Bozeman to Lewiston (Day 7)

A day of passes and divides marking boundaries. As we left Bozeman, we discovered that the walkie talkie batteries were giving out. They had lasted five full days, which I think is mighty good.

From Bozeman, we drove 200 miles to Missoula, crossing the Continental Divide just before Butte at Homestake Pass (elev. 6329). That one involved a steep climb up from the Galatin Valley and the Clark Fork, then we dropped quite quickly down to the open pit mines of Butte and Anaconda.

After a couple of missed turns in Missoula (you’d think they could put up a few signs for US-12!) we wound up the Lolo River to Lolo Pass (elev. 5233) in the Bitterroots, the divide between Montana and Idaho, and the edge of the Pacific Time Zone.

After lunch at Lolo, we drove 100 miles down to Lewiston, following the Lachsa and Clearwater Rivers with their clear, tumbling descent to the Snake River. A ginormous wide load was ahead of us. Some big building on a truck. But what gorgeous country!

Stopped at the Lachsa Lodge for coffee and had to wait for them to make it, then encountered a Forest Service guy sitting under a tree by the road who wanted to know what we had done at the Lodge and our home zip code. I gave him our Portland one, so maybe that’s home now. Then discovered that while we were waiting for the coffee the ginormous load had gone by so we were behind it again.

Did I mention this country is beautiful? There were several times today when I had tears welling up from my reaction to the beauty and to feeling a sense of homecoming to the mountains of the wild Northwest. Even though I have never been up the Clearwater or Lachsa vallies, it was familiar territory. Saw lots of fly fishers and folks at play along the rivers, many bikers and cyclists, and a couple of hitchhikers (the first of our trip).

It was also the first time since we left Carlisle that we had no cell phone service for any extended distance — that would be about half of the trip today.

Smoke in the valley for many miles made me heartsick for whatever wildfire is burning, even though I know that wildfire is common and a vital part of the functioning of the high desert/western steppe ecosystems. There are too many non-native plants that fuel dangerous wildfires, while the natives seem more adapted and less flamable.

Speaking of invasives, we passed a sign shortly after entering Idaho advising that it is illegal to transplant invasive species. I quipped that it meant we could not carry human beings — what species has  been more invasive and done more environmental damage than Homo sapiens?

We arrived in Lewiston about 6 pm to find our Day’s Inn reservation was in an unsigned motel (apparently recently converted from a Super Eight) located in a truckstop (Stinky’s) with a barely adequate room across the Clearwater from a paper mill. The furniture that is designed to hold a mini-fridge and microwave is bare. If we put the desk chair at the desk, it is impossible to get past it to the other side of the room. There is no waste basket. At least the a/c works as it was pretty durn hot surrounded by the truck stop pavement when we arrived. No doubt we’ll be anxious to get out of here and hit the road early for the last let of our trip to Portland tomorrow.

Closing on our house is scheduled for Friday, and we’re expecting the moving van to arrive on Saturday. By the end of the weekend we should be (sorta/kinda) moved in and starting to get settled.

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