Day two started out odd for this road tripping, travel blogging crew. We hit traffic in Sandpoint, Idaho of all places. Not much, but then we needed fuel, which, obviously, led to a discussion with a gentleman at the gas station about the health care plan before Congress. Pam has told us she attracts all kinds of strangers to talk with her and this was my and Kelly’s first experience with it.
With that oddity out of the way, and with Pam courageously taking up the driving, we headed out East from Sandpoint on Hwy 200 on the suggestion from Lisa Gerber. Hwy 200 is a great trip around the North and East sides of Pend O’Reille (pronounced Pond Oray I believe) as we wound through pine tress and the swamp lands of the Pack River. Hope was our first destination and a seemingly good way to start the day. But Hope is never what you think it should be, and the one joint in town that open really didn’t seem interested in feeding us. Onward!
Soon after this point, I fell asleep. Kelly and Pam say things were pretty as we left the lake and started following the Clark Fork River. I’ll take their word for it. I did briefly wake up at Noxon (our first town with a palindrome name!) as we hunted for breakfast. Soon after we crossed into the Mountain Time Zone, quickly making breakfast a brunch affair when we found it in Thompson Falls, Montana.
Big cinnamon rolls and a bear greeted us inside the front door of Minnie’s Montana Cafe, a likely spot filled with locals and just a few of us tourists. Well past noon, we were happy to see it was a true cafe, offering breakfast all day, although Morgan, our waitress, warned us everything was big. It’s a common Montana theme; Big. Big Sky, Big Pancakes Pam couldn’t finish, Big Hats, Big Chevy that took us to get beer later in the evening, Big Drunks at the bar where we bought our beer. Everything here is indeed, Big, with a capital B.
Heading East and South out of Thompson Falls the geology changes to stratified hills laid bare on one face and the road goes from constructed to under construction. Slow, slow, slow. South, South, South until the speedway of I90 is again obtained near Butte with its 90′ tall Madonna on a hill. We jack up the speed and fly up one side of the Rockies and down the other. Some place along there was the Continental Divide but we missed the sign.
Let me take a moment to explain one piece of amazing technology on this trip. It’s called the TwitterFone(tm). I’m sure it has another name, maybe even a model number, but for us, it’s a phone that connects us to Twitter. And Twitter has been a valuable resource on this trip; finding us stops, helping us realize that 90′ tall Mary was not, in fact, not a statue of Jesus as I first thought and in general helping make this trip more interactive, fun, connected. The Twitter phone is relegated to the back seat passenger with the shotgun seat reserved for navigation. It’s a tight ship we run. If you’re curious to follow and possibly help out (we need places to stay in Iowa, for instance) follow along with @nerdseyeview, @kag2u and @pwcarey as any one of us might be in the TwitterFone(tm) seat.
Pine! Can you smell that piney smell? Working out way South on Hwy191 towards Big Sky the pine jumped through the ventilation of Snuffulupagus raising spirits as the canyon walls killed reception for the TwitterFone(tm) (which also has Google Maps when we get lost). Our sunroof became invaluable to me for scopping out tanned rocks along the road, dreaming of spending days climbing in this area. The Gallatin River carved our path through the hills until we reached Big Sky, where the confusion started.
Our problem with the finding our accommodations for the night is Big Sky is Big! The Big Sky Resort consists of three separate hotels, a mall, golf course, ski resort and more. It’s Big. With some meandering and asking around, we found our comfy rooms on the third floor. The hotel seems to really be pushing the ‘green’ concept in a good way. Compact fluorescent lights through out, ‘eco’ soap and hair products and signs about it here and there. Settling in, and then grabbing some beer to go at a surly local bar (noting you can still smoke in bars in Montana), we set to the task of organizing the days thoughts, catching up on email, downloading photos and the general task of blogging on the road. While I know the picture makes our life on the road look tremendously glamorous 😉 it’s still time consuming and work. Fun work, but still work. Ok, lame attempt asking for pity is done. Back to looking for buffalo!!