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