Friday, August 15, 2008

road trip, day 2 plus

lookout tower, originally uploaded by Kaijsa.

We got up and ate breakfast with Mary Ann before hitting the road for our longest driving day of the trip. From the research station, we drove through Yellowstone. We didn't stop in the park, but we did get to go slowly enough to gawk at the scenery. If we'd seen any big animals, I'm sure we'd have stopped. Strangely, we didn't see much either in Teton or Yellowstone. Last year, I saw a bear, deer, bison, and more.

Because we were headed for Montana, we exited in West Yellowstone, where we bought the most expensive gas of the trip. We called it "tourist gas." Then we headed out on I-90. We'd both heard that Butte is a cool town, so we decided to wait to eat until we got there. It was a very cute little town, but it took us a while to find a park. Finally, we found one with a gazebo and had our picnic lunch. We sort of lollygagged a bit, but finally had to get going in order to make it to our destination before dark.

The drive through Montana was beautiful. We were driving alongside water almost the entire time. I'd been on the I-90 stretch once before, but this time, we headed up north to an area I'd never visited before. We reserved a U.S. Forest Service fire lookout in northwestern Montana, on the top of Yaak Mountain. It's pretty close to the Canadian border, so it was way up there. The scenery was gorgeous, but we were both nervous about driving up the mountain and packing into the tower in the dark and we were getting tired of being in the car.

We finally arrived at the mountain around 8pm. It took a little time to find the FS road, then we had a slow, steep drive up on gravel. The road was in great shape, though, and we managed to get there and our stuff inside before dark. We even had time to take a little walk before it got totally black out. We saw some grouse and a deer, as well as some tiny little rodents that moved very, very quickly. We also saw some scat that let me to believe something large was around. Freaky!

I had been worried about climbing a ladder to the tower. Actually, I was more nervous about climbing down four stories in the dark to get to the outhouse, truth be told. But we had stairs, so no biggie. The sunset was pretty, but my pictures didn't turn out very well, I'm afraid.

Dinner was sandwiches, fruit, and beer and was fun. We didn't stay up super late because we didn't think to bring cards or anything to keep us entertained in a cabin with no electricity. Being a lookout, the place was all window, from knee high to the ceilings, so I expected the sunrise to wake me. I actually woke up before dawn and got some pics of the sunrise, but Rick refused to leave his sleeping bag to join me.

After our yummy breakfast of greek yogurt (a new favorite thing) and granola, we had to get going. We both wished we had more time to hike and stay another night. We realized what a cool retreat that place could be. Imagine getting away and just writing up there. In any case, we left and headed toward Sandpoint, Idaho, about 30 miles away once we got to the highway.

Once on the road and coffee-ed up in Bonner's Ferry (great name), we were off. We ended up stopping for second breakfast in some small town in Idaho, not too far from the Washington border. What was it called? Priest something? Rick, help me out. I ate my weight in hashbrowns and biscuits and gravy for about $5. Not bad. It was about this time when we turned our clocks back an hour to Pacific time, so we experienced 9am for the second time that day.

This is really part of day 3, which I'll get to next.

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