10.05.2016 - 11.05.2016
We spent our last morning in Yellowstone visiting the Mammoth Hot Springs.
After a walk in the wind around the hot springs, we headed on for a five hour drive to Stevensville, Montana. We had originally planned to stay in Bozeman with a Couch Surfing host, but he had to cancel. My friends in Stevensville said to keep driving a few more hours and rest up with them for two nights.
The wind slowed and the sun came out. We stopped for lunch in Gardiner, Montana.
Now, as I scroll my camera, I see we didn't capture any photos of this leg of the trip. Highway 89 wends its way through beautiful valley. Then we turn on to Interstate 90 to cross over Bozeman Pass.
It is really not such a high pass - about the same altitude as Denver. The previous evening at the Inn, I had talked with locals about this route and was confident there would not be any problems.
Mother Nature had to show Dominique one more thrill.
First, we were in a low-slung cloud. Then it was a snow cloud, Then it was a blizzard.
At one point a sheriff's car was in the left lane with flashing lights. Further down the road, another although the flashing lights were not visible until we were within about 20 feet. By now, there was an inch of slushy snow on the highway. After passing about six sheriff cars spaced about 200 feet apart, we finally arrived at the wreck that was blocking the left lane.
I figured all sheriff cars in the county were already warning us of the wreck I just passed; there would be none available to warn of us another one. Driving Ol' '95 is like handling a box on wheels. Remember, for over 30 years I have driven AWD Audis and Subarus! There was no way I was going to go over 45 down that mountain. Some vehicles passed me; some chose to follow.
Another problem has to do with my windshield wipers. Their function is a little sporadic; they switch from 2 wipes a second to 2 wipes a minute without any help from me. It seems when a truck passes, they switch to the slower speed.
By the time we got to Bozeman, I was shot.
I stopped at a gas station and chatted with a trucker. He said we had another pass about 60 miles away that crossed the Continental Divide. (By the way, the concept of a continental divide was new to Dominique. I had never stopped to think that the average school child in Europe does not learn about the European watershed as we do in our grade school geography class.)
I decided to stop at the local Microtel - my favorite low-cost motel along the highway,
The snow continued most of the night. In the morning, the Rocky Mountain sun was out doing its job and we were on our way to Missoula.
On the trip West with my grandparents and aunt that I wrote about in the previous entries, we also visited Missoula, Montana. My grandfather's sisters had homesteaded in Glendive, Montana. At some point, they left Glendive and owned a hotel in Missoula. I remember staying there on this trip. Once again, I was disappointed because it was not a highrise city hotel or as fancy as the Old Faithful Inn.
During this visit, I located what I thought was the facility - currently apartments. I learned it was originally built as a rooming house for railroad employees and it was managed by different on-site female managers. I think one of these was my great aunt Mandy and that my other great aunt and her husband turned it into a hotel when housing was no longer required by the railroad. I might have this all mixed up and plan to do a little further research....one of these days.
The courthouse across the street is currently being renovated. This seems to be a big effort in county seats and state capitols across the western states.
I learned that Bernie Sanders was speaking just blocks away from me. Dominique asked "Who is that? I don't know that man."
Had I been on my own, I would have gone to hear him speak, but decided not to because she was with me. Then, I got a great big chip on my shoulder because I made that decision. Shame on me.
Missoula has rivers on more than one side. I am not sure which is the Bitterroot and the Clark Fork.
It is a charming university town. One could spend a few days there puttering around and enjoying the museums, shops, and healthy living.
I always head to my friends' place south of town for some of their good hospitality on the hill.
We had a good time chatting, laughing, and enjoying a fine meal of chicken and fresh asparagus.
Dominique had a great room with en suite. It was an absolutely perfect night for me to bed down in the van - stars and no rain or snow in sight,