USA Coast To Coast: The Ultimate Road Trip. Part 8
21st August – 15th September 2014.
We liked the town and the motel in Red Lodge so much that we spent one more night there before moving on. This was yet another popular haunt for the bikers and that was pretty obvious given that we had the only car in the carpark that night. Being former bikers ourselves we shared the BBQ and a few tales of our former riding years from long ago
We heard and read a lot about the state of Montana by the time we got here. Of how the sky is bluer than any where else and that the scenery has a certain wow factor to it. Well it’s all true. “Montana Moments” as I call them, are to be cherished. Once you’ve been there and seen the beauty of the place it’s hard to forget. The Rocky Mountains run through Montana, as they do in Colorado and Wyoming but up here they just seem a whole lot more impressive. The air seems crisper and the pine trees greener and the photos that I took just don’t do it justice.
We knew that our friend Ross from the sailing cat “Good Trade” was somewhere close by on a hunting trip for a week or so and he’d said to give him a call, so we did. Turned out he was staying with friends not far from where we were booked to spend the night and after a quick change of plans we headed toward the small town of Hamilton at the foot of the mountains to catch up and talk a bit of B/S. Stuart and Candice, Ross’s friends, graciously invited us to stay at their home as well.
Talk about kindred spirits, we all got on like a house on fire and ended up staying with them for two nights.. Their home was fabulous with matching mountain views from the front and back of the property. It was non stop laughs the whole time we were there, and with Candice and Stuart being excellent cooks and hosts it was sad to say goodbye when the time came. Thanks for a great couple of days you guys.
We celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary driving through Glacier National Park.The day started out drizzly and downright cold and it never got any better. Stopping first at the historic Lake McDonald Lodge we made a bee line for the roaring log fire that warmed the old oak interior as well as our old cold bones.
After weeks of glorious weather our luck had finally run out and we’d picked the wrong day to come to the park, it seemed. Built in 1913 as a hunting lodge, the walls of the main lounge were adorned with body-less trophies from days gone by, a bit off putting when you come from a non hunting nation such as Australia.
With hopes that the sun would come out we continued on our merry way stopping from time to time for a short hike and then it was back to our heated seats in the Ford Explorer. The main road through the park is aptly named the “Going-to-the- Sun-Road”, but the only place it took us was up and up into thick fog, and we’re talking real pea soup stuff here. With only one lane each way and sheer drops below us, Liam was a tad more than nervous driving the wet and icy road to the top. But there was no turning back, cause there was no place to turn. It was onward and upward for us.
Had it been a clear day the views on the drive up would have been stunning. Rather than retrace our steps on the narrow road once we arrived at the Logan’s Pass visitors centre at the top, we continued on to the east entrance even though it was a much longer drive back to Kalispell. Always on the lookout for wildlife we spotted a big horn sheep and a couple of grizzlies way off in the distance and then a black bear ambling along just off the side of the road. The fog came and went over the next few hours eventually disappearing by the time we got back down at lake level, much to the relief of Liam.
You see some quirky things while driving across America and this one just out of town was certainly up there. No explanation needed, the photos say it all.
Leaving Montana we stopped at a small town supermarket for a few provisions and were a bit shocked by the wall decorations, but then Montana is big into hunting.
We knocked off three border crossings in one day, Idaho, Washington and finally Oregon. Our trip was drawing to a close and we wanted to find a cabin in the mountains for our final couple of days. After lots of phone calls we found just what we wanted at Flying Arrow Resort on Wallowa Lake, Oregon. Resort really doesn’t fit much in the name as it is a bunch of log cabins set on the side of a babbling brook. It was just gorgeous. We’d booked for two nights and extended as soon as we opened the front door. The cabin, like the setting was gorgeous too. Completely self contained and with floor to ceiling windows in the lounge room that looked out to the pine clad mountains and the rushing stream in our own backyard. We also had a small balcony with outdoor seating and a bbq.
Deer were regular passer-byes in the early morning and late afternoons and were so tame that they would walk up to you like a friendly dog and wait for a tickle on the nose. It was magic.It was almost surreal.
The evenings were chilly so we’d light up the gas fire and relax on the lounge in front of the telly. It was as close to nature, with some creature comforts of course, that we had found on the entire trip. It perfect way to wind up our two month trip. Our next stop would be our last, at our good cruising friends Bob and Becky’s home in Hillsboro, Oregon. Other cruising friends Gordon and Ginny were flying in from Canada for a few days so it was like getting the herd back together again. The atmosphere was hysterical at times with tales flowing freely all day long. We all have so much history together. We are family to each other, that’s how it is in the cruising world.
After way too many laughs and endless stories we drove Gord and Ginny to the airport and said our tearful goodbyes. A few days later I drove Liam to the airport, he was off to Sydney to visit his family and friends for six weeks while I stayed on at Becky’s for another week before flying back home to GWTW in Guatemala. While it was more than a little sad to say goodbye to our friends in Oregon, it was time to start planning the next phase of our travels. Our American road trip had been truly amazing, we saw and did heaps, met some wonderful people and loved every minute of it. If the budget allows we’ll come back again and pick up where we left off, but maybe next time we’ll upgrade to a RV instead.