Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Day 17: Evanston, WY - Billings, MT

I had thought that today I should be directed due north from Evanston, parallelling and occasionally crossing the Utah and Idaho state lines, but no.  Emily the TwatNav instead directs me a hundred miles east on I-80 before heading north and sometimes west.  She has decided that this route will be quicker and she is probably right, not least because the shorter route takes one through Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.  However, this does mean that the entire route from Battle Mountain to here - give or take the odd diversion to find food and lodging - has already been covered in either 2009 or 2010, or both, albeit in the opposite direction.  With tomorrow's route reversing 2005's for the sixty-odd miles as far as the Little Bighorn, it will be a relief to go somewhere new.

The first section of the day takes me out of the Great Basin and into that of the Colorado.  The Great Basin being a big hole in the ground containing much of Nevada and Utah, plus smaller bits of assorted neighbouring states, in which the rivers have no outlet to the sea.  My mission here is to educate, innit.  You can tell when you're in the Colorado basin when you cross the Green River near the imaginatively-named town of Green River.  This was where the expedition led by John Wesley Powell - remember him? - started its journey down river to the site of present-day Lake Mead.  If this sounds a bit odd, the current Green River was then known as the Colorado.  The bit of the Colorado in the state of, er, Colorado - Glenwood Canyon etc. - was then known as the Grand River.  The name was changed in 1921 on the grounds that having a state of Colorado which didn't have the eponymous river in it was a Bit Silly.  Next they can sort out the Kansas City conundrum ["That's enough rivers" - Ed.].

Typical Wyoming scenery
Anyway, Wyoming.  Most of it looks the same, i.e. the same brush and scrub visible anywhere between Canada and Mexico.  There are sometimes mountains in the background.  And wind.  Wyoming is windmungous.  There is a brief break from the dullness when ascending the Wind River gorge between Shoshoni and Thermopolis (where I refuel myself and the motor-car), but things don't change radically until some distance after Cody, which is the thick end of four hundred miles into the day's run.

Turning left onto WY-296, things improve in that there are proper corners and you can play with the gears a bit.  Note to Ford: this is the 21st century.  Please fit some sort of steering wheel-mounted gear shifters.  This road is also known as the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, named for the lad who attempted to lead the Nez Perce tribe out of Yellowstone and into Canada.  He failed, on account of being stitched up by apparent allies the Crow.  With this in mind you'd think that Dead Indian Summit might by now have been renamed something more politically-correct like, for example, u haz been pwned u redskin d0rks all ur land are belong to us lol summit.  Or something.
Some Weather approaching Dead Indian Summit

Up here it is fantastically windy.  It is rock-your-motor-car-on-its-primitive-suspension windy.  It is tear-your-baseball-cap-off-even-though-the-Velcro-fastening-is-caught-in-your-hair windy.  And there is Weather looming from the direction of Yellowstone-me, and I don't want it to sno at the top of the Beartooth again.  I descend to US-212 driving the thing like I stole it, but the rain closes in anyway chiz and I have to put the top up again.  The Beartooth is different from this direction, he said, stating the bleedin' obvious.  Someone git has nicked the summit marker post (10,947 feet) and the descent into Montana is marred by Mr Git with his big pickup and trailer doing 25 mph where the speed limit is 70.  His mate pulls over to let me past, but not Mr Git.  He is surprised when I overtake him anyway, crossing the double line in order to do so, but then he's a git.
At the top of the Beartooth Highway.  Marker sign nicked by git(s)

Happily he does not catch up when I am obliged to stop in the middle of Red Lodge to allow a couple of deer to cross the street, as he was probably armed.  The last bit down to Billings has much wind; trees have been blown over in the town and there are bits of airborne rubbish flying across I-90 which is alarming when doing 80 mph.  I grab the second-to-last room in the Best Western Kelly Inn & Suites.  It has a jacuzzi.  O noes!  And with my trusty Swiss Army Knife I am able to restore functionality to the knob with operates the plug.  The place has Wild Frontier-themed decor, with floor tiles depicting animal tracks, arrows, and moose, wolves and bears.  The exterior features small bears scrambling up the balconies, which I will photograph on the morrow provided the place has not blown over in the meantime.

1 comment:

  1. I took an accidental detour to 2010 posts, but am now back on track.

    I will blame your twatnav.