Leaving Missoula, it was about 33 degrees and snowing lightly. We were a little nervous about road conditions, but were assured everything was okay to Butte. Then there may be some snow on the pass beyond there. Yep, we bought some warm hats…not exactly fashion statements, but they work. And, the Starbucks sign over my head just adds to the humor.
The weather got a bit worse near Deer Lodge, site of the old Montana State Prison, so we stopped in the town to find some road condition information. Our first sign of trouble was the Chamber of Commerce person whose dialect told us he was from Great Britain. We went over to the old prison to use the facilities. The attendant there maybe said three words to us. So off we went in the snow. Pretty soon it quit. We stopped just outside Butte at a truck stop and were told that the roads were okay. Our lunch consisted of a couple of pieces of barbequed chicken eaten in the car because of the cold. All day long we were in and out of light snow, crossing the Continental Divide at 6375’ and 23 degrees. We were a little tense with the big trucks and possible ice, but never really had any trouble.
Our one sightseeing experience was at the Missouri Headwaters State Park. This is where the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin Rivers join to become the Missouri. On July 4, 1803, President Thomas Jefferson had enlisted Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and the 45 members of the Corps of Discovery to “explore the Missouri River and such principal stream of it, as by its course and communication with the waters of the Pacific Ocean…may offer the most direct and practicable water communication across this continent.” On July 25, 1895, Captain Clark became the first recorded non-Indian to read the Headwaters. Two days later Captain Lewis and the rest of the party joined him. Later the Corps of Discovery party was able to find the Shoshone Indians, secure horses and make it across the Rockies to the Pacific.
Our biggest regret of this week is that we had to give up seeing Yellowstone. The weather was just too bad. But, we both remember Old Faithful from our 1950’s trip with our parents. Maybe we will return someday.
Tonight we are staying at a Springhill Suites in Billings, MT. It was a long day and the temperature hovered around 28 degrees most of the day. Us Georgia girls are just not used to this cold. Brrrrrr!
346 miles today
October 25, 2012