Thursday, September 6, 2007

Day Four -- To the eastern edge of Montana

Tonight I'm on "motel row" at the edge of Glendive. I was going to drive into North Dakota, but my destination for tomorrow is an easy hour's drive from here, and there are no sizable towns where I would have a choice of motels -- or even have found a motel. I might have had to drive past where I want to go tomorrow: Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

It felt like I drove a lot today, but I covered just under 250 miles. After Billings I was clearly in range country. Lots of rolling hills and cattle. Few towns to stop in for lunch. I tried to stop in Rosebud to grab a bite. I left the highway when I saw the fork & knife symbol and followed the road. I passed by a little town but didn't see any commercial district or any way to get there. A few turns later and I was back on I-94 -- still looking for lunch.

I left the highway again at Miles City and found myself on a strip of motels and fast food joints. Time to be daring, I thought, so I followed the signs into the city center to look for a local eatery. Bars and stores, but no cafes or restaurants. So I ended up back on the strip at KFC. So much for local color.

In Big Sky Country you can see the rain falling miles away. It was raining off and on along my route. Good for cleaning the Montana wildlife off the windshield. Unfortunately, it was raining when I arrived in Glendive, where I'd planned to visit either the local museum or the Makoshika State Park. Looked like a museum day, but I found my way to the park first, so that's where I went.

I paid my fee but found that the visitor center was temporarily closed -- just until 3PM. Oh, well. I proceeded into the park without any more information than was in the brochure I'd picked up days earlier. I only made it to where the pavement ended and decided not to risk the gravel. It was still raining and the parking lot was empty. Didn't want to risk getting stuck. I enjoyed the scenery but didn't spend much time out of the car. The best part was when I went around a sharp curve to see two whitetail deer crossing the road and climbing the slope right in front of me. I stopped and stared at them and they stared back.

After snapping a few damp photos, I returned to the visitor center and got lots of information from the enthusiastic park ranger. Makoshika is the largest state park in Montana. It is a treasure trove of dinosaur fossils. Some of them, including a triceratops skull, are on display in the visitor center. I wish I could have spent more time -- in better weather. But it looks like the weather will be better tomorrow when I get to North Dakota.

I realized today that I'm not getting any pictures of the scenery along the road. When I drove though southern Utah seven years ago, I pulled off at every turn out and took photos of the fabulous scenery. On the highways I've been traveling there aren't any places to stop for photos. I have to keep a lot of the scenery in my mind. But anyway, here is a picture of one of the rock formations at Makoshika. Don't you just want to climb down there and start looking for dinosaur bones?

1 comment:

Makoshika said...

Looks like a great time. Godspeed and safe travels.
Makoshika State Park