Glendive, Montana

It looked as if we were going to make it to Theodore Roosevelt National Park today, but it wasn't meant to be, I guess. Mike has been worrying over the wear pattern on one of the trailer tires all day. We've been in search of some place where we could have someone look at the tires all day. When we arrived in Glendive, our last chance to fuel up before heading off into the wild, untamed expanse of North Dakota, we finally found a Goodyear place (which also happened to be a refueling station). The guy there thought we were seeing a tread separation. So, we're camped here tonight, and we'll replace our trailer tires in the morning. No big deal. We're very close to the national park at this point, and it will be a short trip tomorrow. We have an appointment to have the tires replaced at 8:00 a.m., and that shouldn't take more than about an hour. It's significantly shorter than having repairs on a blow-out...which isn't even something I want to joke about.

So that means I have one more day of internet service before we go into the national park, where it is highly doubtful we'll have access to internet or cell service. With that in mind, I'll catch you up on our day yesterday and today.

We spent last night in Havre, Montana (rhymes with cadaver), which is considered the western city where the Montana Hi-Line begins. The Hi-Line travels east across Montana to the North Dakota border. But I'm getting ahead of myself a little because Havre was at the end of the line yesterday. We did some things in between too.

First off, we traveled around the perimeter of Glacier National Park. We traveled there just two years ago, and so we weren't feeling a need to go back again. Nevertheless, when one is in this part of the country, wild huckleberries are the thing. We stopped off at a store we've visited before to pick up a jar of the coveted wild huckleberry jam. Johnny Depp greeted us at the entrance.

Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. He's so dreamy. Oh yes. Now where was I? Sorry I got distracted for a moment.

So if you can dream of eating it, you can probably make it with huckleberries. We kind of stick with the jam, but if you wanted, you could get huckleberry syrup, huckleberry jellybeans, huckleberry salt water taffy, plain old wild huckleberries, huckleberry gum, etc., etc., etc. Just gimme the jam, and nobody gets hurt.

This particular store has some funny t-shirts too. Always tempting, but I almost never buy.

Are you a Big Foot believer? Then here's one for you:

We drove along the Flathead River for a good portion of the way. The river is responsible for the lovely lake where we stayed the day before.

It was mostly trees lining the road until we got to a higher elevation.

Eventually, we were above the tree line and headed east toward Havre.

This is a major wheat-growing region, and the harvest is on.

It's wheat fields as far as the eye can see from horizon to horizon, 360 degrees. Occasionally, one happens upon a little town. As I recall, this is the town of Cut Bank, Montana. Grain elevators are ubiquitous in this area, and every town has one. The road runs parallel to the railroad tracks, and the grain elevators are right beside the tracks. We also saw long, long, long trains with nothing but cars filled with grain.

And with such flat terrain, wind power is sure to be present.

When we drove through the town of Shelby, Montana, we found a quilt shop: Quilt With Class. I'll tell you about that in a separate post. It's a good one!

That was our last stop before reaching our final stop of Havre. My thanks go to Julianne who told us about Rod's Drive In, home of the "Ugly Burger". She says her husband grew up here, and he still dreams of these burgers. Well, count me in because I love a good burger.

And while the usual fast food joints line the main street of Havre, folks go quite a bit out of the way to line up for these burgers. Truly a drive in, they have several stations to park and place your order before driving forward to the take-out window.

They also have a tiny dining room for those who prefer to eat in.

We each ordered a burger and some onion rings. Yum. We needed some groceries, but we'd read about this old steam locomotive, and Mike loves old trains. We had to take a look. Pay attention to the size of the wheels on this baby. Mike is 6'1", and the wheels were taller than he is.

It's always impressive to stand next to one, isn't it?

I'm hoping you can read the sign below, but the most important thing you need to know is that the locomotive and tender are 104 feet long, weigh 764,680 pounds and are 16 feet tall. The eight driving wheels are 80 inches in diameter. This was the world's most powerful steam passenger locomotive when it was built.

And this seems a good time to tell you that the RV park where we stayed is the noisiest we've ever stayed at. The park itself was a finger-shaped property, squeezed between US Hwy 2 on one side, and the Burlington, Northern, Santa Fe railroad switching station on the other. We listened to locomotive diesel engines, coupling of train cars, and the resulting shudder through all the cars of the train all night long. And take a look at this line of oil tankers. With an oil and natural gas boom going on in North Dakota (one state over) where do you suppose all these tankers are going to or coming from? To the left, they stretch as far as you can see.

And to the right as well.

So we got our groceries, went back to the trailer, and fell into bed for the night fairly early. This morning, Mike announced that he'd like to go out for breakfast. It started to rain as we were leaving the restaurant, and the sky was as black as night.  

We weren't too concerned about the weather because we were going in the direction of the clearing. 

Now seems like a good time to tell you about the significance of the Montana Hi-Line since Havre really is the beginning as one goes east toward North Dakota.

In the 1890's, the promoter of the newly-built Great Northern Railroad lured Americans, looking for a better life, with the promise of cheap transportation and free farmland on the plains of northern Montana.

Thousands of Americans migrated west. More followed and found jobs in small towns that sprouted along the Hi-Line, the path of the Great Northern Railroad. Montana's Hi-Line Country is an endless rolling prairie of wheat fields and herds of cattle surrounded by towering mountains to the south and the Canadian border to the north. 

