Friday, July 13, 2007

Road Trip

Bender (my trusty Scion) at the foot of Devils Tower in Wyoming.

Well, I am delayed in my postings ;) I had internet access everywhere, but I took so many pictures that after driving for 8 to 12 hours each day, the idea of sorting through them was daunting. So I'll post a few here, and make one of my fancy horizontal strip photo pages. I have narrowed my faves down to 102 pics, so there will be plenty of prairie and mountain shots to gander at soon.

The drive was gorgeous - no bad weather or traffic. Just extreme heat. The first day driving (Portland to Butte, Montana), I was heading east in Oregon when the weather report came on the local NPR station: "Highs from 108 t0 122 in Eastern Oregon, depending on where you're situated." Yowza!! I drove a little faster to get through the desert...

Stayed in Butte, Montana the first night. Quite uneventful, except all the bartenders were really sweet. ALL the bartenders! Sounds like I went to a gazillion bars... only 3. I was on the search for Butte Beer. Never found any, but there were ads for it everywhere. Even on people's t-shirts. It's a mystery beer...

Drove on to Deadwood, South Dakota, the folowing night, where I met my mom (who drove from Fredonia, Wisconsin). We stayed at the Hikocks Hotel and Casino... and our room was fabulous! PLUS - I'm not a huge slot machine payer, but my mom is one of those people who always wins. ALWAYS. We spotted a great new machine right away: Star Wars!! There was a huge Death Star on top, that if you were lucky enough to make spin by getting the bonus feature, paid out a lot. The best part - the movie clips! Even if you didn't win big, the humorous clips were reward enough. When we left Deadwood two days later, mom and I had packed up our cars, and I said "Aren't you going to play Star Wars one more time?" I just wanted to see more movie clips, really. And she said "Oh all right". And subsequently turned $40 into $100. There's your gas money!

We had one whole day to play in te Black Hills, so we drove all over, taking in some windy roads and wildlife viewing. And Mt Rushmore. That was an accident. I took the wrong road and we ended up there instead of Wind Cave. Oh well! We also went to Custer State park, where there are buffalo herds. We saw a few...

The whole reason we drove out to meet halfway between our homes, was to transfer that huge painting that Randy and I had gotten awhile back and kept at mom's house for the time being... I was getting my "I need to drive across Montana and Wyoming!" itch, and the timing worked out right for her as well, so, there you have it! I would make this drive four times a year if I could. I just love it. I don't even have cruise control. I just love the long drives under vast skies beside grassy plains and distant mountains. Thunderstorms make the trip, but I only saw one so far. Has been blue skies and 100 degree temps all the way.

As you can tell by the photo at the start, I stopped by one of my favorite places in the US: Devils Tower National Monument (first National Monument ever, for all you history buffs). There's something sacred about this place. I feel recharged every time I go there.

Well, I will retire for the evening... am going to try to drive 13 hours tomorrow (I'm in Bozeman, Montana for the night - GREAT town!). I am so happy to have organic food options again. But... I may chicken out and stay in Walla Walla, Washington to see about all these great wines from there I've been hearing about. Good excuse, eh?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Well, since it's 106 degrees here and it's too hot to paint (or ship paintings safely, for that matter), I'm on a mission: to drive to Deadwood, South Dakota in 2 days, leaving tomorrow at 4am. Easy enough - it's 18 hours straight, but I do like to meander and take pictures of odd things and landscapes across the vastness of Montana and Wyoming, especially if there are storms. Deadwood is near Devils Tower, so I am really excited. I've been there before, but it's always such a rush, coming over the small crest of that park road leading to it, and then Wow! There's that crazy alien monolith looming over everything else in view. So amazing.

Why am I going to Deadwood? Because I need a jackalope from Wall Drug... just kidding. Because it's nearly halfway to Wisconsin. My mom is driving out to meet me there to hand over a rather large but fancy painting Randy and I bought in Cedarburg, WI, a few months back. I don't trust it being shipped (for we don't know it's true value value - it is a museum-worthy Austrian piece painted in 1845), so we're driving it out ourselves, all wrapped safe and snug. Meeting halfway was a smart thing to do. And we get to play the slots, and perhaps take in a nice mine shaft tour.

I'll be posting from the road. I'm staying in Butte, Montana, tomorrow night, in a hotel called the War Bonnet Hotel... and yes, I am staying there because of the name. And they have free wi-fi.