This was going to be our big travel year: Central Asia; the Caucasus; South Africa. But, then … well, you know. Lockdown.
But life is not risk-free and by August, having had enough of homebound imprisonment, we decided to take our chances and make a break for the Free States of the High Plains: Montana; Wyoming; and the Dakotas – with a dip down into northern Colorado to visit our daughter, Kelly, on the return.
Here’s the plan:
We loaded up our modern-day Conestoga wagon, a 2011 Tiffin Breeze 28BR, and headed east just before lunchtime on Tuesday, August 25, Jeep in tow.
Taking I-5 south from Bellingham, Washington, we turned east on US 2, heading toward Wenatchee, then continued south and east on I-90 to the outskirts of Spokane where we stopped for the night at Sprague, having made 320 miles.
The next morning, in order to avoid driving into the morning sun, we got started around 10:00 a.m., traveling another 355 miles to Butte, Montana, where we stopped for the night. Lewis and Clark explored this area in the early 1800s, both coming and going.
Almost exactly one year ago, we traveled the same route to this point, but this time, rather than continuing east on I-90, we turned south on US 287 at Cardwell, Montana, on our way to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
About 40 miles south of Cardwell, we pulled off to have lunch overlooking a valley typical of this part of Montana.
Back in the 1860s, the Bozeman Trail brought miners through this valley from near (Fort) Laramie, Wyoming, to the newly discovered gold fields of the Montana Territory, deep in Indian lands. The Trail is still visible; that’s it in the photo, below.
We continued south to the west entrance into Yellowstone NP, then followed the internal loop road south past Old Faithful to our campsite at Bridge Bay Campground on the north shore of Yellowstone Lake, another 205 miles behind us for a total distance of 880 miles from the start of our trip in Bellingham.
Tomorrow, we’ll visit Old Faithful.