Thursday, August 7, 2008

Day 7: Away from home, on the range

This looks oddly familiar.
Pushed on to Bozeman two nights ago after posting in Great Falls. I felt the need for a shower and a real bed for the night, so I ponied up the cash for a room at a local, only slightly shady motel. I brought up any valuables that the folk hanging out in the parking lot BBQing (a few of them shirtless, most of them beer'd) might feel inclined to appropriate, and immediately took a 20 minute shower. Feeling refreshed and clean enough to not offend the general public, I got ready to check out this town and get some grub. Unfortunately, it seemed my room didn't actually lock from the outside, so down came all my valuables again into my car.

Bozeman is actually a pretty nifty town, very reminiscent of Corvallis (it is after all a university town). The downtown area is particularly interesting, with quite a few bars and restaurants to choose from. I could see myself living there for a short while (say while at school), but probably not really long term, as it is slightly more isolated than I would prefer.

Drive by shooting
After a much needed night sleep, I headed south to Yellowstone. Now, I have been to Yellowstone years earlier, and at that time it had recently been ravaged by a forest fire. Although the trees have not completely grown back, the difference is quite noticeable.

Although the scenery was beautiful at Yellowstone, being one of the more popular national parks was a tad annoying. For this reason, I only made one major stop to walk around the geysers, and of course to watch Old Faithful do its thing (which I barely caught as I was walking up). I did see a bald eagle on the way in, though, which was pretty awesome having never seen on before in person.

Looks beautiful, smells horrible.
Apparently, unbeknownst to me, twenty five dollars is the standard fare to enter a national park (or at least the more popular ones), as once again Yellowstone cost me a quarter of a Benjamin to get in. On the positive side, it also include Grand Teton National Park, which I was planning on driving through anyways, so that was a bit of a bonus.

A note about the roads surrounding Yellowstone and Grand Teton: they are under some heavy construction. I probably lost about an hour in travel time yesterday sitting in a line of traffic waiting for a pilot car to drive us through.

After Grand Teton, I decided that I had not made enough eastwardly progress as I would like. Therefore, Gillette became my goal for the night, I drove pretty much the rest of the day (and some of the night).

As not much else happened to report on, here's a list of various thoughts or observations I've had so far, mostly unrelated to anything else.

Why anyone would blame it on the Tetons is beyond me
  1. My car has become a mobile catastrophic event for the insect population of the western United States. The front of my car looks like I painted it yellow and I have to stop at almost every town to wipe my windshield clean.
  2. The Red Cross of Montana has a campaign where they place little white crosses next to the road where someone has died in an accident on the highways (and multiple crosses if more than one person died at that location). It's slightly chilling to realize how many people have lost their lives on even the few highways that I drove.
  3. Every state really seems to have something to offer, be it beautiful scenery, historical significance, or some undefinable quality. However, this does not indicate that I would actually like to live in every place I've been through so far.
  4. My car gets extremely decent gas mileage with mostly highway driving. I've been averaging 38ish mpgs, but yesterday between Bozeman and Riverton I somehow got 41 mpg. Thank you Honda and you're higher efficiency standards.
  5. While having your windows down is an okay way to cool off on the road, air conditioning may be the best invention in the automobile industry in the history of everything, with the possible exception of...
  6. Cruise control. I'm pretty sure this is why I'm getting the gas mileage I am. Although, cruise control on a manual seems to pretty much give up when it encounters any kind of incline, though I'm pretty sure this is due to the mechanics of cruise control only really maintaining rpm's, and not the actual speed.
  7. Being able to see the entire Milky Way is amazing.
  8. Deer like to come out at night and stand on the edge of the highway staring down cars. This is some sort of game for them, and they are good at it. Coming around a mountain corner at 60 mph to see a buck staring directly at me almost made me mess myself.
Time to leave Gillette and keep on keeping on. Next up, Mt. Rushmore and South Dakota.

Trip status: can't believe it's almost been a week.
Total Miles put on this bad boy so far: 1839 (I put quite a few on yesterday)
Recent listenings:
Science Friday podcasts
Norah Jones - Come Away With Me
The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan


Josh said...

Colin, I have not looked for this particular feature in the part of Montana you are in, but in many parts of the state if you get slightly outside the cities at night (more if possible) you can see the Northern lights in very bright blues and greens.

Also don't get Lyme disease from tick bites.... no bueno

Josh said...

ps - many companies (especially soda peeps such as coke and pepsi) use the part of the country you are smack dab in the middle of to test new products.... so make sure when you are in fast food places to check out what the fountain is serving up (I had surge many years ago about 6 months before we ever saw it in Oregon)...........................WAIT A TICK, LOOK FOR DR. SLICE AT THE STORES!!!!!!!!!!! IT'S DELICIOUS AND I'VE ONLY FOUND IT IN MONTANA, OH GOD IT'S TOO LATE!!!!!