Posts Tagged 'Montana'
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Prime Minister Trudeau still refused to open the Canadian border to travelers, so my hopes of driving from Washington State though British Columbia, Alberta,Saskatchewan , Manitoba and Western Ontario, before crossing back into the States at Sault Ste. Marie were shelved for a future date. The border finally opened in August. I was trying not to retrace last year’s voyage and crossed in only two spots – Billings MT and Sheridan WY.
From Portland I drove East to the Snake River.
The Snake River runs from the Continental Divide in Wyoming to the Columbia River. Salmon swim all the way from the Pacific Ocean to Wyoming – against a strong current and many dam ladders along the way. Ate lunch in an old Quonset Hut turned restaurant in Joseph,Oregon. The river is the border between Oregon and Idaho in these parts.
See the video in the opening Cross Country 2021 story.
After the Snake River I spent the night int he capital city of Boise. Hotels were surprisingly expensive and I ended up in a Holiday Inn Express for about $ 190. But the next night, in Stanley , I stayed with old family friends at their RJR Ranch . We cooked steaks over an open fire, while watching the sun set over the Sawtooth Mountains. RJR is a working ranch with horses and cattle. One can also fish salmon from streams that run through the the property.
Missoula Friday Night
Missoula is a rocking college town and just coming back after Covid. I socialized amongst the maskless crowds and it was fun to be out again. Last years journey was quite solitary – often eating in my hotel room, or off the hood of the car.
Montana is a wide state, spanning an entire time zone. From Missoula, I stopped in Butte for lunch , swam in the Yellowstone River and made it to Billings for the night My hotel there cost 3 times what it did last year. Not only is tourism up, but firefighters from all over the country were there to fight fires all over the West.
The next day TotalAdventure left the Rockies for the High Plains, through Sheridan,Wyoming ( and a huge steak lunch) In late day drove through Sturgis, South Dakota – where the Biker rally was about to start.
Spent the night in Pine Bluff, home of the world’s only casono that doesn’t serve drinks. Alcohol is a serious problem on the reservation and possession is outlawed.
By late morning crossed into Nebraska and spent two nights in Omaha to get caught up on work.
From Omaha it was about 7 hours to Chicago, including lunch in Des Moines. It was hard to stay awake in the repetitive scenery of rolling hill cornfields.
It was great to be back in Chicago after a couple of years. My last time there was in February,2018 when it was 7 below zero !
As a New Yorker, Chicago seems to be the only other “Real City” in the USA. Washington, Boston and SanFrancisco are runner ups.
From Chicago , and a brief stop in Indiana to visit an old friend, I returned Massillon Ohio to finish research from last year. Massillon is ancestral hometown of TotalAdventure.
My Grandfather , Blaine Zuver founded Enterprise Aluminum Company. Manufactured coffee makers, pots ,pans and in wartime – mess kits ,canteens and bullet casings on fighter planes.
A Beautiful Cleveland Day On The Lake Erie Waterfront.
TotalAdventure then spent a week in his childhood home town – Bay Head NJ.
From Bay Head , it’s a 19 hour trip back down I 95 to MiamiSpent the night in Lumberton NC. The highlight of the trip, which I have done hundreds of times, is BBQ at Malson’s in Kingsland GA, just 3 miles from the Florida line. And then – it was home to Miami ! The last 2 summers have been perfect to get to know our country from East to West and North to South. Now, we return to the World at Large !
On the morning of Friday,July 24th I left Deadwood South Dakota and within an hour had entered Wyoming on SD 34/ WY 24 . The first stop was Devil’s Tower.
Rising straight out of flat farmland,Devil’s Tower is 867 feet and formed in a short time due to volcanic upthrust. It is very geologically different than the Black Hills over 100 miles away, or the Rockies , more than 200. You can experience it in the video above.
By mid afternoon I settled into Sheridan, at the foot of the Big Horn National Forest. As usual I dined alone on the hotel porch rather than in a lively restaurant .COVID life on the road. Everything closed by 8 anyway.
Big Horn National Park offers hundreds of square miles of hiking, climbing, glacier trekking and ATV trailing. Since it’s not a National Park, it’s not well known except locally. I was the only Florida plate, most were from Wyoming and Montana.
Dropping down a few thousand feet from the Big Horn Range, TotalAdventure explored the Snake River Canyon , traversing the Wyoming Montana border. The canyon had been dry with a seasonal stream until a dam was built in the 1930s.
I then entered my 49th state, Montana ! Just one more to go – Oklahoma, but won’t be there until the return trip East in September.
Before Yellowstone, I overnighted in Billings and Red Lodge Montana. In Billings I enjoyed a big Montana steak, but when I arrived at my hotel in Red Lodge after a day in Snake River, about 7:30 to discover that due to COVID my hotel restaurant was closed and the few restaurants still open in town would be closing at 8. This New York/Miami traveler is not used to small town hours but had to adjust on this trip or face night time starvation. I was the last one served from the line at a Mexican cantina and scored a PBR from the bar/casino across the street. The bars closed at 9 !
From Red Lodge to Yellowstone the winding ,high altitude Beartooth Highway crisscrossed several times between Wyoming and Montana.
The Summer of 2020 was probably one of the best to explore Yellowstone. Though crowds were sizable , they were all American crowds, as most foreigners, not even Canadians, could visit in the COVID summer. The notorious traffic jams did not appear.
Yellowstone sits atop a super volcano. When it does finally blow – anytime between the next 10 minutes to 10,000 years – the park will become a 50 mile wide lake of boiling red lava and will cause global cooling for years to come.
The falls look even more incredible in the video above. Be sure to watch it all.
After a day and a half in Yellowstone ( many people stay a week or more) it was time to head north into Montana. Passing Big Sky on a beautiful highway with a legal speed limit of 80 mph I arrived in Butte around sunset. I would stay there 2 nights, to explore the old mining city , to catch up on work ,do laundry and get the extremely dusty X2 washed.
Gold Copper and silver were mined here. Butte was known as the “Richest Hill On Earth.” Miners came from all over the world. Copper is still mined, but there’s not much left. The old city is quiet but not quite abandoned.
From Butte , a few more hours to the Northwest and I arrived in Whitefish ,gateway to Glacier National Park. Whitefish was full of California ‘refugees”,many who had arrived in private jets ,escaping mask and lockdown restrictions in their home state.
In Glacier , on the first day of August, I swam over a mile in 2 lakes and walked in the snow.
On the morning of August 2nd, I left Whitefish for a day of mostly dirt roads from Montana into Idaho. I missed my westward turn and would up at the Canadian border. When I originally thought of this cross country trip,years ago, I had always meant for it to include Canada. Winnipeg, Saskatoon, and Banff would have been on the itinerary. But in March 2020, the Canadian government had shut the borders to all but commercial traffic, due ,of course to disease spread.
All I could do was look into this closed off , beautiful land – in this case the easternmost corner of British Columbia ,near Alberta. The next several hours was on windy isolated dirt roads – into the town of Yaak .
I walked inside the bar, which of course was all bikers . Had a friendly beer and they were amazed I was all the way from Miami. No photos were permitted, probably for very good reasons.
I spent the night in touristy Couer d’Alene, Idaho, another town where restaurants closed at 8 and I had to order pizza by 9 before that closed too. Changed clocks back for the last time. The next day – through Washington State, past Spokane – to Portland ,Oregon – almost completely cross country !