Mermaids in Montana

September 16, 2010 - 10:44 pm No Comments

Woke up at 7am to see beautiful clear skies and a sunlit Devil’s Tower through the back window of our truck. It’s cold. Stef’s got a high-tech sleeping bag, but mine sucks. Hands and feet are frozen.

Hopped into the public shower at the campground to get warmed up. The “public shower on a road trip” dilemma. Do you shower with your sandals on to save your feet from fungus, or do you shower with your sandals on and risk them stinking up the car for the whole day? I kept my sandals on, and it turns out that Stef did, too.

We headed back over to Devil’s Tower for a morning walk around its base. Good to see it at different times of day, because the sun hits it differently. Again, I found that the walk around was a little too close to the base, and it’s hard getting the true perspective of the thing.

Devils Tower

Stef at Devils Tower

Rock at Devils Tower

It’s not quite symmetrical like I had always imagined. One side has a gentler slope. If you get the right angle on it, it’s quite beautiful.

Devils Tower

“Plop, plop, plop.” That’s the sound of a red squirrel systematically dislodging pine cones in the branches above and letting them fall to the ground all around us. Doesn’t matter if we’re underneath. The red squirrel has no worries.

Devils Tower


Devils Tower

Cows at Devils Tower

Lots of senior citizens and bikers around. We’ve been surrounded by them for days. Seems like this is a popular route for them.

Driving west from Devil’s Tower, the Wyoming landscape is full of yellow scrubland, with bluish mountains in the distance. Lots of cows and horses. I’m a bit disappointed we haven’t seen a bison yet.

Red Truck in Wyoming

Mountains and Scrub

Crazy Woman Creek

Highway in Wyoming

Welcome to Montana!

Heading north into Montana, hills of goldenrod, tope, white, and patches of faded green scrub surrounded us. A blanket of gray loomed overhead.

We stopped in Billings for a nice lunch and hit the road again. As we zipped across the scrubland, a drizzle and stiff wind battered us from side to side. Stef was a champ, driving between 90 and 100 mph most of the way and aggressively passing on the narrow 2-lane highway while I worked on my blog.

Cell phone service in this open country is spotty. Stef seems to be having better luck with Verizon than I am with AT&T. Wifi is hard to find, too. As everything piles up, this is going to make for some enormous blog entries.

Big Sky in Montana

Judith Gap Wind Farm

Road to Great Falls

We decided to stop for the night in Great Falls. At our guidebook’s recommendation, we stayed at the O’Haire Motor Inn, famous for it’s tiki bar/lounge called the Sip ‘n Dip.

Dinner at the Sip 'n Dip Tiki Lounge

We grabbed a quick dinner and then headed out to see the actual falls. At night, they are not so great.

When we got back to the Sip ‘n Dip at 9:30pm, the place was raging. Locals crowded the bar while an old lady sat in a booth and banged out some tunes on her keyboard. Through one of the windows behind the bar, a mermaid playfully danced in the adjoining pool. What a concept! She was quite the performer, constantly smiling, doing acrobatics, flirting with anyone who made eye contact with her. I was completely mesmerized by the mermaid. Stef was not impressed with the number of pictures I took (56).

Mermaid at the Sip 'n Dip

Mermaid at the Sip 'n Dip

Mermaid at the Sip 'n Dip

Mermaid at the Sip 'n Dip

Jeff & the Mermaid

After a few minutes, the mermaid was joined by a merman, who did nothing but float and stare awkwardly into the bar. Lame.

Merman at the Sip 'n Dip

On the other side of the bar, “Piano Pat” wailed away on her keyboard. She’s a local celebrity.

Piano Pat

We’re making it an early night tonight because we need to get an early start tomorrow morning. Our goal is to get to Glacier National Park by 8am, and there’s still a lot of Montana to cross…

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