January 24, 2011

Another Look on a Clearer Day

If you were with me a week and a half ago, we took you on a rather snowy tour of a 215 mile stretch of I-90 through WA, ID, and into Montana.

Seems like we're making this Washington to Minnesota run quite a bit lately, and believe me, there are NO complaints about it here in the truck! For starters, we never tire of driving through our home state. But the main reason we love this route is that it passes by the house. And on occasion, like this past weekend, we load on one end on a Thurs. or Fri. but can't deliver on the other end till Monday. And what else is there to do but stop at the house for a couple days of R&R. All five of us enjoy this norther run!

Last week, we were on this run from Washington to Minnesota and, unlike the previous post, it was a glorious day! It was just the kind of beautiful day in the mountains that fills your soul with smiles! I had to get the camera out and take advantage of the opportunity to show the beauty of the day.

Remember not being able to see anything of Lake Coeur d'Alene in my pictures? Not a problem at all last Tuesday.

The roads were a lot clearer too, with only the occasional wet spot.
The climate is milder on the western side of these mountains than on the eastern side. So much of the snow had already melted considerably. The night before there had been a heavy fog that froze on the pine trees, but was pretty much the extent of the whiteness.

There are few things prettier than pine trees covered in frozen fog or mist. Its even prettier than pine boughs with snow, at least I think so.

It truly was a glorious day in the Idaho mountains!
Around every curve in the road is something new to see. Steep mountain slopes open up to reveal small fertile valleys before closing back in and squeezing the road in a tight hug.

The old mission house was much more clearly visible. I think it would be neat to stop here one day and explore. Somehow I doubt they have truck parking, but maybe we can make it work. Malcolm has a talent for creative parking so that I can enjoy these type things. ;)

The valley at Wallace,ID was a lot more visible too, though I still couldn't get more than the rooftops of the town buildings. Its just to tight an area to get good pictures in there.
We did finally run into some left over slush when we were going over Lookout pass, but nothing worth mentioning really.

A quick glance at the shoulder makes it pretty clear that they get their fair share of snow up here on the mountain pass.

And then the summit and the Montana state line! This is Big Sky Country!!!
You get a peek at the "big sky" but then for a while, maybe 45 miles of a bit more, you are back in the embrace of the mountains, winding around through the curves,

...and crossing mountain streams and rivers. This is a not so great picture of Clark Fork. (again, its not easy to get good pictures in these closed in spaces). Last night we came through this area again, and I counted, just out of curiosity. On this stretch of I-90 you cross Clark Fork no less than 7 times in about 80 miles. 
Maybe that gives you an idea of how windy the river is and how many curves are in the road through here.

After a while, maybe 60 miles into the state, the mountains start to open up a little.

And its not long before you can see more than just steep slopes of evergreen and patches of blue sky. Montana starts to live up to its nick name.

I love the mountains, and I love all of Montana, but the eastern plains will always own the biggest portion of my heart for Montana. There is something majestic about mountains, something that makes you feel small and awed, but the big open spaces can give you the same feelings.

Over by Missoula the terrain makes a final change over. From here to Billings the mountain ranges can be seen as entire ranges separated by vast valleys of pastureland. Its a taste of what is waiting for me east of Billings.

This tour ends for you at Missoula. 
We stopped to fuel, and by the time we were done, it was almost dark and I was going to bed. I got up to drive through my beloved grasslands in the middle of the night. Another night on the cold Montana plains, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Yes we love these Washington to Minnesota runs. Its a good freight lane to be stuck in for us. The only complaint I might issue is that no matter which way we're heading, east or west, the majority of the Montana portion of our trip inevitably comes after dark.  For now you can enjoy the mountains, and hopefully one of these days I'll be able to show you more of my side of Montana.


small farm girl said...

I bet you could run that run for the rest of your driving career. Beautiful views and a chance to go home. What else could you ask for?

Sharon Tachenko said...

SO much beauty. . . takes your breath away! Thanks for taking to to photograph and share!

Be safe & warm!

Growing Up A Country Girl said...

Thank you - I love the mountains and only have been to Idaho once and that was to packin with horses - beautiful mountains!

Verde Farm said...

What a gorgeous drive. The sky sure speaks for itself--so pretty. That last shot is beautiful. Breathtaking-thank you for sharing :)

Judy said...

To me there will never be anything prettier than our prairies of eastern Montana! Well, guess I have to toss in the prairies and badlands of western North Dakota since I call them home now. When I lived away from our little corner of the world, when I had the chance to head home, my foot always got heavier on the gas the closer I got. Once I caught the smell of sagebrush and prairie air there was no stopping me til I was home. I know just how you feel, Sarah! I think I told you how I feel about mountains and trees....they are pretty and ok to look at....in moderation! Hope to see you again here in our country soon for a visit!

Ed said...

Cool post and pics, I miss driving on I-90, I remember the old mission house too.
Drive safe..:-)

sunnycalgirl said...

Wonderful pictures! What a thrill it must be to see so much beauty!

Meagan said...

You write so well!! Love the tour, the photos, and your words! And love that you get to stop in at home here and there lately!

Missy @ My Life Ain't Always Beautiful said...

Beautiful. I love the hoarfrost on all of the trees.

Safe travels ;)