27 September 2012

2012 WILD WEST to Montana 3 - Buffalo to Billings


Still trying to figure this blogging thing out, plus I'm working on Mike's laptop and Microsoft (instead of my iMac). But anyway today we drove about 528 miles, travel time was 9-1/2 hours with actual driving time of 7 hours 46 minutes. Speed 75 MPH all the way. That's the legal limit for cars and trucks!!! Very cloudy all day, so easy driving for Mike. Bad for photos.

Highest point we noticed for the day was just east of Bozeman MT at 5,424 feet. I say noticed because the Garmin does not tell you the high/low for the day, just what it is at the present moment. (Wonder if there is an app for that?) So you need to be alert to the high/low areas when driving, to try to catch those spots.


Started off the day at the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown. Bison is the scientific name for buffalo, if you wondered. Very cool. Included is the biggest buffalo statue in the world which was built in 1959. Lots of Indian clothes and household items made from buffalo parts, buffalo art, taxidermied buffalo and other animals, and buffalo history info. Live buffalo roam free-range here, but were out of view at the time we visited. They also have three albino or white buffalo, considered sacred by native Indians. There are two pastures, one on either side of the freeway connected with a large tunnel. But the buffalo will not wander under it. Experts think it is because of the highway vibration. So in essence one herd has become two over time.

Driving on we noticed a road sign stating Continental Divide, Elev 1490. This confused us as we had always known the C.D. to be the highest point in the Rockies and we were in eastern ND. Well, it turns out there are several "continental divides" in the U.S. This is the Northern Divide and has to do with drainage. 

Waters to the north and east of this sign enter into the Red River/Nelson River drainage, leading northeastward toward Hudson Bay. Waters to the south and west of this sign enter into the James River/Missouri River/Mississippi River drainage, leading southward toward the Gulf of Mexico. TMI for the moment, but for more info, go to: www.nationalatlas.gov/articles/geology/a_continentalDiv.html

Next stop was Bismarck, capital of ND. Their capital building is a 16-story art deco building. Looks very out of place in the middle of the great plains. Must be the tallest thing around for hundreds of miles. As you enter you see the Rough Riders Hall of Fame. Surprising who is included--Peggy Lee, Lawrence Welk, Louie L'Amour (western novelist), Eric Sevareid (old time news journalist, and old rough rider herself (wait for it) Angie Dickinson!! The interior of the public areas of the building were fantastic.

As we continued on finding many small ponds, but they must be rich with salt. Dried salt rings circling most of them. Also found nice road art here and there. Trees turning but no red colors, only shades of yellow. Listened to NPR radio news, including a National Native NPR station.

Had a great lunch at a quaint, romantic, cowboyesque town of Medora ND, named after the wife of the man who established the town. First choice was in a cozily restored hotel (lobby left) at Theodore's (after Teddy Roosevelt) Dining Room, but closed for lunch. Second choice was closed for a private funeral after-party. Last choice Boots Bar and Grill. Mike tried a ND pastie. Not as good as the Up North Cafe in Richland MI, but pretty good.


We give ND the best road conditions award up to this point. They were perfectly maintained. Also, had a unique rest stop in old gas station decor.

Montana gets the worst rest stop award. They were poorly maintained (dirty and in poor condition), many of the stops you have to go off the freeway and onto public roads to get there!!, and no recycle bins. They did play the weather report in the bathrooms though. A plus, I guess, especially in winter.


Well, I guess the news you want to hear is when will they be at my house. Our next stop is Crater Lake, Oregon, but I see on the GPS that it is 700 miles from here in Billings (our overnight). So I feel we won't be in Ashland or Rogue River til Sat.

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If you have visited any of these places, we would love to hear your comments. Or send us recommendations of places we should not miss.