MONTANA WITH VIVIAN

CAN I COME HOME NOW? 4,046 MILES IS ENOUGH!

Here I am in one of the most beautiful places in the world—the Bitterroot Valley—and I just want to come home. Because*

*These driving days seem to be getting longer—road work season is upon us/the gas stations all have the same junk food/there are no Starbucks between Sioux Falls and Missoula [and no…there is no good coffee on the road…do not believe for a moment that truckers drink anything resembling coffee] .

*The motel (that got good reviews on line) sucks—the screen is broken where previous occupants climbed in when they locked themselves out of the room [so the story goes]/it smells like someone ate something in here sometime/the hall is dirty/it’s attached to a less-than elegant casino and a few sleazy-looking characters are lurking about—but all the salt-of-the-earth-appearing ranchers serve as a positive counterbalance?

*My exhausted Mazda is exceedingly grungy. She has about 2500 more miles to travel. She is sad.

*I must wash things in the sink or see if the convenience store next door sells underwear.

*I’m having wheat thins and a green machine drink for dinner. Could have gone next door to Taco Bell but you know—too much of a good thing…

Let’s see what else? That’s enough. I always do this on long trips don’t I?

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BUTTE, MONTANA IS INTERESTING, HISTORIC AND MAYBE A LITTLE DEPRESSING.

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MY HOME’S IN MONTANA/I WEAR A BANDANA…Glenn Ohrlin

My home’s in Montana
I wear a bandana
My spurs are of silver
My pony is gray
While riding the ranges
My luck never changes
With foot in the stirrup I’ll gallop away

When valleys are dusty
My pony is trusty
He lopes through the blizzards
The snow in his ears.
The cattle may scatter
But what does it matter
My rope is a halter for pig-headed steers

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When far from the ranches
I chop the pine branches
To heap on the campfire
As daylight grows pale
When I have partaken
Of beans and of bacon
I’ll whistle a merry old song of the trail

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My home’s in Montana
I wear a bandana
My spurs are of silver
My pony is gray
While riding the ranges
My luck never changes
With foot in the stirrup I’ll gallop away

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Being on the ranch to watch the action was one of the greatest experiences of the trip…cowboys, cattle, horses, dogs, corrals, mountains, blue sky. I LOVE MONTANA.

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MY COWBOY COUSINS

My cousin Gary (first cousin once removed) and son Rowdy are real live cowboys. This afternoon cattle were trucked in from feed lots where they wintered to summer grazing in the green fields of the Bitterroot Valley. Then they’ll be sold for free range meat. The contract for this herd is with a European distributor. Gary and Rowdy will pasture them until fall.

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LONG WAY HOME: HAMILTON/VICTOR, MONTANA TO LEMMON, SOUTH DAKOTA  706 MILES. NEXT STOP SIOUX FALLS.

My OTHER favorite town...Victor, Montana...goodbye Victor...I really am sad to leave.

My OTHER favorite town…Victor, Montana…goodbye Victor…I really am sad to leave.

At or near the headwaters of my favorite river, the Missouri. I find it everywhere when I road trip.

At or near the headwaters of my favorite river, the Missouri. I find it everywhere when I road trip.

Now into the Great Plains of Eastern Montana.

Now into the Great Plains of Eastern Montana.

A Lonely Ghost Town.

A Lonely Ghost Town.

Out there on the Plains without its mate...a ragged salute to the old west.

Out there on the Plains without its mate…a ragged salute to the old west.

Must be reaching North Dakota!

Must be reaching North Dakota!

Almost to Lemmon.

Almost to Lemmon.

Final post and photos to complete the Montana journey, summer 2013 when ‘the cousins visit the cousins.’

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 Here are a few more favorites from Montana, summer 2013 when ‘the cousins visit the cousins.’

Now it almost the end of the trail for this trip. Well, except for getting into Sioux Falls and then a thousand or so to Albuquerque.  440 miles today. Dropped Vivian at her house, had coffee, came to my hotel so I can get an early start tomorrow. About 10 hours to Val’s in Fort Collins. A little discouraged by so many miles yet to go…however a great trip…really…in spite of the photos below.

Wish I could have written more along the way but I have had companions for the whole time. Tonight is my first night alone since May 18th. For me this is quite major since I am at heart a hermit. But since I had perfect travel partners, first the 22-year-old and then the 81-year-old, I am a happy camper so to speak.

