Cool mountain air, over three hundred photos taken at Glacier, too many stops throughout the park to count, walking around to get the shots all add up to one tired photographer and blogger. It has been a really long time since I have slept that deep for that long. I barely remember turning the TV off. Aria was tired too from and enjoyed being sprawled out on the 2nd queen bed in the room.
Morning comes quickly and a little after 5a a brown eyed, wet nose pup is sounding her alarm to let me know it is time for our morning walk. Upon return, she curls back up on my queen bed where it is still warm and goes back to sleep. I wish I could do that but now that I'm up the mind is racing about things I need to do today and calculating the time. One thing that is a must is an oil change and seeing as how I will be going to a Jiffy Lube that place can take anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour. I really wish there were more Valvoline Lube stations in Montana, they are always good at keeping the cars moving and making the wait minimal.
Anyways, the morning walk revealed it is a cool 50 degrees out and a look to the East and the mountains shows a hint of red sky. Possibly more storms on the way. A couple of hours later Aria and I are doing a final walk before hopping into the car to head back to Bozeman. Since I'm taking another unknown route back, I have decided to fill up here in Kalispell. After the fill-up I am now heading South towards Bigfork before jumping onto 83S and heading into the Flathead National Forest. This route has plenty of gas stations throughout the Forest as well as before and after you go through it, so no worries about that. However, the gas prices do go up once inside the National Forest.
Today the trees were thick, lush and green. There are a few lakes along the way as well as streams and rivers. This is also a logging community so mind the large trucks. The route is also full of twists and turns with the local wildlife popping out all of a sudden to check your reflexes and brakes. Speed limits vary from 45-70 the entire way and even in the 70 mph zone there are still vehicles that are going 5-10 miles slower. Areas to pass are frequent but also have a lot of blind corners so be sure to use caution. Once your pass those drivers it is an easy and quick drive through the forest.
Once through it, the view opens up and the trees push back to a few more small towns as well as the large mountains that are surrounding the area. Some are sprinkled with snow near the tops while others still show several inches and very little grass on the top. After 83S comes the real roller coaster part of the trip and that is Highway 200. Large hills up and can't see the remainder of the road until you go over the top, only to see a few yards away is a sharp turn with indicators to go slow. Several more follow, along with camper trailers and again, extra slow drivers.
I dealt with this the entire way back to Bozeman, there were very few spots I could set the cruise and just enjoy the drive. Maybe it was the Universe's way of keeping me awake the entire way back, or maybe I was just having the luck of being behind every slow driver that was out on the road today. But I digress and once on Highway 141 the passing lanes started to present themselves. So I gave up with the passing and waited until the passing lanes arrived to move past them.
There was also a debate between myself and the GPS when we came to Highway 200. It wanted me to head towards Missoula which is in the opposite direction of Bozeman. I can only assume it was trying to get me onto I90 and take that into Bozeman but I do know enough about the state to know that is in the opposite direction. I can also read the sign that says Missoula is almost 50 miles aways from this point. But if I head East I go to Helena, in the direction of Bozeman, and it is only 30 miles. So I headed East and the GPS freaked out.
It took a few miles for it to finally realize I'm not turning around. I just drove this route yesterday, so I know how to get from Helena to the Interstate that will take me back to Bozeman so calm down GPS and wait, did I see that when recalculated this way was going to not only save me 20 plus miles but also get me back over 30 minutes earlier?!?
Hmmm, I guess you didn't have the "fastest route" calculated, did you. Point for me! The bonus of this route was I got to drive through the city of Helena and it is still a cute and easily navigable town. There are some older buildings throughout, but the city is clean and buildings are spaced out with ability to see beyond them and to the mountains. Final stretch to Bozeman is ahead and when I pull out onto the Interstate I feel like I'm going home.
Not to another hotel but home. Perhaps this is just a taste of what I will be feeling someday, that the Bozeman area will soon be home. If so, I look forward to it. I pull into the Jiffy Lube and see there are no other cars there and see I'm it's only guest. Hallelujiah!! I'm directed in and Aria and I get out and head into the waiting area, about 10-15 minutes later the car is ready to go and so are we. Glad I came when I did because while we waited four more cars showed up and the wait was already pushing to 30-40 minutes. It pays to know the route. :)
Afterwards I head over to my favorite hotel in the entire city. The main reason for loving it is because of the ambiance the whole lodge feels like log cabin, the staff is nice, the location is great, the rooms are big and clean, there is an amazing mountain view as well as plenty of lush green grounds for walking Aria. As I pull in she knows immediately where we are and can't wait to get out and walk the grounds.
I go in to see if the room might be clean, we're about three hours early, and thankfully they do have a room available. However, the online booking didn't make note of my having a dog so there was going to be a change of type of room. Which is fine as long as it didn't change the price as their two queen beds are more expensive than the king size I had booked. He checks on the rooms, adds the pet fee, I fill out the paperwork only to have him say he is changing it back. Even though he said earlier dogs are only allowed in certain king rooms. So I'm not sure there was a lot of back and forth and I'm thinking he thought the wait on the King would be longer so that is why he changed it but then saw it was available and put me back??
Whatever. I prefer Kings over Queens when staying in hotels but as long as it is comfortable, dog-friendly, clean, safe and secure I'm a happy customer. However, today Aria is not in her usual hotel mood. Not sure if she is still tired from yesterday's trip or if she is just a bit off. Twice while walking through the hotel she has let out several barks, one to the front desk staff and the other to the housekeepers carts and garbage bags in the hall. Even though they were there when we left a few minutes ago. Needless to say we had a talk that unless she wanted us to get kicked out and have to sleep in the car, it be best if she put a lid on it.
For now, we're making it work. Tomorrow will be another long day on the road, so I'm happy to be done with this day early. Enjoy your day!!
Driving across country can bring about some interesting situations. Broken down on a day by day basis enjoy my adventures and set backs along the way to some beautiful destinations.