Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Big Move, Day Five

The Longest Day.
(WARNING: This post is considerably longer than you would expect.)

How far can you get in one day? Well... let's just say that day five turned out to be way more of an adventure than we had ever planned. I'll get to that part, really.

The times for this day of the trip will be a little wonky. Somewhere, we crossed into the mountain time zone. I'm not really sure where. If it suddenly seems like we jump back in time, just take it in stride and pretend I can tell time.

We were all checked out and underway from Bismark by 10:45am. Seemed like a late start, but we weren't far from the time change, so I figured we were doing fine. Our first stop for gas was less than 100 miles away. $3.89/gallon. We wanted to get some distance behind us before we stopped for breakfast. For the record, if you are ever traveling in North Dakota and you think you can make it to the next gas station, stop to get gas now. It could be another 100 miles to the next gas station.

Exit 72 on Interstate 94 in North Dakota has what is billed as the largest out-door metal sculpture in the country, or something like that. I don't know if it is true, but Geese in Flight is a neat sculpture that I drove a couple thousand miles to see. I'm sorry if the pictures are poor. I can only do so much with a cheesy digital camera at 70 miles an hour.

By 12:30pm we had found another Perkins. The server at the Perkins tried to give me back the nomadic bunny-man. We were back on the road by 12:29pm. Oh, time travel, I love it. I know, the time actually changed before we got there, but that's what my notes say.

We crossed over into Montana at 1:25pm. I actually stopped the car for the picture of the sign. I'll be living in the state, I should make this first crossing count. I didn't really pull over, though, there really isn't that much traffic once you get West of Bismark. My friend Triple-A called me a couple miles after I crossed into Montana. The cell service is less than stellar near mile marker 230. I will have to call her today.

2:00pm we left the relative safety and comfort of the interstate for state roads. The entire trip has been an adventure, but when you leave the interstate, things get really fun. We stopped at Circle, MT to get gas ($3.95/gal.) for the Taurus. The pump was so old that the poor young guy that wanted to use it after Honey had to ask how to use it. It still amazes me that our technology has changed so fast that if you can't put your credit card in it, some people can't use it. My theory is that the pumps at that station haven't changed since the gas station was built.

On to another county road. We soon reached Wolf Point, where the Kid and I fueled up for what we hoped would be the last time. We also got onto US 2 for the last real leg of the trip. At the next town, Glasgow, we stopped to fuel the Taurus, again. We looked at the map and thought we could make it all the way to Havre before it was really late. Yes, yes, it would be pushing it, but we could do it. Just another 150 miles or so. We were getting excited about being there. Sure, we were tired, but the Kid and I just wanted to get there. We decided that we could do it.

For most of the trip, we just followed Honey. Honey had the Mapquest directions, he was the slowest, having to pull the trailer. For this leg of the trip, the Kid set out ahead of us all, Honey was behind me. We figured we could make it there about 30 minutes before him. Not a great time save, but it would be nice to get checked into the hotel before he showed up.

For the record, if North Dakota or Montana decide they need to repair part of a highway, they mean it. The will completely tear up miles and miles of road, leaving you with either one lane, or a gravel road. On this leg of the trip, we found no less than 6 miles of highway that had been converted to the most impressive strip of gravel road I have ever had the pleasure to drive across. The kind my little, plastic car is very unhappy about driving on. Somewhere along the way, a rock found my new windshield. I'll need another one. Nothing drastic, just a crack that is threatening to run across my windshield.

I'm trying to keep up with the Kid. I keep getting stuck behind people that just don't want to go as fast as I'm going. An afternoon thundershower slows everything down. Rain coming down in buckets, windshield wipers that don't move fast enough. Just after the thundershower, I am trying to find a way to get around the car in front of me, and what do I see on the side of the road? That's right, a little blue pickup. I quickly pull over, my heart skipping a beat, or two. Oh, no, what has happened? Before I can get out of my car, I see the Kid, opening up the hood of the pickup. I'm still concerned, but I calm down a little. It is 7:30pm and I'm certain we won't see Havre any time soon. Pickup won't start, we check the oil, the Kid looks under the hood and under the truck. He says he was driving along and it just died, he lost everything. I get on the phone to Honey.

After I take out some of my frustration over my windshield and the truck on Honey, I get the number to road-side assistance. 7:45pm, we have road-side assistance working on getting us a tow-truck to take the pickup to Havre. Best guess? We're about 32 miles from Havre. We all sit around, waiting, watching the clouds of the last thundershower move past us and another set move towards us. 8:30pm, a really nice good ol' boy shows up with his wrecker to tow the pickup to Havre. 8:45pm, we are back on the road and headed West again. 9:25pm, we all pull in to the lot at Robert's Big Sky auto repair, on the East side of Havre.

The wrecker driver gives us some advice about driving in Havre. Evidently, Montana still means it about road work. They have torn up all of Main Street in town. A normally 4 lane road has been turned into a gravel and mud pit that runs through the center of town. He tells us we really should take the side road and not drive down US2 through town. We thank him and give him a nomadic bunny-man to hang from his rear-view mirror. Then he is off to do repossesion work.

10:15pm we are checked in to the Super 8 at the end of town. The nice lady at the desk is not as helpful as the wrecker driver. She gave us directions to the diner that took us right down US2, through the middle of all that horrible gravel. "It should be okay, they graded it," is what she told Honey. I will reserve comment. After some driving around and being really mad about the state of the road, we found a way to get back onto proper pavement. After some more driving around, we found the alleyway that would take us where we wanted to go. It was the adventure I promised them. We finally found ourselves at the little diner. The server was very nice. The food was slow. She served us in her house-shoes. Another nomadic bunny-man found a home.

I have no idea what time it was when we finally got back to the room. We all crashed. We had made it. Tomorrow we will have to talk to the mechanic about the truck. We will have to get in touch with the guys with the keys to the house. We will have to get some stuff out of the trailer and the truck. We have so many more things to do. We will be moving into the house on Thursday. It seems there is an "Everything Antiques Show" in town. The hotels will all be booked up. That's okay, though. The cable guy should be there Thursday morning.

Miles traveled: 512 miles

Total Miles traveled: 2360 miles

Road Kill Statistics
4 Birds
7 Prairie Dogs
21 Unidentifiable

Potential Road Kill
3 Prairie Dogs (those little buggers are fast)
3 Antelope (very pretty on the side of the road)


  1. Glad you made it safely, hope the truck is fixable!

  2. At least it broke down 32 miles from Havre instead of 320 miles or more. The suckage is minimized this way.

    I'm glad you're done with the big drive.


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