Summer Road Trip 2017, Part 14: Glacier-Spokane-Rocky Mountain National Park
After 3 wonderful days, it was time to leave Glacier and head toward Washing State. The original plan was to pass through Spokane to see an old fried on my way to Olympic National Park. I won't be making it to Olympic this trip, but getting to Spokane was definitely going to happen.
I wanted a shower before getting on the road for another thousand miles but there are no pay showers in Glacier. The Park Ranger at the Fish Creek Campground gave me a list of shower options outside of the park and I drove around West Glacier checking out several,
I eventually decided on the KOA Glacier. The price was very reasonable and the facilities were immaculate. The KOA Glacier may have been the cleanest bathroom and shower I've ever seen at any campground. Whenever I'm in Glacier, I'll never go anywhere else. With a shower, shave and fresh set of clothes, I was ready for the long drive ahead of me.
I drove south along the west shore of Flathead Lake down through the town of Plains before connecting with Interstate 90 at Saint Regis. From there I took I-90 west out of Montana and into Idaho.
This part of Idaho is some of the best trout fishing in the world. It killed me to pass through without putting a line in the water but I was heading to see a friend and wanted time to visit with her.
I crossed the Idaho-Washington state line just before dark then called my friend to get directions to her place. I made good time on the drive so we had plenty of time to eat and catch up. It was nice to see a friend and share some of the experience I'd had over the past few of weeks.
She invited me to stay overnight and get some rest. It was very tempting, but I had the long drive from Spokane to Colorado ahead of me and I was ready to get on with it. I thanked her for the food and for a great conversation. We said our farewells and I was back on the road by 11 p.m.
If I drove southwest into Oregon, I would visit every state west of the Texas panhandle by trip's end. It was only a few hours out of the way so I decided to go for it.
I continued west on Interstate 90 then took Interstate 82 south to Kennewick. I crossed the Washington-Oregon state line abut 2 a.m. Getting a picture by the Oregon sign proved difficult and bit sketchy, but I managed to get something I could use before continuing.
Once in Oregon, I took Interstate 84 east towards Idaho I started to get sleepy around Pendleton so I pulled over to sleep at a rest area near the top of Deadman Pass.
I woke up rested with my sights set on Colorado. The first objective was getting back into Idaho. Before I knew it, I was crossing the Oregon-Idaho state line. Getting a photo with Ellie by that sign required some maneuvering since the sign was on the other side of a long guardrail.
With Oregon in my rear-view mirror, the next target was the Idaho-Utah state line. In this part of Idaho the topography is flat and the land is featureless. Exits with gas stations are few and far between. The miles were running together by the time the state line snuck up on me. I was passing an 18-wheeler when the sign for Utah came into sight. I wasn't able to pull over in time and missed it.
These pictures are becoming an obsession so I decided to turn around. The distance between exits on this stretch of highway meant going back would require a 45 minute detour. The whole ordeal made getting that picture all this more satisfying..
From the state line, it was a short drive into the Salt Lake area before turning east toward Colorado. I felt like I had driven the same part of Utah at the same time of day weeks earlier on my way to Wyoming for the eclipse.
I crossed the Utah-Colorado state line sometime after midnight and, much like entering Wyoming and Oregon, getting a picture in the darkness required a little luck in the form of a passing car.
It felt good to be in Colorado. I lived in Boulder for many years and return several times a year to fly fish. After 4,000 miles, being in Colorado felt like being home... except for the fact that I was exhausted and needed to find a place to park so I could sleep for a few hours.
The Walmart in Craig, Colorado appeared in the distance like Hotel California and RVs in the parking lot was a sight for sore eyes. It meant I would be able to park there and sleep without the prospect of being hassled.
In the morning, I resupplied at Walmart then continued on my way. I made the familiar drive through Steamboat Springs, Kremmling, Gramby and Grand Lake before arriving at the Grand Lake Entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park.
It felt great. The hard part was over and I was on familiar ground. There would be no more marathon drives for the remainder of the trip. All that was left was to find a campsite for the night.