Montana

Only three US states cover a larger geographical area. While I’ve visited two of them, I’ve never driven across an expanse quite like the state of Montana.

We picked up US route 212 in South Dakota yesterday morning, then cut across a twenty-mile corner of Wyoming. From there, it was almost 600 miles of the Treasure State before calling it a day in Missoula last night. I also understand why the moniker “Big Sky” is associated with this land.

We looked at the US 212 route for cutting about sixty miles off the trip between Rapid City and Missoula. We were glad we went that way. Some of the drive was through the Custer National Forest, and even though the evidence of fire was frequent, the shape of Montana’s land was impressive. Iowa is definitely a greener state, but there’s a beautiful alternative in the vast eastern Montana countryside. It’s not the Badlands, but there are breathtaking moments, all under a sky that does indeed seem bigger than what one sees back east.

Once past Billings, our afternoon drive found us at higher altitudes and surrounded by the state’s various mountain ranges. The young miss and the cats may have been affected somewhat by altitude sickness. As we approached our destination, it got rather quiet in the back seat.

I mentioned to the family that it feels like we are now in the real West, and we’ve taken the first step to becoming real American westerners.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to Montana

  1. Liam says:

    For my dad’s 70th birthday in 1994, we did a cross-country trek from the Northeast to Seattle. From Day 2 on the Mississippi River – understanding that we got on the road by 5AM each day (best way to catch wildlife – in early June):

    Day 2: Rochester MN to Rapid City, SD, with extended visit to Badlands NP and a side trip to Wall Drug. Overnighted in Rapid City.

    Day 3: Black Hills, Custer State Park, Wind Cave NP, then over the Bighorn Mountains on US-16 down the lovely Tensleep Canyon to Cody WY.

    Day 4 (Father’s 70th birthday): Yellowstone. Snowed on the lupines over night. Exited the park via Paradise Valley in the NW corner to end up in Butte, where we had a fantastic dinner. Loved Butte.

    Day 5: Butte MT to Yakima WA.

    Day 6: Mt Rainier to Seattle. Made the mistake of staying at a motel near Sea-Tac (I was flying back home while the rest of the trekkers were driving back across country), where all our luggage we left in the motel room was stolen while we daytripped to Seattle, something we later learned is a commonplace near Sea-Tac (inside jobs by motel employees). Whereby we learned a rule: always empty your luggage that you leave in a motel room. Thieves take the luggage and whatever is in it. If you sort your stuff, they at least won’t take what’s not valuable to them….

  2. Jim McCrea says:

    Next time you take that trip, double the time and actually stop and see something!

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