Prev: Day 4: Across North Dakota and into Montana
Next: Day 6: Montana, across Idaho, and into Washington
09/28/2010: Day 5: West to Missoula
We got a reasonably early start from the Rails Inn in Forsyth, Montana. Karen get gas as I posted a brief summary of the last three days. I am finally writing those days up properly (and replacing that post) from the comfort of my home.
Dawn at the Rails Inn in Forsyth, Montana
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At a rest area in central Montana, I notice this sign next to a well-worn non-sidewalk to a picnic shelter. Doesn't seem to rattle many people.
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Our goal for the day was Missoula, a town we'd enjoyed on our 2003 trip (written up, but not (yet) online. We stopped for coffee around 9
We decided to take the business loop through Billings to find espresso. I spotted the sign as Karen drove. She didn't see it, but parked on my say so.
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The Starbucks was at the downtown Billings Crown Plaza. I glanced through the lobby door, and wondered, Exactly What are they Loading?
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My eye liked this. "Downtown Billings Starts Here".
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And we stopped for gas just north of Yellowstone.
This is the second trip we've taken right past Yellowstone without trying to stop in. Sure, we'd been there (http://www.danklarmann.com/Sep2001/journal.htm), but it is hard to just pass it by.
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We had to stop for gas in Livingston, MT, "The Gateway to Yellowstone".But guess what part of this signage caught my eye? Not so much the defunct Way Out West. Look lower.Karen walked through the caffeine kiosk drive-through as I pumped gas.
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Along the way, we decided to start collecting State Capitols. Helena wasn't much out of the way, so we jogged north on Route 69. It turned out to be a more interesting detour than expected. A long guided tour of road construction.
One of the memorable parts of the day was our short hop up Montana State Road 69. It was being maintained. This shot shows an evocative scene from that 20 minute two mile interruption. The dog seemed content.I drove while Karen snapped shots.
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Yes, we finally got off the dirt and onto the gravel portion of under-construction Montana sixty-nine. Not much better.
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We got to the Capitol well before it closed, and walked around and through it. I had hoped to find a gift store selling crafts, particularly woven baskets. Who wouldn't want a Helena hand basket? But no luck.
So this is what a State Capitol should look like IMHO. North Dakota's box just doesn't say "Capitol" to me like this edifice in Helena.
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I like classical architecture in a well groomed setting.
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The Capitol Dome in Helena has flair.
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I like shiny floors and bright and patterned light.
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A better look at the skylight in the wings of the State Capitol in Helena, Montana
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A view out of a wing on the Capitol Building, showing the state flag
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I can't quite see myself in a Senate Chamber. Or can I?
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The Montana scenery is pretty nice. One crosses the Continental Divide just west of Helena at 5,233 feet.
Graffiti is not limited to inner cities, as this scenic overlook attests.
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Yes, we are in the mountains. But the valleys are only around 4,000 feet
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Driving over the mountains into the sun was tiring. We got out of Forsyth at 8, and arrived in Missoula by 6. Wasted.
So we stayed in outer Missoula, MT at the Ponderosa Lodge. We didn't get to the nice parts of town, as we were just trying to make miles, and the prices are better near the messy junction of I-90, US-12 and US-93
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We walked to dinner from the Ponderosa. Here is a sign by the river...
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And here is the restaurant across the river. Yes, across/over/above the river.But it was closed for maintenance :-(
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So we took a River Wok. The Cantonese owner had cobbled together a menu of pan-Asian cuisine. I asked about it, and he said that he only cooks what he likes to eat.
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The Ponderosa has a little charm, inside its 1960's cinder block walls. AAA dings them for not having drywall, like all those noisy and flimsy newer buildings. I like the solid, soundproof feel of this place. Nice and private.
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Only 475 miles, today.
Here's the progress so far. Note the jog to get to Helena. Had we decided earlier to go there, we probably would have taken US-12 from Forsyth instead of I-94/90.
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But we now expect two more leisurely days (maybe 6 hours actual driving each) to get to Seattle in time for the Thursday contra dance.
Next: Day 6: Montana, across Idaho, and into Washington

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