Monday, August 27, 2007

Goin' West in the Westy (2)

Sunrise on Yellowstone Lake:
As we left Yellowstone, I was hoping to be the 1,000,001st guy to get a picture from Artist Point. But, alas, the road was being repaired and I had to settle for Inspiration Point.

The drive up through western Montana was gorgeous and diverse (Not too hard to see why they call it "Big Sky Country"). Much of it was smoky from the many wildfires burning in the area. (We drove through Helena, but after nearly choking on the smoke filling up with gas, decided to move on quickly.)

We stayed the night in Missoula, which we found to be very appealing and similar to Fort Collins (outdoor-oriented, medium size, College town). I've heard about the influence of big-money on Missoula and it did have a pretty ritzy feel. (For some reason the air in Missoula was clear. This was nice, but seemed unusual because it sits in a big valley). Note to self: add "A River Runs Through It" to the Netflix queue to watch again.

Next was up and over Lolo Pass, el 5,233 feet.

It is famous as the location where the Lewis and Clark Expedition crossed the summit of the Bitteroot Range via the Lolo Trail on the outward and return journeys in 1805-06

From Lolo we descended into Idaho and spent the night in Walla Walla, Wa. Named for the famous onions grown there (which we could smell in the fields for miles around) and home to Whitman College (Marcus, not Walt). But the character and town-vibe seems more defined by the high-quality wines made there.

On Thursday we followed the omnipresent "Lewis and Clark Route" signs to lunch in Hood River and then on to Portland. The notorious winds in the Columbia River Gorge that make it the most famous place for wind surfing (and now increasingly, it looked like, for kite surfing) also made it a little hard to keep the van in one lane.

I drug the family for a few taster sips at the Full Sail Brewery, then it was on to Portland.

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