Billings MT to Helena MT
6.6.2013. Had we been different kind of travelers (or on a different kind of trip), we might have spent the afternoon touring the shops and historic sites of Helena, the capital of Montana and not a far drive from Billings (if you drive the interstates). But we have perfected the art of turning the 3-hour drive into the 6-hour drive. We shot out of traffic-crazy Billings like a batmobile out of hell before I realized we were past the gas stations and heading for god-knows-where with 1/2 a tank. I won't say I panicked but I definitely was in a state of uneasiness till we finally came to a ramshackle filling station at the semi-ghostown Broadview -- a single old style pump with handwritten labels diesel, unleaded, diesel. Uh, my Volvo with the New York plates gave a shutter. "Is that unleaded like, real gas?" Sorry, I had to ask. It was. Okay. Anxiety relieved. On we went. Susan smiling. (I should have taken a photo, but the dead diner across the road [above] will have to do.)
We proceded along, with the icy blue snowcapped Rockies in the distance.
We stopped to stare at some sort of procedure that a herd of cattle were going through -- being walked through a corral for some reason or other (branding? tagging? castration?). All we could tell is that they were really unhappy about it, complaining very loudly as only cattle can.
I love the "boring" landscapes since every mile seems different to me. I read that Montana is having a little boom of "geo-tourists" based on their slogan "Montana: there's nothing here." I love that.
While I do most of the driving these days, Jim is still the bold traveler. "Hey, how about we take the road around this lake?" -- Canyon Ferry Lake, a dammed up river. Okay. "If we take Lower Duck Walk Road we can get right down near the water." Uh... it's kind of not paved... Here's where my city-girl, daughter of the uber-cautious Walter T Price kicks in. It's all gravelly and shit... Jim doesn't see the problem.
Allrighty, then. I may be the daughter of no-fireworks-for-you Curly, but I am also the daughter of Kathleen Barrett who would walk across the rapids of the Meramec River to the beach, so she wouldn't have to pay a dime for the ferry. I'm game.
It was good. See photo: we ran into a curious/cautious pronghorn. Later on, we drove through a small ranch and went wild getting a photo of a big black cow and then a couple of horses. The people inside the house were probably laughing their asses off at us.
I got comfortable on the rough road -- comfortable enough to choose rough road again when we were deciding on the shortcut vs the scenic route into Helena. Scenic route, yeah!!!
So here we are, finally, in Helena, Montana, in a comfy Comfort Suites hotel -- comfy enough to plan on eating last night's leftover quesadillas for dinner, warmed in the room's microwave. Wine poured. Jim is relaxing with a little mahjong. Sooooo nice not to have to drive again till tomorrow. But I have to admit... I'm lovin' the driving here.