SUNDAY MAY 23, 1999
Limon CO - Great Falls MT

          Overall a pretty uneventful day. We awoke to cloudy skies and 50's at Limon. and after a quick stop at the post office mailbox we hit the road at 9 am. Like yesterday, I took the first "shift" of driving, routing us west on I-70 towards Denver, 60 miles away. We drove through an unending series of long, long construction zones, 5-10 miles with traffic going one lane each way. Colorado seems to be plagued with construction projects, and at the beginning of tourist season! Thankfully traffic was light. By 10:45 am we were passing through Denver, then turned north on I-25. Traffic was very heavy and chaotic for the next 40 miles to Fort Collins, where most of it died away. We reached the Wyoming border right around noon, with sunny skies breaking out and temperatures rising well into the 70's.
          We needed some supplies, including gas, lunch, a swiss Army knife, a jacket for Shannon, and some extra clothing so we stopped at Cheyenne. In driving around the city looking for the "consumer district" we got quite a good vibe from the town. Roughly the size of Waco TX, Cheyenne was a beautiful, lively, and compact city nestled on the Wyoming plains. Of course, then we found the sprawling WalMart-KMart- Applebees-Petsmart-OfficeMax-Sears conglomeration, which was set apart from the town on its north side and was quite busy. It was good to walk around the K-Mart, although the only disappointment was that no jackets were available.
          We grabbed a quick lunch for the road and continued north, stopping at a rest area in the tiny town of Chugwater ("home of Chugwater Chili, stop in for a free sample!") so I could eat my bagel. Traffic was sparse on I-25 and at times there wasn't another car in sight. We were surrounded by miles and miles of rolling grassland and hills. It was very beautiful and quite scenic, but somewhat monotonous after awhile. We passed through Casper around 3:30 pm and stopped at the tiny town of Kaycee for fuel. Here was the quietest gas station I'd ever visited -- a few cars wandered in to fuel up, and after they parked all you heard was the wind blowing across the building. An eerie feeling.
          We reached the Montana border at 6:30 pm, stopping briefly for photos. Shannon took over the driving from this point, and we saw Montana's infamous speed limit sign -- "Day... Reasonable & Prudent". Shannon set the cruise control to 85 mph and we moved northward.
          Around 7:30 pm we got close to Billings, where we spent a few minutes finding a good sit-down restaurant. In the course of this we discovered that Billings has some of the worst drivers on the planet -- we got into 2 near-wrecks in 5 minutes and saw a few cases of people racing through busy parking lots at 30+ mph. We settled down at Applebees, which was fairly busy and had an interesting crowd. Shannon had a steak and I had a cajun rice dish. From there we fueled up and headed northwest out of town. Although neither of us liked Billings, which appeared to have alcoholism and drug problems running through it, we were treated to a fantastic view of the town as Highway 3 ascended a steep bluff overlooking the north sections of town. We stopped for photos, then continued the remaining 200 miles to Great Falls as dusk fell over Montana.
          Even though we were much further north, we were at the eastern edge of the time zone so sunset was early, 9 pm, but twilight was much longer and at 10 pm we still had light to drive by as we navigated central Montana's remote roads, and a trace of twilight could be seen even until 11 pm.
          We arrived at Great Falls pretty weary, then visited the Best Western only to find a steep room rate ($80) and settled for a more reasonable $50 at Budget Inn.

          Tomorrow we hope to bend westward to see the foothills of Glacier National Park and cross the Canadian border around lunchtime. We plan to continue into Alberta through Calgary and Edmonton and perhaps stop for the night around Whitecourt or thereabouts.

Miles driven today: 897
Gas: 15.4 gal @ 1.12 @ Cheyenne ($17.24), 8.1 gal @ 1.20 @ Kaycee ($9.73), 7.5 gal @ 1.25 @ Billings ($9.30)
Expenses: supplies at K-Mart @ Cheyenne ($72), bagels @ Cheyenne ($6.50), drink @ Kaycee ($1.05), dinner @ Applebee's @ Billings ($26.45), drink @ Billings ($1.00), Budget Inn ($49.92)
Business ratings (0-4 stars):
Applebee's, Billings MT * * 1/2
Budget Inn, Great Falls MT * * *

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Denver, CO -- no stops made here, though... we pressed on to Cheyenne.

Casper, WY -- myself at the wheel, pressing north.

WY/MT border -- the speed limit in Montana is "reasonable and prudent"... at least for 50 miles when we began seeing 70 mph signs.

Billings, MT -- a tall bluff overlooking the north side of the town is the setting for a breathtaking view.