Tuesday, August 14: Bozeman to Glacier
A really big wind
We had breakfast at the hotel, paid the monthly bills on the internet, packed up the meager things we brought in last night, and left Bozeman. We took a small highway out of Bozeman, which led to a medium-sized highway that would run pretty much all the way to Glacier.
Unfortunately about 10 minutes out of Bozeman, I remembered that we needed to get gas. But at that point, we didn’t want to turn around. I checked the GPS, and the next gas was in Sulphur Springs, which was the only place of any size for the next few hours.
The small highway was rather picturesque, with good views of the mountains and lots of small farms.
In Sulphur Springs (which is surrounded by lots and lots of nothing), we got gas and stumbled upon a rarity: the gas station that was full-service. It has been so long since I used a full service station, that I ended up starting up the pump myself, as it seemed natural to do so. Even more, the attendant did an extraordinary job washing all of our windows and even the side mirrors. I felt like I should tip him.
It was around noon, but we had eaten breakfast late, so Amy and I were not hungry, but Mike was. The next food was about 1-3/4 hours away, so we stopped at a deli across the street from the gas station. There I was very pleasantly surprised at the friendly service. I can begin to see what people might like about living in places like this.
Because we were not that hungry, Amy and I got one panini and split it. They had interesting swirl marks on the floor boards, as well as randomly placed cattle brands. In the bathroom, the toilet paper dispenser was a piece of galvanized pipe sticking out of the wall, a 90-degree elbow, a piece of pipe running vertically, and an end-cap. The roll was that stuck over the pipe. Rather than looking cheap, it looked quaint and rustic.
Just before Great Falls, we crested a rise and an amazing sight greeted us. We were surrounded by amber waves of grain. There were huge fields of grain around us, but even more amazing, it stretched as far as the eye could see. I might have expected that elsewhere, but not in Montana near Glacier National Park! I expected us to be in the mountains, not in big flat areas full of farms.
We stopped in Great Falls for some ice cream, then continued on to Browning. Along the way, a strange thing happened. For a period of time, we kept hearing periodic pings. It sounded like a pebble hitting the windshield. The problem with this explanation is that there were no cars or trucks in the opposite lane or in front of us. The only way it could happen is if the wind blew gravel up into the air in front of us.
We also wondered if perhaps the heat was making the windshield expand, and that was causing it to pop. The problem with this explanation is that it has been a lot hotter in other places.
After a while it stopped. We never did figure out what it was.
When we got to Browning, we found a hotel. There were not too many choices. Interestingly, when we tried getting the room, the proprietor gave us the key, told us to check out room #9, and if we liked it, we could complete the paperwork.
We did so and carried our stuff in.
Then we wanted to check out a local Indian museum and then have dinner. We found that the museum was closed, but there were some sculptures in front that Amy wanted to take pictures of. So she got out while Michael and I waited in the car.
A short while later something really strange happened. Out of nowhere a sudden very strong wind came up, blowing a cloud of sand and gravel with it. From inside the car, we saw things blowing all over the place, clouds of dust blowing by, and the visibility drop. Unfortunately, Amy got a chance to experience it first hand, getting a personal sand-blasting on her way back to the car.
After the initial blast, the wind seemed to die slightly, but it was still very strong. We drove across the street to the local diner. During dinner, the door kept blowing open. Once, when the door blew open, there must have been an opening in the kitchen, because the doors between the dining area and the kitchen also blew open and the whole place turned into a wind tunnel until someone got a door closed.
By the time we finished dinner, it was windy but not nearly as strong as earlier. We returned to the hotel and hunkered down. Tomorrow we enter the park.