January 29, 2012

Traveling New Roads

What started out as a very frustrating week, has turned into a wonderful time of travel, relaxation, visiting, and seeing new sights. Our travels this week took us down "new" roads, something I always enjoy!

Having not heard from me since last week, you might be thinking we're still sitting in Reno waiting with that load of corn!
Rest assured, we did get to deliver the corn, though not where we were originally told to take it. After California denied us access to the state due to the fact that the corn we were hauling hadn't been inspected for a certain kind of bug, we sat in Reno waiting for further instruction. If you missed that story and want to catch up, it's here in last weekends post.

We started our wait on Sunday afternoon. And we waited, and waited, and waited, until finally, on Tuesday late afternoon, the powers that be finally decided to sell the corn to a dairy in Idaho and we were finally back on the road! We discovered that unless you want to drink and gamble, there really isn't a whole lot to do in Reno. We became bored quickly and were relieved when the call to move finally came in!

We dumped the corn off in Idaho on Wednesday morning, reloaded some wheat nearby, and made a quick trip to Lehi, UT where we delivered to Lehi Roller Mills. The old mill was really neat, and afterwards I wished I'd taken a picture, especially after I read their history. They've been in operation since the early 1900's and supply flour to several famous name brands, including Kentucky Fried Chicken, Mrs. Fields, and Archer Farms.

After the wheat was delivered, we began an empty bounce of several hundred miles down to Sanders, AZ. Our drive took us through the canyon lands of eastern Utah. It's an off the interstate drive with some amazing scenery. Unfortunately, we did it all after dark, (meaning no pictures), arriving in Sanders at 3:30am to load drilling sand.

Malcolm loaded and I woke up around 7:00am to take over driving at Gallup, NM.

New Mexico is a state I really enjoy driving through. I like I-40 better than I-10 in the south. It's just beautiful, open country! 
I spotted some hot air balloons in the sky over Albuquerque. One day I promise myself I'm going to be passing through when they have their hot air balloon festival. Wouldn't that be something to see?
 I love the diversity of the landscape, the friendliness of the people, and their great food in New Mexico! For this trip, instead of staying on I-40 clear across like we usually do, we actually turned north at Albuquerque onto I-25. Believe it or not, in 6 years of driving, we've only driven this stretch of I-25 a couple of times, and both times it was in the dark. I discovered that we've been missing out! Northern New Mexico is amazingly beautiful, and my new favorite part of the state to drive in!

Shortly after leaving Albuquerque, it became hilly and forested with cedar type shrubs and trees. Santa Fe was a short drive north, but past that city, there were very few towns, and even fewer places with truck facilities.
 And then, once the hills leveled out, the very north of New Mexico turned into wide open plains. The whole time we were driving through this area I kept thinking of northern Montana. There were a lot of similarities.
 Funny that it reminded me of that area, because that's exactly where we ended up. After leaving New Mexico, we continued north on I-25 straight up through Colorado (barely missing the nightmare called Denver rush hour traffic) and into Wyoming. Half way through we cut off the interstate, hit the back roads, and pulled into Sidney, MT at 5:30am to deliver our load of sand.

That was Friday morning. Our next load was 800+ miles from Malta, MT to Spokane, WA. A load of red millet to deliver on Monday. With all that time to get the job done. I started wheeling and dealing with Malcolm. For several years now, when we've been headed east or west across MT, I've tried to get him to take Hwy 2 across instead of the interstate. He's never wanted to do it. It's almost the exact same miles, but of course 2 lane roads and so you make better time on the interstate. But there were no excuses this time, with plenty of time to get to Spokane. I wanted to see parts of Montana and Idaho I'd never seen before and probably wouldn't get the chance to see again. And to my delight, he decided to amuse me.
 They call this the Hi-Line, to my understanding due to the railroad line and US 2 that run across the northernmost part of Montana. It's several hundred miles of open prairie and little towns. Right up my alley!

 I finally got to see towns whose names I've heard over and over, but never seen. We passed through Malta, where we loaded, and spent the night in Havre, which was much larger than I had expected. On Saturday we drove through Cut Bank, and from there, the mountains were close enough to see clearly, or would have been if not for the weather.
 I had checked the weather! I promise I did! And it had been a good report! Malcolm had made sure of my checking the weather before he agreed to take this jaunt! But as we know, weather is prone to change suddenly up here. And just because snow isn't falling heavily from the sky, doesn't mean that it's staying in place, thanks to Montana winds!

At this point I wasn't very popular with my driver because it wasn't looking too promising, and we weren't even in the mountains yet.
 The landscape changed so dramatically from being snow bare (we've had an amazingly open winter in Montana this year) to being rather deeply snow covered.
 Clearly, the fine weather reports were not accurate for the mountains! Thankfully it was just snowing lightly, but the wind was picking a lot of it up and blowing it around in lovely swirls and clouds.
 This is Glacier Country! This is up where we loaded at that train wreck last Spring. So we'd been on this stretch of the road before. However, I hadn't realized it actually went through the park! So this time, when I saw the sign, I made note of it. And now I can say I've been to Glacier National Park...I've driven through about 4 miles of it!
 Once we got into the mountains, the wind died down, and the snow was so light, it didn't really impact our travel. The roads just had patchy ice and snow pack. It was pretty easy going after all. I was back in good standing with my driver, and we journeyed on westward towards our destination.
 Out of the narrow mountain passes, we were back into open valleys between mountain chains. We passed through more towns I'd been curious about. Kalispell is well known, but I'd never seen it. It wasn't really what I had pictured. And we also drove through Libby, which I found quite charming. We crossed into Idaho just before dusk, and parked at a truck stop just north of Bonner's Ferry, where we had a dinner date planned.

