28 September 2012

2012 WILD WEST to Washington 4 - Behind Schedule


We drove 612 miles between Billings MT (happy duck pond by our hotel) and Ritzville WA at the corner of I-90 and US-365 where we turn south. Sounds grueling, but we are having a ball. As it took us longer than we thought because of our late start (10am), we are a bit behind schedule. Arrived in Ritzville about 8pm. High elevation point was 6,393 at the Continental Divide (the REAL one) just east of Butte MT. Another hazy day.

In our hotel parking lot started hearing a weird clunk sound under the car as we were leaving. So we went to the Toyota dealer and putzed there a bit. They think it was a stone stuck somewhere in the exhaust and that it came out naturally because the sound had stopped after driving it a bit. Said this was common in the Prius around there as there are a lot of gravel roads. Nicely did not charge us. We were still nervous and did not want to be stuck way out in Nowhere MT, but we did not have a problem the rest of our trip.

Montana was flat most of the way and then got into some hilly/ mountain/ evergreen tree area up to the Great Divide. Crossing here was nothing like the Sierras or Rockies further down south. Not as high or curvy, but lovely.

We have loosely been following Northwest Flight 393's flight route back in the early days. Mike and I both worked this flight and wondered about the little towns. It went something like Philadelphia / Detroit / Milwaukee / Minneapolis / Fargo / Jamestown / Bismarck / Billings  / Butte / Bozeman / Missoula / Spokane / Seattle. I had to take it once from Seattle to Detroit. That was hell wondering if I would get bumped at every stop. Somehow made it without a hitch.

Took I-90/94 across North Dakota and Montana and side-tracked on the business routes to see downtowns of all these old "cowboy" towns on our route. Bozemen was by far our fave. We took a walk downtown to loosen up. It was lively, hustling, interesting stores, updated, street art. No empty businesses. We stopped at the People's Food Co-op and it was like stepping into a mini Dean & DeLuca. Later in the car, we discussed if we would rather live in Half Moon Bay CA or Bozeman MT, and we agreed Bozeman was best. Of course, it isn't winter right now. As a matter of fact it's in the 80s.

Lots of bee hive/supers along the highway. Traveled along the Yellowstone River for quite a while. Starting to see sheep instead of cows. Lots of timber trucks on the road. Saw signs for Horse Fest and Raptor Fest. Had lunch at an Italian place called Chef's Garden in Butte MT. Very "mocked-up" decor, but VERY good food. Taking a lot of photos from inside the car as we travel along. Mike says we need a pope-mobile for better shots and 360 degree range, because sometimes we pass things too fast for me to get a good shot, but if we stopped at every point I want a shot, we'd still be in MN. On the radio heard a recent crime in this area is someone is cutting off horse tail hair. Bummer, they can't swat flies and look nekked. About 30 horses, so far. Cruel.

Ritzville was named after a guy named Mr. Ritz, not related to the Ritz Carlton. We had a bad experience with a Best Western in Yuma AZ years ago, but the only hotel in town was the Best Western Ritzville. We like to stay at historical hotels and the one in Yuma was advertised as "the oldest B.W. in the U.S." We thought that would be cool, but when we got there we realized that apparently it had not been renovated since it was first built. We had the room closest to the road and there was a 3/4-inch crack under the room door. Every car that drove by had its headlights flashing under the door. We were supposed to stay three nights, but left after one. So we were quite leery about this B.W., but it was the best hotel on the trip so far. Very modern, comfortable bed, nice breakfast, nice personnel. Woke in the morning with a lovely view of a harvested corn field, and neat and tidy farm.

1 comment:

  1. where are thoes pics? you are driving to many mies you will kill yourselves off.


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