11th day: Hello, Montana -land of a thousand passes

390 miles, 20mpg, $91.10 gas, $33.22 camping (KOA)

While I was looking forward to the change in scenery, I was worried about the mountains of Montana after we disposed of Wyoming, bidding an early and fond farewell to Deer Park Campground. But not before we had a 10pm pop-up trailer pull in with 2 kids, slamming doors and talking in full voice 3 feet away from our open, dark, sleeping window. Same thing at 6am, thank you very much…

For a while, we drafted a very steady long-haul “Swift” truck, but after about 80 miles, he turned off and left us to fend for ourself with the headwinds. We managed to avoid frying the turbo by watching the boost gauge carefully. Turned off AC on hills, and downshifted – occasionally even to 3rd for the steepest passes.

The main two passes on I-90 westward before Butte:
Bozeman – 5719 feet
Homestake (continental divide) – 6393 feet

Believe it or not, we were not the slowest vehicle on the road…

Butte itself is more than a mile high at 5550 feet with a depressing mining hole a mile wide as its main geographic feature. Sure, there are beautiful mountains around, but that earth wound is hard to ignore.

Staying at a very generic and under-maintained KOA. Weathered picnic tables, overgrown, barely-graveled sites. The bathroom decor makes me wonder if there might have been a closeout sale on yellow paint and marbleized rolls of linoleum. Otherwise, it looks like the last plumbing was done in 1972. But the location is good and the pool is 82 degrees.

A couple with a 1970s Sero Scotty pulled in across the way. They’re on a 4-week adventure and just came from Glacier National Park. We talked for a while and now have a good idea of what we can do there. They’re heading to Mt. Rushmore, so we told them about our last great campground, and that park. 20110716-060808.jpg20110716-060830.jpg20110716-060841.jpg20110716-060822.jpg20110716-060848.jpg20110716-060855.jpg20110716-060755.jpg20110716-061015.jpg

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