Departing the chilly higher elevation of Elkwater Lake, Alberta, we lit out early for Montana. The Cypress Hills are beautiful, for sure, but may have come to us a little too highly rated by people too used to views otherwise provided by life on the prairie. As for dragging a travel trailer through all of their ups and downs? Not so much.
The weather cleared nicely as we hit the Canada/US border. As we entered the Excited States of America I was forced to run a couple of pieces of firewood back to Canada because dutiful border guards were presumably guarding against the invasion of Pine Beetle and other noxious pests.
We stopped at Havre, Montana, where we lunched aboard ‘Friday’ in the Walmart parking lot. Yes, we named our travel trailer Friday because we found a number of unfinished but inconsequential details left undone. Things like; the couch not being bolted down on one side, extra screws left inside light fixtures, missing staples that should have secured one of the window dressings. We decided that it must have been finished on a Friday, and so named her.
We also picked up an American cell phone in Walmart in order to avoid the prohibitively high costs of using a Canadian cell phone in theUS. The phone was $35 and came with $10 in free minutes. When that runs out we’ll buy cards at 10 cents a minute, good for anywhere in the US or Canada.
Back on Highway 2, headed east, we realized how much less it had cost to fill up ‘Betty’ than it had in Canada. Yes, we named our truck Betty – Betty White. Long running, reliable, you know… It turned out to be our longest driving day yet so we were a little road weary when we pulled into Malta, Montana.
Except for the trains travelling at fifty miles an hour about a hundred feet from our riverside campsite, the Rancho Motel and Family Campground was nicely maintained and it had our first good internet connection, as well as cable TV!
We witnessed our first RV related squabble there. Some out-of-state Americans, who looked like they’d been driving all day, were hurriedly, aggressively and wrongly trying to back their tent trailer into a campsite. It was obvious they were rookies. She was giving the driver big exaggerated, nonsensical instructions while he was jackknifing the unit first one way, then the other. We could see their fuses getting shorter by the second, the level of frustration growing with each new failure.
They were white folks, probably in their late forties, accompanied by two black male teenagers. The boys quickly exited the SUV and got as far away from the embarrassing goings on as possible. The adults became even more agitated with each other as they went about not working together to set up the unit, hissing instructions and objections at each other. When they were finally done we never saw them speak to each other again for the duration of the evening.
I witnessed all this as I waited for our laundry to finish in the clubhouse. Earlier, we had been walking the town when I attempted to jump a mud puddle at the curb. I fell short by a couple of inches and, as my flip flop came in contact with the puddle, Janice was instantly slimed with great blotches of stinky black mud – all up the backs of her legs and her shorts. She was suitably impressed. Rather than going for a drink at a local bar as had been discussed earlier, I had to settle for doing the laundry instead.
She tends to be quick to get a little cranky ever since the dinosaur incidents.
Back on the road the next day we stopped at Wolf Point, Montana, at a cool and funky American style roadside diner called the Wolf Point Cafe, right on the highway. The lunch time crowd afforded us some interesting people watching, and, like the odd mix of those other patrons, we placed our orders from phones on the wall.
After lunch we got back on the road and in fairly short order, crossed into North Dakota, virgin territory for us. We’ve often heard that Highway 2, which traverses the northern states, is a nicer drive than that through the prairie provinces. We’d have to disagree…