Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Day 3 -- From dinosaurs to ducks

[Photos added 9/6/2007]

No broadband access tonight in my motel room in Billings, so I'm typing this offline and will load it using my dial-up access.

Woke this morning to find spots of water on the car. Headed out of Butte around 8AM in a light rain. Scenery kept changing. I thought the landscape would continue to flatten out, but east of Butte I found myself driving through a mountain pass. With the low clouds I could have been on the Oregon coast with the ocean just beyond the fog.

Then I was driving through gently rolling hills. There were mountains in the distance, but they were sometimes hidden by cloud cover. I arrived in Bozeman by about 9:30 and quickly found the Museum of the Rockies. I spent about two and a half hours touring the geology and dinosaur exhibits.
The dinosaur exhibits are very impressive. Some of the pieces are casts of the originals, but others -- including an almost complete T Rex displayed embedded in the ground, much as it was found -- are the actual fossils. There was a series of triceratops skulls showing different ages. Lots of explanation about how scientists figure things out. Well worth the visit.

After a short stop for lunch, I was back on highway 90 heading toward Billings. I passed the road one can take to go south to Yellowstone and could see tall mountains in the distance, but my route was getting flatter. My planned itinerary had me going well past Billings, but I knew I wasn't going to make it as far as I'd originally figured. So as I drove, I started negotiating (read: dithering) in my head. Stop for the night in Billings, visit the zoo in the AM and then drive straight through to North Dakota. Or stop for the night in Billings, skip the zoo, hit the road early and then stop in Glendive for another dinosaur visit. Or...? While I was weighing all the options -- back and forth -- I realized that I could probably get to the zoo in Billings for a brief visit before it closed. After all, I was driving 75 mph -- legally.

So that is what I decided to do. I managed to find Zoo Montana (after some directional confusion) about 90 minutes before closing. It's very small and didn't take much time to see -- and I practically had the place to myself. Saw eagles, wolves, Siberian tiger, red pandas, river otters. Didn't see the wolverine. The last exhibit I saw before leaving was waterfowl, lots of geese and ducks, including one tiny duckling running around among all the larger birds.

A solid night's sleep last night kept me alert all day today, so I will discipline myself to shut the lights out early again tonight. Need to make up some time tomorrow, then I will have some lower mileage days to enjoy.

[Except that once again the computer (or the connection) started acting up and I have spent WAY too much time on the computer.]


Anonymous said...

75 mph: that's faster than you can legally drive in either OR or WA. Would you know why Montana people are allowed to drive so fast?

I thought that all Motel 6 would offer similar services. Or did you stay in another motel in Billings? Expecting your photos. Bon Voyage.

Gerry L said...

Last night (Day 3) is so far the only night I've spent at Motel 6. High-speed internet is becoming available at more places, including some Motel 6 locations. I've noticed that the economy motels offer the connection for free. High-price hotels often make you pay.