Friday, September 04, 2015

NW Day Five: Montana, the Endless State

You will all be pleased to note that I looked up some of the things I couldn’t remember. 

We ate dinner a couple of days ago at Kroll’s Diner in Bismark, North Dakota. Boybot and I ordered one of their specialties, Fleischkuechle, which is  seasoned hamburger wrapped in pastry and deep fried. Boybot and Sweetling split a big bowl of Knoephla soup, which was a creamy yellow cream of chicken soup with potatoes and dumplings.

There. I feel better about myself. 

We also got of the hotel ON TIME this morning. 

View from the hotel and the gas station next to the hotel. 

And this ominous sign at the edge of the gas station parking lot. 

We’re spending most of the day driving north on Route 287.  I’ve snapped a few pictures from the window of the moving van.

But this, this warranted pulling over and taking some real photos. The Jedi even turned the van AROUND so we could come back and take pictures of this. 

Our speculation is that they animate at night and roam the ranges as an undead horse herd. The sunlight renders them immobile. What you cant see in the photo is that they would sway ever so slightly, bend and twist up there on the hillside. 

Our original itinerary included getting into  Helena for lunch around 11:30/12:00. But I’m finding google map drive time estimates to be significantly less than what it actually takes us to drive between point a and point b. Some of that is that ther’s been a lot of construction where traffic is down to one lance and the speed limit is 45 mph for long stretches, instead of the 75 that google maps based its estimate on.

Another factor is that we’ve made unscheduled stops, like a Walmart stop today for one thing (microfiber eyeglasses clothes to make an emergency repair to Eswin’s headphones because the foam fabric around the ear pieces was disintegrating.) this stop turned into FOUR separate trips into Walmart. One for “guys” (plastic ninja figures in plastic bubbles from vending machines) and the eyeglass clothes, one to use the restrooms, one because we realized they might have a redbox, and the last one to get rubber bands to hold the cloth in place. In the parking lot, there was another family in a van with Ohio license plates, and they brought their dog with them! No one tell Jupiter.

(Also in the parking lot of the Walmart was a single seagull. The Jedi looked at him and said, "You're lost, buddy.")
We wound up not hitting lunch till 1:20, nearly two hours behind schedule, despite our on time start to the day. 

Lunch was at Steve’s Café, which was delicious. 

The servings were HUMOUNGOUS. Here’s Sweetling with her order of strawberry pancakes off the special menu “for smaller appetites”.

Boybot and I tried their huckleberry items. Boybot got a single huckleberry pancake that was the size of a medium pizza. I got their huckleberry stuffed French toast.

We left the café at 2:30ish and realized that there was no way we were making it to the Museum of the Plains Indian in Browning before it closed at 4:30.

But that was ok, because it gave us extra time to stop and check out this awesome rock shop we found in the middle of nowhere. 

Much time was spent there, and everyone came away with a few really cool treasures. Boybot is especially proud that he walked away with a collection corresponding to the characters in Steven Universe...garnet, amethyst, rose quartz, peridot, jasper, and even a piece of lapus that the shopkeep threw in for free. She didn't have any small pieces on her shelves for sale, so she went into the back to look for more. She could only find a small chip that had broken off of something else, so she gave that to Boybot at no charge. (Interesting fact, the shop was founded by the woman who made a dinosaur next discovery at Egg Mountain. Finding these nests changed how scientists understood dinosaur behaviors to be.)

Our original itinerary also had included a hike to the waterfalls on St. Mary’s Lake in Glacier, but we knew in advanced that this area was closed due to forest fire damage.  So, that also gave us more time to pull over and take pictures of roadside attractions, like this…

And this (remember what I said about the rock shop founder?)

And it gave us more time for stops in latrine style rest stations like this…

Where the Jedi cautioned, “Now before you go in there, you want to look around and make sure….”

And I interrupted, “Critter check before you drop your pants.”

And Sweetling said, “I can’t believe that just had to be said.”

It also included a stretch of construction where we encountered this sign....

And then had to wait to be escorted through the stretch of PAVED highway by this truck...

The last stretch of this long trip was through the lands of the Blackfoot Nation.

I don’t know what time it was when we pulled into Browning. Half past six, maybe? We headed over to Nation’s Burgers. (Passing TWO expresso huts on opposing street corners. One in a little log cabin styled hut and one in a tepee styled structure.)

Nation’s Burgers was delicious. 

No sit down seating, drive through and walk up carry out only. They did have a nice grass covered area with picnic tables, but it was really windy, so we got our burgers and ate them in the van. I was adventurous and tried the Southwestern Berry Burger. It was really good, put pretty spicy and very messy.

We headed back in for soft serve ice cream and a hot chocolate for me. Then we found a parking lot to sit and watch the sunset over the rockies. Sadly, the clouds killed the sunset, but there was still a really pretty sky.

The highway out of town was, again, under construction. Under construction to the extent that there was no blacktop and no concrete, they had stripped the road down to just the gravel and packed earth. Mind you there was no warning about this. One moment we were driving on blacktop, the next moment we had been dropped (literally), on bare ground. The lack of road extended as far as we could see in the fading light. We turned the van around and found an alternate route up to St. Mary. School Star Road turned out to be smoothly paved the whole way and had the added bonus of taking us past a little neighborhood where there was a horse, all by itself, walking down the road like he was a stray dog.

Our room in the St. Mary lodge was rustic. So rustic there was no wifi and no cell phone bars either.

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