There were no dams today. There’s a fabulous one on tap for first thing tomorrow but my plans to shoot at sunset were overwhelmed by my need for dinner, a shower, and sleep.
What there was today was US 12 which follows the Clearwater River between Lewiston ID and Helena MT. Totally wonderful. Except for the 60 miles that are also I-90 between Missoula and Garrison. But even that was pretty.
First thing got my morning latte and then amazed a couple of little boys with the robo-car top down thing. Started from Clarkston and got happily lost in Lewiston — ended up driving along the river side park. Found my way back to 12 and started up to Lolo Pass. Had a terribly blond morning and forgot to get gas in Lewiston. Saved by the Thunderbird II Trading Post — which is *not* listed in the GPS.
At about Mile Post 12 I was dive bombed again. This time by cliff swallows. One of the cool things about driving with the top down and not having to wear a helmet is that I get to hear birds sing and water splash, etc. On the down side I spent a couple of slightly nauseating miles smelling the greasy herbicide that the Idaho DOT was spraying on the shoulders.
At first the Clearwater is a broad flat river.
Across the river the railroad tracks run just above the water line.
Somewhere early on I saw a sign that said Winding Road Next 99 Miles. I assume that 99 is the largest number that they can get to fit on the sign… No I did not stop to take a picture. Everyone already has a picture.
At Kamiah you cross the river and run along it’s east bank. There was a lot of road work here. Replacements of under-road culverts and building river bank. They were using an interesting fill in place rip-rap system. My request to take pics was met with blank stares and a mumbled but we can’t let you stop here.
For many miles on either side of the aptly named Syringa most of the yards were filled with lilacs all blooming their fool heads off.
There is also this remote barn and house on the other side of the river.
So how do you get there? Um, like this?
Well, maybe it’s how some people get there. Not me. I’m afraid of heights *and* I hate water.
Here are a couple more beauty shots from the run up to Lolo.
The river gets considerably rougher as you climb.
These are next year’s foxgloves.
At the summit it was 53 degrees and there was still alot of dirty snow laying about.
There’s another sudden state line change when you leave the pass and head into Montana. Instead of being in deep canyons you’re in high shallow basins. Big Sky indeed. Lots of cows. Just scross the border I saw a kid (15?) ona big red quad with a dog perched on the back and black calf on his lap. He started to wave but settled for a nod when he realized he’d run out of hands.
By the time I made it to Missoula I was pretty wind blown and beat. The Not Terribly Attractive ™ floopy hat that was keeping the sun off of my face had battered against my right ear for so long that it hurt as badly as it would have it I had forgone the hat and gotten the sunburn. I put the top up, set the cruise for 80, headed in for the night.
View It’s a Dam Big World Day 2 in a larger map