It’s a Big Dam Country — Day 23

From Minot, ND to Glas­gow, MT. Cool, over­cast. It did­n’t actu­al­ly rain but it was very threatening.

Hwy 2 is often an inter­est­ing road in that it varies between two-lane and new­ly divid­ed four-lane. This occa­sion­al­ly leads to con­fus­ing lane strip­ing on the por­tion that used to be two-lane. 

that bit between the two yellow lines is the left hand west-bound lane.
that bit between the two yel­low lines is the left hand west-bound lane.

I stopped at the Wal-Mart in Willis­ton. Could­n’t be more dif­fer­ent from the W‑Ms near home if they tried to be. Huge, wide aisles, well lit, well signed, *clean*. Replen­ished some sup­plies and head­ed back out. Head turn­er on the way out of the park­ing lot. You’ll notice that the Wal-Mart Logo is nowhere near the sign that says Liquor.

tires, groceries, lawn furniture, and tequila
tires, gro­ceries, lawn fur­ni­ture, and tequila

Along the road there are lots of these lit­tle oil pumps slow­ly mov­ing up and down. Hypnotic.

oil for america
oil for america

The main attrac­tion for the day was the con­flu­ence of the Mis­souri and Yel­low­stone rivers. Unlike that oth­er con­flu­ence I tried to see this one is open and invit­ing. The North Dako­ta His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety main­tains an inter­pre­tive cen­ter that sits in the mid­dle of a wet­land wild-life refuge. 

The Yel­low­stone Riv­er is the longest un-dammed riv­er in the con­tigu­ous Untied States.

missouri on the far left, yellowstone on the mid left, wetlands on the right
mis­souri on the far left, yel­low­stone on the mid left, wet­lands on the right

The coolest part of the vis­it was eat­ing lunch in the com­pa­ny of 20 or so Goldfinch­es. The cen­ter puts out feed­ers and keeps them well stocked. 

two fellows and a lady dining
two fel­lows and a lady dining
waiting his turn
wait­ing his turn

This lit­tle guy is not a goldfinch but he was very inter­est­ed in what I was hav­ing for lunch…

what have you got there?
what have you got there?

One more goldfinch.

thistle feeder
this­tle feeder

Next door (sort of) is a recre­ation of the Fort Union trad­ing post. Built by the Amer­i­can Fur Com­pa­ny in 1828 it was not a mil­i­tary instal­la­tion. Trade con­tin­ued until 1866 when Fort Union was torn down and the tim­ber etc. was used to build Fort Buford. (Which was a mil­i­tary installation.)

a place to trade furs
a place to trade furs

It looks way too much like a Dis­ney­land recre­ation to me but the orig­i­nal was white washed at the insis­tence of the man­age­ment who though it made the place more ‘impres­sive’.

There were these love­ly blue flow­ers in the park­ing lot. I have no idea what they are — except pretty.

blue but not bachelor buttons.
blue but not bach­e­lor buttons.

From Fort Union I tried to get back up to Hwy 2 using 58 North. Did­n’t get far before the “pave­ment ends” sign sent me back the longer way around. It was­n’t the first time I’ve ques­tioned my choice of vehi­cle. There have been a lot of local dams up 5 ‑10 miles of grav­el road that I have passed on. On the oth­er hand absolute com­fort at 70(nominal) with the top down is just too good to pass up.

Got a whiff of nos­tali­gia when I stopped for gas in Cul­bert­son, MT. Do you remem­ber this guy?

an old friend
an old friend

Two more quick images from the road between Cul­bert­son and Glasgow.

This is rail­road coun­try — here’s anoth­er piece of main­te­nance equip­ment. I’m stay­ing in the largest hotel for 100+ miles around. There are two full size bus­es and 5 of the large trucks that can also run on rails used for main­te­nance-of-way
trucks. (BTW the Wikipedia link is a stub — any­one have a good links for iden­ti­fy­ing the types of vehicles?) 

no doubt this does something very cool
no doubt this does some­thing very cool

All over the west you find hous­es that have been aban­doned. Some­times with new hous­es built right next them. This one does­n’t have any­thing near it except the range fence.

what happens when you son't fix the leaks in the roof
what hap­pens when you don’t fix the leaks in the roof

Ran­dom Stuff:

70 mph on a divid­ed four-lane is not con­ducive to stop­ping for the odd pho­to-op. 70 on a two-lane is bet­ter. 60 on a two-lane is even bet­ter and not at all hard to get away with out here. Locals are usu­al­ly dri­ving that slow­ly any­way and the rest know how to pass politely.

Towns along Hwy 2 in Min­neso­ta, N. Dako­ta, and much of Mon­tana exist to house/service grain ele­va­tors and the rail­roads that trans­port the grain. 

I need one of those lit­tle wifi detec­tor things. There is no cell phone data ser­vice out here — but I know that most towns have a town hall, library, school, or com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter with open wifi that my Crack­ber­ry could talk to. I just don’t have quick way of detect­ing them. 

Song and Lyric of the Day: 

The moments of plea­sures nev­er do last
Are gone like a suit­case full of your past

Ash­es by Now — Emmy Lou Harris

More sign­ers should cov­er Spring­steen songs.

The changes in the col­or of the worn asphalt make road pic­tures iden­ti­fi­able to the expe­ri­enced trav­el­er. (Ooo, rose beige — that would east­ern Montana)

I have fin­ished read­ing Gru­ber’s Forgery of Venus (good) and begun Gia­man’s Neverwhere.

Today’s Route:

View It’s a Big Dam Coun­try — Day 23 in a larg­er map

About the Author

Lara Harriger

1 Comment

  1. Rob Scott

    The rail­road util­i­ty vehi­cle is a Plass­er Amer­i­can PTS-61, a dynam­ic track sta­bi­liz­er. http://​www​.plasser​amer​i​can​.com/​e​n​/​p​_​s​t​a​b​i​l​i​z​i​n​g​/​p​t​s​6​1​.​htm

    Appar­ent­ly that lit­tle yel­low dude helps fix track shift that hap­pens over time due to set­tling and such. The words on the web page are not quite enough for me to wrap my head around how it works. I have no clue…

    It was real­ly hard to find info on it. I have yet to find a graph­i­cal index of rail­road rolling stock. Per­haps my Google-fu is weak tonight.

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