Great American Road Trip- Part 7

Tuesday, August 1 to Thursday, August 3, 2017 ~ MT

Glacier National Park, MT

Rough night. It’s 6:50am Mountain Time but I just drove from Pacific Time, so it is really 5:50am for me. I was up and down all night and though the cabin is locked tight, the gurgling of my own tummy scared me awake. Geez, I need to lighten up. I just don’t do well sleeping in strange places. There was a mouse scratching around in the bag that held my loaf of bread. I guess I can’t blame him but he was so loud, I wasn’t sure he was a mouse!

Still, from the desk where I write I have a view of the mountains bathed in the light of the sunrise. Free range cattle wander between the cabins with their calves. There is a chewed-up granola wrapper on the bathroom floor. I am in Montana, the wild west, and I am staying in a cabin on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. I have three days to soak in all the raw natural beauty, history, and culture of this place.

I drink coffee in my cabin as I wait for the shower to warm up. I am on the far end so I have to run the faucet for a few minutes in order to get the hot water all the way through the pipes. At least there is hot water and porcelain indoor plumbing. People who think this is roughing it have never completed a long-distance cycling tour where sleeping in a tent and peeing in cornfields is the norm. Continue reading “Great American Road Trip- Part 7”

Great American Road Trip- Part 6

Sunday, July 30 ~ OR-WA (295 Miles)

Portland, OR; Maytown, WA; Yelm, WA; Sumner, WA; North Bend, WA; Teanaway, WA; Leavenworth, WA

Monday July 31, 2017 ~ WA-MT (518 Miles)

Leavenworth, WA; Wenatchee, WA; Moses Lake, WA; Spokane, WA; Wallace, ID; St. Regis, MT; Hot Springs, MT; Kalispell, MT; East Glacier Park Village, MT

They are calling for over 100 degrees this week but I will be up in the mountains. I don’t want to rush out of Portland first thing Sunday morning so this will be my shortest driving day. It is my first visit to Washington state and I am getting set-up for the long haul to Glacier National Park on Monday. I’m headed north though it would be faster to drive straight northeast to Spokane. I’m a tourist. I want to see Seattle, Mt. Rainer, and the Wenatchee National Forest.

I am warned about how bad the traffic can get along this stretch of I-5. As I approach Olympia, there is a radio notice about a traffic jam and I see on my GPS that yes indeed there an is hour delay. I abandon my plan to visit Seattle and pull off the interstate at the next exit without any idea where I am going. If it’s going to take forever, I’d rather take the long way through the backroads of Washington. Continue reading “Great American Road Trip- Part 6”

Great American Road Trip- Part 5

Tuesday, July 25 to Saturday, July 29, 2017 ~ ID-OR (604 miles)

Albion, ID; Boise, ID; Ontario, OR; Baker City, OR; Pendleton, OR; Dalles Dam; Portland, OR

I spent the night in Albion, Idaho. There are signs pointing to this town on the interstate. It’s population: 297. What a perspective. Idaho feels so sparse and remote. I feel a bit vulnerable here out on the western frontier, 500 miles from anyone I know. I am at the mercy of the kindness of strangers.

I sit at an antique writing desk, preparing for what’s next: pack up, eat my breakfast, gas up in Declo, hit the road to Boise then on to Portland, Oregon- my destination. I am on this trip to spend time with my friend Steve and meet his wife Ramona. It’s been seventeen years since I last saw him.

I have terrible heat rash on my arms and neck. Living in Minnesota has made me much more sensitive to the sun and heat. South Dakota and Utah did me in. The blazing heat and intensity of the sun in Salt Lake City was too much. Continue reading “Great American Road Trip- Part 5”

Great American Road Trip- Part 4

Monday, July 24, 2017 ~ WY-UT-ID (455 miles)

Rock Springs, WY; Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, UT; Mountain View, WY; Salt Lake City, UT; Ogden, UT; Albion, ID

I wake up at 5:20am for no damn reason. Five hours of sleep is better than none. This is the hard grind of driving all these miles and trying to get sightseeing in too. I am filthy- road grit, sunscreen, bites and bug spray, gross. I am gross. No energy to shower last night. The free wine didn’t help.

