We're on the long journey home

July 8, 2017 - Saco, Montana, United States

By 8:30 a.m. we were heading out of Glacier National Park.  This trip just reinforced that Glacier is one my favorite places in the world.  I could easily spend weeks there exploring more challenging trails, fishing, and truly have great moments in nature.  It is a magical place.

At 10:00 a.m. I was turned around in the car watching the mountain range recede behind me.  I felt heaviness in my chest; as though the oxygen was being sucked out of me.  Along the road lay a bloated dead cow.  A fitting good-by.  We narrowly missed being caught in the Blackfeet Nation Parade celebration in Browning.  It might have been very interesting but “not today”.  We did learn that the strange sensation folks were talking about a few nights earlier was an earthquake!  We slept through it.


We made a stop in Saco, Montana; 356 miles into our journey.  My family had been stranded overnight in Saco in 1997 due to the driver of our vehicle insisting that we didn’t need another spare tire for our popup after the first blew on the way out of Glacier.  “What are the chances?”  Turns out, pretty good.  We’d been stuck in the next door shady motel for the night and spent the evening at O.B.’s Bar that featured a giant mosquito over the entrance.  Well, O.B.’s has become “Old Brand Saloon”; the motel looks shadier than ever, and the service station at which we’d had to leave the popup is no more.  The barmaid had no idea what mosquito I might be referred to but an older patron assured her I was right.  It was a quick stop for cold liquid refreshment and a stroll down memory lane before we hit the road again.Saco Montana


Eventually we came to the boomtown of Williston, North Dakota.  I’ve never seen anything like this before in my life.  In the year 2010, Williston had approximately 14,716 residents.  Then a major fracking oil-boom ensued.  In five years the population grew to nearly 27,000!  It is such an ugly thing to see.  The vast housing units resemble FEMA communities in some places; row upon row of unsightly, boxcar trailers.  Hurriedly constructed apartment communities are stacked on every piece of ground and the ugly oil industry has spilled over the countryside for miles and miles.  It is a raped landscape.  There is disquieting feeling about the place.  Perhaps in part due to the fact that the town is now in serious decline.  The boom is over. Jobs are diminishing.  The tax base is eroding and can’t support the infrastructure created for the new citizenry.  I felt a dark-foreboding driving through this community and couldn’t wait to put it behind us.


I called Rough Riders Campground in Minot, North Dakota from the road and made reservations for the night hoping that 130 miles was far enough to feel safe for the night.  We passed fields and fields of beautiful, yellow rapeseed from Williston to Minot.  Rapeseed is used for vegetable oil.  I guess there were oil fields everywhere!  I pondered the irony of rapeseed over a raped landscape.


When I checked us into the campground, the host said they had not had rain for 16 days.  After we set up our camp, I quickly took advantage of a clean, hot shower.  It was starting to sprinkle when I returned.  Bill took the opportunity to head to the shower himself just before the start of a major thunderstorm.  I had to chuckle.  He was not going to get any dryer coming back to the popup then he was getting out of the shower!  I made us a dinner of “use up what you’ve got” that was satisfying and tasty.  We have crossed over into a new time zone and not quite adjusted yet.  Just before nodding off to sleep – train!  Is it possible to find a campground not located next to railroad tracks?  Just askin’.


Saco Montana
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