May 16, 2018

Butte, Montana

Rolling along, rolling along… I’ve always loved the mountains. And by mountains, I mean the mountains of the west. The smell of the air at high altitude, craggy snow capped peaks, alpine lakes, stunted trees giving way to meadows at the treeline. You just don’t get that in the Eastern US. Perhaps someday I’ll be back in the west and more able to take advantage of that landscape, but not today.

Dateline Butte, Montana –

Four days of ten hours plus driving. One more day to go. North Dakota ended with some rather picturesque badlands which almost, but did not quite, redeem it as a state. Then it was across the border and into Montana and the Big Sky country of the East (which looked suspiciously like a continuation of North Dakota…) Around Billings, I-94 became I-90 and began its ascent into the Montana Rockies, rolling foothills, bright green from the spring rains backed by clusters of snow capped mountains. The Great Red Hope trotted on past Yellowstone and cheerfully crossed the Continental Divide and descended into the Butte valley where, after 640 miles for the day, I said no more and got out of the car.

I’ve crossed the Rockies plenty of times in the past, and so had Tommy but I can’t remember ever doing it together, other than at 35,000 feet. He was not really a mountain person. Scenic beauty for him was important in how it formed and informed local culture, not something to be enjoyed for its own purposes.

The last time I was on this road, I was headed the opposite direction in 2000 Mustang convertible with the top down on my way from Seattle in Chicago, part of my last major cross country trek after Steve died. I also remember coming through here in 1986 when I went to Yellowstone and Grand Teton for a few days before starting my OB/GYN rotation in Boise that summer. All of those babies I delivered are now in their thirties. Where does the time go?

Tired tonight, so signing off for bad television and an early bedtime before tomorrow’s last leg.

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