Well, this long process is nearly at it’s end. And this time, we really mean it, there are only two states left, Montana and South Dakota. I had an opportunity to visit both as a kid in 1988. It was only as I prepared to write this article that I realized this was twenty years ago!
We came into Montana at night on I-94, which we previously mentioned in this series when we visited Indiana and Detroit. The night sky in Montana is an amazing experience, as is the complete darkness if one stops the car and turns out the lights. A little eerie, actually. I grew up the suburbs north of New York City, so such clear and dark nights were a new experience.
I-94 ends quietly at junction with I-90 near Billings, the largest city in Montana. I don’t remember much about it.
We discussed Yellowstone in more detail when we wrote about Wyoming. But I didn’t mention the fact that I was there during the massive fires of 1988, that burned about one third of the park. The smoke and the various closures certainly colored my visit. I do need to go back again and experience Yellowstone as an adult and without the fires.
From Yellowstone, we traveled north and east, stopping in the town of Butte. Though quite small, I recall it looking rather large as one approached from the east at night on I-90. We at CatSynth would not deign to make jokes about the town’s name.
Ultimately, we headed north on US 93 to reach Glacier National Park. This was an altogether different experience from Yellowstone. Not only were the skies clear, but landscape was more the standard forests and lakes and mountains one associates with Rockies:
Among the striking features of Glacier Park are its lakes, such as St. Mary Lake (pictured here) and Lake McDonald. Lake McDonald in particular is quite deep, as it is formed from a valley between mountains, though not as deep as Crater Lake in Oregon. The park does of course have Glaciers, but they have been retreating quite dramatically, victims of climate change.
Our trip back from Montana took us through South Dakota on I-90. The main feature of I-90 in South Dakota were the frequent billboards advertising Wall Drug, which we of course did have to stop at, after having fun with the concept for the preceding hours. We did of course visit the more monumental attractions, including the dueling carved mountains of Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore.
We ultimately continued east on I-90 to Chicago, the hometown of the likely winner at the end of this long contest.