Sunday, July 31, 2016

As Seen Thru a Bug-Splattered Windshield

The Mobile Hotel®, prepped for departure
Crossing northern Montana on U.S. highway 2 reminds me of the lands of my early youth in central Wyoming: long stretches of parched, short-grass prairies dotted with sage brush and barbed wired fences; cottonwood and Russian olive trees huddled densely along areas where their roots can extract moisture from this semi-arid desert: small rivers and often dry creek beds.  A cumulonimbus thunderhead to the north is potentially proving some moisture to our neighbors to the north, but the clouds foretell no such relief here.  Mountains are growing on the western horizon, just like where I lived in little Riverton, Wyoming.  The two-lane roads are straight for long stretches.  Curves are sparse, as are signs of civilization beyond the roadside fences and power lines sharing the right-of-way.

After the town of Havre, the mountains fade to the south, the plains become flatter and very slow rolling.  Dry grass and sage brush give way to golden grain fields measured not in hundreds but thousands of acres.  Pods of grain combines work in staggered twos and threes to harvest the crop, followed closely by a small fleet of semi trucks.  The trucks often run parallel to each combine so the combines can offload into the trailers as they roll along, continuing to harvest uninterrupted but for fuel stops.  The highway parallels the former lines of the Great Northern railway, now operated by BNSF.  At each railside grain elevator, queued truck drivers wait impatiently to offload, keenly aware that time is money.

The golden grain fields extend to earth's edge.  There's no trace of the inevitable wall of mountains that surely must be looming just over the western horizon, alongside the cartographers' dragons.  Not until we descend a hill into Cut Bank, Montana do mountains reveal themselves, and they rise quickly as we head southwest toward an obvious gap, a gateway.  The gateway provides the path for U.S. 2 to skirt and then slightly cut the southern boundary of Glacier National Park.

The west side of Glacier National Park

You'll have to wait for a future day for photos of the magic waters of the Flathead River forks and flows inside Glacier.  The local runoff waters are tinged with minerals that turn deep pockets a shade of turquoise blue.  I'll set Mrs. FA and her DSLR to the task.  For now, just try to imagine overlooking a clear freestone river with blue inset gems where the water runs deep.

Up toward the Continental Divide

We made it all 1200+ miles to Columbia Falls.  And I even managed to wet a line tonight, though it was too bloody dark to see where the flies were landing.



  1. Thanks for sharing your journey, Chris and family.......... Hope to read of promising water and challenging fish soon!

    1. As you wish. The fishing and the travel were challenging. Enjoy!

  2. God's country for sure Chris! Have a great time and thanks for the help.

    1. I believe it. I think he was there on Sunday, keeping me from REALLY getting hurt!

  3. Very nice Chris! Can't wait to see the next water you stop at.