Montana Musings

Do you know that phenomenon where you can’t stop reading license plates after having been on a road trip?

We just got back from a long weekend to Big Sky, Montana for my friend Meta’s wedding and saw cars from 40 of our 50 states along the drive!  I keep looking for those last 10 states… 🙂  Actually, though, I think finding 40 is pretty good especially in comparison to the list that’s been hanging around in my car since 2005 when I drove from Michigan to Seattle with my dad.  On that trip, we saw 43 states.  Just in case you’re wondering, we found everything except: Connecticut, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

Besides keeping our eyes peeled for license plates on the trip, these are the other things that I’ll remember the trip by:

1. Coming out of the McDonald’s bathroom at our dinner stop on the first night of journey only to find Kyle standing by the soda machines looking at all of our fries on the floor.  He was stunned when I found him.  There wasn’t any space for your tray to rest while you fill up your drinks at this particular McDonalds, and in Kyle’s process of trying to balance everything, the tray flipped over, dumping everything on the floor.  Fortunately our sandwiches were protected by their boxes and the staff was really understanding and brought us new fries for free. 🙂

2. Arriving at our hotel for the first night and deciding to stretch our legs on a walk to Dairy Queen for some dessert.  Mind you, Kyle has been healing from a bad sprained ankle and I recently aggravated my plantar fasciitis, so we weren’t able to walk briskly or with any great distance so the almost 3 block walk to get there felt just about right.  After enjoying our “cool treats” and feeling satiated from the people watching, it was time to make the trek back.  We we’re about a quarter of a block away from the hotel when Kyle started checking his pockets for our hotel key card.  It was nowhere to be found.  We stopped in our tracks trying to decide what to do.  Retrace all of our steps?  Have one of go back to the hotel and probably pay a fee to get a replacement card while the other retraces our steps back to the restaurant?  Thank goodness for smart phones.  I looked up the DQ phone number, gave them a call and inquired about a lost Super 8 hotel key card.  FOUND!  We saved ourselves the extra walking by finishing the last 1/4 block to get to the car and drove back to get our key.  Phew.

3. After the first leg of our drive and the two fiascos of our journey on night 1, we were pretty anxious to get to bed.  As Kyle opened his toiletry case, he discovered the 2nd thing he forgot: a toothbrush.  Guess who had to borrow mine the whole trip? (The first was a sweatshirt or long-sleeved layer of some sort.)

4. On day two of our travels, we got off to a decent start.  In the continental breakfast, we saw a lady who filled up a cup of coffee and then promptly spilled the whole thing partially on the counter, partially on the floor, and partially on herself.  Given Kyle’s luck from the night before, we figured he’d passed that along to her.  (Poor lady.)  But, no such luck.  The last part of our drive became grueling when  we came across “Incident Ahead” signs shortly before our exit on I-90.  At first we thought the signs were a joke.  There were just some random cars pulled off on the side of the road here and there.  And then….we came around a bend to a screeching halt of bumper to bumper traffic.  At times we were literally parked on the freeway.  We watched as some cars got adventurous and drove across the median to turn around and go westbound instead.  We even did a chinese fire drill at one point so Kyle could be relieved from his position at the wheel.  In curiosity, we searched the local radio stations for some sign of traffic news and eventually heard the second half of a snipit about an accident that had happened about about 12:45 pm.  (It was 4:45ish – I think – when we were parked on the freeway.)  Which, speaking of times, was one of the other reasons our trip became grueling. We forgot about the time difference…  Montana is 1 hour ahead of us, so we lost an hour somewhere and hadn’t been planning on it.  Our goal was to get to the resort where the wedding was taking place in the late afternoon so we check-in, get settled, figure our the lay of the land and then be ready to go to the “Welcome BBQ” at 6pm.  Those plans went down the drain when we ran into traffic, and lost an hour.  And then those plans were completely abandoned when we finally got through the “incident” (which was just the police taking photos and such of the accident scene) because we ran into road construction next.  Basically, as soon as we got off the freeway, we saw signs that we should expect delays.  We ended up having to follow a “pilot car” for several miles at 35 MPH on a section of the road that should have been 65MPH or so.  Oh joy.  In the end, we made it there safe and sound.  (Just several hours after our ETA.)  And there was still plenty of food for us at the BBQ.

5. Having it be sunny and warm enough to be at the the pool at 9:30 in the morning.  Oh, and I certainly won’t forget the suburn that resulted from our 3.5 hour long poolside stint.  I can honestly say I’ve never had a neck sunburn before!

Our view from the pool. (Look carefully and you can see the reflection of the red umbrella and lounge chairs in the class that separated the pool from the mountains.)

6. Riding the chairlift up to the top of the mountain for a look around.  What a view!  (Oh – and not having reapplied sunscreen for this portion of the afternoon sure didn’t help our already formed sunburns. 🙂 )

Beauty between a rock and hard place.


7. Discovering all of the things that the resort floated in their water jars.  (To give you an idea, we saw (or heard about other friends seeing) sliced oranges, basil and bright red hot peppers, and sliced cucumbers with lemons.)  Big Sky Resort sure makes drinking water so alluring.

8. Dancing the night away at the reception.  I was in awe of how the DJ kept so many people on the dance floor.  (To the bride’s credit, she sure did a great job of instructing him!)

9. Have two pieces of cake!  How could I resist?  It was Funfetti Cake with Rainbow Chip frosting.  🙂

10. Spending 12.5 hours in the car on the way home and remembering how sometimes I spend an entire road trip thinking and talking.  This time I mostly just zoned out.  12.5 hours is a long time to zone out.  My brain is usually works in overdrive, so I’m sure it appreciated the break.

All in all, we had a great (and memorable trip) to kickstart the summer.  Here’s to the prospect of summery days arriving in Seattle soon! (It’s currently overcast and 54 degrees with a forecast that we’ll reach 62 degrees later in the day.  Come on summer!  You can do it!  We’re all routing for you!!)

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