  Here’s my travel visual for the day—heading from Sioux Falls to Albuquerque—beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder!  

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THE END. 6,642 MILES.

The END of the Epic 24-day Summer Road Trip of 2013. Happy to be home…in relentlessly sunny New Mexico. Sad to have left the cool green beauty of the north.

 In Fort Collins last night a visit with Val and John and their gorgeous lively babies. 

All day driving driving driving through the tedious chaos of Denver traffic; by the same Rockies we started the trip with—only on the other side now. Through the dreary stretches of I-25 in southern Colorado. Into New Mexico which looked pretty good considering it is not green, rainy, cloudy, even misty. Oh well, it is home.

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The pretty scenery in Fort Collins

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THE GIANT SUMMER ROAD TRIP OF 2013: A RETROSPECTIVE

Nearly every global square mile has been explored by someone at some time. Maybe a Visigoth or a Mongol or an Inuit or Lewis and Clark. Explorers come in all races, ages and conveyances. With different goals. The search for food, land, safety…or more recently a new perspective on the past or a possibility for the future or simply out of old-fashioned curiosity.

So if I venture out on new roads—in my 2005 Mazda with a credit card and a smart phone—in 2013, can I be an explorer? My Webster’s says to explore is to travel over new territory for adventure or discovery. It does not say you must be fearless, facing raging rivers or angry grizzlies, it just says travel over new territory for adventure or discovery. My companions and I did that this summer—our adventures were tame and our discoveries only for us—nevertheless we were explorers.

I’m okay with eliminating freeway travel as exploring (well, if it’s a previously untraveled freeway by you maybe it qualifies). Airplane travel never counts in itself (well, maybe if it’s on a Russian airline—you’ve heard about their safety record!)—not that there was any of that this summer. Exploring is about a new place where your tires or sneakers have not previously gone, where your eyes have not previously looked.

The Epic Road Trip of Summer 2013 involved quite a bit of exploring—first hand, highways and back roads, both new and second hand for me; all new for Teresa, my beautiful granddaughter, and mostly new for Vivian, my beautiful cousin.

We traveled over territory first explored by indigenous Americans down from the Bering Straits or up from the Yucatan Peninsula; then by trappers and traders, hunters and frontiersmen; and lumberjacks and gold miners, pioneers and farmers and shopkeepers. Many if not most were recent immigrants lured by that time-honored partial truth/partial myth The American Dream. And, you know, in some form or the other they are all still there in the middle of the country. In their Sioux and Ojibwe and Blackfoot ancestors; in the French names all over the trapping and hunting country of Minnesota; on the ‘old place’ where my dad, the lumberjack cut trees; at my cousin’s 80th birthday party where the kids of gold miner Otis honored their mom, the gold mine camp cook for some years; and sadly in the crumbling schoolhouses and ranch buildings and main streets that dot the prairie.

In my celebration of that old frontier spirit I drove and looked and took pictures—and introduced Teresa to the middle of the country. Then for the second part of the journey, Vivian and I connected with our cowboy/rancher/western cousins and I  found a new state to explore and visit often—except there’s no time to do this all.

I went from Albuquerque north to Winnipeg; south to Grand Rapids and Minneapolis,  Minnesota; west to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Hamilton, Montana; east again to Sioux Falls; southwest to Albuquerque. 6,462 miles.

Who doesn’t love crossing borders…and the signs that tell you it is happening. Here are they are as we crossed over for the first few thousand miles. I stopped taking pictures when I left Sioux Falls for Albuquerque but if I had they would have read Nebraska, Colorado and New Mexico. 6,462 door to door, 13th Sreet in Albuquerque . Qualifies as epic don’t you think?

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CANADA 2

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THEN BACK TO SOUTH DAKOTA, AND THEN WYOMING AGAIN, AND THEN…

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AND THEN ACROSS A CORNER OF WYOMING AGAIN, ALL THE WAY ACROSS SOUTH DAKOTA, DOWN THROUGH NEBRASKA, INTO COLORADO AND FINALLY HOME TO ALBUQUERQUE. AND IT WAS PERFECT. HOW MANY TRIPS QUALIFY FOR THAT LABEL.

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One Comment on “MONTANA WITH VIVIAN

  1. Looks like you have choices to make. It seems to me that no matter what there will be plenty of adventures in 2014 and I look forward to you sharing them with us. I especially like the travel on trains options.

    Like

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