August 22 thru 23, 2018 Before 7AM, tired and sore, I folded up the window screens, went to the bathroom, and made coffee at a picnic table before getting back on 90. Swung off here and there fairly often to check out areas around Anaconda, get gas and just stretch; laughed when I saw this sign with ‘pop’ at McD’s.
The MDT Highway 1 rest area had incredible views, super clean grounds and historical information. I took many opps to stop, in desperate need of a nap. Saw a large number of beautiful horses off the highway. They looked wild and were protected from the highway with fencing and private property signs.
Got so f*ing lost somewhere around Butte; GPS had no clue. Because of it, encountered a long stretch of cows, lots of babes, herded by men on 4-wheelers and horses. I was deep in ag-country and it was awesome!
Stopped at McD’s for a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit and coffee, then at the ‘Town Pump’ to top off gas. There are lots of casinos connected to convenience stores in Montana!
As I drove through the Gallatin Valley, I learned diverse tribes had hunted buffalo here, by stampeding them over cliffs (before horses and guns) for food, clothing and shelter. Also, Sacagawea had been captured by the Minnitaree tribe of ND in this valley in 1800. She and her husband, Toussaint Charbonneau, had joined the Lewis and Clark Expedition as interpreters. Sacagawea was pivotal in establishing contact with the Shoshone tribe, resulting in horses for the journey over the Continental Divide.
In Three Forks, I stopped at convenience store for several giant Tabasco Slim Jim’s (love these!), DP, Coke and couple jars jalapeños. Gorgeous along 90 and very windy. It was hard to take pics from the tiny shoulder with traffic flying past at 80 plus. Postings about Lewis and Clark and the Yellow stone River and Corridor were at several rest areas.
Stopped for gas every chance I got and was super happy I did in Big Timber. After topping off gas ($2.88/gal) at the Town Pump, I walked across the lot to Teri’s Gift Shop and Gallery. Totally awesome shop with beautiful handmade jewelry, knives, books, and so much more squeezed in a small space. Chatted a while with clerk and author, Sidonia Bovee, whose book is a biography of her life as a young girl from wartime Germany through later years as a woman living in central Montana. Such a great find and beautiful person.
About an hour east, I stopped in Park City and had a snack with these local, good company, foul residents (still crack myself up!).
The closer I got to Billings, traffic increased. Swung into this rest stop where I climbed a small hill and chilled more than half an hour. Great views!
Wide, open spaces. Took 94E at the split to head toward North Dakota. Montana BLM staff member, Whitney, told me I would still get the Badlands in ND and that public lands were better maintained in ND than SD. Interesting!
Got off at exit with a tent symbol, but found absolutely nowhere to camp. If I’d been thinking clearly, I would have snagged one of the bookoos of camping opps passed. Argh! Marked map to remember next time. Drove into the small town of Hysham and stopped at the convenience store and grocery, Friendly Corner, for gas ($2.92/gal). Storekeeper told me about Rails Inn in the next town of Forsyth; no local camping. At this point, I really wished I’d turned around. For a whopping $98.43, Tracie checked me in to room 209 (eeek!).
Sat outside talking with 32-year-old Brandon who lives in NE, has small children and works contracts for weeks at a time delivering and dumping loads of wheat and grain. We swapped stories over a few beers and called it a night. Shower was great and a little TV time, before lights out. Realized I felt tent was bigger space than hotel room.
Slept OK, but up early, so packed, loaded and headed out to 94E with complimentary coffee in hand. The sign hanging near the hotel made me laugh hard!
Stopped in Miles City and took care of a few things, like $60 oil change by Daniel at Frank’s Body Shop, a visit to BLM office for ND contact list, and Walmart for capris ($7 each), few carabiners, hiking poles on sale, shorts and more lotion. There was a little carnival happening in town.
Back on the 94E, view got incredibly lumpy, with the red rock caps of hills (“burnt hills” per Lewis and Clark; “clinker” per geologists) in eastern Montana and the Yellowstone River.
Not far down the road, my truck warning light with an exclamation symbol flashed, then stayed on. Matthew thought it was a low tire warning and he was right. Young man at Berg Tire in Glendive checked each using a digital tire pressure gauge and took care of two that were ‘off’. Good to go at no charge, but I tipped him of course!
Back on the road again, I hit North Dakota. The speed limit dropped from 80 to 75 and the highway was super smooth. The ND Visitor Center was empty, in the middle of farm land. While there, called the Dickinson BLM field office and spoke with Diane. She was awesome and told me about several camp options nearby.
Got gas ($2.79/gal) at the Interstate Cenex and took exit 18 toward the Buffalo Gap Campground in Sentinel Butte, ND. Dropped $6 fee in self-pay box. Area looked great and only a few campers. I found a couple spots not far from the restroom (flushing toilet AND sink!); I was torn between the elevated for sunset view or lower. With hope to avoid highway noise, opted for lower. Unpacked and went for a long, much needed walk. Climbed a small butte with a nice height and beautiful wildflowers. During first use, I lost the tip off one pole. Ugh. I was trying my best to stay up later for better sleep.
Met Roy and Susie who invited me over to their camper for a beer, so I cooked and ate dinner, then walked over. We had a wonderful visit for at least an hour. They own homes in Germany and Arizona. Roy’s a retired professional trombonist from Ohio and Susie is from Austria. They told me about Medora National Park, South Unit area.
Talked with my kids and mom, then zipped up for the night.