day 2 eastern washington to lewiston montana

Sunrise on the Great Plains

Gorgeous river sunrise drive this morning along the Pend Oreille. Highway 2 thru Idaho and Montana. Bought some sipping whiskey in Libby Montana - 8oz Jack Daniels were made for driving. Stocked up on Mickeys in Kalispell. The point of this whole route choice was to drive Hwy 2 thru the Rockies skirting Glacier Natl Park and see the splendor of the Great Plains stretch out before me at Browning Montana. I'd read about this in a book several years ago - a modern day Lewis & Clark road trip in a van - author raved about this particular transition to the Great Plains. I'd taken the direct tourist route thru Glacier Park before - a tedious snake of a drive behind a suburb on wheels. But Hwy 2 turned out to be a dud as well - a boring drive around the south end of the park - the great Plains vista described in the book never showed.

But glad to be on the Plains anyway. Almost always the best part of any cross-country drive. A 500 mile wide swath of barren splendor stretching from Alberta to Texas. Crossed '96 trip route at Fort Benton Montana just upriver from the Missouri Breaks. That stretch of the Missouri river is officiously titled a National Wild and Scenic River. Adventured here in '96 on my first trip with truck and just about left it there trying to ford a creek.

Hwy 80 from Ft. Benton to Lewiston is a treat. Warm summer evening settling in - paved happy hour. A half hour goes by without seeing another vehicle. Easy to pull over and take a leak which can be a problem on the treeless Plains. Mule Variations braying out to the plains. Tom Waits riding shotgun admiring the view. Historic fur trading area settled by our ruffian ancestors in the early 1800's. Square and Round Butte landmarks take a full hour to creep by in the evening light. Must have been the center of the universe for the people before the horse.

Found Fisherman's Access camping near Lewiston. These are the choicest US campgrounds. Always free - always beside water - seldom used, and very few serial killers like to fish. Montana and Kansas are full of them. Went into Lewiston Montana to hunt for excitement at dusk. Had my heart set on a bar with live music. Big regional fair & rodeo was on - this is the heart of cowboy country. Tempted but settled for Bar19 across the road. Managed not to get the shit beat out me with my sandals and shorts. Shitty country band and no interesting bar stool companions. Wrote postcards and drove back to campsite. Went to sleep anticipating a dawn wakeup call and brand new Montana drive ahead on Hwy 200.

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