Day15: Monday, August 13 - Malta, MT to Minot, ND

Trip Start Jul 30, 2007
Trip End Aug 20, 2007

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Flag of United States  , North Dakota
Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Day15: Monday, August 13 - Malta, MT to Minot, ND
Miles: 371

-An Anniversary Remembered ....and Missed :( 
-/Waves Goodbye to Montana
-Montana Speed Limits are a Personal Choice

-All We All under One God in Montana?
-Montana Gives Road Repair a Macho Image
-Montana Seems to have a Love Affair with Bricks

-Amazing Ft Peck - Dam, Power Plant and Museum
-And Wait! There's Even More in Ft Peck...
-Facing the Rockies after Traveling the Plains.

-Never Ending Montana Landscape.
-How Can you See America if You are Driving at Night?

An Anniversary Remembered ....and Missed :( 
If it is our wedding anniversary that means we should start checking the tropical weather updates for storms heading toward central Florida. 
And in fact today is the 2nd anniversary of our wedding and Hurricane Charley's march across Florida. 

Rory surprised Chere with a brand new 'Pie for Strength' coffee cup from the Park Cafe. 
This is the perfect anniversary gift for Chere - an avid coffee drinker and newly converted Pie-for-Strength devotee, it even serves as a momento of our first roadtrip.

Chere, unfortunately, was oblivious to our anniversary.
Not because she scoffs at our relationship - Nay! Nay!

The only plausible excuse is the rhythm of this car trip.
Calendar dates and even time of day has been absent from Chere's life.
Her old structured life of living by a calendar and a clock has been tossed out - and with it some of the truly meaningful calendar dates that deserve remembrance.

/Chere hangs her head in shame.
Rory deserves better.

/Waves Goodbye to Montana
Moving from Montana soon...
Never was to be a dental floss tycoon...
...sincerest apologies to Frank Zappa

We figured we'd find ourselves nearly out of Montana today.
We lingered over breakfast and hotel wifi in an effort to catch up our logs.
Montana Speed Limits are a Personal Choice
Up until the mid70s oil crisis, Montana had speed limits that simply said "reasonable and prudent".
Since 1999, the speed limit on the two lane roads is stated as 70 MPH. 

Traffic is very, very light and the views down the road tend to be straight and long so 70mph seems to work out OK most of the time.
Based on how many go around us at 70mph, some locals have not embraced the new speed limits.

All We All under One God in Montana?
In Montana, right after you see the first 70 MPH speed limit sign on the two lane roads, you begin to notice that they still use the Christian Cross to mark deaths on the highways. 
Lots of them. 
We saw one array of six at a single location.

This gives one pause. 
We must assume that these crosses are pressed into service for the occasional atheist, Jew, Zoroastrian or Animist.

Montana Gives Road Repair a Macho Image
In Montana, when they want to repair a road they just tear out the old road completely before they begin installing the new road way. 
The compacted dirt is good enough for us to drive on. 

We ran into a 10 or 15 mile stretch of US-2 like this on the west side of the Rockies. 
This was in the twilight. 
With no other cars around and no construction workers and only a few traffic barrels to mark the way it was kind of spooky. 

We ran into another 2 or 3 mile stretch in the city of Havre. 
The local paper even reported on it saying, basically, expect delays driving out of town on US-2. 
That's it. 
Suck it up. 

Back in Florida our soft sands require that a temporary road be built paralleling the road being built.
Montanans must think Floridians are sissies.

Montana Seems to have a Love Affair with Bricks

In Montana, at least eastern Montana, many of the Main Street buildings are made of brick. 
The buildings themselves seem to have the same general architectural outlines. 

The brickwork is noticeably varied. 
Red bricks, tan bricks, black bricks. 
Fat bricks. 
Long, skinny, flat bricks. 
Glazed, polychrome bricks. 
Bricks arranged in chevrons and rows of soldiers. 
Basket weaves and patterns that would give a wood worker's parquetry good competition. 

The motel in Shelby was made up of several one story modules lining a city street on a hillside. 
Each module itself was fairly plain and ordinary.
Each module did have a brick wall setting it off from the road and each wall was made of a different brick laid in a different pattern.

Amazing Ft Peck - Dam, Power Plant and Museum
We stopped at the Ft. Peck Dam to see the visitor center. 
We were just in time to get onto the guided tour of the power plant. 

The dam itself is something like the largest earthen dam going and was built as a public works project during the Depression. 
The visitors center has a good history of what this was like. 

The visitors center also had a museum with some excellent fossil displays of fossil found during the dam excavation. 
Full dinosaurs were dug up while the dam was being excavated.

And Wait! There's Even More in Ft Peck...
Ft. Peck has a summer theater
West Side Story closed on August 12 and The Nerd was not due to open until August 17th so we did not stick around to catch any eastern Montana summer stock.

Facing the Rockies after Traveling the Plains.
It is impossible to leave the foothills of the Rockies and move across the flat plains without thinking of the wagon trains heading west.

They'd been crossing the (mostly) flat plains.
Not an easy journey but one the truly appreciated after they took a look at the massive Rockies.

I know they used mountain passes.  But still, what heartbreak.

To be so tired, so travel worn, so lonely for home after so many months of dangerous travel and then to look up and have to face a seemingly endless ridge of snow capped mountains.
Such courage they had.
Such strength.

Never Ending Montana Landscape.

One thing about Montana is that there sure is a lot of it. 
We hope the acres and acres covered with hay bales mean some kind of prosperity for the folks around here. 
Crossing the prairie has been described in the same terms as crossing the sea. 

There is a sameness to what you see. 
We did not find it boring or tedious. 
It is certainly not flat with many steep hills causing the cruise control to drop into lower gears at gas guzzling higher rpms. 

The landscape can be thought provoking, especially when one crosses Native American reservation lands.

How Can you See America if You are Driving at Night?
We reached Culbertson, just inside Montana, in good time. 
It was early and it did not seem like either of the two motels had WiFi so we thought we'd cross into North Dakota and get a motel in Williston. 

According to a local woman at the Culbertson coffee shack (yay! We found a cute coffee shack), Culbertsonians regularly drive the 40 plus miles to Williston to shop.

Crossing into North Dakota from Montana we also crossed into the Central Time Zone so it we lost another hour. 
It turned out that there were no rooms available in Williston. 'Rats!'
We called ahead to Minot and got a confirmed booking. 
Secure in knowing we had a room in the next city, we picked up a light supper in Williston and then hit the road about 8:30 PM. 
The sun did not set until 9:00 or so and a gloomy twilight lasted until well after 9:30.  
Smoke from the eighteen or more fires in Montana made the setting sun a dim, glowing red ball well above the horizon. 
We ended up driving at night which sort of defeats our purpose of seeing America. 
What we did see made us wonder if North Dakota is better off than Montana. 
US-2 was now a four lane highway though seemingly just as lightly traveled. 
More oil wells. 
The fields looked a little greener though still plenty dry.
Minot is our biggest city since Spokane. 
Tomorrow we will see what it has to offer.
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chere on

I would never go into debt (loan/etc.) to make this kind of trip. Save up the money and go traveling when you've got it.

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