Walla Walla to Missoula

Today we bid goodbye to wine country and headed into Montana. Dingbat insisted that if we didn’t want to take the interstate all the way, the quickest route is Hwy 12 through the mountains via the Lolo pass. Caroline swore after last time she would never go this way again. But she wasn’t driving and it’s an hour and a half quicker than the next best alternative. The scenery is wonderful, but it goes on and on and on as you drive up the river for over a hundred miles. Last time we came this way, there was lots of road work and some longish delays. This time there was very little road work, and lots of smooth new blacktop. We stopped for our customary outdoor lunch at a little picnic site down by the river. My pictures don’t look so good, but when the sun came out for a few minutes, Caroline grabbed this shot of the river as seen from our picnic table.

Picnic site

After lunch, we climbed ever higher into kayaker and cyclist country. It is a mystery to me that we always see lots of cyclists struggling uphill to the pass, but none rocketing downhill on either side. Maybe they bury them all at the highest point. I must say they look a lot fitter than the beginners we saw gasping their way out to the wineries in Washington. These people have earned their spandex.

Idaho makes you climb all the way at 50mph, then as soon as you top the pass, Montana lets you come smoking down at 70mph. They do, however, call your attention to all the little crosses at the roadside that mark traffic fatalities, and for the first four miles, they recommend 25mph for transports. This is one of the few places in the world where I will actually slow down for curves, some of which are posted with a recommended speed of just 35mph. The del Sol could have done it full tilt, but there would have been screaming, and not just from the tires.

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