Saskatoon to Mesa via West Yellowstone – Fall 2016

And we’re off – 11th St. Exit; checking that the Titlist Bag is in and we’re not talking Golf; it’s our NB (important) papers. Where to put things as this is a new vehicle. Was going to do nails; but can’t; too dark at 6:50 am. New Road. Beautiful! One dead deer. Double lane runs out before Vanscoy.
0 degrees. A bit of snow left from the record October 5th snowfall. 2nd deer dead by Delisle. Stored campers all in a row. Morning mist or fog; nothing on windshield. Snow geese on water.
It’s fog. Clearing to see frosty fields. Hope for clear sky and sun but haven’t seen it yet. Had not seen sun for about 10 days before we left. 2 more dead deer; hope that’s the end. OHH ! Red sun rising! WOW; like a fiery ball.
Rehashing end of Blue Jay’s Run; our good-bye to kids supper; how to stay connected to all. Learned on morning radio that a criminal record check would not show a pardoned criminal conviction but a request for a vulnerable record check would. Seeing hawks and an owl. Are they watching us as we watch them. Waves and waves; lines of undulating migrating geese; sky full of migrating birds. Crops in the fields by Elrose; frosty graveyard; hunters at Kyle motel.
So beautiful to sit with the sun pouring in on us. Billboard in a field by Swift Current: “Imagine Peace is Possible!” Saw HOARFROST on the GRASSLANDS. Yeah.
Was able to read the whole 36 pages of my passport( notes of Canada’s history) to Bob while we waited 10 minutes in line at the border. Another 10 minutes of Bob inside filling a form re the bank draft we brought with us.
7 degrees in the US. Bob explains to me the narrow saw blade that was sticking straight up out of a box from the Saskatchewan pothole roads; so glad border patrol didn’t even look in. Roads are fantastic here. Hit the brakes. Antelope crossing road. 100 on right side of road; maybe 50 on left.
Driving through a cottonwood valley deciding on our route. Staying away from the interstate Black Angus looking cattle, lots of silver willow trees; poplar leaves hitting the windshield as we drive through small towns. Along an Assiniboine Creek into Malta; over the Milk River onto open road; miles of prairie like grasses. Orange colored coulees. Mountains in the distance. Hawks soaring. Windmills. No passing signs. Miles and miles of Fort Quapalle looking hills. Sun feels fantastic.
We are up in higher Montana country surrounded by maybe Lodge pole pine. Worried as we didn’t fill up with gas and now at least an hour before services. Won’t do that again I’m sure. 15 miles back, if you dug into the hillside would be pink looking clay; now is yellow. 15 miles later; now black. Inside a wildlife refuge. In chain up area. See no wildlife but see miles and miles of gorgeous scenery. Ever greened canyons below us. WOW I say as we come into a slide area. At bottom we cross the Missouri river and then climb up and out. Using more gas. RV’s and campers galore at this time of year. Saw two ____; can’t think of the word; it’s miramir or something like that; 1000’s of tiny black birds sway and move in unison in front of us. Then we see 4 telephone lines from one pole to another covered in birds. Blue sky, sunshine. 14 degrees.
Stopped for gas; asked for a washroom. “If there’s footprints on the toilet just wipe them off, we’ve got a cat here.” Cigarettes $7.00; pint of honey $15.50. Donkeys in the field as we leave town. Guy in that service station asking where u from and where u going? When I say Mesa; he says; “is that in California?”
We are behind a cattle trailer; door on back swings open. As he turns off, we see a tire that could have rolled out in front of us. 17 degrees now. Woman in the store gave me two Montana magazines. Story about a guy dropped a camera into a rattlesnake pit. Became a You Tube sensation. Pictures make it worth looking up. “GoPro falls into pit of rattlesnakes” SIGN: 180 yearly deaths on Montana Highways. 160 Year to Date.
Snow fences are up. Sheep and Alpaca together in a field. 2 deer sunning themselves. Big ears, maybe mule deer. We’re in country we’ve never been. Now a whole herd of deer standing; both sides of the road. I’m doing yoga stretches. Bob is eating almonds. We think it’s a railroad owned by Buffet taking coal headed for China. Miles of oil tanker rail cars were last ones we saw.
Bozeman, Montana: a touristy, skiing resort; says population 22,000 but lights seem to go on and on. It’s getting dark and lots of cars with no light on. We stay the night.
2nd day: Layered cloud; blue and pink sunrise over the mountains as we head south into Yellowstone National Park. SIGN:METH: not even once. Big snow capped mountains in front of us. Daunting in this valley we are going through. An extremely beautiful fall. Bob thinks he saw a moose as I think I saw some deer; will be easier driving when full light. I’d say all the vehicles off the road is to do with fly fishing, zip lining, camping, big horn sheep signs, the snow sticks on the side of the road are much higher than vehicles. Cabins galore. Lots of crosses. More beauty.
Big Sky ski resort turn off. Lose a lot of the traffic. ATV’ers in orange vests, heading out to hunt or play. We’ve been driving over an hour by a white water river and sometimes see groups of guys; like up to twenty standing around; think they’re all guys anyway. Sign says, “No hazardous goods on this road” in this national park so wondering how they get their propane in or fuel.
