Current location: About an hour west of Missoula, MT
Miles traveled since last stop: 205
Max miles traveled in one day: 734!
Total miles traveled: 3100+
Wow have I been on the move. I'm currently in Montana, about an hour West of Missoula. I'm taking a few days of much needed rest at an undisclosed location (a quaint little permaculture farm that asked not to mention name or location), after being go-go-go for four days straight. Some highlights of the last thousand-plus miles.
Badlands National Park
After driving through the plains of South Dakota for over 6 hours is was bizarre to get to Badlands. The rock formations from thousands of years of erosion make the scene look like another planet. I went from hours of pretty yet continuous boring plains like this...
To this the rocky terrain of Badlands...
You can take a look at my entire photo album of Badlands here.
Being that Rushmore was only about an hour and thirty minutes from Badlands I could not just drive by the area without checking it out. I've heard many people say "it's not that great" but how could I pass this up? From far off it might look small but it truly is a marvel that this could even be done, let alone so long ago. At the same time though, Rushmore is a reminder of the American way. Look at us! Let's make a giant monument to celebrate ourselves and how great we are! It does show and represent some great presidents but at the same time I couldn't stop thinking about the cost of Native American lives throughout these lands due to our greed.
Sleeping on the Grasslands
After Rushmore I got a quick bite and decided to see how many more driving hours I could get in. My plan was to set up my tent once it got too dark or once I got too tired, whatever came first. It is common knowledge that you can camp on any national or state forest lands as well as several other designated federal lands unless otherwise posted. I saw that I would be directly in the middle of a national grassland, so I thought it would be no problem to crash somewhere there. As I drove into the area I noticed that it was indeed, grassland with nothing but fields of desert like grass for miles and miles. I continued on, knowing I would probably need to crash soon. However as I got deeper I saw a sign for a mine, then one that said "Blast Zone". I figured I should probably not camp in that area. Yet the more I went on, the more mines and blast zones there were. Pretty odd that an area dubbed a national park is covered in mines and blast zones. It was around 10:30pm, I was super tired and pulled onto a dirt road. I could see a mine in the distance but thankfully no blast zones. Dead tired at this point, I set up my tent off the road on the grass. I was relieved when I climbed in but as soon as I closed the zipper I swore I heard an animal outside the tent. I just wanted to sleep and now theres an animal outside my tent, great! A few minutes later something started brushing the outside of my tent. "No way", I'm thinking. I made some noises to try to get whatever it was to go away but the noise continued. I was freaked out at this point. I worked up the courage to open the zipper after a while to finally see that there was a hard blade of grass brushing up against the tent when the wind blew. And with that I had already been worked up so much I had the worst night of sleep yet on the journey (especially with giant mining trucks going by throughout the night). It at least looked alright when I woke up in the morning. Either way, I cannot recommend Thunder Basin National Grasslands for camping!
Grand Teton National Park
After the foray on the Grasslands I headed to Grand Teton which had some of the best views I've seen on the trip so far. The Teton Mountain range is absolutely spectacular. I got a backwoods camping permit which allows you to camp off the beaten path. They make you watch a video about bear safety and other things before signing an agreement. I signed, packed up my bear mace, and hiked 4 miles to a great spot right under the mountain range at a place called Bearpaw Lake. An amazing, yet quick little trip, with the only bother being that the temp dropped below 40F during the night. I was prepared but still chilly! Take a look at my Teton photo set here if you like.
I spent only a day roaming Yellowstone. Some simply stunning scenery in this park. However it was so packed with people and cars, even on a weekday, that I decided not to stay. I was a bit burned out and wanted to get moving to my next destination. It was great to at least check out a few of the hot springs and see some live bison for the first time ever.
My First Ever Hitchhiker
I'm not one to really do the hitchhiker thing, but as I was leaving Yellowstone I saw a guy looking for a ride. As I drove by he tipped his hat to me. I'm not sure if this was intentional at all or just a standard moving of the hat (it was pretty hot out). But I pulled over and asked where he needed to go, and it happened to be Bozeman, the town I was going to stop at next. His name was Luis and he had to catch a flight the next day. He happened to be in a similar situation to me in terms of trying to figure out his next steps in life. Cool guy. He offered for me to stay in his hotel in Bozeman in return for the ride. It was pretty awesome to sleep in an actual bed after driving 1000+ miles, hiking, and camping for the last few days.
After Bozeman I headed to Missoula, which is where I find myself now. Soon it is on to Northern Idaho before heading up into Canada towards Banff National Park. Catch you soon!