Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Up and Out!

It has been a long drive. Port Townsend (sea level) to Red Lodge Montana (5,568ft). The drive started a little late, they always do when moving your life. Getting off the peninsula was easy enough, south to Tacoma then onto I90 all the way.

The cascades faded in the rear view as the Columbia plateau expanded out to the horizon. The bridge at Vantage WA looks so different with the water low, there are even some caves on the eastern side that were below the lake level. What history was drowned awaiting rediscovery? Every time i pass this way i wonder what was it like to cross the plateau sixty years ago, a hundred, five hundred? Looking forward to seeing mountains on the horizon i tried to keep the rental truck pinned at seventy on the speedometer. A lack of cruse control made my leg ache.
Spokane and Coeur d' Alene marked the end of Washington and the beginning of Idaho. This is the start of real mountain navigation. The Bitterroot mountains kick off with Forth of July pass (3,081ft) . I was greeted with bursts of turental down pours and rainbows. Trying to save up momentum on the down to burn on the up i was clipping along at the recommended edge of speed. At this rate i would have made Cap. John Mullan and his crew stare in disbelief when they were here in the 1850's and 60's. Once up and over Fourth of July Lookout pass isn’t far off.

Lookout pass has the distinction of being a former rail line for the Northern Pacific Railway, being exit 0 in Montana, and the highest pass on I90 at 4,710 ft. For me it always makes me smile at being into Montana and frown because its still a long way to Red Lodge.
 The first cites click by Missoula (3,209 ft), Deer Lodge, Butte, then Home Stake Pass (6,329 ft). Home stake is the continental divide so if you were to pee in exactly the right place... Continuing east Belgrade then Bozeman and the Bozeman pass (5702 ft). The Bozeman pass is the last pass before Red Lodge. At this point in the drive i was exhausted. The problem is being so close and yet so far away.
The pass goes by with almost no time to think about Sacagawea and William Clark passing this way in 1806. All of my concentration was focused on simply getting there.
Livingston slipped by in the dark as did Big Timber and Reed Point. By the time we hit Columbus i was really in the early morning grove. My mantra of "just keep driving" interspersed with dance techno seemed to be working, pulling off I90 really marked the home stretch. The black sky to the east was becoming gray as we passed into Red Lodge.

I had people question my sanity leaving the pacific north west for the mountain of Montana. I questioned them myself. The trick is to love the place your in and those with whom you share it. Its been an up and down sort of trip, capping an up and down sort of relationship between Port Townsend and I. In the end my time with you all was fantastic. Just remember you have some friends in a high place.


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