Regarding Bitterroots

If there is a better name for the Bitterroot Mountains, I don’t know what it would be.  And for those that have not traveled the Bitteroots, I suggest you consider doing so.



As we tootled along at about 50 MPS or less, we followed the river that ran through the range.  Beau did not appreciate this as he stuffed himself between the backseat the front seats…we think he was afraid of sliding right off during all the 180 degree turns.  Or maybe he just wanted to be near the source of air emanating from the vent near the floor.  Whatever makes him do it seems to occur on winding roads so I’m sticking with that explanation.

What makes the ride so exceptional is the abundance of water in the river, the huge peaks rising up from the river like citadels for the curving river below.  All the mountains were various shades of green with trees.  Trees standing guard orr the mountains, providing nesting opportunities for bald eagles, osprey and various other birds at the top of the food chain.  And the trees were thick and unabused by man.  No loggers had been there.  There were no roads leading off into the trees with signs announcing “Watch for trucks”.  Actually, now that I reflect, there were no big trucks on the road.  In short it was nirvana.  



As you drive the road, there are historical markers because the Highway 12 that we traversed was, in fact, part of the Lewis and Clark trail.  We stopped and read the signs and then gazed out at the mountains and tried to imagine the shear courage of what the men and one woman had  on their journey but also how they had to persist day in and day out.  So many things could have gone wrong.  And they did.  And yet they persisted.  So, we pull up in our Ford C-Max that carried us to these parts with the aid of the GPS, jump out of the car and read the history of how hungry, how tired, how disenchanted they found themselves to be and we were in awe…  Lack of food, hard work.   The only thing they knew about the land and rivers is what the Indians told them.  I’m quite sure they may never have made it if it wasn’t for the help of the Indians.  In the Bitterroots it was the Nez Pearce tribe.

Extraordinarily, the people of the expedition thought that just around the next bend, over the next mountain there existed a Pacific Ocean.  Oh, the disappointment that they must have felt when they realized there was no ocean.   Yet.

The trip has been a powerful reminder of all that has gone before us.  As I recall only one man died on that effort.  Some turned back.  Most didn’t.  And the woman persisted.  Have they done a movie about Sacaguwea?  If not, please call Spielberg or Andrea Duveige and get them going.  They journey found the expeditionary forces in the Bitterroots in 1805, September.  Amazing.

In the middle of the trip, we stopped in a cafe in the town of Lowell, population 22.  It had been 23 but someone drew a line thru the number and wrote 22 on it.   So it was either 22 or 23.  The cafe was a throw back to another era.  The people who ran it were women.  They had good soup.  Not sure about the pie but they did advertise home made pie on their white board.  There was a pool table.  A bar, a few tables and chairs.  A counter.  I asked the woman that waited on us if the road stayed open all winter.  “Oh, yes.  Unless there is an avalanche.”  Do they open all year?  “Oh, yes.”  You have to be a special breed to live in Lowell.  The only other thing there was a camp ground across the river as I recall.  It must close this month, I’m guessing.  A long winter of short days looks mighty unapppeallng to me.  And what if you needed to get your appendix removed suddenly?  Well, good luck with that…

But I digress.

Back to Lewis and Clark.  They didn’t have medical insurance, an HMO, a PPO or a hospital.  And yet they survived the journey.  And remember, this was when every wild river in the land was free, unrestrained from man’s effort to tame the beasts with the damn dams.  Oh, how exhilarating it must have been to hear the river from a great distance away.  The roar getting louder as they moved toward it.  Many times they had to portage to the next spot of the river that looked like it would carry them a distance without drowning them or throwing them over a waterfall.  Talk about taking a risk.  And imagine the mosquitos.  

So, we enjoyed the journey.  Our imaginations were on full throttle.  Our appreciation of their effort was at hand.  If only the U.S. had not slaughtered the Indians that helped travelers discover their land.  If only the U.S. had not broken every treaty they entered into with the Indians.  If only, if only.  We might not have casinos dotting the land!!

On the other side of the Bitterroots, we emerged into a big valley where Missoula is located.  Lots of farm land.  No Trump signs.  We only saw one Trump sign hammered up on a tree by the side of narrow road that lead probably to this guy’s house.  It said Trump on one sign and 2020 on another sign.  It is still early.  We are interested how the farmers whose land we saw are regarding this trade war with China.

But I digress.

It had been along day in the car.  We did not check in to our Best Western Plus until 7 something.  And we were famished.  As luck would have it the only pet friendly room they had was a handicap suite.  A bedroom, a bathroom with stand up shower, a living room, a fireplace.  We were dumbstruck.  We then discovered a restaurant across the street.  We walked over, ordered a pizza and salad, brought it back and at in our secluded suite we slurped wine that we did not have to pay a corkage for and had a gay ole time.  Then it was curtains.

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