Friday, May 1, 2009

Sallymandy Crosses the Rocky Mountains

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Even though it was short, the little business trip I told you about in my last post was an adventure.  Along the way I encountered wild animals, a wild man, wildflowers, and a piece of my own wild heart.  Here are some pictures and a story.    

I traveled from my home in Missoula, Montana, over the Rocky Mountains to Idaho—and back again.  To get there, I followed U.S. Highway 12, the general route that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark took two hundred years ago on their way to the Pacific Ocean. 

For readers outside the U.S., Lewis and Clark were basically two guys the government hired to explore this gigantic piece of land—forming most of the western United States—called the Louisiana Purchase.  100_1366

The explorers, in turn, followed an ancient trail used by the Nez Perce Indians.  The ancestral home of this sovereign nation is right where I was headed on Tuesday.




It was snowing when I left, I took some along some color in the car (windshield cracks courtesy of the Alaska Highway, twelve years ago). 


Here’s the view at Lolo Pass, the high point that the Nez Perce, and Lewis and Clark, and I all crossed in the mountains between Montana and Idaho.      


Now, up to this point I’d been enjoying myself in the car.  I’d been  perusing blogging, clothes, and what people wear in different locales.  That morning I’d seen some cool John Fluevog boots that I covet online.  But it made me laugh to think of wearing them where I was going. 

So when I stopped at the Lolo Pass rest area, I took a photo of what I was wearing.  I call this “How to dress for a trip over the Lewis and Clark Trail.” My houndstooth wool swing coat is from Lands End.  Smile:  free, from the hilarity of it all.  

100_1314 (2)After I topped the pass, the rest of my trip followed 120 miles of wild river canyon.  Here’s a downstream view of the Lochsa (“lock-saw”) River in the upper reaches of this canyon.        

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Three hours later, I reached my destination town of Orofino, Idaho.  Population 3250.  Here’s my hotel room.  Nothing fancy, but clean and with a really comfy bed.  And all of $81.00.


My work engagement lasted most of the day Wednesday.  About three o’clock I started the drive back home.  Here are some views.  The west side of the mountains here get more rain than where I live, so it’s much greener.  I thought these were pretty.       

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See that photo at the very top of my post?  It’s right outside the tiny town of Kamiah, Idaho, before you start “up the hill” to cross back over the spine of the mountains.  Ninety-nine miles of twisty road that hugs the river canyon. 

Headed up that hill, when I needed a rest area, I had my choice of places like this.  Hmm.  Here?  Or…




Outside the car, the brisk pine scent that I’ve always loved was all around me.  In some way, that makes the stark harshness of this time of year worth it.  I found this flower near a snow patch.  I’m pretty sure it’s a western white trillium. 


I also stopped to cross this bridge and watch the rush of white water under it.  The spring runoff from these mountain streams is thrilling to experience.  This is not quite the high season yet. 

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100_1333Lochsa River









The rest of the perfect ensemble for traveling the Lewis and Clark Trail.  Note shiny and slightly dirty shoe ends—so appropriate in a place where the rest areas are DIY.  Keen maryjanes and thrifted Levi's.  Same houndstooth coat as the day before.


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Traveling on, I did not see a moose, but I nearly ran over an elk. 





Later I captured these not very good photos of a bald eagle and more elk; chased some wild turkeys off the road;  and spied a heron, a fox, and scores of deer.   

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The final event came a few miles past this spot (that’s my Subaru posing for you).     

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A small SUV had been following me closely or some miles when I turned out and let him pass.  About half an hour later I rounded a bend and saw the SUV rolled on its side in a ditch by the embankment.  A crazed looking young man was walking around.  

I pulled over, rolled down the window and asked if anyone was hurt.  He said no, it was just him and he wasn’t hurt.  He was mad, though, and shaken up.  I tried my cell phone knowing there was no coverage.  So I got out of the car and said maybe together we could push the car back over. 

So we did that.  We pushed and pushed and it righted itself, still listing way over to one side.  He kept cursing and didn’t have know what to do.  I said he maybe he should stay there and hold the car up and I’d try to drive it out of the ditch.  So we did that.  The airbags had blown open and his CD player was still playing some loud country music. 

