The morning was bright and clear with the moon setting over Lone Peak as I had my last breakfast at Chets in the Huntley Lodge. At Big Sky, the mountain is superb, the townspeople friendly, the slopes uncrowded, the views forever and the chipmunks pretty cute………but………….the food!!! It would kill a robber’s dog. Irremediably crook, at all locations, in Big Sky.
Thankfully help was at hand. I sent an SOS to Margaret Carney to bring sustenance from Australia, which she did in the shape of a jar of Vegemite. Unfortunately, it only arrived just before departure from Big Sky. Nevertheless, here is a photo of me on the last morning, showing the two vital ingredients necessary for survival in a Montana ski resort.
After breakfast, it was down to Bozeman to pick up the rental. It would be misleading to call it a car. It was a small bus. A brand new Ford Expedition with only 700 miles on the clock. We could have held Amelia’s wedding reception in it. It was a beast. I shudder to think what the fuel consumption was. I expected it to run out of gas before we left the airport carpark. Got away at 915am for what was excepted to be a seven hour drive.
Drove south out of Bozeman back towards Big Sky. Had one of the worst cups of coffee imaginable just past the turnoff to Big Sky. I think I was poisoned so we fled south in the bus. Soon stated to see eerie, wilderness scenery as we approached the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park. Not as remote as Australian wilderness but not bad nevertheless. Our wilderness is red, theirs is white. Skirted the western edge of the park, before turning west and crossing the continental divide at Targhee Pass (7,075ft). This marks the boundary between eastern and western America. On the Montana side, where we had come from, the rivers run east towards the Missouri and ultimately the Mississippi. Once over the divide we were in Idaho.
In Idaho, the rivers run west into the Pacific Ocean. I have been on the continental divide a few times, but I always find it moving and so evocative of Lewis and Clark. The first major town we came to was Idaho Falls. Here Margaret, who was navigating got us lost. We took a break at a small gas station in the back blocks of Idaho Falls where I took the pawn shop photo displayed in the gallery. Only in America……..
The navigator was sacked and the Sun Valley address was inserted in the GPS. This lead us west on highway 20 , a provincial, two-lane road heading into the wilderness, towards the small town of Arco. I prayed that the GPS knew what it was doing as we had just gone off the edge of the rental car company map. I had some misgivings. We were supposed to be going south west. We were actually heading slightly north west. Still the decision to employ the GPS was fortuitous. The snow-covered back country west of Yellowstone was some of the most ethereal I’ve seen in the USA. It was a great advertisement for travelling in the winter and a wonderful opportunity to practice some of the things I learned in my photography course.
Before Arco Margaret was pulled up by the cops for doing 79mph in a 65mph zone. I wanted to laugh – the copper was only about 18 years old but Margaret was terrified. I never seen her so subdued. I wanted to tell him to arrest her for dangerous driving but thought I had best stay silent. Would have made a good story though.
“That policeman has got all my details. Do you think he will contact me and ask me out?” Margaret fretted as we drove away.
“Doubt it. Best you could hope for is some Facebook stalking,” I replied. The cop trailed us in his prowler right into Arco so Margaret, as well as driving very slowly, remained hopeful. Alas, it was not to be and after Arco we proceeded sans constabulary.
The wild scenery continued after we left Arco and headed south-west past the Craters of the Moon National Park. It stayed snow-covered all the way to Sun Valley and we finally pulled into Ketchum at 5pm. Some snow, lotsa grass. Looks depressingly like Thredbo. Obviously hasn’t snowed here for a number of weeks. My knee is very sore. Don’t think I will be skiing tomorrow. Still I’m not missing much. They are not having a magic season.