Ritzville, Washington, hello. Today we knocked out 645 miles in our seemingly never-ending quest to reach Portland. We had some issues today with our camera as our battery died and we either lost our charger or packed it in a currently unknown location. So we bought a new one in Missoula, Montana and got more pictures after that than before. Oh, and before I forget, I’m sure you’re all tired of me reminding you, but let me remind you all to follow along with us on Twitter. There’s not much left of the trip but you can still be a part of the action: http://twitter.com/hairmanmao.
This morning we took off from Hardin towards Billings. We cruised through southern Montana and got our first glimpses at some really fantastic mountains. The Beartooth Mountains and the Crazy Mountains in particular were early highlights in our day. But later we rued the early support for the existence of mountains. With severely high winds, the driving was very difficult most of the day. Our hitched car kept swaying with the gusts and pulling the truck along for a not-so-pleasant ride. Adding increasing elevation and back-and-forth turns, things started to get ugly. Finally, as we climbed toward Pipestone Point, the crossing point of the Continental Divide (on I-90 at least), the truck just about gave up. We crept up the 6500 foot mountain at speeds just over 30 miles per hour. I dropped the truck into the lowest possible gear and put the pedal to the floor but it barely mattered. Eventually we defeated Pipestone Point, but not before my hands were sore from gripping the steering wheel and we’d sweated out the possibility of the truck dying where the rivers still flow to the Mississippi. Finally we slipped down the other side toward Missoula, thankful that we made it over safely.
After the terrible winds and the mountain scare we were in need of some food and some gas. We stopped in a tiny town called Superior for a bite and a refill on the gas-guzzling beast. Superior has a population around 900 and we found it’s most famous stopping place, the Cafe Durango. Part gift shop, part restaurant and part casino, the Durango was everything we’d hoped and dreamed it could be. But the food turned out to actually be quite good. Morgen’s Greek salad was enormous and the perfect antidote to probably her longest-ever spell between even semi-fresh vegetables. I had a buffalo burger that couldn’t have been better. Replenished and our spirits renewed we plowed on toward Washington.
The drive across the border from Montana to Idaho is about as great a drive as there is on earth, even in a U-haul towing a car. The road winds back-and-forth with stunning views of mountains, rivers and dark green trees. Most importantly it’s all down hill. After zooming through Coeur d’Alene and across the Washington border, we found ourselves at Spokane. Not wanting to stay in an actual city because of cost reasons, we trudged forward as I-90 bent to the southwest. For sixty miles there was next to nothing but eventually we found Ritzville, a small town at the intersection of two interstates. After checking in at the local LaQuinta, we walked next door to the Cow Creek restaurant. An eclectic collection of yard ornaments and wind chimes met us at the door, but once inside we knew the extra hour to get to Ritzville was worth it. A menu featuring fresh vegetables, Oregon and Washington beers and interesting ice creams gave us a nice, relaxing meal after a long, hard day of driving.
Tomorrow we’re going to explore southern Washington and northern Oregon as we’re now just 300 miles or so from our final destination. We wanted to make sure we had flexibility on the back end, which is why we pushed so hard up until now. So we’ll sleep in (until at least 7), go back to the Cow Creek for breakfast and meander through what is our new home state.