Spring, or early summer is slowly arriving. In the valleys trees get foliage; on the hills snow remains in many places. Temperatures around 25°C on a sunny day, 4° if it rains/snows. Our trip thru Montana to the Glacier National Park which is still closed to a large extent. Then on to Canada.
Buffalo, 16th May
Now we comprehend the 5th-Presidential-Statue-Project a little better. So no more need to admire the other 4 1s.
We head on. Drive the Iron Mountain Road surrounding Mt. Rushmore. A road famous for its reputation of being adventurous and not too easy to drive. Somehow true. On the other side, would the guys have engaged an engineer mastering his profession, it would just be an ordinary road thru wooden hills. The way it was built we have to drive numerous pointless switchbacks, spirals and thru tunnels nobody really needs. Whatever, driving it is half the fun.
We arrive at the needles in Custer State Park. An opportunity for a stroll, …
… then to pass the famous Needles Eye Tunnel – a chance for Prado to shrink considerably and for us …
… to marvel the Needles Eye.
Late afternoon we arrive in Deadwood. A small town famous for its historic downtown, its gold mine and the murder of Wild Bill Hickok.
Every evening they play this scene in the famous Saloon Number 10, …
… thus odd tourists have no other choice than watching the drama and sip some beer.
The next day – still slightly shocked of the sneaky murder of Wild Bill we have a look at the old buildings, even if some houses may have a slightly questionable reputation.
After all these exiting sights we walk back to our car. Only then we realize how much the City of Deadwood cares for its population. Isn’t it great what incredibly important information they even give to their adult citizens and what well-thought and wise advice they add.
Then we drive further westwards. Direction of the Yellowstone National Park. The park we’ve already seen last year. Now it’s more about the road to get there. It’s described as 1 of the most beautiful in Wyoming. Let’s see – still it’s more about prairie on the left, prairie on the right, endless sky in front of us. Sometimes a small settlement lost in the great nothing.
A visit to the Devil’s Tower – a huge Basalt rock rising up in the sky.
Although it’s a sanctuary for the Indians the rock developed to a climbers’ destination.
Then on to Buffalo thru the Great Plains. Landscape: see above.
Buffalo: probably not everybody’s dream. Maybe except for the beer. A typical stopover place.
West Yellowstone, 18th May
The next morning: an interesting observation during breakfast. Despite the pre-processed, terribly unhealthy food they serve for breakfast everywhere in the US, it seems for certain aspects they really care about your health.
Of course, for us still remains the question what really makes you sick – having breakfast in dirty socks without shoes or a load of artificial eggs with baconless bacon on wobbly convenience toast.
After all these questions about breakfast we move on. Today to Cody, east of Yellowstone National Park. Happily no longer in the prairie, now we’re back in the hills of the Rocky Mountains. We climb up the 3300m high Powder River Pass, …
… then on thru hills until we reach Cody.
Don’t think Cody is the party capital of Wyoming. According to our observations such a capital doesn’t exist at all in the State of Wyoming. It’s cowboy, not party country. Here it’s all important to have a local hero. A kind of great model for everybody.
In Cody it’s Buffalo Bill. This famous bison hunter and showman was a co-founder of the town and thus he is the privileged choice for this important role. They set up all kind of tourist attractions dedicated to Bill with regard to have as many dollars moving from the poor tourist’s pockets to theirs. No idea how successful this cash creating machine works.
We decide to support local economy by spending a reasonable amount in Pat O’Hara’s watering hole on their local brew and some bites; and forget about Buffalo Bill.
Next morning we have an incredible, all-exiting breakfast at McDonald’s; as we cannot find real alternatives. There we find another clear sign of the raising glory of this country. Just imagine warming-up greasy’n’wobbly burgers for 8h a day. At the end you get 80 bucks. Maybe not everybody’s dream job. But better than nothing until everything even gets greater.
We head on to the Yellowstone National Park. We plan just to visit the north-eastern corner of the park, then to take the scenic Beartooth Road. Unfortunately the guys scheduled to end winter by May 25th only for this road. Thus it’s still closed – independently from conditions. So we have to replan. It’s simple – we cross Yellowstone to the west. In this case the roads are definitely open. Some 100km to the park entrance.
On the way we discover an extremely disconcerting sign on the roadside. Well, we think there are much less of those nasty signs than last year. Maybe it’s due to their bad quality. Maybe because the majority of American citizens voted against this gentlemen. Maybe many think even 1 signboard is too much. Who knows.
Arriving at the park quite some snow and ice at 2500m altitude.
Then Yellowstone Lake. Partly frozen.
