US Highway 2, Northwest Montana
US Highway 2, Northwest Montana
Yesterday we drove to Canada from St. Mary, Montana, our base camp for a few nights. We have a special place in our hearts for Canada and I am moved that this area is the Glacier International Peace Park.
Each country owns a portion of this part of the Rockies as national parks, they fly both flags and there are a number of ways that the two countries work together. They have meetings to work on mutual wildlife and fire management, search and rescue, educational programs and shared publications, ecosystem monitoring, research, and threatened species conservation. They also have staff exchanges.
We had encountered cattle on the drive to St. Mary so we knew to be on the lookout. This is a two-lane highway and we made several stops as cattle were standing in the road looking us over. This is no longer wheat country but cattle country and they have range cattle roaming around.
We reached Canadian customs and were waiting our turn when I saw two cows quickly moving from Canada to the U.S. with a custom’s officer close behind carrying a big walking stick.
I had heard that cattle freely roam between the two countries so as the custom agent is walking down the hill towards us, I ask if he had some illegal aliens. He said he doesn’t care if they come across the border but they have been pooping by his cabin and he gets his boots dirty. I took note of this technicality, and decided not to take a dump in his yard.
We gave all the right answers at customs and headed towards Waterton, where the famous Prince of Wales Lodge is located, stopping frequently to take photos of yet some more mountains. On the east side of Glacier National Park the mountains meet the prairie because the Pacific Rim went up over the North American land mass when the two collided many millions of years ago. As we drove along I thought about what it would have been like when it happened. I bet the earth shook a few times. Since then many glaciers have changed the look of both the mountains and prairies.
Every time I hear about this type of activities over the past kazillion years I wonder what will happen long after we are gone. Makes me feel very small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. To think that so many marvelous events have happened to shape our world, and my God still thinks I am important humbles me.
My earthly existence in this space at this time means that we need to go into the little town of St. Mary to see what we can find to eat as I decided tonight is “date night.” Then I want to go back to a portion of Going to the Sun Road to see if I can get some nice photos in the evening light. Bon Apatite.
There are lots of small towns along Highway 2 going across the north of Montana and we knew we were coming upon one because we could see a water tower and grain elevators. Of course we also knew it was a town because it wasn’t a wheat field. There are only these two things.
Running next to the road is always a railroad bed and it is highly used – at least at this time of year. New, modern grain elevators have been built on the edge of towns and sometimes between towns. There was a constant stream of trucks carrying grain from the fields to the elevators and very long (4-locomotive long) trains taking on and moving grain.
There is a beauty to seeing how humans find a way to use the land and develop technology to be productive. Every mile or so there is a small cluster of trees that indicated a homestead. There is a house and outbuildings, a garden and orchard. I could feel the pride of land and the strength of the people who live here. I wanted to give a knock on their back door and have a cup of coffee with them at their kitchen table, but they would be working and I would be interrupting.
We spent the past two days driving through North Dakota and Montana, so vast horizons have been central on my mind. Montana is known as Big Sky Country, and with a big sky comes a big horizon, and big wheat fields, and big trains.
I was talking with the young owner of a cafe we stopped at for coffee, in a small town on Highway 2 in Montana. She was saying that the Harvest Lunch they sell is sometimes bought by people going to the doctor or dentist. I commented that there isn’t anything between towns – and she quickly said “just wheat.” That is what they grow a lot of in Montana. They are harvesting and they need lots of big trucks, grain elevators and trains to get the wheat to other places.
And that is what we saw as we looked towards the horizon; wheat fields with small patches of green that signify a farmstead, with grain silos, grain elevators, and long trains along the highway.
I am working my way across the country – and through the alphabet. You can join me by going to see Frizz at:
Don’t start analyzing focus, composition, etc. because it wasn’t meant to be the one National Geographic is looking for to have as their photo of the month. This is just my memories of the beautiful roadside parks along Lake Superior. It is all the memories of picnic lunches, kids building sand castles, skipping stones, and playing with water pumps, while I am soothed by the ice cold, crystal clear water as it laps the shore.
We are heading west, to Glacier National Park, and the “wrong” with this picture is that I put tons of energy into getting ready. I purchased new long sleeve tees for myself so I would be warm, I made the down comforters smaller so they would fit our beds better, I packed the flannel sheets and comforter covers, and made sure we had plenty of layers because we are going to the mountains, to the great northern tier of states, we were going where it is cold while my daughter returns to the sweltering heat of Texas in August. I feel so bad for her but so happy for us.
What is wrong with this picture is that we worked on the shoulder of Highway 2 yesterday, in North Dakota, in 95 degree heat, changing a tire that had blown out (exploded) on the trailer. We were thankful the truck held steady, that my hubby is good at changing tires, and thankful that it was on the passenger side. We were thankful that there wasn’t much traffic and there was a relatively cool wind with low humidity. But still, we were down to our last layers to take off before we risked arrest.
What kept our spirits up was knowing we had freshly purchased sweet corn in the fridge for supper and there was a good-sized city about 50 miles down the road. I was silently (I know how to avoid fights) bemoaning that the tire chose to blow at a very boring stretch of highway after passing lots of very interesting photo opportunities where stopping wasn’t possible. I couldn’t resist (in spite of guilt) taking a few photos while hubby was working but none had enough interest to be keepers.
Last night it was boy-this-flannel-covered-comforter-feels-good cold and today is predicted to be in the high 70’s. Hubby is in town getting a new tire for the trailer and then we will be off for Montana. Go west, old folks, go west.