I drove the car to the wide shoulder across the road.  One side was badly damaged and didn’t look safe to drive.  But when I got out of the car, the young man started swearing again and punching the crumpled fender.  He said this was his first trip alone out west, and this was a rental car, and he was f#$@&d.  I kind of laughed and said someday it would make a good story.  He didn’t see the humor in it.  Then he got out a huge folding knife and started slicing away at the airbags with gusto. 

At that point that I decided to say “Toodles” and scoot back into my Subaru, knowing a logging truck would come along eventually.  For a brief moment I thought taking about photos for my blog, but…you can see why I decided against that.   

He did tell me thanks.  And I lived to tell the tale of my little business trip over the Rocky Mountains. 


 Lochsa River, Idaho, from U.S. Highway 12


Zuzana said...

Wow, this was an absolutely fantastic read; thank you for sharing your trip and lovely pictures with us.

I found many things interesting about this recollection; the fact that there was snow in some parts, the hotel room looked like a grandmothers living room - very cosy;)), the fact that you drove alone, which I find very courageous (did you?) and the incident with the red SUV which must have been very surreal. Just reading that there was no coverage for your cellular phone makes the trip somewhat adventurous and makes me feel like you were out in the wild.;) In Europe no matter where you are, the cellphone is always working.
Glad you are back, wishing you a lovely Friday.;))

Seeker said...

OMG dear you were very brave to help the young man!!!!

Well, sounds a very trilled trip, beautiful photos!!!



Frugal Scholar said...

Oh, my friends moved to Montana a few years ago and then moved away before I could visit. Why, oh why, did I not go?

Just beautiful.

Duchesse said...

That's some remarkable Good Samaritan work there! I am grateful he wasn't hurt. No way to phone if one has an accident is scary and I see how citified I am. And thanks for the photos of this magnificent part of the country, and of you!

The Clever Pup said...

Brave indeed Sallymandy. I'm glad he wasn't hurt.

Sounds like something from Twin Peaks.

Cynthia L. H. said...

Amazing travels, Oh Brave One!
Wonderful photos!
I'll write more later when not under time constraints, but I must tell you, first....
My paternal grandmother's family moved from Canada to Missoula when she was a little girl and homesteaded!!! Uncanny! More later!

Susan B said...

Wow, what an adventure! The pictures are gorgeous, and I'm very impressed with your pioneer spirit and fortitude. I would've been far too afraid of a crazy, swearing man to try to help, and probably would've driven on until I could get a cell signal and call for help. I guess that's what living in the city does to you.

The WalMart Vegan said...

I can never get over the photos of green and snow together. This time of year we're already mowing our grass!

Love the photo of the eagle. My husband (after years of military service) collects them (not the crafterd ones) and loves them even more if they have a flag with them.

Really sweet of you to help the guy out. Poor guy!

Glad you enjoyed your trip and thanks for the photos. I"m going to show them to the children and then we'll rewatch our movie about Lewis and Clark.

P.S. Your clothes look like great traveling outfits. I'd rather travel in comfort than style any day for a car ride.

La Belette Rouge said...

The flower in the midst of a winter scene is so lovely. You were sort of a well dressed Sacagawea good Samaritan. Hopefully he has gotten to the point of being able to laugh about it.
Glad you are home. Have a lovely weekend.

drollgirl said...

WOW!!! what a trip!!!

a) it is gorgeous up there
b) you are a good writer
c) that guy is lucky he is alive and he sounds a little UNHINGED, but accidents can do that to ya
d) glad you got out of there before it got any more wacky!!!

hope you are home safe and that you can have a good weekend.


Eleonora Baldwin said...

What a fantastic read! Thank you for making us tread the Louisiana Purchase trail with you. These are the kinds of posts I love to read, and you did a magnificent job with the photos too.

You are generous and an enthusiast, and that's why your posts are always a joy.

Slashing away at the airbags, huh? Arrivederci, scary!


Malisa said...

Oh, my gosh...the scenery! Have you been to Texas? We don't have that! :)


Unknown said...

What an adventure! You have a lot of courage. Forget Lewis & Clark..we'll call that the Sallymandy trail from now on.

I love hearing about places I've never been. Thanks for sharing the pictures :)

Nathan said...

Thanks for the kind words about my blog. You have some attractive photos on yours - I'm always interested in good photography.


sallymandy said...

