After a much needed night of sleep we opted to raid a nearby McDonald’s for breakfast and coffee, then go for a hike. There are apparently trailheads everywhere surrounding Bozeman, so we chose a manageable one to preserve our energy for later in the day and headed out.
After a ten minute drive we arrived at the trailhead and slowly came to the realization that this must be the local hotspot for trail runners and family trips. The Rattlesnake Ledge of Montana, essentially. Well I love Rattlesnake Ledge, so I wasn’t too concerned. It might be a foot traffic highway, but it’s pretty.
We meandered up the hill at our relatively quick pace, passing the occasional family, until we hit the summit. After a quick rest and a few pictures we vacated the summit.
We intended to walk around the campus of MSU Bozeman and wanted to have as much time as possible to do that. Bozeman’s less than stellar signage sent us in the wrong direction for a while, but it was a worthwhile detour because it gives us this gem of a picture:
Our personal training and vaping needs met, we eventually located campus. We spent an hour or so cruising around, visiting the geology building, and enjoying the weather and scenery.
At this point we’d probably walked close to 8 miles over the course of the previous few hours, so we were hungry again. We wound up on whatever Bozeman’s Main Street equivalent is, eventually locating a bar that served fantastic burgers with tasty microbrews. We ate, talked, and headed back to the car. Along the way we saw a few very nice cars, so I took pictures.
At this point the story becomes remarkably boring. We went to bed, got up, and drove across Montana to Spokane, then to Portland and home the following day. Our will to take pictures was gone. We were finally rested, but the end of our adventure was looming. We had fun, listened to music (I introduced him to Jay-Z and we made fun of St. Anger), ate some good pizza in Spokane, slept in a nice hotel for a reasonable price…… It’s all a blur. Our goal oriented traveling was done, and all that remained was returning to our regular lives.
Things you need to do in order to have a successful road trip:
- Bring Jordan. Seriously, rent him out like you’d rent a mule to go to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (he’ll even carry stuff!). His features include: Quick decision making, positive outlook, enthusiasm, great knowledge of geology and rock music, good load-bearing strength, and an overall good nature that is invaluable on long trips in small spaces.
- Funding. We were fortunate to have solid funding, but even so we only spent about $700 each over 9 days including gas and food. We could have cut that down significantly by camping instead of staying in hotels, but the hotel approach worked well for us on this trip. We’ll revisit this policy in future roadtrips, but I assume it’ll stay mostly the same.
- A reliable vehicle. The Suzuki was a real trooper. It had just had a new engine installed about 2 weeks prior to our trip, but held together admirably once we finally got the oil swapped out.
- Goals. You don’t necessarily need to know exactly where you’re going and on what roads and what time you need to be there, but a generalized sense of “I’d like to see this, if we find ourselves in this area” mixed with a few “We’re definitely seeing this” spots. The only one of the places we wanted to see that we didn’t was Craters of the Moon National Monument because it was too far out of the way, but we were able to easily adapt to that because it was on our list of “I’d like to see this” places. We saw every other place we set out to see, despite obstacles and roadblocks, because we were flexible in our planning because it was the goal that mattered, not the route/itinerary.
- A few basic supplies. You need clothes, basic emergency preparedness items, a backpack, and a bluetooth adapter for your phone to transmit music over the car stereo. We didn’t use our cooler once, we used our tent, stoves, and camp cookware exactly once. They’re good things to have, but ultimately would have been unnecessary had we stayed in a hotel one more night. Space in a compact hatchback is at a premium, so don’t over pack.
Overall I’d rate this trip 11/10. We both had a great time and can’t wait to go on another one together. Next time we’re thinking Western Canada. In the meantime I have to try to get him onto a motorcycle so we can ride the next trip.