Over the River and Through the Woods
I was wide awake at 5am to start day two of my trip. Mind you, I am still on central time, so it was 7am in my world. I took a shower and packed up my stuff and by then Katie was awake and ready to go. After breakfast at the hotel, we hit the road at about 6:45am. I know it seems early, but it turned out to be the most perfect time possible to leave.
I volunteered for the first leg of the drive, since I was wide awake and all. We got out of the city without running into any traffic. And then all of the sudden there were MOUNTAINS. I had never even seen a mountain in person before. And now it’s 7am and I am driving through them. Needless to say, it was extremely overwhelming and a taste of what was yet to come on the rest of the trip.
Outside of Seattle, headed east on Interstate 90, we drove straight into national forests. The Snoqualmie portion of the trip includes beautiful mountains, waterfalls and lots and lots of evergreen trees. I have never seen so many “conifers” before in my life! Most of the mountains are covered in these trees. Silly Midwestern me figured that mountains were made of rock. All of them. So not true. Most of the mountains are green.
As I drove through the most ridiculous places I have ever seen, the scenery just took my breath awake. Katie kept snapping pictures so she could show them to me later. Sad, I know. But I just kept my “eye on the prize” – making it to Billings, Montana, 832 miles away before the end of the day.
Just about every man we know – Chris, Aaron, my brother Phil – told us that it could not be done. 800 miles through the roughest terrain of our entire journey all in one day. Since we didn’t really have any other choice due to time and the fact that we had a hotel room waiting for us, we just kept on barreling through.
George and the Gorge
The countryside in Washington is filled with farms – who knew? But even weirder, all of the fields have these crazy big water sprinklers on them. Katie informed me that these contraptions are called pivots. Turns out that Katie’s boyfriend, Aaron, used to build them. You learn something new every day. Of course, you do not drive by a place called George, Washington every day. But hey, you win some, you lose some.
One of my favorite parts of driving through Washington was going by these place called “the Gorge.” It is a huge outdoor amphitheatre set along this huge, well, gorge. When I saw the Dave Matthews Band concert DVD from the gorge, I was mesmerized by the scenery. And then I got to drive through it. It was unreal.
For those people that know me really well, they know I hate driving on bridges. Well, my friends. I drove over some doozies. And lived to tell the tale.
We got through Spokane around 11am and our time in Washington had come to an end. Next up, Idaho!
No, you da hoe
I was really excited for the next leg of our journey, primarily because we timed it perfectly to get to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, just in time for lunch. Coeur D’Alene is a lake resort town nestled in the aptly named Coeur D’Alene mountains. The French named the town “Heart of the Awl” because of the Indians that inhabited the area. In the midst of these mountains, we found Coeur D’Alene on a 90 degree sunny day.
I first heard about Coeur D’Alene when my friend Darbye moved there in high school. I saw pictures and was in awe. It’s a huge, blue lake with mountains all around. Katie and I parked the car and hung out at the dock for a little bit, walked Elphie around and stretched our legs.
We decided to walk into town and find something yummy for lunch. There were lots of people out walking around and riding bikes – very picuresque. We found this little sourdough sandwich place and took our lunch back to the dock to hang out with Elphie. Lunch was just what we needed and we couldn’t have eaten in a more beautiful place. I would love to visit CDA again someday. Also in this town: the nicest, cleanest, most lovely porta-potty I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.
After the 300 miles to CDA, Katie took over driving duties. I talked online with some people and started to upload some of the five bajiliion pictures we’ve taken. Katie drove all the way to Butte, Montana, another 300 miles away.
Get out of my life, Clark Fork
Montana looked a lot like I expected it to, thank you Brokeback Mountain. There was a lot of “scrubby” landscape. And basically no one lived there. We drove through Missoula, which looked to be smaller than Chesterfield, MO. The mountains were more rocky than in Washington. They also put letters on the mountains. I’m not sure why, but whatever.
There was also a river called Clark Fork. It weaved along with the highway. I think we crossed the damned Clark Fork about 45 times. Then, Katie exclaimed, “Get out of my life, Clark Fork!” I think he got the picture. Because after that, we never crossed Clark Fork again.
Pain the Butte
By the time we got to Butte, it had started to rain a little. But the 20 minute power nap I took before we got there made me feel invinceable.
And invinceable I became as I took the wheel to drive the last 200 miles of our trip for Day Two. The rain was pouring down and we still had several mountain passes to make before the day was over. Visability was about 30 feet when there wasn’t a semi truck splashing copious amounts of rain all up in my business.
Basically those 200 miles to Billings comprised the scariest couple hours of my entire life. We were driving through narrow mountain passes with no sholder, around rivers and mountains and semis (oh my!) with no idea what lay ahead. Not really my idea of a fun Friday night. During this time my thoughts were very simple. “Oh shit – Just keep driving – Dear God, please help us get through this safely.”
After one particularly treacherous mountain pass, I accidently leaned on the window button. This misstep quickly led to the driver’s side window rolling down. As we travelled at about 75 miles per hour in the God-forsaken Montana maelstrom.
Water poured in on my face, and on Katie’s face, and on Elphie’s face. I screamed. Katie screamed. Elphie looked at us like the crazy people we are. After a brief panic, I got the window back up and Katie laughed.
I tried to laugh, but sorta of cried at the same time.
Of course, any sane person could have pulled over. But with Billings SO close and knowing that the next 200 miles were full of more rain clouds, we just wanted to get ahead of the storm, get a warm dinner and find our bed.
After three hours of the sweatiest palms known to mankind, Katie and I arrived in Billings, cursing Montana, rain and anything else in our way.
We stayed at a Quality Inn – which was very nice after a long day on the road. We munched on some Fuddruckers, each took a bubble bath and p-a-s-s-e-d out.