The Farmlands of Montana

Published: July 26th 2019
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Oh, how I love the northern states in the summer. When it is 85 degrees it feels fine. When it is 55 degrees, it still feels fine. Not so in Florida. The air up here is dry and refreshing, and it is a pleasant respite from the humidity back home. So, when we got up this morning and it was only 48 degrees, we still put on our shorts, knowing that in an hour or so, it would be comfortably in the 60’s. And it was. It actually made it to the 80’s before the day was done.

We left the hotel at 8:10 AM and 54 degrees and headed west on I-90. It was my opinion that we needed a bit of a rest from the winding mountain roads. The past few days have had a lot of them, and yesterday we spent at least an hour stopped at construction sites, waiting for the one-lane road to open up for us to pass. Summer is when road construction gets done in snow country, and there is a lot of it going on up here in the northwest right now. So we took the interstate for the first part of our journey toward Spokane, WA. And even though we were not on a “scenic highway”, there was still plenty to fill the senses. The back roads don’t own the great vistas. They are everywhere.

We followed the Clark Fork River for a while. It is a tributary of the Columbia River and moves the largest amount of water in Montana. I never heard of it before, but it was substantial, for sure. We also crossed the Snake River a few times. The Snake River is another wonderful river that runs into the Columbia River and we spent a lot of time following it the last time we were out here, in 2017. There is always something special about the area around rivers. The grounds are very fertile, with lots of greenery. If you don’t know where a river is, just look for the greenest line of plants and trees, and you will find it. In addition, they often run through canyons, perhaps canyons that they once carved out many years ago. And the canyons are always very special, with tall creviced walls of many colors.

The topography gave us lots of trees and I was reminded of Maine. There were lots and lots of tall pine and fir trees, very green and healthy and growing everywhere, in clumps and in full fledged forests. The hillsides were often totally covered with them, all stately and reaching for the sky. And we saw occasional houses tucked away on hillsides here and there. We often could only see their colorful roofs.

When we got to Couer d’Alene the temperature had risen to 67 perfect degrees. We sought out and found Lake Couer d’Alene and the marina that houses many pleasure boats, most of them docked under canopies all in a row. There was boating activity on the lake and the mountains in the background provided a wonderful backdrop for the setting. We wanted to drive along the lake for a while, but 15 minutes in a line, waiting for the flagger to allow us to proceed really ate into our precious time. And knowing that we had to pass back through this area again, we decided to turn and resume our trek to Spokane.

By the time we got there it was lunch time and we needed to find some food. We saw a McDonald’s from the road but could not seem to find our way to it, and the lady in the black box had a hard time, too. This city is all one way streets and there was construction going on, so it took a long time to get there even though it was just a few hundred feet away when we spotted it.

At this point, we turned south toward Walla Walla. And the drive was mile after mile after mile of beautiful wheat fields. These are not the wheat fields you see in Kansas and Nebraska, where the land is flat as a pancake and the fields extend on and on to the horizon. These fields of silky golden wheat lie on rolling hills that add a new dimension to the picture. And these fields were adorned by dark green trees, windmills, creeks and streams, houses and lots of farm equipment. At one point, we were driving 5 miles an hour down a road behind a harvester that was holding up a long line of traffic as it was being moved from one farm to another to harvest the crops.

Toward the end of the day, we even saw grape vines beside the wheat fields. Yes, they make wine in Washington. Perhaps we will try some.

Tomorrow, we drive to Everett, WA, which is just north of Seattle.

Additional photos below
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26th July 2019

Another great day for the traveling Murrays
Lately you're hitting the spot with your choices of traveling. Congrats.

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