Protege: thanks; you're too kind. You know, it was really fun for me to go over there and see these familiar scenes in terms of what I could share on my blog. It made the trip way more fun. I appreciate so much that you read it and enjoyed it.

It really wasn't that unusual or surreal to see the SUV rolled over, because that does happen from time to time. The cell phone thing, too...we have large areas of land without it, I guess because the towns are just far apart. Yes, I did drive alone. I like to do that though I do realize it's not always wise.

Seeker: Thank you, kind friend! xo

Frugal: Come visit sometime, Frugal! Or make some new friends...?!

Duchesse: Thank you; yes, I'm glad he wasn't hurt, too. If he had been and I'd had to do CPR or something....bad. Appreciate your comments.

Clever Pup: Thanks, CP. This sort of thing is probably pretty common in your neck of the woods, eh?

Cynthia: That's really something; I'd love to know who your family was and whether you still have relatives around here. Please let me know.

Deja Pseu: Oh, thank you. I used to be more adventurous--someday maybe I'll write about the time I was 22 and got stalled in the mountains and rode into town with a truck full of Army guys, who were kind of awkward but very polite.

Modest: Thank you for the comments, and it's really good to know you would show the pix to your kids. Thanks a lot!

Belette: Thank you, dear. The flower kind of made it for me. This scenery is striking and impressive, but also harsh in its way and I love seeing flowers in it.

Droll: Thank you for your compliment; I appreciate it mucho. Kinda unhinged, maybe...I saw enough to decide to move on. I'm glad I'm home safely too.

Lola: Oh, thanks so much. Kind feedback such as yours always makes my day. It was fun to put this post together for my blog-pals.

Moonlight: So funny. I have lived in Texas. It has lots of other good attributes. I do like the Hill Country, and we used to hike in Lost Maples State Park. Have you been there?

Sher: Thanks, friend. I appreciate your feedback.

Nathan: thank you for the comments and visit. My camera is kind of cheap, held together with duct tape after my daughter dropped it on a marble museum floor.

Stephanie N. said...

Whaaa! You had me all wistful and wishing I was designing costumes in Montana again this summer, and all of a sudden, it was like, crazy guy with a knife, run, Sallymandy, run! Whew. I think I need a beer. And that guy needs some mood stabilizers.

Tessa said...

I loved every moment of that trip, Sallymandy, apart from the part where the crazy young man got his knife out to slash the airbags! Yikes, that was a shuddery moment. The rest of the road trip looked stunningly beautiful. One day.....:-)

Gal Friday said...

First off--I am glad that angry young man at least verbally took some time out to verbally thank you for helping him out.(makes me think how things have changed--my husband hitched out west years ago--no rental car for him)
I loved travelling along with you through your words and photos and enjoyed the varied scenery(from snow to green grass and that gorgeous trillium!).

Jennifer said...

I loved taking your trip with you. The pictures along the journey were just right to enable us to feel that we were there.

I remember that pine smell; it is quite strong. My son goes to school at MSU in Bozeman. The first time we visited, we landed at night, and drove and drove along a very wind-y, twisty, road I thought was going to be an interstate highway, all the way up and up to Big Sky to our hotel (I thought it was closer when I booked it). All this way it was pitch dark and I could only make out the road right in front of me. But, when we finally emerged from the car, we entered the air of mountain pine smell. It was so intense. You can imagine that I was "shocked and awed" when I woke up and looked out my window to see the landscape.

ceecee said...

I was riding along with you and thinking how beautiful the scenery was and then,Whammo! Things got pretty scary. Glad you're home safe and sound. You're a braver girl than I!
I'll be leaving for a trip too. Hopefully I won't see a soul! I will miss ya, but will visit on my return. Take care!

sallymandy said...

Stephanie: You know, I didn't mean to worry people! I wasn't really afraid at any time. I generally trust people on these roads. There seems to be kind of a sense that you need each other, and most people are very helpful. At the same time, every once in a while there's a Unabomber or other scary sort. I just didn't want to take a chance.

Tessa. thanks, it was beautiful. See note to Stephanie about the shuddery moment!

Thanks, Gal. I know, times have changed. The young man might not have been so mad had he damaged his own car instead of a rental.

Jennifer: How nice that you have a son in Montana and have been here. There's nothing like that smell. I'm glad you enjoyed being in Montana.

We'll miss you, Catherine. "See" you soon!