We had dinner with some very special people who I was thrilled to finally meet! If you participate in Sunday Stills, you probably know Shirley of Ride a Good Horse. I've been reading Shirley's blog for some time and we've swapped emails and messages. She's become a good blogging friend as well as a horse training mentor. But we'd never met in person. That is until last night!
She and her husband Ted drove down from their home in Canada to have dinner with us and a lengthy visit over dessert. And as you can see, Merle got to come too and meet our girls. For the first time ever, my girls were the ones acting intimidated. I think they weren't sure about a dog smaller than them with so much fur! He's a doll though, and I didn't mind visiting with him at all! Shirley and Ted were delightful and we all had such a good time, finding so many common interests to chat about. I love meeting my blog friends! Malcolm thought he was driving the Hi Line one time so I could see it, but I think he realizes he'll be going up there again next time we have time to do so. And maybe by then I'll have our passports so we can go across to Shirley and Ted's side of the border and visit them on their home turf. I think that would be fun, and I'd like to meet all of Merle's buddies at home!

This morning we slept in, and then drove south the last 100 miles of our journey. Along the way we took in the scenery and counted Bald Eagles. I have the hardest time getting pictures of them though, and still don't have one I'm satisfied with. This was the best I could do, and it's cropped so the eagle is visible. I think we saw at least 10, maybe more, in the 60 or so miles that I was watching for them.
 Further down the road was a large lake with an odd concentration of ducks. I'm not sure what was going on. Maybe they were having Sunday services.
 And a little further south, the lake was frozen, and there was a different kind of gathering.
These were just a few of the people out on the lake this morning. They were spread out, and pretty much using the entire lake surface. Nothing like doing a little fishin' on a Sunday!

So remember I said that my drive across the Hi Line, the length of highway 2 all the way across and into Idaho was part of a compromise?

Today is the day I pay up. I got my drive, and today guess where I'm sitting?
I'll give you a hint. There's a little piece of "heaven" in Post Falls, ID. He's been in there for about an hour so far. I told him to take his time. There's nothing to do till tomorrow morning anyway. And me and the girls are happy to blog, snuggle into our blankets and read a good book while he's having his fun!

Tomorrow we reload west of here in Moses Lake, and then head for Missouri! Time to head south for that special family event I hinted at a few weeks ago! By this time next week, we'll be on a beach in Florida!


Muffy's Marks said...

Thanks for sharing your travels. I always love hearing about your adventures. I too would rather take the back roads, and see the 'real' USA. Have a wonderful vacation in Florida, you deserve it. Have a good upcoming week.

Michaele said...

I do love your posts Sarah. I have been to so many of the places you write about. I love NM and lived there for many years. I have actually been to the international balloon fest in Abq. Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, all are home to me. I have a sister who has to drive the high line for work. Thanks once again for taking me along on your journey and your thoughts.

MTWaggin said...

I also read Shirley's blog and so glad you got to travel the hi-line for the first time. I've not done that yet but someday - hohpefully when it isn't 100 degrees or 40 below! LOL

Shirley said...

We really enjoyed our visit with you. One of the benefits of following people's blogs is that when you meet it's like meeting an old friend, there's always plenty to talk about. You are just as delightful in person as you are on your blog, and we enjoyed meeting Malcolm and your girls. I think Merle is still dreaming about Paris! Ted and Malcolm sure had plenty of guy stuff to talk about, so I hope Malcolm wasn't as bored as he thought he might be.
And I wouldn't have ordered that hot fudge sundae if I'd known how darn big it was!

Jake said...

Sounds like you guys have been busy. It's amazing how many miles you guys put on. Drive safe

Dreaming said...

After seeing that beautiful picture of the lone horse in the snow, the prospect of being on the beach in Florida sure sounds nice!
So... you met Shirley - I'm jealous! Next time you are going on I-25 near Denver, let me know. We can meet too. I WON'T bring Tucker... he'd be way too much for the girls!
As for the Denver rush hour traffic - it is terrible. It starts in the wee hours of the morning and ends around 10:30... then begins around 3 again. I've never seen traffic get so heavy, so quickly!

Janice said...

Wow you guys rack up the miles, see I don't have to go anywhere I can just folllow along on your travels and see the world....well at least a fair chunk of it.Shirley said she and Ted...and Merle really enjoyed your visit.

alexbethperry said...

love, love, LOVE the hot air balloon pic! Would be so good to see the festival - I've often wanted to go on a Hot Air Balloon Ride but have always been too scared. When does the festival take place?

Lisa said...

Great post!
Lisa in Maine

Charade said...

I just found your blog by snooping around on Lana's Farm Life Lessons. I'm a misplaced Rocky Mountain girl for many years now, so it's so nice to see your photos of the area. Sort of satisfies a little longing I always feel for the Rockies - though not so much in winter!

Badlands said...

Makes me miss my dad...he always took the backroads!

gtyyup said...

So cool you got to meet Shirley...she's on my list!!!

What a change in scenery...yes, it's been a pretty good winter for road travel. So I won't say we need snow :~)

Meagan said...

wow! wht a great post and fab pictures! glad you got to see some new roads for a change ;-)

Horses Are Our Lives said...

Hi Sarah, wow, what a wonderful trip! Your photos are lovely, and even though you don't want to see snow on the roads, those photos were beautiful! I'm glad you are meeting blogger friends, and can't wait to meet some day. Oh, yea, you are getting to the beach too! Have fun, and thanks for visiting on my blog, too. I've missed visiting my blogger friend's sites, and need to get back to that.