Day 7: Great Falls, MT to Bismarck, ND

What a lovely day for a nine hour drive. Started at 0700. We had conditions I will call variable; they seemed to change every hour, sometimes every few minutes. Some of the highlights were a hundred miles of polished ice, then dry roads, then patches of blowing snow, then strong winds with icy patches. We did see two cars in the ditch, but not until late in the day.

In the morning, we entertained ourselves by speculating on why so many ranches had a truck parked out by the highway. Did the rancher go to walk his fences? Jump in his tractor? Unload a quad? We saw no ranchers on foot, tractor or quad. My best speculation is that one of the rancher’s kids drove the old truck out to the highway and sat in it until the school bus came. Then he just leaves it there until the bus drops him off again. If he’s only driving on the ranch property, he probably doesn’t even have to be old enough to hold a licence. Any ranchers reading this, feel free to explain the real reason! Alien abductions, joy-riding cows, truck wouldn’t fit in the recycling bin… In case you think I imagined it, photos of three of these ranch vehicles are included in the album 2012 Trip Photos.
Bought gas in Livingstone, stopped for lunch in Glendive, bought gas again in Dickenson, changed our watches somewhere near Hebron. When we were westbound, we passed up the opportunity to have lunch in Glendive, and only bought fuel. Then we had the horrible sandwiches from Miles City. This time, we pulled in at CC’s Café and had a very satisfying lunch. Caroline had a Denver sandwich that looked like it took three or four eggs to make. I had a sourdough melt, which had turkey and bacon and tomato in addition to fried onions. It’s a little tricky to make the timing work to have lunch in Glendive, but we’d definitely go there again if the opportunity came up.
We were able to wangle a room in the Ramkota hotel in Bismarck. It was fully booked, but we kept checking back and caught a cancellation. This hotel offers shuttle service, so we are looking forward to another dinner at the Pirogue Grill without the taxi hassles. Because of the time change, I have just enough time to post this to the blog and then I must change for dinner. Pictures of awful weather to follow later.

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