Ready to Travel

Ready to Travel

Friday, February 17, 2012

Where the buffalo roam

Well, it's been quite an interesting day. It is 9:28 pm in Billings, Montana as I write this and I can barely keep my eyes open. I've left the camera and cables in the car so you'll all have to suffer with no pictures today. I will definitely post them tomorrow, provided they turned out.
Was on the road today by 8:30 after waking up to -5 degrees centigrade. Glad I packed the scraper 'cause I had to clean the windows. Headed west on I94, through Fargo. By 9:35 I had hit the continental divide. The scenery reminded me of the Qu'Appelle area of Saskatchewan or southern Alberta. There's a lovely little place called Valley City and it's just that, situated in a shallow valley. Driving along looking at the golden rolling hills, trees, creeks....it felt like I was driving through a Guy Vanderhaege novel.
I stopped in Jamestown thinking to get breakfast. I drove right into the business district in the hopes of finding a diner on main street. What I found was a muffler shop that had just exploded. Flames were pouring out of the roof and huge clouds of greasy black smoke were puking into the sky. It must have just happened. I pulled into a side street and walked along looking for the restaurant while the fire trucks and police screamed past. People came out on the sidewalks and were filming with their iPhones. 30 minutes of walking around and no place to eat. I headed back to the car a lot colder and a lot hungrier. The next rest stop became my breakfast bistro. Cold hardboiled eggs, almonds and an apple.
Lots and lots of roadkill and a few live animals too. Just before I left the state and headed into Montana you pass through Theodore Roosevelt National Park. You're chugging along looking at all the lovely swales; you climb a bit of a hill, go around a bend and WHAM - the most amazing scenery. It reminded me a bit of New Mexico, and a lot of the badlands of Southern Alberta. Fantastic rock formations and colours and trees. Saw some wild horses walking on a frozen stream.
Shortly after crossing into Montana I saw a herd of antelope grazing on a hillside. Then I passed an eagle roadside tearing away at some roadkill.
The scale of the ranches in Montana is incredible. The cattle seem to be exclusively black angus and many were enjoying foraging in fields of corn stubble.
Crossed the Missouri, Little Missouri, Yellowstone and Powder rivers during my drive. I stopped in Miles City Montana for dinner around 4pm 'cause I found a fantastic steakhouse there on the web. Again, got off the highway and drove into the 'old town'. Parked, found the place, walked inside and expected to see Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp. The place looked like it was still in the 1800's and it was full of men. Not a female in the place. Creeped me out. Turns out dinner wasn't serving until 5:00 pm and I couldn't hang around that long.
Headed back onto the highway hellbent for Billings, 130 miles away. Now it's going to be a bit of a race to see if I can get there before dark. I don't want to encounter deer or antelopes or anything else that wants to dart across the highway. The many warning signs had me jittery. The closer  I got to billings, the more it started to look like Yellowstone Park. Snow on the ground, lots of coniferous trees and the most beautiful sunset.
Took the cutoff in Billings for the Holiday Inn but the roads weren't marked too well, it was dark and I was exhausted. Ended up getting on the eastbound highway and had to travel 8 miles before I could turn around. Needless to say I wasn't pleased with myself. Made it to the hotel where I was glad to get a room. There's a huge Ag show on starting today and I thought everything would be booked. The price is ridiculous but I was afraid to get back in the car...god knows where I would have wound up!  So, pjs' and a bit of a read of General Ignorance and off to bed.