I am in a hotel room next to the ice machine with a view of the HVAC rooftop system. The sun is rising and I hear the womp, womp, womp of the hotel laundry room below. Pre-pay late arrival gets you the ‘worst’ room in the hotel. It’s clean and well put together so what do I care? On the road in couple hours anyway. Continue reading “Great American Road Trip- Part 4”

Great American Road Trip- Part 3

July 23, 2017 ~ SD-WY (605 miles)

Wall, SD; Badlands National Park; Rapid City, SD; Black Hills National Forest; Hot Springs, SD; Casper, WY; Rawlins, WY; Rock Springs, WY

At 6:15am in Wall, SD, I sit outside my cabin on the patio drinking coffee and writing on the two-person bench. The sun rises quickly behind me and casts long shadows that stretch toward the nearly empty interstate. It’s going to be a hot one in the Badlands. Heat rash has become a normal part of venturing out in high summer for me. Heat exhaustion can creep up too. Sunscreen, bug spray, water, and my straw hat are a must today.

National parks, small towns, the highways and byways… the great outdoors… people think it’s flyover territory but I know better. There is so much life happening not on the internet- parks, museums, cafes, wilderness. This life is a little bit of heaven for me- a porch, a coffee, a sunrise, my journal. This is what vacation should feel like- adventure and exploration. Continue reading “Great American Road Trip- Part 3”

Great American Road Trip- Part 2

Saturday, July 22, 2017 ~ MN-SD (519 miles)

Minneapolis, MN; Mankato, MN; Worthington, MN; Sioux Falls, SD; Mitchell, SD; Chamberlin, SD; Wall, SD

I wake up at 6am on vacation day one. The weatherman expects temperatures in the 90’s-100’s along my route. Hoping I am not overpacking, I bring the tent and sleeping bag, just in case. One never knows what might happen 1,000 miles from home.

Leaving first thing on Saturday morning (instead of Sunday) feels dumb to me because I must scramble to pack. I simply couldn’t get it done Friday night. But it gives me more time out west, one more travel day. I am on this road trip alone so I need to allow some extra time for that. In the morning rush to pack, the coffee maker overflows but the rest comes together: atlas, food, cooler, suitcase, day pack, toiletries, electronics, passport, messenger bag… Continue reading “Great American Road Trip- Part 2”

Great American Road Trip- Part 1

I bought my brother’s car: a 2013 Chevy Spark that is only slightly larger than a postage stamp. I named her Lorraine. As a kid, long cross-country road trips were what vacation was all about. So, with a ‘new-to-me’ vehicle in my possession (after three years without one), I could not resist scratching the itch to head out onto the open road.

Lorraine is in great shape according to my mechanic so driving solo for 4,500 miles, over 15 days, through 9 states did not seem so nutty to me. But if you want to get some weird reactions from strangers, be a woman driving alone on a very long road trip. Out there in the Wild West, I found an uncharted horizon that women’s lib has yet to conquer. I guess traveling around the mid-west is not considered so unusual for a mid-western gal. But seriously, I did not consider driving to the Pacific Ocean and back to be that big of a deal either.

So, I went. And I wrote every day. And I took some 2,100 photos along the way. I took my time at times, which caused me to have to make up time with some long driving days. Was it relaxing? Not really. Was it breathtaking? Oh yes, oh yes indeed. My road trip occurred July 22 to August 5, 2017 through MN, SD, WY, UT, ID, OR, WA, MT, and ND. I will share my stories and photos of this amazing trip over the coming weeks. I hope you find it as interesting and enjoyable as I did.

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, August 2017

Also See:
Great American Road Trip- Part 2
Great American Road Trip- Part 3
Great American Road Trip- Part 4
Great American Road Trip- Part 5
Great American Road Trip- Part 6
Great American Road Trip- Part 7
Great American Road Trip- Part 8