Open Road

Heading Out Again

We're now 616 miles away from home. *laughs* It's going to get a little confusing as I'm still writing up the China trip, but these will be shorter, as there isn't so much that's entirely new to us. We're heading to Seattle, via our Eurovan, to visit with John's mother, Isabel, and we're doing our usual meandering thing on the way over.

At the moment, we're in Big Timber, MT, having driven north through Colorado and into Wyoming on I-25. We took a left at I-90 and are a good ways into Montana.

Big Blue Skies
Skies so wide...

I've gotten used to the open skies in Colorado, though where we live they're bounded on the West by the Rocky Mountains. Still, it doesn't mean that I don't appreciate them. It was beautiful, sunny, and utterly clear when we left, and we could see as far as the horizon to any and all sides. It's something I've kind of given up trying to capture in pictures because it just refuses to be truly caught.

It meant for a very fast ride north, and I slept for the first three hours while John drove. Jet read, played with his iTouch, and then got out the Monty Python DVDs for his entertainment. It reminded me forcibly of all the road trips we've taken, and back when Jet was 2, his favorite was Lilo and Stitch. Monty Python's Flying Circus is rather different fare. *laughs* But he's growing up, and it was fun having the 20-something guys at our Fourth of July party asking Jet and his friends, "Do you know what this stuff means?" when Jet brought out the Monty Python version of Fluxx.

Given how sunny it was, after John's stint, we had to stop for gas, and I bought myself a pair of clip-on sunglasses that were dead solid, clear as anything, and stuck to my glasses like glue. I was impressed that they were being sold for $10, as I couldn't have gotten anything so solid at Walgreens for twice the price. Truck stops rule for road gear.

Self Portrait
I had a pretty peaceful drive, with the boys entertaining themselves or sleeping the whole way down. I finally figured out one of the antagonists for my Misfit Toys books, and realized what I could do as a sort of work-up theme for several of the antagonists.

I also had a pretty constant contrast with how things were in China compared to here. The tiny plots there, compared to hundreds of acres here, the sheer amount of open space with only a farmhouse or barn here or there. I also got to see the early summer young cattle and horses that were just roaming about on the grasslands.

It's greener than I usually see in July, up here on the highland prairies. Most of the hills were bright grin with just a streak of gold where it was starting to go to seed or dryness. There were a lot of blackened slopes where the tree line started in Montana. The sage and grass of Wyoming transitioned into the grasses and rolling mountains here until we got to the Crazy Mountains, standing over Crazy Woman Creek. The mountains used to be called Crazy Woman Mountains, and they and the creek have three origin stories for their name.

History is fickle. It's only the best story that wins, and in this case the story was about a John and Jane Morgan who came West as part of a wagon train, but got left behind. He and their three children were killed by the Crow, she went crazy and killed several braves with an axe. A white man found her, buried her dead, and built her a cabin that she wouldn't move from since. So the mountains and the river were named for her.

Into the Rain
Thing about those big, big blue skies is that, usually, one can see a thunderhead or two forming to the north or to the south, coming from the west. In this case, the storm seemed to cover the entire Western Hemisphere. I could see the curtains of rain, here and there, and lightning jagged down through the thicker parts, but we were skirting the northern edge of most of the storm.

Until it caught up to us just as we entered Big Timber, and this bareheaded motorcyclist was ducking into his leather jacket against the rain. Our Super 8 was in one of those little islands of a hotel, gas station, and Country Skillet on the freeway. We went into town just to see what was there, walked around a little, and decided to just eat at the Skillet, instead. The tiny movie theater was showing The Lone Ranger at 7, but we were tired enough to just get back to the hotel, lounge around a little, give me time to upload and write this, and then just get to bed. Tomorrow we're heading to Lewis and Clark Caverns, and we'll be camping out the next two nights.

I have to admit that I love how EASY it is to just connect up, load my pictures, and get this written from here. *laughs* I'll be really bemused if there's free wi-fi at the campgrounds, but I've seen that before. I really am enjoying that. I know I'll have easy access in Redmond. It would be sacrilege if I didn't.
It's so fun to read your description of Montana. I was just there, but not writing. As you pass Missoula, this would be a fun diversion: Up near Arlee, they are building a Garden of One Thousand Buddhas. I haven't been there in 2 years so I imagine they are much closer to done.

I'm assuming you'll go past Missoula on I-90 as well. Definitely stop at Big Dipper Ice Cream! It's pretty easy to get to from the Orange St exit and worth some wait in line. If the line is too long (and it may be) there is a fancy grocery store nearby where you can just get a pint. Huckleberry, cardamom and strawberry pink peppercorn are all delicious.
Ooooo... that looks amazing...

Sadly, we had a breakdown in Butte, MT, so have been stuck here for a day or two, after an amazing visit to the Lewis and Clark Caverns. Looks like we're going to have to leave the van here, and rent a car to take us the rest of the way to Seattle...

But yes!! 90 is our path! So the ice cream is definitely something we'll enjoy and I love the pictures of the gardens. We may well look for them on our way back, as there's a bunch of people expecting us on the West Coast, now. *hugs* Thank you!
*dances about*

We're now planning on stopping at Missoula on our way back, and will likely stay the night and be absolutely sure to check out the Big Dipper! I think we went there five or more years ago, and saw a lady with wings tattooed on her back... but the huckleberry ice cream was very memorable.
If you have time for a quick visit (which I don't really expect), I live in Seattle now.
Where in Seattle? And I did the private message thing here and sent you my phone number.