March 3, 2011

The Birthplace of Montana and Crossing the Divide

Tuesday was our first full day back at work, spent pleasantly in northwestern Montana.  We left home Monday evening, driving half way to our destination and stopping at a lonely little truck stop on a lonely  corner crossroads, to sleep for the night. It was around 18 degrees with a clear sky.

We woke up around 5:00 Tuesday morning to a skiff of fresh snow, temperatures hovering around -4, and icy roads.
We like driving around the northern regions of Montana. Ok, so we like driving in all the regions of Montana, but getting north of I-90 is special. We don't do it as much as we'd like. And at that early in the day, it was pretty much just us, the frosty cows having breakfast...
...and a few deer that weren't quite ready to get up and start their day. When its this cold out, its nice to lay in bed a little while longer.

This north central region of Montana is mostly flat, rolling plains. You can see a long way!
But then you'll run across these random huge buttes that stick up out of the flatness like a rogue wave in an ocean of grass and grain.
They thought long and hard when naming this one and came up with Square Butte. To me it looks more like a trapezoid, but I guess Trapezoid Butte didn't have quite the same ring to it.

The landscape is also quite deceiving in its flatness. Looking at the picture above, one would think that flat plain runs right up to the base of the butte. But as you get closer, the road suddenly drops...
...and you find yourself winding through the bottom of some badlands.

After a while the landscape smoothed back out. Just before arriving at our destination, we passed the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument...
...and crossed a mostly frozen Missouri River...
...into Fort Benton, MT, which is known as the birthplace of Montana.
Tuesday morning we loaded organic wheat screenings at this small mill on the northwest side of town.

After loading, we passed through Great Falls, and then hopped on MT200 to cross over to Missoula. The skies had cleared and the temps were in the 20's. It had turned into a beautiful day for a beautiful drive!
We both agreed we wouldn't want to drive this in bad weather, but I can't wait to give it another whirl. I bet its especially breath taking in the summertime. MT200 cuts across the lower tip of one of Montana's western wilderness areas, and also passes through the Helena National Forest.
In addition to those beautiful vistas, if you take this drive, you get to cross Rogers Pass and the Continental Divide.
After this, I put the camera away. I decided to be stingy and think only of myself, to absorb the beauty of God's creation undisturbed. Hope you don't mind. I promised myself next time we take that road I'll keep the camera out and share.

The weather turned icky when we got to the Montana Idaho line on I-90. We spun our way up to the summit of Lookout Pass, but the Idaho side was cleaner, as usual, and after that it was smooth sailing over into western Oregon where we delivered Wednesday morning.

I apologizee for the poor quality of some of these pictures. My camera doesn't like early morning light in a moving vehicle, not to mention that through the windshield that early in the day, things come out looking really blue! But I hope I still was able to give you a feel for that part of Montana.

Added on Friday: Today is apparently National Pound Cake Day! My Mom has shared this with me and now I'm on a hunt for a piece of pound cake so I can participate in the celebration.


Cindi said...

you pics were great thanks for sharing

thecrazysheeplady said...

Pound cake day - I LIKE it! I think your pictures are wonderful. I am envious :-).

Dreaming said...

I love seeing parts of the country I've never seen before through your photos and descriptions. Thanks for educating me!

Valerie said...

I love traveling with you via your blog. Though I was so thankful for your time at home, I missed the traveling. Question: what makes a badland, well, a badland? How many can there be? I thought "The Badlands" were in South Dakota. Educate yo mama. Love you bunches.