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