Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Gettin' There

The journey of 1,500 miles begins with a single step... crackers, carrots, a case of water, 15+ cubic feet of clothes, a bookcase, 2 boxes of books, 3 boxes of china, 4 CB antennae, a weed eater, gas can, 6 bottles of root beer, an ice chest, a computer, 2 strawberry plants, one tomato plant, a larg pot with brand new baby zucchini and crook-neck squash plants, a dog, and me. There might have been a partridge in a pear tree in there somewhere, too.

It used to be a lot simpler in the olden days.

The trip was hugely different from what I am used to. Especially since an astute reader will notice that there are no children on the packing list. I'm going to be doing a bunch of interior painting, sans cherubs. (Unkind people might point out that even if I had brought the kids, I would still be painting sans cherubs.) It was so quiet, and I only had to stop every several hours, instead of every several miles.

Just before dark, I paused at a rest area in Idaho, where I was able to see preserved Oregon Trail wheel ruts. Apparently the early pioneers didn't believe in angles. Nope, right straight up the steep hill for them. It wasn't too hard to picture the wagons sliding backwards, perhaps even tumbling back to the bottom. Ok, maybe it wasn't so simple in the olden days.

I spent a cramped and chilly night in the car with the dog, not wanting to bother with a motel for such a few hours. If they'd ever agree to a per-hour rate I might consider it. Then again, any motel charging by the hour is not a place I would want to stay. The rain and lightning woke me up several times, as did the cold. I kept turning on the ignition, letting it blow more cold air into the car, and then turning it off before it had a chance to warm up. Nobody said I was a genius in the middle of the night.

Except for a dead badger, that whole lovely stretch through Idaho and Yellowstone was devoid of wildlife. Oh, and there was also a dead sparrow in my grill. I had nearly given up in despair when I took the Detour to Nowhere. The sign said to go left for the detour, and that the bridge ahead was one-way. I could see that yes, indeed, it was one-way for the oncoming traffic, so I turned left like the sign said to.

It turned out that what the sign really meant was, "Since there is no flagman, and the bridge has narrowed to one lane, take your life in your hands, and when you see your chance, go for it. If you meet someone going the other way, try to squeeze by. You'll probably make it." Maybe all that was too long to fit on the little orange sign. So that is how I ended up taking a wee side trip 10 miles up a steep, winding mountain road, till it dead-ended into a fancy resort lodge.

My sole consolation was that I saw and photographed a cow moose and her brand-new calf. Much of my consolation faded when I viewed the pictures later, and found out that the camera was inadvertently set to "panorama". This meant that, instead of 3 pictures of the moose mama, I had a single wide, sweeping scene of what appeared to be 6 moose, with some rather choppy cabins in the background. Oops.

Sadly, that was not my only detour of the day. In Culbertson, I made another funny little mistake. The sign said,

<-- Wolf Point
Williston -->

I wanted very much to go toward Plentywood, and made the mistaken assumption that it was a left turn. You can see how I could make that mistake, right? Riiiiiiiiiiight???????

Exactly 44 miles later, with no turnoff to Westby, no signs for Plentywood, it finally dawned on me that I was headed into the sunset. Last I checked, that would mean I was going west, not north. And exactly 44 miles later I was back on route again. Hungry, tired, and late for supper. Supper which my beloved husband cooked for me with his own hands. (Thank you!)

He was pretty excited to hear that I had at last gotten to visit the Pictograph Caves just outside Billings, MT. We had driven past many times, but always in the truck so we couldn't go.

Even though I don't totally feel like a resident yet, my Montana license plate entitled me to free admission, which would have been a $5 parking fee otherwise. It would have been well worth it even if I'd had to pay. The 2 caves I saw were beautiful. Pictograph Cave still has remnants of numerous pictographs. (Hmmm - could be why it's called Pictograph Cave, maybe.) Maybe I was too travel-fatigued, but I couldn't find most of them, even with the help of the guide picture. But even I could see the several places where red paint still marks the shapes of some of the pictures.

The other cave I went to, Ghost Cave, is like a mini ampitheatre set into the rock. Two guys were up there talking, and you could hear them all over, just as if they were using mics. When I take the kids by there, I'm going to make them stand up there and sing something loud.

If you want to read more about that fascinating site, which is only 7 miles off the highway, check out their official website. Visit the Pictograph Caves.

After 4 months, I'd almost forgotten what it was like to not have the whole bed to myself, so it was a little surprising to wake up this morning and be...not alone. And for Jack, it must have been a change of pace to be nice and warm all night, without needing any large blanket spread out over his comforter. Excuse me - our comforter. My only complaint is that he somehow lost 2 of the pillows when he brought the bed out from CA. And which 2 pillows did he decide were missing? Yep. Mine.

So now I have arrived, rested up a bit, and tomorrow the work begins.

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth

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