Adventures in Montana: Night driving

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One of the few touristy stops we made along the way to Glacier National Park - a memorial to a Lewis and Clark Expedition. And no, I don't know more details than that. I'm a little rusty on my expedition trivia.  Above photo: The memorial was surrounded by pasture and railroad tracks (and broken beer bottles). These horses were grazing a ways out in front of the monument.

One of the few touristy stops we made along the way to Glacier National Park – a memorial to a Lewis and Clark Expedition. And no, I don’t know more details than that. I’m a little rusty on my expedition trivia. Above photo: The memorial was surrounded by pasture and railroad tracks (and broken beer bottles). These horses were grazing a ways out in front of the monument.

Well, we were supposed to be headed to a Cowboy Cookout with Swan Mountain Outfitters in Glacier National Park, but day three dawned with me making a waffle in a hotel lobby while wondering when we’d get out of Laurel, Montana. Not that we had anything against Laurel – its a lovely place. That’s where we met Mike and Tina of Allstar Towing and the staff at the Locomotive Inn. I still can’t say enough good things about everyone we met in Montana. Even our cab driver on our way to the airport was charming. He told us all about the rims (the sandstone land formations that surround Billings) and the suicide cliff outside the city. The story goes that a group of Native American braves rode their horses off a cliff in the midst of a smallpox epidemic to try to please the gods and stop the sickness. It’s kind of a heartbreaking story.

This is from Lady Gaga's whirlwind tour through Montana. She went through the state    holding concerts at national monuments and tagging. Actually, I completely made that up. This is just another fine example of Montana graffiti.

This is from Lady Gaga’s whirlwind tour through Montana. She went through the state holding concerts at national monuments and tagging. Actually, I completely made that up. This is just another fine example of Montana graffiti. (Try to look through the bug guts on the windshield.)

Nevertheless, we made it out of Laurel, back to Billings and then back on the road and headed to Glacier. The most expedient route would have been to take I-90 and continue on north at Missoula. But the front desk clerk at the hotel gave us a different route that was supposed to take us around more lakes and – even better – avoid an area around Missoula in flames at the time. (At this point in time part of the West was still in raging wildfires, the torrential rains that flooded the Denver/Boulder metro areas hadn’t hit yet.)

Now, we made great time and few stops along the way to sight see. Lacey and I have a tendency to get wrapped up in exploring and photographing an area and before we’ve realized it, we’ve blown at least two hours. Its so easy to start looking through a lens and lose all track of time. But despite our frugal time spending, we lost our race against the sun. Before we knew it we were plunged into darkness going through Montana wilderness. I guess the benefit of this is that Lacey’s whole fear of falling off the side of a mountain didn’t kick in because we could see nothing. I may have mentioned the Montana darkness in a previous post, something about black. Nothing but black. And white knuckles on the steering wheel.

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