We drove about thirty minutes from Deadwood and set up camp in the sleepy community of Spearfish, as they were having “Friday Nights;” a weekly festival where they close the streets for vendors and pedestrians and a stage for live music. Despite the mostly cheesy country music covers, it was a nice way to spend an hour or so. We may have tried too hard, squeezing an extra three out of it. We popped by the local Irish pub for a pint and some live tunes after the street fest was done.
On we drove the next morning through the state of Montana and ended up in the town of Cody, rodeo capital of the west, just in time for the Saturday night show. For the life of me, I cannot imagine what would possess someone to get on top of a bucking bull, but it was entertaining to watch, along with the horse riding and lasso competitions. Of course, we began with the anthem and the lord’s prayer, as is custom in these parts. We stopped into a country music bar for a few live numbers afterward and then settled into the Walmart parking lot that would be our campsite for the night, before heading into Yellowstone Park.
After being laughed out of Walmart in the morning for asking if they sell veggie burgers (“This is Wyoming.”), we drove into Yellowstone to spend three days, hiking the plains and visiting the thermal pools, geysers and natural landscape of this massive park, where it wasn’t uncommon to drive three hours in a day just getting around. Jasper perfected his bonfire-making skills and I my propane-stove cooking skills and we both found that the nights were much cooler than we had expected for camping but it was no doubt worth the payoff, which was a sky of a million sparkling stars.
After 3 nights of Yellowstone (which, I might add, did not have showers… something we were not-yet-but-soon-to-be used to), we were in need of a hot breakfast, motel, shower and laundry, in that order. After driving through the two horse town of Three Forks and towns with nothing but a church, hunting and ammo shop and bar with signs boasting the second amendment above all others, we ended up at a Motel 6 in Helena with a pool, which we lazed at all day and then we watched tv all night… it was heaven.
We drove up to Glacier National Park and took the ‘going to the sun’ highway through it, which was breathtaking. We had hoped to park and do a hike at some point but it was high season for tourists and every lot was jam packed. So we headed onwards, through Idaho, stopping briefly at Coeur d’Alene for another Friday evening festival, this one a bit bigger and more exciting than in Spearfish. We stopped for a drink and some bluegrass music and meandered along the waterfront before driving on.
The next stop was Mt. Ranier. Again, parking was an issue but we managed to nab the last spot up near the lodge, where the main hiking trails begin. This might have been the spot where my expectations were most exceeded so far on this trip. The hike up the mountain was absolutely gorgeous, full of brightly coloured wild flowers, streams and waterfalls, amazing mountain views, snowy patches and a glacier. We even spotted a (gummy) bear! You can climb the full mountain but it requires proper hiking equipment and takes 2-3 days so we opted for the day hike route. I rolled my ankle (again!) on the walk to the car, so Jasper decided to make it a hotel night, with popcorn and movies.
We continued on west and, when we hit the coast, dipped down to Portland, Oregon, for the morning. We arrived on a Sunday so the oddly-named Saturday market was in full swing. Jasper walked and I hobbled past some indie musicians and the donut shop (the line was around the block) and visited the food truck village for some middle eastern eats. We explored a bit but I was limited by foot so we headed back to the market for some hibiscus iced tea and then drove to the rose gardens, which were lovely and vibrant. Then back in the car we went and headed north, stopping at a drive-in cinema just outside of Seattle for the double picture show, junk food and some old fashioned romance.
Next up on our adventure was to cross on into Canada and start venturing up north as we headed into the wild.