Saturday, August 13, 2005

Yesterday morning we left Spokane by the most direct route, taking I-90 east to Coeur d'Alene, where we picked up US-95 north into Sandpoint, Idaho, where we re-joined US-2. I expect that US-2 west of Sandpoint would have been quite scenic, but we would have had to slog through suburban Spokane on 395, which is not a pleasant drive at all. 95 was actually pretty scenic as well, past lake Pend Oreille and over a long bridge into Sandpoint. 95 and 2 are co-linear into Bonners Ferry, where 2 turns east again into Montana.

From here our route followed the Kootenai river through the national forests. We ended our day in the Thompson chain-of-lakes, at Logan state park, with a nice camp site overlooking Middle Thompson Lake (map). The boat launch was just a few feet from our camp site, and we decided to deploy the inflatable boat that we carry. With much coaxing, we persuaded Opal into the raft with us, and paddled out to the middle of the lake. I'm sorry we did not bring the camera with us -- one of these days we will get a dry-bag for it.

Today US-2 brought us to the edge of Glacier National Park, by way of Kallispell. A brief detour north from Columbia Falls on Montana 486, the last half of which was graded dirt and gravel, brought us along the western edge of the park bounded by the north fork of the Flathead. That allowed us to traverse a small corner of the park on Camas Road, ending up at the visitors center in Apgar. We wanted to drive at least this small bit of the park, since the main route through the park, Going To The Sun Road, is restricted to vehicles under 21' in length and 8' in width. At some point, we will return here and do that road on the motorcycles. We did check out the campground at Apgar, which will accommodate Odyssey with no problem.

We left the park via West Glacier and back onto US-2. Somewhere east of there we crossed the great divide at a very unclimactic 5,300', a marked contrast of our last crossing at over 11,000'. US-2 follows a very meandering path through the mountain ranges, with the low passes almost as a reward for such a circuitous route. In hindsight, Lewis and Clark took the hard way across.

Crossing through East Glacier and into the Blackfoot indian reservation, the mountains very quickly give way to the plains. Shortly after we left the reservation at Cut Bank, we passed Amtrak's wetsbound Empire Builder, a train we hope to ride someday before it passes into oblivion.

After crossing I-15 we found ourselves somewhat behind schedule, between stopping a bit early yesterday and spending time in the park today. After consulting our maps, we decided to press on all the way to Havre tonight, since there seemed to be a number of options for spending the night there, to wit, an Elks lodge and a county fairgrounds and museum complex with municipal camping.

Upon arriving here, however, we discovered that 1. the county fair is in full swing, and their camping is full (and unappealing with the fair in progress) and 2. despite apparent description to the contrary in the Elks guide, the lodge here has no dedicated parking, instead relying on a shared lot right smack in the middle of the town square, which we judged to be just a tad too public for our tastes.

There is no Wal-Mart here, but on our way into town we noticed some rigs in the K-Mart parking lot. With nothing to lose, we asked the manager if we might stay and she said it was not a problem. Apparently, they are used to rigs landing in their lot when the fair is open. There are at least two other coaches here, possibly heading for Minot just like us, and there is a big fiver as well. Any port in a storm, I guess, so here we are at the Havre K-Mart (map).

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