me, this is BillyComeLately, signing off in Warrenton, Missouri at 12:01 AM, Friday, I think.
I’m packed and ready to leave for Seattle at midday (9/2). The second scooter, on the left, belongs to another rally rider (Starr) from Raleigh who is hitching a ride for her scooter.
See the previous post for the Rally Route map, and some introductory words about our fundraiser – The White Cane project. It is not too late to pledge support for the White Cane. Call Lion Arielle at (423) 775-5132 to let her know that you would like to be part of this project. Wish me luck and thanks for your support, on behalf of all those folks assisted by the Lions White Cane services.