Wyoming to Montana
I have found that Sundays are the best day for me to travel. The traffic may be a little heavier on the main thoroughfares, but the road construction is minimal. Construction can be a real time killer on a two lane road through the mountains. I've also found that I like to find a place on Thursdays and settle down for the weekend. I've had really good luck getting primo camping spaces. By Friday noon, everyone's looking for a place to hunker down.
I finally ran down the auxillary battery in the EVC Saturday night. The only real consequence of that was that the refrigerator didn't want to stay lit. I'm not sure how they're connected, but they are. I ended up running the engine on the car for about 15 minutes, and that recharged the battery enough to keep the fridge going all night. But, I took the hint: it was time to leave Medicine Lodge, whether I was ready to or not.
It took me about 10 minutes to take the tent down, and it had been drizzling, so I just folded it up and laid it on the tarp in the very back of the EVC.
I drove 789 north into Greybull, hit the ATM and the gas station, then went 14/16/20 toward Cody. I turned off onto 120/269, and drove the Chief Joseph Highway, and then took the Beartooth Pass to Red Lodge.
I had never driven the Chief Joseph Highway before. It follows the Nez Pierce Trail. It's pretty amazing that people walked it. There were hundreds of motorcycles on the road, but very few other cars. It was raining part of the way. I salute all of those women who were accompanying their motorcyclin' men in that freezing drizzle. I wonder how many of them really enjoyed it and how many of them were just being good sports? I found myself noting outstanding landmarks and naming them. Flat top. Three Chiefs. Baldhead. Fat Beaver. :-) I could go on, but I won't. And, yes, It does take very little to amuse me. I saw about 10 deer and many falcons.
I had also never driven the road across Beartooth Pass, which Charles Kurault tagged one of the 10 most beautiful drives in the U.S. It is kind of scary in a couple of places; there is no guardrail and you're sharing the road with some rather fat trailers. I hit a groundhog and cried. His buddy (wife? husband?) was waiting on the other side of the road for him. I felt terrible. There are lots of lakes all over the place. The vista is very open and then you drive into dense forest, before the road dumps you out in the valley.
The International Festival was going on in Red Lodge. It was going on the last time that I was there, too, and it's a fun thing. It was too crowded to stop, and I was in no mood after killing the groundhog, anyway. I think that's the first mammal that I've ever killed in my entire life. Ugh.
78 North out of Red Lodge is a really great drive. It's twisty and curvy and hilly and beautiful, and is one of my favorite drives in the country. It all depends on what you like. Then I drove I-90 past Three Forks to 287 north into Helena. I stopped off in Livingston to see if it had changed since my last trip. Not much was different, maybe another 8 or 10 coffee houses have gone in. Too bad I don't drink coffee.
Right now I'm at a Fairfield Inn in Helena. I need a bath. And I'm out of clean clothes. Helena was a pretty wild place in its time, but it seems rather tame now. :-) There's a beautiful cathedral here whose stained glass windows are considered to be one of the most valuable collections of art in the state.