Saturday, 11 September 2010

Day 7: Bozeman, MT - Rock Springs, WY

First, some statistics from yesterday:

  • Number of daft magpies sent prematurely to Magpie Heaven: 1.  I know that roadkill was jolly yummy, but you do need to keep an eye out for big noisy yellow things.
  • Number of daft women sent prematurely to Daft Woman Heaven: 0.  Close, though.  Dear lady, if you are to cross the road without looking out for big noisy yellow things, at least do so somewhere other than just around a blind left-hander, or else you'll miss The Rapture.
And so to Friday.  Google Maps said it was 600 miles from Bozeman direct to Battle Mountain, so I opted to renew the acquaintance of an old friend and hopefully make the odd new one too.  The old friend being the Beartooth Highway between Red Lodge and Cooke City, over which I went last year.  On leaving Bozeman, yes, you guessed right, it was raining.  However it had cleared by the time I left I-90 for MT-78, which is far more fun than the approach to Red Lodge from Laurel, to the extent that I actually contemplated having the top down. A twinge of apprehension about conditions at the top of the pass made me decide otherwise, and a good thing too.  Here is what the top of the Beartooth looked like last year:


Here is what is looked like today:


with the added pleasure of a temperature of about -4.  I soon came to realise why SNO tyres are narrow, but the motor-car's Electronik Brane made sure that I didn't get Killed to DETH falling off the road, and nor did the slightly scared couple in the Nissan Altima who were waiting near the top for some sucker to guide them through the worst bit.

Once safely back out of the clouds and SNO it was left onto WY-296, aka the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, follows the route taken by Chief Joseph as he led the Nez Perce Indians out of Yellowstone National Park and into Montana in 1877 during their attempt to flee the U.S. Cavalry and escape into Canada.  It is a Splendid Thing, but given its name, I can't help but feel that calling the highest point on the road "Dead Indian Summit" is just a tad insensitive.

Briefly back onto vaguely familiar ground into Cody.  Exxon, if your stupid "gas" pump will not even get to the stage of interrogating my credit card, well, it was your loss and Shell's gain.  South now over the high plains to Thermopolis and a splendidly scenic run down the Wind River canyon.  Natch at the other end the White Man has built another dam.  Then south-west on WY-28, which is good going up and unimaginably tedious after crossing the Continental Divide at South Pass.  US-191 down into Rock Springs isn't much better, but at least when I had to slow down because some berk had pulled out of a junction in front of me, I resisted the temptation to blast past at 100 mph.  Good thing, really, as the berk in question was also the sheriff.

Curious thing seen on the road: a bloke in a dirty brown Saturn who, when dropped because my overtaking, cornering and hill-climbing ability far exceeds that of his crummy little Vectra knockoff, would eventually catch back up - and bear in mind that I've got the cruise control set to 70 mph - and then doesn't even try to overtake.  I was beginning to think I had a stalker.

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