April 14, 2011

Three Days of Glorious Views

This has been a slow kind of week. The kind where we get to sleep in a parked truck for a few hours each night. The kind where we have time to stop and meet Malcolm's parents for lunch and a visit. Its been the kind of week where we keep finding ourselves surrounded by beautiful scenery with the time to soak it in a little.

We started on Monday, loading north of Portland at the Port of Longview in Washington. We had about 450 miles to go over into Idaho, and the drive to get there took us along a favorite drive, WA 14 on the north side of the Columbia River Gorge.
Its a twisty, hilly ride and leaves me breathless at every turn. I just want to park in the road (there isn't much of a shoulder to pull off on but for a few scenic spots) and take in the scenery at leisure. One day...

Because of the trees and our movement, I couldn't get a picture of the multitude of waterfalls across the river on the Oregon side, but there are numerous falls and they were all putting on a grand show, probably due to recent rain falls and snow melt. More evidence of plenty of rain, there are several large dams on the river and each had their gates wide open.
 The Columbia River is not just a pretty river to look at. It's a recreation area for boating and windsurfing, supports a number of fisheries, and is a main artery for commerce with a number of barges being transported up and down the river at any given time.
 Monday started out as a mostly sunny morning, but quickly the misty weather filled in and nearly hid the Oregon banks. But rain and mist often provide their own impressive scenery along the river.

We delivered south west of Boise, ID on Tuesday morning. After reloading about 200 miles away in Pocatello, ID, we headed north to Idaho Falls where we picked up another of my favorite routes to travel, US 20 and then US 191 into Montana and through Yellowstone country.
 Despite the significant Spring thaw, there is still plenty of snow up in that country, and it was a little odd being surrounded by white after spending the past week in the southern regions of the country where we needed short sleeves and air conditioning. It wasn't too cold though, hovering just between 34 and 39 degrees throughout the evening.

 I can't tell you how long I've wished to pass through the town of West Yellowstone in winter and during the daylight so that I could share pictures of the town with you. It finally came about, though I was almost half way through before I remembered my mission. I get so absorbed in looking at the drifts that I forget to take pictures. I just have been dying to show you how high the snow gets in town, where they plow and then plow again and then plow some more. It wasn't as impressive as it usually is, as it had thawed quite a bit, but maybe you'll still be impressed and I"ll try again next winter.
 Normally the drifts from plowing almost hide the buildings so you can see how much it has melted. The picture below might give you a hint at how much it piles up though. Those windows on the building are second floor windows and the entry is behind the sign and through that tunnel of snow that has heaped up on the porch roof.
 Shortly after passing through town and entering the western edge of Yellowstone National Park, the sun began to set behind the mountains. Another glorious Montana sunset!
 After it was too dark to take pictures, I saw a moose making his way down to a roadside stream for a drink, and later elk crossed the road in front of me. Why do the wildlife wait till I can't take pictures to make their appearance? And then just coming out of the forest, almost to Bozeman, more wildlife crossed the road in front of me. Four deer made a mad dash and as hard as I tried to miss, one didn't quite make it in time. She was my fourth deer to hit in my four years of living in Montana. I'm sure she didn't suffer anything more than fright, but it still just makes me ache inside. My only conselation was that it was too early for her to have had a fawn yet. I always worry I'll hit one in Spring and leave some little helpless fawn hidden in the grass nearby to starve to death.

Fortunately, and thanks to our specialized bumper, one of the greatest investments we've ever made, the truck was fine and we were able to keep rolling. We arrived at our destination, the teeny tiny town of Bloomfield, MT, around 2:00am. I took the girls out and absorbed the absolute silence of a Montana prairie night, the faint aroma of earth and grass in the air that springtime brings, and the millions of stars visible in the sky. Then I went to bed.

There are few things in the world that make me feel as wonderful as waking up, looking out my window, and being greeted by the eastern Montana prairie. I fall in love all over again!
We spent most of yesterday in eastern Montana delivering, then reloading at a farm about 60 miles north near Lambert, and then making our way south towards Wyoming. We had to load off our gauges instead of being able to weigh and had overloaded by 3000 pounds. (oops!) There wasn't really a way to dump the excess off, so we just took it and changed our route to bypass the two weigh stations we would have passed. A perk of our little detour, it took us through Baker, so Malcolm's parent's came up and had lunch with us. It was a beautiful day in Montana, though by late afternoon the clouds were starting to close in. Snow and rain were in the forecast for today. I'm curious to see if it happened, but I"m betting it did, as we ran into heavy snow showers late last night in Wyoming.

We just delivered in Platteville, CO and the "take it easy and enjoy the scenery" part of the week just ended. We are rushing over to eastern CO to reload and have to be 1400 miles away in Stockton, California as soon as we possibly can. Our reload, 150 miles north of our delivery, stops loading at 3:00 tomorrow afternoon! We can do it as long as no hitches are thrown into the game. Reckon we'll make it?  I'll let you know.

So far, Colorado's not cooperating!


Shirley said...

well the first pictures sure are a lot better than the last picture! I love the rainbow shot.
Only 4 deer- you're doing pretty good considering all the miles you cover in a year.

Michaele said...

You have such a unique and wonderful life. Some people wait and work their whole lives until retirement so they can do what you do - only they don't get paid. I am sure it has it's stresses, but you get to see so much.

thecrazysheeplady said...

I got a new computer and didn't know how to transfer all my bookmarks, so you were lost, but now you are found :-D. I love your blog.

Debbie @ Swampbilly Ranch said...

So exciting!

Dreaming said...

I always find it hard to remember that just because it is spring here, it isn't elsewhere. Yellowstone always surprises me. I'm not sure I could live up there! The snow pictures were impressive.
Sorry about the deer - but glad that you and the truck are OK. We have a large herd of deer near our new place. Yesterday we saw them nimbly jumping over the fence and crossing the road. I was waiting for a screech of brakes and a thud... not this time!

Leigh said...

You know, I've never been to that part of the US. I wanted to thank you for your comment on my blog and return the visit. My DH is a trucker too, so I understand the life: the wonders of travel and the problems truckers face. You've got me thinking I need to get him a camera, LOL.

Vintage West said...

Wonderful views as always, but you know I love that eastern MT prairie the best :)