2019.07.05 WY–>MT–>ID–>WA

Rise and shine, King Boys. Most of us got up before our alarms went off this morning.  Perhaps a sense of excitement?  Before we rolled out of Casper, Wyoming, we drove downtown to check out the large sculpture(?) that dominates the Casper landscape. 

Wells Fargo Tower. Built in 1968.

The drive north out of Casper all the way to Sheridan is some of the most least populated interstate you will find.  It is not uncommon to be the only vehicle that you can see.  But I continue to be a big fan of the scenery.  Love the wide open spaces!

Lonely Wyoming Interstate

Sheridan was our first stop of the day. We visited a clothing store on Main Street called Surf Wyoming.  They have funky designs for shirts and hats and several of us made a purchase.  I would consider this place a must-stop place if you’re in Sheridan.  It is the only place we visited!

Surf Wyoming – Sheridan

Our big plan for the day was to be at the Little Bighorn National Memorial in Montana by 11am for the Ranger talk.  But we were our own worst enemy this morning.  We spent much longer at Surf Wyoming than expected, we stopped for snacks, and filled up the cars, and by the time we got on the road, our estimated arrival time was 11:30.  On top of all that, there were heavy rains on our drive north, not to mention at the memorial.  We decided to cut out that activity, and instead just stopped at a nearby privately-run Custer Battlefield Museum in Garryowen, Montana for a quick pit stop.

Custer Battlefield Museum

On our way to the memorial, the Montana state line caught us by surprise, and we once again failed to get a picture.  This continues our solid track record of missing out on interesting pictures.  This follows up the first part of the drive this morning where Scott was in charge of taking pictures of Antelope, but he complains that pictures of stationary objects by the road don’t photograph well when we’re driving 80.

Lunch was a quick stop at Dairy Queen in Billings, including Blizzards for all.  From there, we went to Bozeman where we spent several hours at the REI and the Sportsman’s Warehouse.  Scott and KK had visited this particular REI on last year’s trip, but I have never been in one at all.  I made up for my lack of experience by making 4 purchases and 1 return (it’s a long story).

By the time we pulled out of Bozeman, it was 4:30 and we had 6 hours of driving scheduled to get to Spokane, as planned. Time to get serious.

West of Bozeman, the Yellowstone River runs along the highway

Traveling through Butte last year left a big impression on me.  The remnants of one of the world’s largest copper mines dominates the town.  I have been listening to a podcast about the mine on the trip in preparation for a visit to Butte, but our schedule will not allow a stop.  What are the odds I will find myself in Butte again next summer, for a 3rd straight year?  (Not high)

We put together about 3 hours of driving without stopping and got rewarded with a Five Guys dinner in Missoula.  Eat fast and hit the road.

So far, from the moment we pulled out of our Oklahoma driveway yesterday morning, we have been driving the same route we drove last year on our way to Glacier National Park.  But just a few miles west of Missoula, we continued our trek west, which broke with last year’s drive.  We are finally getting new scenery!  There was much rejoicing on the two-way radios between our vehicles.

Welcome to Idaho!

Much of the drive through far west Montana and all of Idaho was mountainous.  (At this point, I would compare Idaho to West Virginia, in that I’m not sure either state has any flat ground.)  Between the fact it was getting dark and the mountain driving, we decided to try and stay the night 30 minutes east of Spokane, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

We pulled off the interstate in Coeur d’Alene and found a grassy field next the exit ramp to park in while we searched for a room.  You can’t search for a room until you get to town because the funny thing about mountains is that they do not have cell service.  Once we started our search, we found that every hotel in the area was sold out.  Spokane was not much better, but we were able to locate a room with two beds, and Scott got it reserved.  We have a place! 

Searching for a hotel room for tonight
It is a good weekend to own a hotel in Coeur d’Alene

We checked into our hotel at 10:30pm Pacific Time.  This was a long day.  The desk clerk gave us a couple of tokens for a free beer at the hotel bar, so after unloading our bags, we found the bar and relaxed for a few minutes.  It was a good time to discuss today’s successes and plan tomorrow’s activities.

Cheers Spokane!

Tomorrow, we meet up with Miles and Peyton, and pick up PK, Erin and Ellery at the Seattle airport.  In other words, tomorrow the real fun begins!

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