Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Maltese Truck Stop

We are at the Conoco West Side Truck Stop, in Malta, Montana (map). I was on the fence for today's title between what I chose and "West Side Story."

Yesterday was a busy day. We had conference call at 1pm, so we remained in place at Fresno Reservoir until that was over, then headed east into Havre, the largest town on the Montana Hi-Line, the moniker for the Great Northern (now BNSF) railroad line across the northern edge of the state.

We made four stops in Havre, including Wal-Mart for provisions, the post office to drop a couple of packages in the mail, the Salvation Army to drop off three bags of items we no longer need, and the veterinarian to pick up more special kidney diet for George. Next stop was Chinook, the next town east on the Hi-Line, where we drove south through town to the National Park Service visitor center for the Bear Paw Battlefield, where Chief Joseph famously said "I will fight no more forever." We sat through the 20-minute multimedia presentation, which wrapped up just as the museum was closing at 5pm, but opted not to then drive the 16 miles south to the battlefield.

East of Chinook we rolled onto the Fort Belknap native American reservation, and stopped briefly in the town of Fort Belknap Agency, where there was a rest area adjacent to a casino. The rest area, despite "open 24 hours" signage, was locked, and the casino was too tiny for an overnight stop, so we continued on to Malta, where our guide said there was a city park with overnight camping for $3.

The park, just east of here, is lovely, and we even saw one rig there. Unfortunately, when we rolled in around 6:30 or so, it seemed like the whole town was there, and the entire park was covered with cars. There was some kind of ball game, maybe Little League, at the adjacent ball field, for which half the town had come out, and the other half was at some kind of dinner party affair in one of the pavilions, perhaps the Lions' Club annual dinner or whatever.

In any case, threading Odyssey between all the parked cars to get to what was left of the clear space at the other end of the park would have been quite a challenge, and then there we would be, surrounded by the entire population of Malta. I don't think we could have handled the looky-loo factor.

We had passed this truck stop on our way to the park, and so we rolled back here, just across the river, and parked for the night. We had dinner in their little restaurant, which was passable and quite inexpensive. However, we have no need to linger, and will be leaving shortly for nicer digs east of here.

Photo by ruudb0y, used under a Creative Commons license.

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