We left Bismarck after another mediocre hotel complimentary breakfast. The waffle machine was stuck on scorch setting, anything placed inside it turned black in under 20 seconds, leaving the inside still gooey. Oops. I had an unidentifiable muffin and a bowl of oatmeal. Nothing spectacular and it forced us to make another McDonald’s stop. I have not eaten in a McDonald’s in a decade and all of a sudden I’m there once a day on this trip. I didn’t even attempt to order a tea there. Not wanting to get involved anymore in training their employees.
On the road from Bismarck was truly a primer in rapid transit. The speed limit is 75 through North Dakota and Montana. The roads were clear, empty, and lacking in constabulary influence, for the most part. For the first two hours we chugged along at an even hundred miles an hour, averaging 95 miles an hour for two hours. Not the best plan for maintaining good fuel economy but it put quite a dent in the overall necessary total for the day. We passed into Montana in short order.
Our first stop was Miles City, Montana. The population is something akin to 8,000. For a city so small it’s produced quite a few notable natives and residents. Must be something in the water. It’s all centered around a single two lane strip of businesses. Nothing to really look at but we were on fumes pulling in and there were a few places to eat. We left with a full tank and a box of fried chicken. Health food again! I am going to have to three times a day for weeks to work all the grease out of my system.
On our first trip cross-country we made a stop at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park – otherwise known as The Badlands. Very cool place is all manner of big large expanse of hills and plateaus and valleys and whatnot. We even saw a herd of wild horses. How neat! We meant to stop again this time but it was closed. Not so much.
We blew past Billings, Montana’s largest town. We stopped there last trip and didn’t feel an urge to return. The high speeds of we were able to maintain meant we only stopped twice before getting to our end destination for the day. That was a nice change. Our last stop was in Bozeman, which seems like a pretty cool town. It’s painfully beautiful surroundings make it a place I’d actually consider living if it weren’t smack dab in the middle of absolutely nothing whatsoever. I know that’s part of the attraction but it is a hell of a long way to anything else. Looking down the main drag you are presented with mountains close enough to touch on pretty much every side. It’s gorgeous. After a brief stop, gas-up, windshield washer top up, and a stretch, we were mobile again. The final slog was into Missoula at the farthest edge of Montana.
Missoula is a pretty big town (for Montana at least.) It’s the second largest city in Montana and is in between two rivers and the convergence of FIVE mountain ranges. That’s a lot of geographical formations. What I’ve seen seems fairly nice, the people are always friendly, and the cops have never bothered my funny little foreign car with Massachusetts tags, so there’s a lot to like there already.
We ended the day with a bottle of wine and a slow evening in the hotel. Gearing up for tomorrow where we’ll be driving the slowest and most harrowing parts of 90 – through Idaho and the we’ll undoubtedly hit snow coming through the Snoqualmie Pass in Washington. Breakfast tomorrow we’re actually paying for but it seems like they might produce food I won’t get mad about. That’ll be a great start to the day. And we’ll be home. Back to the studio. I can cook, and bake, and make all manner of things that I can write about. Nothing will make me happier than that.