Montana

Within the first six miles of crossing the Idaho border we pass a truck hauling potatoes.

You can’t make this shit up.

Beth and I are in strange country and this is exactly what we had hoped for on our trip. Neither of us have ever set foot into Idaho, and now we can say we’ve done it together. Looking ahead, everywhere we will soon drive will be our first. Let the adventures continue!

I had always heard that Idaho was gorgeous. It truly is. I don’t have photos or potatoes to prove it, though. I’ll be honest with you – I was busy driving half the time, and the other half of the time I had and/or was recovering from one of my ocular migraines – imagine being blind in the middle of your field of vision while watching a technicolor rainbow dance across what little you can see for 30 minutes. Fun times.

We did manage to stop in an incredible army surplus store, saving its location for the impending zombpocalypse. The sign stated that it was the largest in all of Idaho, I wonder if maybe it contends for largest in the USA. One thing is for sure – when the zombies do come, we know where we’re going!

Beth’s Nalgene was left on the back bumper of Darlene and miraculously rode along with us for nearly a mile before bouncing off, where it was promptly smushed by an eighteen-wheeler. To say it was a sad day is an understatement. RIP ol’ green.

As we neared the Montana border I could practically sense the rainbow trout – my fly-fishing senses were tingling and every crystal-clear stream beckoned my attention. Evergreens and craggy mountains spoke to something deep within us as we continued our passage North.

Long after nightfall we managed to find a campsite alongside the Gallatin River. Darlene woke everyone with her thunderous rumble. Sorry folks. We swear we’ll get a quieter muffler. Eventually.

The next morning, with no plans other than to sip coffee we backtracked South to West Yellowstone to purchase fly-tying materials and fishing licenses. Finding ourselves so close to Yellowstone National Park, we knew we could not simply pass this opportunity and soon found ourselves wandering its beauty until the end of day and well into the night.

The boiling river had been recommended to us by Roy and Tammy Nail while Beth and I worked on Ocracoke Island, so we knew we had to see what this was all about. A nearly two hour drive plus a fifteen minute walk found us lounging in a river the temperature of a hot tub, steam oddly rising about us. Geothermal springs seep into the frigid river water, mixing along a short stretch where drifting too far by several inches you’ll find yourself scalded, the other direction and you’ll realize how cold the river truly is.

While lounging and allowing the river to carry our troubles away, we met two other adventurers, James and Amanda, on their maiden voyage before they cut their lines and head for deep water. We wish you the best of luck and hope everything works out!

Thursday is spent fishing for half the day, then feasting at Lauren’s rehearsal dinner, who is Beth’s college friend that is getting married and the real reason we’re here – believe it or not we didn’t just come to fish. Between the two events we argue – I want to fish more and Beth wants to meet her friends early. In disagreement I trudge off to a trickle of a stream near the event space, lose two flies in the evergreens above and slip into the water. Grumpily I stomp back and apologize, my wet feet unnoticed.

Friday is the big day and what part of it isn’t spent primping and preening for the wedding ceremony is spent hiking and then fly fishing on the Madison and Gallatin rivers. OK, let’s be honest. I forestall getting ready and fish, causing Beth to nearly have a nervous breakdown. Her fears of us arriving late are nearly justified as we arrive mere minutes before the start, flies still wet in my hatband.

That night becomes a blur not long after the words “open bar” gloriously dance through my ears. Beth and I dance, we laugh, and we sleep in the parking lot of the reception because, well, we can.

Saturday’s sun rises and the morning air is chilly. Beyond chilly. It is damn near cold and my head is pounding.

We stop for coffee and breakfast burritos in an attempt to feel normal again – we have many hours to drive. Our time in the West is done for now, and we must travel to the Midwest for work. We’ll be back Montana. I promise.