Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dallas to Montana

Hey Jamie,
I received your book from my very good friend last Christmas (we like to road trip together). We have ohhhed and ahhhhed over the places in your book and want to go to them ALL!

This spring, last week of May, first week of June, I am hitting the road solo as I drive from Dallas to see my friend waaaaaay up in northwest Montana, the tiny town of Trego. So, I am wanting to go the back roads, I hate the interstates, but realize I must stay fairly close to support my Starbucks addiction. Last year I drove from Big D up to northern Kansas and had to map it very carefully, no Starbucks after Salina, KS! Thank goodness for their little instant packets (did you know if you put one of their regular roast packets into a carton of chocolate milk, and shake it up, it tastes as good as an iced mocha!).

Anyways, I want to go back roads, but I want to go up one way and return another. Thinking go out through the panhandle of Texas, through Colorado, Wyoming and then up through Idaho, cross back into Montana through the NW corner and drop down to Trego that way. Since you have traveled a lot more miles on the highway than I, what time frame should I give myself for this drive? Three days? Four? I want to putz around along the way and see some stuff, but also putz around on way home (gonna go across MT, then straight down through the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas (Auntie Em), OK then home), again, traveling back roads as much as possible.

I'd like to camp a night or two in some of the national parks, but really would like to find some real whacko type places to stay (not Motel Hell or Bates Motel, but you know what I mean). Suggestions?

OK, I think that is enough. Thanks for a great book and any tips you can throw my way Jamie! Keep on rolling along!

Lisa in Dallas


Hey Lisa in Dallas --

Many thanks for your enthusiastic message -- just the thing I needed to shake off the late winter doldrums!

I hope this crazy, tornado-swept Spring is heading into summer by your late May / June kickoff -- weather will have a lot to do with how much fun you have out on the road. If you are lucky, the fantastic Going-to-the-Sun could be open and clear just in time for you to drive it -- that is one of my all-time favorite roads. I one time drove all the way there in along night from Seattle, just so I could watch the sun rise over the Great Plains. Fantastic -- then I dozed off and woke up hours later in a wildflower meadow (lovely!) surrounded by defecating mountain goats (not so lovely!...)

Life on the road.... :-)

From Dallas to tiny Trego is a good 2000 miles, so I can't see doing it in less than 4 days, especially if you want to "putz around." And the mileage is the same on the way back - plus however long you want to stay up in our friend's tiny town (which is north of Whitefish, isn't it?).

There definitely are some great lodging options for you on this trip -- not least the mighty East Glacier Lodge, with its lobby built from whole Douglas Fir logs (with the bark still on!). Also unique is the Glacier Gateway Inn in Cut Bank - a motel where you are welcomed by a giant, 25-foot-tall Penguin (who says "Welcome to the Coldest Spot in the Nation".) And further west, on your way to Montana, off US-93 in Stanley Idaho there's the ever-charming Danner's Log Cabins, a 1920s landmark.

For camping, I have had some lovely nights under the stars off old US-50 in Arches National Park -- which is easy to get to from the road, unlike Canyonlands and some of the other, more remote areas of Utah. And further north along scenic US-93, Idaho's Craters of the Moon is pretty cool, too -- and the campground there should be clear of snow by late May.

On your way back, down along US-83, if you're willing to "rough it " a little, there's a neat "wacko" lodge in the middle of the Great American Nowhere, south of North Platte Nebraska: the Dancing Leaf Earth Lodge, a reconstruction of an ancient / prehistoric Native American dwelling. Check it out:

OK - hope you have a great trip,and please say hi for me to Carhenge (in Alliance NE...) as you fly on by!

Happy Trails, and thanks again for getting touch,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA

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