Sunday, April 25, 2010
a couple of weeks ago, i went to Bozeman, MT to visit my friend "M" and to get out of town for a few days. i feel like i've worked really hard for the last year or so, and really needed a vacation and some major fun-time. i got both.
i loaded up the car with the dogs and all of my gear (i tried to envision what i would need, and just played it safe and pretty much brought everything). about 4-5 hours into the trip north, i found myself in Island Park, ID. it was a spectacular sunny day, about 45 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. i pulled off the side of the road, strapped on the cross-country skis and told the dogs to get after it. we skied on the Mesa Falls road (closed for the winter) into the forest. it was a perfect start to the trip.
after returning back to the car, i got a snack and continued north. past Ennis and the Norris hot springs, along the Madison River (why do i always neglect to bring my fly rod?) and into Bozeman. Aaaaahhhh... i love this town.
M and i went touring at Bridger Bowl the next day. the ski area was closed, so we skinned up. Spectacular. it had recently snowed, and was a nice warm day, but the snow held up and we got some fresh turns. bluebird powder day. returning back to M's house, we had a couple of beers and some chips on the deck, then hopped on the bikes and rode downtown for dinner. followed by some good twang twang music at the Filling Station, more good beer, and some whiskey too. i was impressed with myself for staying out past 1am (and we still had to ride the bikes home uphill and against the wind, which we will call "bunken drikeriding" and yes, i did drop the chain twice but was able to still get it back on the derailleur) but this was just one of those times that a person can't say no. the crazy drummer guy with the kitty litter buckets looked like someone on the sex offender website (heck, both the band members did), but they were amazing musicians. i'm still in awe of how two guys can make that much [good] noise.
needless to say, Sunday was a bit of a stay-at-home-and-watch-movies-and-drink-coffee kind of day, what with the late night the night before, but also good, nonetheless. Monday was a hike the dogs up a spectacular small canyon kind of day, followed by more bike riding into town to go get a 2 o'clock breakfast and more coffee, followed by ice cream. Monday was a particularly awesome day.
i should have stayed in Bozeman on Tuesday. it had started to snow lightly as i was leaving town at about 8am, but M had to work, and i thought, "how bad could the drive be?" in a word: bad. i drove about 35 miles per hour for approximately 3 hours. the roads were snow- covered. i'm convinced either the Montana Highway Department had run out of funds for the year, or that they just didn't have enough plows or drivers on the roads. or both. i stopped in Ennis for breakfast at 10:30 and asked the ladies at the diner if they had heard anything about the weather to the south. "Honey, you're the only one we've seen all mornin'," was the answer i got. great. a quick check of the satellite radar on the iPhone showed a huge rain/snow cell right over Rexburg, ID, which was where i was headed.
i had passed about 40 minutes at the diner, and didn't want to overstay my visit (i was the only paying patron at the diner, and felt a little as though i should let the locals get back to their morning crossword puzzles). i was hoping one or two plows had maybe gone by in the time that i had spent waiting out the storm. i was mistaken. the road was snow-packed and drifted for the next 70 miles. i was wondering if Raynold's Pass was even going to be open at the rate it was snowing. trucks were pulled off the road and chaining up or just sitting idle.
weirdest thing happened when i hit the Idaho line--the roads cleared. it was still snowing and blowing, but the asphalt was at least visible. maybe the Idaho Highway Department has a bigger budget than Montana, i don't know, but i was happy to have smooth sailing and 70 miles per hour the rest of the drive. enjoy the photos: they tell the story.