The Drive West

Ominous clouds greeted us as we passed into Montana

Having already taken care of 90% of what I needed to do to get out of town the night before I figured a 4 AM wake up call from Bob would give me enough time to finish. I missed Bob’s call because I couldn’t find my phone in the dark but he had to know I’d be awake. I took the dog for a quick walk, made some sandwiches for the road and loaded up the cooler before heading over to our rendezvous point: The still-unsold house on Fairmont Lane. Why Fairmont? so Bob could park his mammoth diesel truck without worrying about Yumi pimping his ride by backing into it or something.

I got to Fairmont at 4:32 AM and was forced to wait almost 15 minutes for Bob to arrive. When he got there it didn’t take us but 3 minutes to load up the trusty Rav4 with his gear and, most importantly, the pre-cooked and already frozen brats and italian sausages for out next nights pre-hike feast. I plugged in the cooler and we were off---5 minutes behind schedule---and out of the driveway at 4:50.

The drive through north central Wisconsin was as boring as ever, as was the stretch to the Twin Cities. As per usual traffic was backed up and moving slow when we got downtown. I hate that place. We stopped for gas at Rogers, MN and noted the trusty Rav4 got almost 26 mpg on the tank. Excellent, though I was sure that would decrease a little bit once I started driving 78 or faster. On a whium I decided to check on the cooler to make sure I had plugged it in the right way: on “cool”, not “warm”.

I blame the pre-dawn darkness for my first blunder of the trip. I had the cooler plugged in to the “warm” setting resulting in partially thawed out meat, unfrozen cheese and water. bottles I flipped the plug and we were good again.

We made it to St. Cloud in a shade under 6 hours and Fargo just past 1:00. At this rate I figured we’d make it to Miles City well before 9 PM CST (8 PM MST) even with stopping for a bacon ranch cheeseburger at the Yellowstone River Inn at Glendive. After another stop for gas in Medina, ND (25.4 MPG), racing through Bismarck and bypassing Medora for the first time ever we hit the Montana border just before 6 PM. There to greet us were some very dark thunderclouds which, lucky for us, really didn’t produce much for rain.

The trusty Rav4 suffered some road damage on the way out

By the time we reached Glendive the sun was out, the pavement dry. Time for a cheeseburger and to check out the photos of the most recent Miss Montana’s hung on the Yellowstone River Inn’s lobby wall.
The cheeseburgers were as good as usual and by 7:15 we were back on the interstate with only about an hour to go until we got to our motel room in Miles City.

Had our service at the YRI been just a little faster I would have avoided that particular 18-wheeler headed westbound just as I merged onto I-94. Unfortunately, I was where I was and the trusty Rav4 took a direct hit from a small stone on the windshield, leaving a nice mark, but not a crack.

We pulled into the beautiful Miles City Super 8 at 8:15, well before planned thanks to the lack of road construction the entire trip. Once we got settled in to our luxurious room I packed a few extra ziplocks full of ice so that we could keep the brats cool overnight then settled in to watch some cable television shows Bob had never seen before. He seemed to enjoy “Pawn Stars”, by the way.

Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, 2012
The Hikers and Special Invite
The Drive West
Island Lake CG
Trip Map
Skytop Creek
Lone Elk Lake
Skytop Lakes
Skytop Lakes
Oly Lake
Fossil Lake
Fox Lake
The Hike Out
The Drive Home
Final Thoughts
Trip Photos
Back to Backcountry Trips

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