Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Our westward dash is complete, and we learned some stuff

People often ask how far do we drive in a day, our normal response is never more than 500 miles, but only if we have to get somewhere, and we will exceed that once in awhile.  The truth is we have made several well over 500 mile days in the past, and we don't try to do it.  And as time's gone by, we prefer to not exceed 400, or even less, but there is a big difference in our drives getting somewhere versus moving around once we're there.  We just completed 2000 miles from Elkhart, IN to where we are now McGregor Lake, near Marion, MT, a little west of Kalispell.  We stopped for 2 nights twice, once for a meat market, and once to scout out fishing in a part of MT we had never been.  Our route west took us on HWY 2 across the top of MT, called the Hi-Line.  And I have to admit, not much up there including fishing, a lot of farming though, and very few people or towns.

So we did get to the meat market, Thielen Meats, and did stock the freezer pretty well.
Thielen Meats main counter

And steak, It's what's for dinner :-)
After leaving there we were making good time and looking for a place to stop for lunch.  We prefer the back or 2 lane roads over the interstates, but sometimes finding a place to pull over is a bit of a challenge.  Anyway we found a deserted weigh station just a bit up a crossing road, found on Google map by the way, and had slowed with our left turn signal on, about to turn in, when I see in my rear view mirror a semi tanker going about 100 mph coming up hard and swinging to pass us on the left.  We were already slightly into our left turn, when the guy must of just looked up and saw us standing still on the road ahead of him, I yelled to Jan we're going to get hit!  Smoke poured from his tires as he locked it up, I floored the gas, but in a diesel it reacts very slowly, and knew we were going to get creamed.  But the good Lord was watching evidently, and he just missed us and flew around to our left.  Well now since I couldn't really breathe, and it was sinking in to Jan just how close it was, we missed our turn with our evasive maneuver, and now had no where to turn around so we just drove north up this road trying to get our composure back.  About 7 miles later we came into a tiny town and saw a pretty church parking lot which we pulled into, got out, walked around a bit and had lunch.  Well as we were getting ready to go a pickup truck pulled in and the guy introduced himself.  He was the fire chief, and a retired after 35 years teacher, and now worked for the town.  A really nice guy.  The church was a small but gorgeous made of stone.  He explained that back in 1883 it was built with the stone the farmers had taken out of their fields.  We visited with him for 45 minutes or so and learned a lot.  He said the church was a challenge as the stone being different colors expanded and contracted at different rates with summers approaching 100 df and winters getting down as low as -40 df, it was hard to keep the grout intact.  Then we talked of modern day farming and its challenges.  How most of the small farms were gone, and how it takes fewer people to do the work.  We found it fascinating that when harvesting wheat with a combine, a drone wagon will come and align perfectly with the moving combine, so the arm can be swung out and the wheat unloaded without ever stopping, then the drone pulls away and goes over to the waiting semi and unloads the grain into the truck and this continues all without anyone in the drone!

As we drove we saw acres and acres of almost blindingly bright yellow-green fields.  We weren't sure what it was, so doing a bit of research we found they were Canola fields.  Now we thought Canola was a made up term developed by Canada called Canadian Oil, to disguise the actual oil which was rape seed.  Turns out the Canadians actually developed an entirely new plant called Canola and it is grown all over the northern tier of the US as well as in Canada.
This gives you an idea of its brightness,
but the picture just can't do it justice

Lots and lots of these small lakes created by the glaciers of the ice age
in North Dakota
We also noticed hundreds of beehives sitting off the road as we drove, clumps and clumps of them, so again consulting Google, we found out that believe it or not, ND produces more homey than any other state.  The catch is these beekeepers have to pick up all their bees in the fall and transport them, mostly to California for the winter, as they cannot survive the winter in ND.  A fountain of info, huh?

We got into Montana and spent a couple nights outside a small town of Havre, and it was the first the topography provided a little relief, it had been flat for some time.
The view from our site
We looked around the area for fishing and really couldn't find anything.  We're pretty sure we won't be coming back to this part of Montana:)  Jan drove us the next day, she jokes that it was the one day a year she gets to drive, and I have to admit I do hog it big time.  Proof.
Getting chauffeured 
Now I have to mention another, at least to us very unusual observation.  While we were at the campground in Havre, we had a small class B motorhome come in and park near us.  It was a younger couple camping with their pet.  Nowadays, most people have dogs, in fact most people have more than one dog, and we see a cat or two.  In fact in Vermont we watched one couple who traveled with 2 ferrets that they played with outside, but this couple beat the band.  They had a chicken!  They set up a pen for it, sat with it, fed it, talked to it, held it, petted it, and even had a carriage for it.  The campground had several animals themselves, burros, horses, ducks, geese, and a few chickens.  They loaded their chicken up and pushed it over so their chicken could visit with the campground's chickens.  I am not making any judgement here, I'm just saying we found it a bit different.
Talking with the chicken

Out for a walk

Bringing it back after introducing it to the other chickens

And putting it to sleep
So then yesterday after going through miles of construction that reminded us of places in Alaska we finally found the mountains, and now we are well into western Montana where we will spend the next 6 weeks or so exploring, fishing, and enjoying!
About 10 miles of dirt at 10mph

The mountains are in sight!!


Deb Webster said...

Looks amazing!!

Bill said...


Sandy said...

As usual you missed some great stuff. The Hwy 2 diner outside of Minot is world famous. Lake Sacajawea, the Yellowstone River, the headwaters tributaries of the Missouri, the sunflower and Durham wheat fields.

Bill said...

As usual? We did miss the diner as we only nicked Minot on our way by. You mean Lake Sakakawea, right? We drove over a corner of it on our way north. We have been on or near the Yellowstone many times, in fact we took a float trip on the Yellowstone last year out of Gardiner, MT. And we drove along the Missouri on HWY 2 westward in Montana. We have seen sunflower fields before, but didn't see any this trip, and as for wheat, tons of it, but it was the Canola that really stood out. :-)

Cathie said...

horrifying close call. it happens way to much on our highways, especially here in Fla. ugh.
Lisa is all settled in NH. we went up on Jet Blue and spent a couple of days helping her buy a 2012 Subaru Forester. she has a part-time job at an arts and crafts store, for now. we were happy to get back to Fla. it was weird not being comfortable in the northeast, especially in Boston and at Logan airport.

Bill said...

Good to hear she's all moved. And yes we understand the uncomfortable feeling around BOS. I'm going to assume it is just us being away from it for so long, and not age:-)