I'm spending tonight in a clean, economical motel at a truck stop just outside Butte. Hard driving day -- even though I lost an hour when I crossed into Montana.
The scenery continued to change as I headed east. Through Idaho and into Montana I was "in" or even "on" the mountains. The tree-covered slopes were very close. Then the mountains seemed to get a bit further away, but they were still mostly forested. As I got closer to Missoula, the trees were disappearing and the slopes were mostly covered with golden-brown grass. And the mountains were even further in the distance.
I was struggling with midday fatigue and had to keep stopping. Tried to nap a few times and hit the road again when I felt a bit refreshed. At one truck stop I shut my eyes for a bit before going in to get a snack. While I was trying to drift off, I'd suddenly thought about an ice cream treat I'd enjoyed as a kid. It was called a "push-up" -- at least that's what we called it. Orange sherbet in a cardboard tube with a stick to push up the sherbet as you ate it. Hmm. If I could find one of those, I'd get it, but I hadn't seen one in ... many, many years. I walked into the little store and over to the ice cream freezer. Would you believe: There was something called a Cool Tube. Orange sherbet in a cardboard tube with a stick. How weird is that? Yes, I did get it and enjoyed it.
My original plan was to get off the highway at Drummond and take a detour through Phillipsburg and Anaconda on my way to Butte. But I was running kind of late. And I was weary. It would take too long to get to Butte. I won't. Yes, I will. No, I'll continue on straight to Butte. Then, the turnoff was right there in front of me -- so I took it.
I'm glad I did. It was a nice, relaxing drive with very little traffic. (Just a two-lane blacktop but the posted speed was sometimes 70 mph) I was now wide awake and was not worried about needing to pull over again. I stopped in tiny Phillipsburg and went into the world famous Sweet Palace. Hundreds of kinds of candy in cases and in jars. House-made filled chocolates and fudge. Yum. I figured chocolate would melt in the car, so I selected assorted flavors of fruit slices: orange and lemon and grape and peach and -- I can't remember which ones I got. Very good. I wonder how long I can make them last.
Up until Phillipsburg the scenic loop didn't seem all that scenic. After that point, however, it got really dramatic. Curving mountain roads and large lakes. And a storm was coming in. The sky had been kind of smokey after weeks of fires, so people were glad to see the rain. It wasn't a heavy rain and by the time I had reconnected with I-90 it had pretty much stopped. Before I knew it I was at the exit where I would find my motel for the night.
Tomorrow it is on to Bozeman where I plan to visit the Museum of the Rockies. Not sure how far I'll get after that. I expect to spend the night in Montana and then head into North Dakota on Thursday.