Saturday, July 14, 2012

The long way home, part 3

[Backdated post]

Good morning, Slavyanska Besseda, I am in you!  Note to self: for future reference, TripAdvisor is not a fail-safe method for determining the best budget hotel stay.

Alas, waiting long hours of my life for parts of the Internet to load does not constitute an entertaining activity in my book.  Eventually I just got off my lazy heinie and prepped for the day.

We packed up, checked out, and off we went to get food at the nearby Wally World.  (Hey, don't judge me.  They have a number of low-carb options and it was a lot less expensive than going out to eat.  And besides, there was a geocache nearby, right?  Right.)

In fact there were several intriguing geocaches in Bozeman, so we just got right to it.

Captain Midnight is good at finding caches.  Even in fiddly places secreted away by wily Boy Scouts.  It was fun, but eventually I demanded some equal time for waymarking.

So it was that we found ourselves in Three Forks, Montana...

...home to Missouri Headwaters State Park, which was chock fulla waymarking goodness.

No, the bird's nest in the park shelter was not a waymark.  But it was rather nifty all the same.

We walked around the park taking things in: the headwaters of the Missouri, the ruins of Second Gallatin City (pretty much a goner when the new railroad passed it by)...

... the original old log cabin...

... salient quotes by Thomas Jefferson...

... big ol' honkin' rocks, some of which had caves in them, and the like.

Once I'd scored me several waymarks, Captain Midnight decided he had to scour the park for geocaches.  Naturally.  One particular cache required us to bushwhack so deep into the brush that we would have come out ahead if we'd packed machetes in the trunk.  It all ended well, however, since eventually we staggered out of the area triumphant, emaciated and croaking for water.

Well, something like that.

We'd decided to skip Lewis & Clark Caverns, and CM was all in favor of moving west, but I suddenly remembered there was something I had to see.  It was several miles out on the little state road that leads to the caverns, just south of Three Forks.

Here is the bizarre sight we saw.  Deep in Middle of Nowhere, Montana, in a large field, stands an abandoned truss bridge deck, with a motley collection of RVs and similar dwellings clustered around it.

What's it doing there?  Dunno.  How'd it get there?  Dunno.  Did the crossing it was presumably built for ever get the necessary bridge over it?  ... Dunno.  Will I go mad without these questions being answered?  Probably.

It's all rather mysterious and a touch surreal.  So that's fun.

When we finally did get to Lewis & Clark Caverns, we decided we were too tired and broke to take the full tour.  Because we're just that old and lazy.

But there were many other things to be discovered in the mountains of Montana:

Juniper berries!

Prickly pears!

And curious cows who kept lowing at us!  Being friendly, we mooed back.

Yes, of course, Captain Midnight was scouring the area for geocaches.  And finding them.

At some point we decided we'd had enough of these shenanigans and headed for Missoula (and dinner).

Missoula is pleasant, though not as beautiful as Bozeman.  It has the youthful and slightly funky vibe that goes along with being a university town.  We picked up some dinner at Iron Horse (deeeeelish) and then wandered around so that Captain Midnight could scour the area for... yeah, I really don't have to say it again.

We spotted a few items of interest in Missoula: the peace sign on the mountain, the live bands jamming just outside the Wilma...

...and this, which should be of particular interest to Harry Potter fans.  By the way, Mr. Olson is a personal injury and criminal defense lawyer.

Missoula also has a festive carousel, appropriately (and literally) titled A Carousel for Missoula.

It's a Missoula-go-round!  Whee!

Once CM had secured his Mountain Dew, we left Missoula to mosey off into the sunset, heading for the panhandle of Idaho.  We stopped off in another Town With No Stoplight known as Superior, Montana.  Naturally we had to find a cache.  And did.

And here we have Idaho, wending her way to somewhat fly-specked fame through our windshield.

I took all sorts of pictures in the gathering darkness, trying to capture the heart-rending beauty of this area with its dark pines, its rugged mountains, and the mist that trailed over the pinnacles of treetops and settled in the hollows...

... but I don't think any photo I took can do it proper justice.  So.  Gorgeous.

We stopped briefly in Coeur d'Alene to gas up (fun fact: Coeur d'Alene, literally translated, means "heart of awl"), then motored on without stopping until we reached our destination for the night: the Quality Inn in Spokane.  Right in the middle of Karaoke Night.  You may or may not be disappointed to know that we did not choose to wow the world with our karaoke rendition of, well, anything.  So far I've managed to elude the scourge of karaoke.  Maybe some other time.

Incidentally, as we drove through Spokane, we saw a number of professional-grade fireworks exploding in the night sky ahead of us.  Our best guess: some local shindig for Bastille Day.  Or they just really wanted us to stop for the night.  Your call.

At the Quality Inn, having achieved our objective for the evening, we logged some adventures, showered, changed, hit the bed and promptly went into a coma.

No comments: