Eastern Utah
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Big Timber, Montana

I was on the road this morning at 8:00 am, headed for Jackson, WY and the VC for the Grand Teton National Park. I felt like I had already done half a day's work by the time I made umpteen trips to the truck with all the stuff. After driving about 70 miles I was turned back - road closed!

After looking at the maps I decided to detour myself around and maybe try to enter at West Yellowstone, possibly getting a view of Old Faithful if nothing else. It wasn't to be. I enjoyed the day doing what I like best - meandering along the scenic byways. In some places there was no traffic at all, and lots of traffic as I went through the little towns. The constant winding and twisting of mountainous roads finally gets to you, and tonight I'm plumb wore out!

When I arrived at the road I would take to the W. Yellowstone entrance, the GPS kept directing me otherwise, no matter what end point I entered. I though maybe the system knew that the roads were closed, but it's not that smart if it let me get as far as I did earlier only to find the gates down.

I eventually took a road that led me through Bozeman, MT and onto I-90. Bozeman is a nice looking little town, but this afternoon the traffic was heavy and I had to stop every block for a red light. It became annoying by the time I finally got to the interstate. I realized that I was routed over the business district of I-90, and there were several points where I could have cut over to the interstate. But how was I to know - better safe than sorry.

I noticed folks walking on the sidewalks of Bozeman and they had difficulty making headway against the wind. I wonder if the wind blows so hard year round, or is it a seasonal thing. I believe Wyoming has it 365 days a year, so probably Montana and Idaho do as well.

I would no doubt have had a little better weather had I waited a couple more weeks, but I have a 5-year old grandson's birthday party to attend on June 4, and I'm not going to miss it. I'm thinking I may take a similar route back to California and try to do Yellowstone & the Tetons in reverse. I have always loved traveling in the off season, and hate to be caught up with the tourists. I know from living in an area of Ireland that relied on tourism, the locals are so busy taking care of the "guests" that they have no time for anything else. I have always liked the slower pace of the off-season, be it anywhere in the US, in Germany, Ireland, etc.

So knowing I wouldn't be able to set up a tent in the wind, I opted for a motel again - this time a Super 8. It's a little upscale from Motel 6 in that it has an ironing board and hair dryer! I carry my own hair dryer and I surely don't need an ironing board. I doubt that I've used an iron more than once in all the business trips I used to take, and what's so difficult about pressing something on the bed. One nice addition is a small coffee maker, although Motel 6 has coffee available in the office. This motel also serves breakfast, for whatever that consists of. I'll try it out - so far all I've spent is the cost of fuel, lodging and a 6-pack of beer. I can see out my window and across the parking lot to a casino that really looks inviting. Good thing I'm not a gambler! If I had someone to walk over with I would probably lose a roll of quarters, but I'm not walking into a cowboy casino all by myself. On second thought, maybe that would be the best way to walk into it.

I am so sorry I didn't stop to take pictures on the way to the Tetons as there were some beautiful views. The scenery nearly took my breath away but I knew it would only get better as I got into the park, so I didn't try to take photos. I love Idaho and so far, Montana. But I don't think I could live in the relentless wind.

Tomorrow morning I will take the highway (I think it's US 191) up to US 12, and drive across that way until it meets the interstate. I may stay on US 12 through North and South Dakota, and see something other than ramp exit signs.

Well the day sure didn't go as I had planned, but maybe it was fine after all. I got a really nice up-close look at a part of Idaho that many people might miss. And for another update on my fuel mileage, it's still holding at 16! I did drive the few miles on I-90 at 70 mph because I was getting tired and wanted to get to where I could stop before long, but I doubt if that will make much of an impact on the average. I almost always hold it at 65 no matter how much higher the limit is.

I'm heading towards Milwaukee and will stop and visit my brother and sister-in-law, and hopefully we can drive down to Chicago to see a cousin who has blood cancer. I had planned to go through the UP of Michigan, but maybe I'll have a better chance of decent weather if I wait till my return trip. Things have a way of working out and I really believe that.

If I have wifi tomorrow evening I'll be back, or maybe I'll have to dig into the bags and boxes in the truck bed to find my Mifi.


  1. Sounds like a challenging day. Hope the GPS gets a little smarter by tomorrow :)

  2. You've covered a lot of road in a couple of days! It sounds like you enjoy driving. Hope you have more good scenery tomorrow. :)

  3. I've always enjoyed traveling during the off-season. We always took our road trips in May and September. Cooler weather and less crowds. Enjoy your travels.

  4. Bob and Carol higginbothamMay 15, 2011 at 9:16 PM

    Sending safe travel vibes to you as you trek across the country. Hope that you get to use that tent at some point down the road. You and Lady stay safe

  5. You seem to making good time. Keep on a trucking. . . It is hard to believe that the roads are closed. I guess you are quite a bit further north than the Gulf coast of Texas.

  6. We did that same trip in June and no wind again in Aug and no wind. It must be a May thing. Sure good to follow you. We LOVE that area and will be going back eventually.

  7. About Idaho, I was stationed at Mt. Home AFB and yes, the miserable wind blows all the time. That is one of the primary reasons we moved. After three and one half years of wind, I was tired of it. Be careful on the road. I enjoy reading your blog.
    Rex and Kathy

  8. Glad you are having a nice trip. In 2007 I went to Florida to pick up my daughter, without the trailer, and my truck averaged 17mpg. I couldn't believe it.

  9. Yep, sure agree about traveling in the off season alright. As soon as the kids are back to school in September it's the best time to hit the road. Too bad about the road closures around Yellowstone. Hopefully on the way back eh. Probably lots of rain ahead of you soon.

  10. Seems i read about people getting lost on those roads!!! And cant get back, so be careful. But i would love to do what ur doing.

  11. I'm with you on the off-season travel. I don't like hoards of people or cars. Stay safe.

  12. Isn't it great to be on your adventure, with freedom to make choices! Of course, some of those choices aren't the ones you might make if roads weren't closed! Have a great trip. We'll check in now and again!

  13. I'm finally catching up with you. And yes the wind does blow in MT in the spring time. And sometimes in the summer but not near as bad and fall is usually beautiful. You would not have been the only woman alone in that casino. So next time - go blow your quarters and have a beer.