So first off, I learned that 600 miles a day is my limit. After that, I change into my cranky pants. It was a harder day of driving today, and not just because of the length. The drive through North Dakota was essentially a straight shot on the interstate. But because I had decided to go to Glacier National Park, I had to leave the interstate behind, and travel on state highways. Most of my day was spent on US Highway 2, which runs along a railroad and features views of cows, depressed towns, and signs that point right, directing you to Canada.
Going forward, I think I try to stick to the Interstate as much as possible. I felt more comfortable on the Interstate because the speed limit was consistent, and rest areas are more reliable. A few times today, I had planned to stop at the next gas station or restaurant, only to find it abandoned.
That being said, I did get to see some great things, such as my first beehives on the trip, and it seems that rural Montana loves dinosaurs.
I kept seeing signs for range cattle, and the cattle themselves throughout the day, which got me thinking about cows again. It struck me as I was driving that you can see from horizon to horizon without seeing anything but cows and the fences that keep them. How often do the owners of these cows see them? I assume they are beef cattle, since they are ranging so much I can’t imagine they get milked every day. How big is their range? I saw a lot of young cows too. How long to beef cattle live? How big the average herd? Does the bulk of the herd stick together or do they split up? How do you get them to regroup? I don’t know shit about cows!
This realization hit me at about 3 PM, well before the Rockies, and only about half way into Montana. I firmly resolved to do as much research as possible once I got to Glacier.
Funny thing about getting to Glacier. Remember how I said you can’t really just plug in an address into your GPS to get you to National Parks? Well, this is because they are giant tracks of lands, with different amenities at different sites, which may or may not be closed, so be sure to check the signs. But with all that, remember how it was no big deal at Teddy Roosevelt? Yeah, that did not work out so well for me today.
I got to the edge of Glacier, perhaps around 7 Saturday evening, and I had been driving at that point for about 10 hours, past my 600 mile limit. The sun was already starting to disappear behind the mountains, so I was getting anxious. (I was not emotionally stable enough to try backing up the trailer in the dark.) So I followed some signs for the park. Turns out, they were the wrong signs. Campground closed. Back track. 55 miles to the next town. Yikes.
That’s when I spotted the camping logo, and quickly turned into a camp ground at where is called the Marias Pass, on the border of Glacier on US-Highway 2. There are only 5 camp sites, but 3 were open, and one had a straightaway I could back into. So I parked (it only took about 7 minutes to do so with trailer, with no middle aged men to help), paid my $10 at the pay box, and quickly divided into the trailer, as the sun was setting and so was the temperature.
When morning came, I was able to figure out a little bit more about where I was. Turns out, I was camping in a Lewis and Clark National Forest campsite in the Marias Pass that is right on the Continental Divide. What’s that you ask? Well, some google-ing tells me it’s the hydrological divide, which means that water to the west of it drains to Pacific, and water to the east ultimately lands in the Atlantic. It’s a neat geographic factoid, and I suggest checking out the Wikipedia page.
Hopefully, I can make it the next 55 miles to Glacier tomorrow.