Montana

Highways throughout Montana with overnight stop in Malta (11th to 12th Aug 2016)

Montana is not only the Yellowstone National park, but I only have superlatives for its nature. Entering Montana by the border control of Wild Horse (see USA) I continued on hwy 2 to Havre, the first place with a gas station for more than 100 kilometers. Already on my way there I have seen that Montana is different to all I have seen before and it is very beautiful. Even by driving throughout the prairie, I saw the mountains. Often I was surrounded of pretty hills or breathtaking mountains. I was really happy, that I did not choose the hwy 90, but the ones I came closer to Montana’s amazing nature.

At the gas station in Havre I filled my tank, checked the oil and washed my wind screen as well as the rear screen. I was looking for high pressure air for my tires, because one of them looked too flat. I entered the gas station and asked for it. A young shop assistant came with an instrument looking like a pen. It was a pressure meter. When adapting to the tires outlet a little measure stick appeared showing the pressure. The more the pressure was, the longer the stick came out. I had never seen such an instrument before and did not know how it works, though the assistant helped me with all four tires and I was right, one of the tires had too low pressure. I also learned of her, that the necessary pressure is “printed” on the tires. I thanked for the great and kind service and continued to the supermarket, because I did not have any food with me from Alberta. Before starting this trip, I did read about the restrictions and I decided it was easier not to have any food at all with me.

At the supermarket I thought, I bought some sale offers, but as usual in other countries, you have to be very aware, what the offers are for. I did take the wrong items, but there were anyway not very expensive. Food and fuel seem to be much cheaper than in Canada, but for 1 CAD I only pay 0.7 Euro, meanwhile I pay for 1 USD around 0.9 Euro. Though the costs are only slightly less in the USA. Furthermore the fuel price in the USA is in gallons, which makes it hard to compare. By the way, the speed limits as well as the distances are in miles and I was very happy, that my speedometer has both km/h and m/h. Temperatures is another challenge. I do not know how to compare °Fahrenheit with °Celsius and I did not cope with looking it up all the time, therefore I only can tell you, that it was really warm all the time, especially the last two days of the trip felt hot. It was raining a little the first two days, but only during very short periods as well was the one and only thunderstorm.

I followed the hwy 2 through Chinook, Zurich, Harlem, Fort Belknop Agency and Dodson to Malta. The American highways really go through all the places, which made the trip a little more interesting. In Zurich e.g. I have seen a building reminding on the typical buildings at the country side in Switzerland. The place is a very little one, not belonging to any community. I was expecting the same for Malta, which did not get its name by Maltese settlers, but – as it is told – by an official looking for a name for this township. He should have spun a globe and then put one of his fingers on a place in Europe. Yes, it actually has been the tiny island in the Mediterranean sea: Malta. It was already evening, when I arrived there and I was looking for a campground. I found one already at the entrance to the town and asked for a space. The owner asked me if I need electricity and water. When I answered no on both questions, he told me, a place on his campground is for 24 USD, but I could camp in the City Park for 3 USD. I asked for the directions, but did not find it. I found instead a museum with a good car park. Unfortunately there was no open restroom, but it was already dark and I decided to stay there over night after I had checked, that overnight stay was not prohibited. I had made me comfortable on my mattress, ready to sleep, when a car stopped behind mine, bothering me with its lights and only a moment later, a flash light was shining in my car, though I opened the door, facing the sheriff. He told me, it’s OK. Anyway I told him, why I was camping there with my car and he wished me a good night and he told me, he will have an eye on the place, though nobody will bother me. I am really happy, I look so innocent 😉.

Entering Malta, Montana

The next morning I drove to a gas station for a coffee and found the rest area next to it. I used the washroom and became interested in the area, therefore I took a walk. There was a very old bridge, which was not in use anymore, but a trail started in front of it. It was the same trail, which runs behind the museum. On my way back I crossed a playground in a small park. Leaving that I found, that it was the area, the man at the campground was taking about. It had been a better place for me, because there were restrooms – open all the time.

