Crossing the Rockies 6/23 – 6/30

Missoula, Montana:  Population =  72,364 (Metro area = 116,130), elevation = 3,209 feet, Average January low temp = 18.3º, Average July high temp = 85.9º, Average snowfall = 37.9”

Heading West from Manhattan, along Interstate 90, we find ourselves rising up into the Rockies.   We pass soft-edged mountains, dotted with sagebrush and tough little pines.  We pass sharp craggy peaks where great brittle looking layers of granite loom over the highway.  At one point we chug up and over a pass and we are at the Continental Divide.  Everything from here on is headed toward the West Coast.

Rocky Mountain sagebrush

Our first stop is Missoula.  This is a scenic town, surrounded on all sides by mountains, with the roaring Clark Fork River coursing through its middle.  As luck would have it, there is a big Classic Cars festival going on and rooms are hard to find.  We were able to snag the last room in a hotel so we are only staying a couple of days.  Too short a time to really explore the city.  And… oh crap, I feel a cold coming on.

The standing wave on the Clark Fork River is a good place to surf and raft

The cars are at Caras Park, on the riverside, at the edge of downtown.  There are food and drink vendors under tents and oldies rock-n-roll trickling out of tall speakers.  The day is bright and beautiful and the classic old cars shine like jewels in the sun.  The crowd does the slow stroll past the many memories lined up here, pausing to talk about the one they used to have.

On the way back to the hotel, we spot the venerable old St. Francis Xavier Cathedral so we slip in to take a look.  There is a wedding going on, which adds to the atmosphere, and the music is lovely.  The artwork is wonderfully ornate.

Spokane, Washington:  Population = 215,973, elevation = 1843 feet, Average January low temp = 24.7º, Average July high temp = 83.8º, Average snowfall = 44.9”

Interstate 90 winds through the mountains, gradually losing elevation as we roll through Idaho and into Washington.  The highway roller coasters up, down, and around the mountains as we swoop lower, toward the high plains.  First though, we are stopping in Spokane.  We unpack, go out to have supper, and grab a few groceries.  By now Marylu has the cold too, so it is nap time.  We spend the next few days relaxing, napping, reading.  Finally, on a nice warm day, we got out to see Manito Park, with its many gardens.

The Japanese garden
Orchids in the conservatory
In the cactus room of the conservatory
Formal English garden
In the Rose Garden
Stopping by for a pint.  Gotta stay hydrated with a cold, you know.

We did not really get to explore much of Spokane.  I am sure it is a great city with lots to do, but we didn’t do it.  Maybe next time.

Next up: Washington


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We are two recent retirees who decided to sell the house, pull up stakes, and explore North America. We are both being tourists and looking for the right blend of people, place, and geography that makes for the perfect place to retire.

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