Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thursday, 16 August

Another straight travel day. Our next stop of interest is Jean's cousin in Yakima. Jean picked up a cough in Wyoming which she thinks is from inhaling all that smoke. So the first thing we did when we left camp was go to a Safeway and get some over-the-counter medicine for cough and congestion. While there we also picked up some groceries. Then back to the interstate.

This part of Montana is pretty much the same as we have been traveling through for the last couple of days; dry grass and sage brush except where the farmers are irrigating. Lots of cattle. The biggest difference is we are seeing more hills.

By about mid-day we reached Missoula. This seems to be a very pleasant town. It is a cultural and shopping center in the otherwise sparsely-settled cattle country. We went downtown to a little park they have there next to the river. We found a parking place in the public parking lot with the sign "No RV parking." In such situations we consider the motorhome a van. Didn't get a ticket so it must have worked.

This park has a carousel that is the pride of Missoula. It was rescued by someone and the city took it to its heart. The horses are all sponsored by someone, and each has a story to tell; such as the pony with the books across the back to remember the sponsor's pony that she rode to school every day. It seems to be pretty much an all-volunteer situation and was very popular when we were there.

Next to the carousel is a big, interesting playground that was built entirely by volunteers. Missoula seems to be a pretty neat place.

West of Missoula we got into the mountains for sure. The road went through narrow valleys and canyons, following rivers. The mountains became more wooded. At first, there would be puzzling patterns to the trees. One hill would be thickly timbered while the hill on the other side of the road would be almost bare. Gradually the area became completely wooded.

We have been getting more and more into the mountains. The road is not difficult. We travel from one valley to another, through canyons of varying ruggedness. But the road is never very steep (or steep for long). A number of years ago we talked with some people who were riding bicycles from coast to coast. They reported that the mountains in the east, while not as high, were much steeper and more difficult, while the big mountains in the west were not that hard. The road is easy and fast enough that you don't realize that you are going over the backbone of North America.

We stopped for the night in a little town called Osborne, ID. Tomorrow, Yakima.

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