I continued around 10am and visited the museum, but they only had stuff about dinosaurs and the sea. Though I skipped it, but asked for the restroom, where I brushed my teeth. Afterwards I followed hwy 2 until Culbertson. Places passed or passed through were Saco, Glasgow, Nashna, Frazer, Oswego, Wolf Point, Poplar and Brockton. In Culbertson I entered the hwy 16 and followed it to Sydney, continuing on hwy 23, where nature had changed dramatically for a short while with high mountains and forest close to the town. I changed to hwy 261 for Wibaux. This part of my travel gave me amazing views. The hwy 261 is partly gravel road up the hills and down the hills. The landscape looked sometimes like I imagine it would be on the moon with limestone hills in different colours.

Beside Wagon Road, Montana

I did not meet a lot of cars and I really could enjoy the trip. I was happy, I had chosen this hwy instead of continuing on hwy 16. In Wibaux, where hwy 261 ends, I changed to hwy 7 and was going further to Ekalaka via Baker and Willard. From Ekalaka I continued on hwy 323 via Belltower and Albion before I headed to hwy 212 and Colony, Wyoming.

Highway Montana 89 / 191 / 12 / 89 / 15 (15th/16th Aug 2016)

My destination in Canada was Calgary, where a helpx host was waiting for me. I should have been with her from 15th Aug, but could not make it. Unfortunately I did not find wi-fi either, even I was looking for it, to send a message to her – I did not have her phone number. In the afternoon she sent me a text message, asking for my arrival time. I told her, that unfortunately I still was in Montana and that I have had problems with the distance, because of the miles. She was very kind and understanding and we agreed, that I will arrive the upcoming day around 5pm, when she is home from work.

For more photos of the Yellowstone National park click photographs!

Leaving the Yellowstone National park, I used the US (Montana) hwy 89 to the West and Livingstone. By the way I posted my postcard in Gardiner, the last town in the park, to my former colleagues on Malta as well as I did try to pay the fee at the gate, but there was only a sign “please proceed”. I did not remember, that I have to drive on the hwy 89 all the time until I reached the US (Montana) hwy 15. In a junction I changed to the Montana hwy 191 East, but got my doubts after a while, if I was on the right road. Outside the town of Timber I stopped at a gas station to get some fuel. The system was different again to what I was used to and a male customer was so kind and helped me to get it started. After paying my bill – it was not possible to pay with credit card at the pump, I drove aside and looked on my map, realising that I was too far to the East. I had to turn onto hwy 12, when coming there, going West again. I could have gone back the freeway, of course, which I was coming, but it was boring and I would like to see something more, when I now have got the chance.

I found the hwy 12 without problems and had to go one more time onto hwy 89 before I finally could turn on hwy 15 at Great Falls, which is the name of the city. When you go South or North in Montana you always have the “blue mountains” on the West side. They look blue from the distance, but I think they are not in reality. Even in Montana the landscape is changing quite often. Rolling hills and prairie I drove through most of the time, but you see the mountains sometimes closer. This day I saw a group of deer standing on the left hand side beside the road.

When I came to Great Falls and the hwy 15 it was nearly dark and I tried to find a campground, but I did not see any. I had to drive through an area on the southern edge of the town, filled with industrial buildings and spaced shops respectively showrooms. Even outside that area, going north, I did not find any campground, though I continued.

Hwy 15 Montana

In Vaughn I asked at a Sinclair gas station for a campground and the answer was, that there only is a mobile home and RV park, but I also have got the directions. I drove there and had to find the office trailer, which I did easily. Valery, the owner of the place, was outside her home / the office. I asked her, if the park has a washroom and she answered no, but she told me, that I could use the toilet in the trailer next door and also have my car on the driveway for the trailer, which was up for renovation and nobody rented it. She was eager to move her lawn mower, which was on that driveway. In addition to that, she offered me to use her other private bathroom for brushing my teeth, washing my face and even to take a shower. She also explained, that she missed her husband a year ago and is living alone in the trailer, therefore none would disturb me. I only brushed my teeth, used the toilet and washed my hands this evening in her bathroom. Afterwards I asked her for the fee. First I did not really understand, that she will let me stay for free, though I asked her, if I should pay in the morning before I leave. She then told me, that she will not take any money from me. I thanked her and said good night.