We’ve been climbing. Now zero outside. We are above where there is snow outside. No one on road. Pure snowy white peaks to left; all ever greened every where else. Blue sky. Sun is out. Sign: Bison on road. 55 mph. Still on the Nez Pearce Trail. “OH, We got an eagle right above us. Fences made out of the pine tree poles. Now in Idaho. Cross the Continental Divide. Reminding me of Flagstaff or Northern Saskatchewan; Waskesiu. Pavement through the pines. Lodges, Resorts, Boats, Horses; 50 plus skidoos lined up outside motels ready for the winter masses.
Have an Indigenous song in my head. Don’t know how I know it. Entering land of many trees. Through a national forest and then all of a sudden out onto the Plains and potato farms. All the new homes and new construction speaks to economy doing okay. Small town after small town. Putting themselves away for winter. Raking leaves; fall colors incredible. There are so many varieties of trees. Still watering golf courses. Flags still in. Saw my first Wave Park; a lake in the middle of town with all the things from what I’ve seen at a kid’s skate park right in the lake. Then we drive by a bear park with sign saying, “Guaranteed bear sightings.”
Hours of flat lander beauty broken up by casino signs, “$100. cash and free coffee,” or “Bannock Country.”We leave a reservation named after a Fort. Interesting how ice age left a piece of land able to be broken up and cultivated and beside it or surrounding it is scrub land; scrub bush atop black jagged rocks.
We’re now living “Life Elevated” as we are welcomed to Utah. In Saskatoon we’d be going 60km/hr when workers present in construction and here we’re going 120 legally and others are going by us. SIGN: “60% of Teen Deaths in Utah are unbuckled.” It’s 18 degrees at 1:30 in the afternoon so tells me why I’m enjoying this do nothing fall day. Light rail is outpacing the traffic through Salt Lake City. Smoke from California fires is hanging low here. Imagine the smell of a feedlot in 25 degree weather. Debating our route. We’ve never stopped in St. George. It’s 30 degrees as we stop at a Travel Inn Motel to get a price. I’m glad I’ve changed to shorts and flip flops at the last gas station. I had been reading out loud stories of The Good Time Girls – from the Red Light District during the Klondike Gold Rush.
I thought we were in Nevada. We are still in Utah. An expensive hotel night as town full of a golf tournament and a reunion. St. George used to be called Dixie according to the guy in the One and Only Roadhouse. Sign as we leave the next morning: “Your friends travel these roads. Drive for them.”
As the sky lightens I see the grandeur; red and gold beauty of Arizona Mountains looking like pyramids, cathedrals, Grecian temples, sculpted, chiseled out monuments and my body seems to come alive at the wonder of it. Canyons and valleys; amazement that humankind could chisel a road through so much rock. Rock high above us on both sides; a dry creek bed underneath. It’s 20 degrees now and will be over 30 later today. A desert spring sign tells the story of how the people can be living on the edge of this mountain range; a range of rock; no trees.
Trying out our new GPS. Quite easy. Thinking if the tire tracks on these highways could tell their stories; there’d be lots of them. Sunrise just after 8am. Las Vegas: Sun, palm trees and about 30-40 km of freeway. Read a bit of poetry; some profound poetry written by a friend.
By 11am; need air conditioning as is 27 degrees outside. Sun pouring in. Omelets as comfort food appeals. Eggs mixed with mashed whipped potatoes and cheese; little bit of onion and bacon. Awesome. Land formations intrigue as well as hearing familiar bird sound of the grackle, seeing a hummingbird right beside me when we stop at gas station. The saguaros; the green of the desert. They must have had rain.
Our new vehicle rides nice. Comfortable seats. I did take less things to live than other years and many things as I packed, would say to myself, “This is not coming back.” Would be easier if I just golfed but there is music, books, writing,tennis, pickle ball, we take our own flour, a baby seat,hot clothes by day; warm clothes for at night, my yoga tapes, my own songs and poems. We have a car load.
Decision will have to be made how often to go birding,swimming,bands, singing, writing club;Bob and my date day; or is it everyday;to post on Twitter/facebook/ blog poems/songs/ golf 1 x wk or 3 x wk; play competitive tennis or fun, irregular tennis and the work of organizing; how connected to stay to Saskatoon life; journalling or am I written out; obviously not or wouldn’t be doing this. Things to keep doing; yoga every 2nd day; hot tub and sauna to say good-bye to great days; library and birding every so often. Give up a band; organizing the score keeping for our team?
I am grateful and looking forward to outdoor patio, eating outside, sitting doing nothing, reading, seeing old friends, my Arizonnee hideaway; want to say laying in the pool staring at the palm trees; Bob and I golfing; a good game of tennis; the night stars. I want to finish Book III. Skyping Sierra.
2 ½ weeks till the Presidential Election. Have not seen signs till now and not sure if we saw “Hillary for Prison” or “Hillary for President.” 1 ½ hours from home in Mesa and we see the first Phoenix Street signs; 211th Ave; with all of the beautiful highway infrastructure; and a Subway out here. Not the underground one either. Our GPS takes us to the new South 303 and onto the I10. It worked beautifully. I tried copying the landscaping designs in case I learn to paint. Going by the Home of the Cubbies. New Baseball Stadium. Talk about how that will help Mesa if they were to win the World Series as Mesa is their home for spring training.
Thirty seven degrees and we will be home in 15 minutes to begin unloading. So, Oct 20-22; A Great Non-Eventful Trip!!


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