And, We’re Off… Finally

Day One

Oh Jebuz, what a day.

Yesterday, we woke up naturally around 6 o’clock in the morning after getting about six hours of sleep in the van. I had a couple of drinks the night before to calm my nerves and I have noticed that has a really negative effect on my sleep and in particular how much deep sleep I get. I got an hour and 20 minutes, which is a little less than my normal range but not less than I have gotten while recording. That record goes to last Friday when I decided to get drunk for no real reason and only got 51 minutes total of deep sleep.

Anyway, we got up and Bruce ate his breakfast and I was able to say goodbye to my sister before we got on the road around 7 o’clock. Around 11 o’clock I realized that I was really tired, and a few times considered pulling off the road as we made it into the evening. But I kept the music playing and Bruce is a great conversationalist once you get to know him; so that kept me from dozing off.

The first stop that we made was in Washington at the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park. There’s not a forest there anymore; I expected a bit more trees. But it turns out that all the petrified trees were made so by lava flow in the area or something along those lines (I didn’t go in the Museum with Bruce) were found underground and excavated to put into the museum. Still, it was a spectacular view and they did have petroglyphs displayed outside the main building and the view was spectacular.

From Ginkgo, we drove another couple of hours to Spokane – at the border with Idaho. I am not a fan. We stopped at the Riverside Park; I had planned on going to the Riverside State Park and I don’t think that is where I went. The directions on Google didn’t make any sense; and I didn’t want to waste a ton of time seeing where it was taking me. By the time we got into Spokane, it was almost 1 o’clock and it was very busy. Honestly, I couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to spend time in that area. They don’t have nearly as many trash/recycling as I am used to in Seattle so when Bruce refused to eat his lunch I almost just poured it down the storm drain. A few blocks away from where I parked I did eventually find a trash can.

Going into Idaho; I realized that I was cutting it close on time and decided not to go to Burke. I still wonder why that stop came up on my search for things to do with Bruce – what is special about the town of Burke? – but I am also really glad that we ended up at Mission State Park. It was really beautiful and lots of water around to fill Bruce up on. Around that time we peaked up around 95 degrees and I was definitely feeling it; so I know that he was too.

We did not go into the museum, but we checked out the visitor center and walked the grounds including the cool old cemetery and the amazing views around the back of the mission building itself. For $7 (3 less than Ginkgo wanted to charge me) I feel like it was a win.

I hadn’t realized that the less than 100 miles from Washington to Montana would be just mountains. What I saw of Idaho was pretty; but it also just looked like most of the drive through the pass to Leavenworth and it does get dull after awhile.

Arriving in Montana, it has been mostly more of the same. Missoula is nice enough, with some actual stores, gas station options, and real food. Most of the drive through the mountains is general stores and Exxon every 50 miles or so. There aren’t a lot of options for picking up supplies (where do small town folks get pet stuff? I truly don’t understand) and you have to make sure to fill up the tank any time you see a gas station; because it could be awhile before you see another.

The KOA that I am staying at is basically right in town in Missoula. It doesn’t feel like camping in the woods; but it is a nice spot with a food truck that comes, a pool, and two dog parks.

Unfortunately, I really thought that everything I had seen said it would be okay to sleep in my van. I brought a tent and everything I need to set camp if needed; but I didn’t expect to run into that on the very first night. Bruce and I were comfortable in the tent; but that’s going to be something I need to pay more attention to as I go. I might have to get the cheapest possible RV site instead of going with a tent site. We will see; for now I already have the next week reserved out. No point in worrying about it now.

Day Two

Looking at the weather this morning, it is going to be another smoldering day. Luckily, it took until around noon to warm up and by then we were at the peak of whatever mountain the Garnet Ghost Town is on. They supposedly opened at 9 o’clock and it is a one hour drive; so Bruce and I went and played at a park in Missoula for an hour before we took off. The area had a nice river with creeks coming off of it that we walked along from a trail that started at the park. Bruce even got to play in the water for a minute so he was happy.

And Garnet Ghost Town was the PERFECT stop.

There was still snow off the side of the road in shaded areas – the sight of which made me giddy after the heat of yesterday. In the open, with direct sun, it was still warm in the actual Ghost Town; but it was nice warm, not smoldering hot.

I got to take a peak around there for awhile and check out the various buildings. There was a general store, a tavern, a house that had been the tavern during prohibition until they were ale to build a real one. They also had probably a dozen homes and half a dozen outhouses. I can’t get over this one outhouse in particular that had three holes side by side on the bench seat. I imagine a dad who was always getting rushed out of the bathroom while he was in the middle of reading his favorite book and one day he just goes ahead and makes two more holes “You need to shit, you can shit next to family”

The whole place was really cool and I was able to get a feel for what those people were actually like. The details about the speak-easy and prohibition made me think how great it would be if they made a Netflix miniseries about Garnet Ghost Town. The late nights at the tavern. The room on top of the tavern where women would go to drink and gossip while the men got plastered downstairs. And then the honeymoon cabin rented to newlyweds until they could build a cabin of their own would create an easy way to introduce new, young characters into the mix of old miners.

Now, we have returned to camp and are enjoying a steady breeze that is keeping us cool. Luckily I had a good neighbor because a wind/rain storm came in while I was gone and he put my things into my tent and covered it with my tarp. I was way too lax about how I left my camp this morning; but the weather has been so hot I really didn’t expect that. Also, if I was allowed to sleep in my van then it wouldn’t have been an issue. Live and Learn.

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