Make sure to catch up on the first half of the #BigSkyMove drive in the previous post. Now, picking up right where I left off…
Lonesome Roads… definitely not a bad thing
The next two days’ drives would be the longest of the trip. Not necessarily by mileage, but I enjoyed the view along the way. It was cooling off and cloudy as I drove out of Laramie on the two-lane, cutting across to Casper. There’s 1 town between the two destinations. That town has no stop light. The only lights flashing were warning of the reduced visibility from fog and snow that lay ahead. Barren might be an understatement…. But, I take that back. It must be cow country. I had to stop along the way as a few Sheriff’s Deputies were escorting a crew driving a cowherd down the highway. Other than that, I didn’t see a thing except for a small herd of antelope and the occasional ranch headquarters.
Hold on for the drive.
I hit my first snowflakes of 2013 along about Casper. The wind had turned cold and the weather would only get worse. There was a storm system sweeping through, bringing with it cold air and a few inches of snow. I was determined to make it to Sheridan, and then decide if the weather would hold out for me to make it to Billings. I was really looking forward to this stretch of I-25 because I would be driving along the Big Horn Mountains (beloved because they were my first ever experience with real mountains), but the clouds and fog hung low with a steady light snow, so I really couldn’t see a thing besides the lowest foot hills.
By the time I made it to Sheridan, the roads were still clear, just wet, but everything surrounding me was white with a dusting of snow. The pickup and U-Haul trailer were a mess, covered in ice, but the radar didn’t look any worse than what I had just driven through, so I plowed on ahead. The skies actually cleared just past Sheridan, Wyoming, enough for me to get my first grand view of Montana. I passed the state line and realized there was more than 500 miles of I-90 in the state. Wow. That’s a long ways across! That was a great feeling to FINALLY be in Big Sky Country.
Pretty soon, the snow showers closed in and the bridges started to collect snow and ice. Luckily, there were a few trucks on the road to keep open tracks in the slush that was collecting, so that driving really wasn’t that bad. The amount of traffic on the road was noticeably absent by this point in the journey. I just kept reminding myself to use the common sense my daddy taught me and not make myself look like a foolish Southerner on my first day in the state. Then, I spotted something you’ll never see in a state like Tennessee or Arkansas – a snowplow on the road while it was still snowing. Luckily, these plows had just swept off the overpasses in Billings and I cruised into the first hotel parking lot of the entire trip. I unhooked the U-Haul, got myself a warm meal, and realizing I was without a pretty essential piece of equipment for this time of year and location, bought an ice scraper at the convenience store. Yeah…
The next day, I wasn’t in a rush and the road conditions were little slick between Billings and Bozeman, so I gave the sun a little time to come up before heading out. The clouds hung pretty low for most of that drive, so I didn’t get to see many of the mountains along I-90, barely any of the foothills. But what I did see was awesome. The bridges were still slick and there was a little ice in the left lane for much of the drive, so I took it easy and enjoyed the view.
I got to about Livingston and pulled off for a pit stop. Wow. That little town has a pretty cool view! The clouds rolled back just in time for me to enjoy it. The rest of the drive was easy going. Right when you pull of I-90 and cut across on a two-lane to I-15 and Helena from Bozeman, there’s a ton of wheat fields strolled about. I bet that’s a nice view, especially at certain times in the growing season.
Near Townsend, Montana
I finally made it to Helena shortly after noon. It’s an awesome town, set right in the middle of a valley, surrounded by white-capped mountains. I will give you the history and highlights of the town in future posts. Settled in the house. Unloaded the boxes. Admired the horses in the back yard. Got a hot meal in town. And it was time for a nap.
Not bad for a back yard view
There’s no better way to make a drive across the country than to take your time and stop to see old friends along the way. There are many great adventures ahead for me in Montana, and I’m sure you’ll hear ALL about them.
The poor U-Haul trailer didn’t know what it was in for when I got it back in Arkansas
To catch up on all of the social media posts from my #BigSkyMove, check out this Tagboard. Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (both @AgProudRyan), catch my photos on Flickr, and make sure you don’t miss any of my posts here by subscribing via email through the box on the right-hand side near the top of the page.