Dickinson, ND to Butte, MT
One nice thing about still being on East Coast time: when the little dog wakes you up for a walk at 5:30am, it FEELS like 7:30, so you can walk her, have breakfast and be on the road by 7am… which feels like 9. The best of all worlds! Sleeping in, AND getting an early start! This time zone change is awesome… let us not adjust to it and keep waking up early.
As a result of the early to rise, we got to Theodore Roosevelt National Park super early - before 8am. Practically as soon as we got in, we encountered a bison. And then more bison. And lots and lots of pretty.
One of the things we were lamenting on the way out is that we’d opted to bypass the Badlands and head to North Dakota instead. I’d never been to ND, so I wanted to grab it in my quest to visit every state in the lower 48 (down to just a few!) - and it was something different. Fortunately, Theodore Roosevelt National Park had some beautiful vistas to offer that were surprisingly reminiscent of Badlands. (In fact, it has its own badlands!) At one point, Kay commented that he didn’t mind missing the Badlands anymore - he might even like this park better, because its variety means you see different types of views and vistas wherever you look. Badlands is wonderful, but it can get one-note pretty quickly.
(If you click through and zoom in you’ll see that that coyote has a bit of prairie dog in its jaws)
After a pleasant few hours spent driving the loop road in the park, we revisited the nearby small town while we contemplated our route to Montana and our next few days. We’re due for service on the Outback, and as it is a vehicle still under warranty, we want to stay on top of our service intervals lest we invalidate the warranty. (Plus, I like to take good care of my vehicles.) I have family in Missoula, who said the Subaru dealer there is awesome, so we have opted to take it there and visit with my family while we’re in town. So we called the dealer today, not really expecting them to be open, but the service department answered and said they’d fit us in whenever we could arrive. Yay! So after some discussion, we’ve decided to take it to the dealer tomorrow (Tuesday), and then hit Glacier National Park after - presumably on Wednesday.
Of course, that meant a long day in the car. Eventually, we called it around Butte, MT - over 500 miles, on top of yesterday’s 630, and after several hours this morning exploring the park. I’m grateful tomorrow should see us out of the car a bit more.
Around lunchtime we pulled off for a non-existent BBQ Place and ended up at a Pizza Hut ordering Personal Pan Pizzas in a creepy looking run-down town. We walked the dogs, and then Kay went in to finish off waiting for the food inside. I waited in the car with the dogs, whilst cars slowly prowled the near-empty parking lot. They’d come in, drive slowly by the closed storefronts (labor day + mostly empty strip mall), and then out, before prowling the parking lot of the pawn shop across the street. One guy pulled up right next to me despite a hundred other empty spaces and us not being next to any open store, screwed around with his phone, then drove off. We got out of there as quickly as possible, fearing a Silent Hill reenactment.
From here on out, we have to make some tough decisions about what we’re going to try to see and what we’ll need to miss. We both really want to see Redwoods and Yosemite, but we have a limited amount of time before we have to head back across the country to get back to Boston. On our “nice to see” list are Cascades and Olympic national parks, as well as Seattle (for me, I want coffee!) and Portland (Voodoo Donuts!) as well as Bend, Oregon, where the EarthCruiser factory is located. I’m thinking we don’t have time to fit them all in, so we’re going to have to do some vacation math and prioritize which things are most important.
The first thing to get cut, was Yellowstone. We drove past a few of its entrances today and it just felt wrong to not use them. Fortunately we weren’t planning on visiting it this time since we saw it on the last trip. We just weren’t expecting to drive right past the entrances on the Montana side.
Oh, also, still missing from my Lower 48 are Washington, Oregon, California - and Nebraska. So I’d like to hit all of them before heading back to Boston. Decisions, decisions.