On the way out of the park some bison family life.
Then we’re in West Yellowstone. The place has not really improved since our last visit. Still characterless, overprized and crowded with Chinese tourists.
Missoula, 20th May
Next morning we waste no time before leaving. Heading on to Butte. Weather is pretty grey and cool. Landscape rather flat and nondescript. So no reason for extended sightseeing tours on the way.
Butte was the center of copper production in the last century until unfair trade practices of Zambian copper kings led to the crash of Butte’s world’s largest mine.
Remains the largest historic downtown in the US, once the richest hill on earth – even if there’s not much activity left. During our last year’s visit to Butte we could not really explore the town. It was snowing too much. This afternoon there’s sunshine.
We head on towards Missoula. On the way a look at the old ghost town of Granite on a byway thru the Granite County. Not too much left.
Nevertheless quite impressive to see the dimension of the former Ruby Mine, a major silver production site until the 70ties of last century.
On to Missoula – simply a non-descript town.
Notwithstanding we learn a lot about football in America. Well, we have to admit we could never ever understand why so many people are so thrilled by these guys who are all running around on a grassy field bumping each other and quarrelling over a simple ball. Everyone could take his own ball and remain peaceful. In Missoula we finally discover the real reason behind all that. And now, after this steep learning curve, we’re definitely enthusiastic supporters of this thrilling sport.
In this town we also have an in-depth look at social behaviour. Where else in the world are bar owners so conscientious about their customers. Well, maybe they lost too many of them in the past.
Waterton, Canada; 23rd May
We drive on to the Glacier National Park. The last 1 for us in the US – at least for the time being. Of course we know that this time of the year the park is partially closed due to snow. So we plan to spend some time in the west of the park and some on the other side.
On the way we experience again the degradation of many roads in the US. Of course a phenomena happening in many parts of the world where quickly announced election pledges compete with the country’s needs. But still, that bad roads in a 1st world country?
Nevertheless: Dear Uncle Don, we fully understand your efforts to avoid that many Americans seeking refuge with your southern neighbour by building this Great Mexican Friendship Wall. But still, please also consider that a lot of of your citizens would not migrate to any other country if the roads (especially in Montana) would be a little better. Whatever, maybe they would find other reasons to leave for Mexico.
Arriving in West Glacier Park we’re slightly astonished to learn that effectively next to everything in the national park still is closed – at least officially. Still possible is a visit to beautiful Lake McDonald, …
As the famous Going-To-The-Sun Road still is closed, we then have to drive around the park to reach the east side.
There a visit to Two Medicine. Still quite some snow, but also some signs of spring arriving.
Also on the east side the Going-To-The-Sun Road is closed after a few km.
On to the 3rd park entrance in the east: Many Glacier.
Despite all serious warnings and the fact that officially all trails are closed we decide to explore a little bit the surroundings. As a few others do too. Towards the Swiftcurrent Pass. Not to really reach the pass – there’s simply too much snow – but to see the beautiful Redrock Falls.
Then we head on. Leaving the US, entering Canada. Before that a look at a Moose Kindergarten, …
… then the border. We’re the only 1s. The Canadian immigration officer wants to know how long we stay in Canada. We tell him about 1 month and he gives us 6. Then he’s wondering how much we’ve paid for shipping the car and 2’ later we’re off. Dear American immigration officers, simply take your Canadian colleagues as an example of a pragmatic way of doing the job. Nothing else is needed.
Then we’re in Canada. And encounter the 1st bear at the roadside. Munching some grass and ignoring the few cars passing by.
Late afternoon we arrive in Waterton Village. Here we learn that the national park west of Waterton Lakes is closed, thus nearly everything. Due to last year’s wildfire. Well, it seems we’re currently not that fortunate with national parks.
Surely, in the meantime you’re wondering for what reason we’ve chosen to travel to all these places exactly at this season of the year. We definitely must be pretty stupid guys.
Of course we are. But even if so driving up to Alaska requires you to be there in July. Otherwise you may only encounter icebears and polar midwinter nights – which last from mid-August 2 Mid-June. Then of course there’s a 2nd argument to visit America’s mountains in spring: covered with snow they look awesome. Without snow they are simply high hills, not real mountains. And who the hell travels a long distance just to see some hills?
Finally, we have to be back in Swizzyland by the end of August. So no other choice than to travel now.
Ok – got the point why we’re so stupid?
Back to Waterton. Due to lack of alternatives remains a look at the eponymous lake and …
… something to wash down the highest burger ever.
And that’s it for today. More of this boring or more interesting stuff soon. Just in the next post.