The next morning I awoke as usual with the daylight, used the toilet of the trailer – what I also had done once during the night using the flash light of my tablet, because the flash light I had bought on Malta was difficult to use by a loose connection. I took my medicine and walked to her home for the washroom after 7am. I ringed her bell once, but would not wake her up, if she still was sleeping. She did not come to the door, therefore I drove back to the Sinclair gas station, where I filled my tank the night before, bought breakfast and beverage as well as snacks for later. The female cashier was very friendly and there were also tables and chairs, where I could eat my breakfast. Finally I used the bathroom before I drove on the hwy 15. I could have chosen another gas station, somewhat closer to the RV park, but the male shop assistant I asked for the campground the evening before had been so kind, though I felt I had to buy my fuel etc. there.

After a while on hwy 15 I stopped for sending my upcoming host a text message, that I was on my way. I continued without any further interruption to the Canadian border. I did not expect any problems to enter Canada again because my visa in my passport. How it worked and about my ongoing travel you can read at the site Alberta.

For more photos from Montana click photographs.

5th Nov – Second trip throughout Montana

Coming from Idaho Falls I tried to visit the Capitol of Helena, too. I took a stop in Dillon, about halfway to Helena. In the shop at the gas station I bought a coffee as well as mozzarella sticks, but I thought I bought chicken sticks. Anyway they were cheap and tasty. I also bought nasal spray, because my cold – the spray worked very well, but I forgot it in my car in the evening. I also filled my car. When I did that, I was asked of a student to answer some question for a survey with the opportunity to win something. I know, I would not win anything – because I will leave the country before it will be distributed, I answered the questions anyway. It was about tourism – if I will stay overnight in Montana, where I entered Montana and what I will do in Montana.

Unfortunately the 5th was a Saturday and I arrived as late as 5:30pm, though the building was closed. Though I only took a photograph of the outside and continued to Great Falls. The nature here was amazing and especially just before reaching Great Falls. It was another side of Montana, I have got to see this time. Unfortunately it was not possible to take photos of the most stunning views.

Montana Highlands

For more photos of Helena and the Montana Highlands click photographs!

I had found my host in Great Falls with the help of Sheila and Rusty, who hosted me in Idaho Falls. Jeff and Alice in Great Falls were attending a dinner and were not back before later that evening, though I had enough with time to reach their home. I had a meal in Great Falls before I looked for the home of my host and arrived just a minute before they came home. It was perfect timing. Alice showed my the room, where I could sleep. Even this house was very clean and beautiful as well as I had a room and a bathroom for myself. We had a short chat and were to bed around 10am. Even this couple was not really so heartily like Sheila, they were great hosts and I was happy about the cleanliness, too.

In the morning 6th Nov we continued with our chat with a coffee. I have got explained, that they are not eating breakfast, though I did not get one, but that did not matter for me. Jeff told me about the Giant Springs and the 200-foot(61m)-long Roe River, which runs into the Missouri River. The first I did, when I left my host was to buy a breakfast – a coffee, a hot dog with cheese and a small soft cake at a gas station, after that I was driving to the Giant Springs State Park. I had to pay 6 USD for using the park, but mainly for the car park. I did not have enough with change, though I only put the 2 USD in change I had in the envelope in the hope, the ranger will understand. Then I entered the area.

Giant Springs

I walked all the way along the Roe River and took a close look on the Springs, which are coming from the underground. It looked different as I was used of springs. In addition to that I was impressed, that I was at the shore of the Missouri River. One more name I remembered from the lessons in geography. It was such a strange and amazing feeling to see all these places I had learned about at school many years ago.

Around two hours later I entered Canada again by the border in Sweetgrass. This time I did not have any problem with the border control, even the officer asked me, when I will leave Canada again and which way. I told him, that I will leave the 10th Nov, not thinking about that it was the day before a public holiday and long weekend, though hard to get a cheap flight ticket to the States. When he asked me, if I already had the ticket, I answered, that I have the ticket home from Los Angeles in the USA, but still have to buy the one from Calgary to the States. He did not even ask to see the ticket and welcomed me back! By the way, he had another question before. It was to check if I tell the truth, I think, because he asked me why I was travelling in Canada, if I had friends and I answered, that I made friends in Canada. Though he asked me, if I already have had them, when I entered Canada for the first time and I told him, what I had told the first border control, that I had no friends in Canada.

For more photos of Great Falls and Giant Springs click photographs.

Read about my last days in Canada by using the link for Alberta and scroll down to the 6th Nov.