Thirty years of ideal weather and a booming economy made northern Montana the perfect place for homesteaders to raise wheat and cattle. The boom went bust during the Great Depression. By the mid-thirties, northern Montana suffered through an extended drought and the resulting dust bowl across the central prairies. It wasn't long before the Great Depression slowed the demand for agricultural products. Property values dropped with the decline of the U.S. economy, driving many farmers and ranchers out of business. 

All across the area, we saw abandoned homesteads, abandoned barns, abandoned grain elevators and silos.

Even churches were not immune.

Of course, the area still grows wheat in abundance, and the modern metal grain elevators lining the railroad tracks attest to the presence of large agri-businesses and co-ops. Today, the economy here is doing better than some areas of the country. But for every operating grain elevator, there is another that stands decaying.

The Hi-Line runs parallel to the Canadian border, and one sees a lot of Canadian flags and signs in the windows of businesses that announce, "We love Canadians" or "Friendly to Canadians" or "Welcome Canadians". It seems a belt of international cooperation.

We traveled for hundreds of miles under this dark and threatening cloud. Occasionally we experienced heavy showers.

To the north, out Mike's window, the sky was black. 

Our my window to the south, the sky was clear and blue.

After listening to a weather report that predicted hail for Northeastern Montana and Northwestern North Dakota (the area we were headed into), we decided to turn and head south toward the national park at Wolf Point, Montana. The landscape changed little.

We did see more corn fields, and even some sunflowers being grown.

Still, the weather began to look less threatening. It's easy to see why Montana is called "Big Sky Country". One can see from horizon to horizon with nary a tree or a hill in the way. I tried to take a panorama of the skyline, but even my camera couldn't stay focused on so much sameness in the horizon.

And the road went on and on, straight as an arrow. 

Mike started getting sleepy, and understandably so. I offered to take over. I almost never drive when we're towing the trailer, but the road was so straight and clear that it seemed less dangerous than him driving along sleepy. I tell you this not to boast about my prowess as a long-haul trailer tower, but to offer up a warning of sorts to anyone who might be traveling the highways of northern Montana.

So we'll spend the night here in Glendive, Montana, and continue on to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the morning. We are planning to camp inside the park, and so you probably won't hear from me again for a few days. No doubt, I'll have lots to tell you when I come back again.

Thanks to all who have left so many enthusiastic comments. It's great to have my bloggy friends along!

15 comments from clever and witty friends:

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Woo Hoo - you go truckin' MaMa!!

Christine M said...

I've never heard of huckleberries! I can understand how you got a bit side tracked with Johnny looking down on you! Obviously it's not something we have here in Australia. How sad to see those abandoned buildings. I don't like to tow our camper either but I did when we headed to Uluru in the Northern Territory. It was a straight road then too.

quiltzyx said...

That jam does sound good! I don't think there are any berries that I don't like. The "bears" tshirt is hysterical! I might have had to buy one of those (if they had size humongous).
Very cool pics of the train. I'll have to post a link on F'book for my friend Allan who is a big train fan. Thanks for also posting pics of the info signs too!
Good job on taking a turn at the wheel. Yes, much better than a sleepy driver.

Take care & continued safe travels.

Linda M @ Pieceful Kingdom said...

Sounds like you are having a great time! I've never towed our fifth wheel, but we haven't gone on any super long drives with it yet.

Vicki W said...

Thanks for all of the wonderful photos! It's like being on the trip wit you but I don't have to leave my comfy chair at home.

Sharon Sauser said...

Barbara, I'm glad to hear you are spending the night in Glendive. I was born in the old hospital and I grew up on my Dad's mother's homestead near there. The last time I visited was in 2009, and it was really depressing to see how Glendive has shrunk. Go down the main street near the railroad station to the WWII memorial and see my uncle Ed Ames' name there, and say "hi" to all my relatives. Then you should also check out the cute little quilt shop The Enchanted Room in an old house at 222 West Towne - on the main road that crosses the Yellowstone. Glad you are having a good time and safe travels. Sharon - sjsauser@gmail.com

Tami C said...

That certainly looks like a bad storm! Mother Nature sure can spread a variety of different pictures! I'm about the same way as you on towing a trailer... long straight roads! Thanks for all the lovely pictures and explaining the scenery so well. I had no idea what the Montana Hi-Line was!

Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

Seconding all the great comments above mine. I love learning about the history from you-so much more fun than a college class !~!

Diane Wild said...

Wowza. Big Sky Country is beautiful but it also looks a tad desolate. The long line of oil tankers is a bit troubling as wheat farmers are having difficulty in getting the harvest to market. What a wonderful trip.

Anonymous said...

I'm loving your travelogue! I was in the area about 5 years ago, and it is bringing back memories.

Siouxzq64@gmail.com said...

I am enjoying the photos thoroughly. Thanks for sharing.

Brown Family said...

I can see why you would get sleepy on long straight roads with the same thing out the window. It was probably a good decision to go south to avoid the weather.

Kirsty said...

Those vistas are amazing. I love it when you travel, I can ride along vicariously with you through this blog. Genius! How are the cats getting on? Enjoying the catio?

Ann Bassett said...

What an exciting adventure you are having. Thanks for all the pictures and descriptions. I love the country up there. It's so beautiful. I'll be looking forward to hearing more from you when you get the chance. Enjoy!

Lyndsey said...

Great post with super photos and lots of interesting facts. In our family if there is any towing to be done it will be me driving. I taught John to drive several years after we were married and even now I always drive on long journeys or if the weather is bad.Plus John will be the one watching the scenery and taking the photos. Right I need a top up of my tea and then I can read some more.