Something different this morning, A cloudy day. We had thought it might rain overnight, but it didn’t. Leaving the motel at just after 10 am we drove out of Billings heading for Helena. I have to admit I had never heard of Helena. It is the capital of Montana, though, with a population of just 31,000. Much smaller than Billings.
Once through Billings, we climbed over the ridge and headed west back towards the Rockies. The scenery was very different to yesterday. We must still be quite high as the vegetation is sparse. Mainly sage brush and coarse grasses. Few trees. Very arid. It is not unattractive, though. There are huge ranches rearing beef cattle. They mainly seem to be Aberdeen Angus.
It started to rain. Only a few spots, but it started a discussion as to when we had last seen rain. I can’t recall that it has rained at all since we have been in the US. The last rain we could remember was when we were driving around the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec.
We take Highway 3 and then 12. Quiet backroads with only tiny hamlets which are quite poor. As we progress, where there is flat land it has been irrigated and crops are being grown for winter feed for cattle. Some maize but mainly alfalfa. Many fields are scattered with bales of hay. Farmers seem to be hurrying to get the fields baled and then collected and stacked up. Already it is starting to feel slightly autumnal and I am sure winter comes quickly here.
Later in the day we pass through a flatter area where barley is ripe and golden. Huge combines are at work harvesting. Trucks are collecting the grain. It gets hillier the closer we get to the Rockies.
We stop in a town called Harlowton. It is the largest place we pass all morning. It is quaint. People are very friendly and wave or say ‘hello’ as we drive slowly through taking photos. Many of the original buildings have been preserved and there is an obvious effort being made to keep the town alive.
We stop very early. Around 3pm. We are in White Sulphur Springs. It is quite busy now. I am writing this in the late evening, so probably was as well we stopped early. There is a rodeo on Sunday and the camp owner was trying to persuade us to stay. If it had been tomorrow, maybe we would have stayed. It is also a long weekend. Labor Day (American spelling) on Monday.
Fortunately the campsite has wifi and most of the evening was spent arranging our affairs for the next few weeks. We will be spending a few days in Portland, Oregon with friends and relatives, before our 2 week trip to the UK.
I am afraid this is rather dull after the excitement and grandeur of the National Parks and the Beartooth Highway yesterday. However, we like Montana and its open spaces and peacefulness. It is like an old fashioned America.