Crossing the border back into the US was fast and easy. I came back in at Sweetgrass, Montana. The agent asked the purpose of my visit and if I’d bought anything. “Postcards,” I told him. It was nice to see the Interstate 15 sign. This freeway goes near my house in Southern California. The thought crossed my mind that I could just stay on I-15 and go on home, but I have places to go and things to do!
Honestly, it was a relief to see speed signs in MPH, distances in miles, and gas by the gallon. I stopped in Shelby to go to the post office and bank. Surprising to me, Wells Fargo closed at 4 pm. (Nearly every bank in California is open until 6 during the week.)I decided to stay a few days in Great Falls, see the sights and plan out the route ahead. There was a wonderful Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center on the east side of the city. The expedition had to carry their canoes and supplies around the falls. They thought it might take a couple of days, but it was over a month before they could get back on the Missouri River.Friends from California mentioned that they were going to be in Yellowstone National Park later in the week. Looking at the map, I decided to join them for a day. Camping in the park fills up fast, so I stayed in Gardiner, just outside the park’s northern entrance. It was an easy drive to the park early the next morning. I had a wonderful day with Dave and Lyn, seeing the sights and catching up on our shared history in Hemet when our children were young.
The next day I drove to Billings and parked in the yard of Bill and Diana, also friends from Hemet. They have lived in Montana for years, but return to California frequently. They showed me around their area and took me to the cute, historic town of Red Lodge. We had dinner at The Pollard Hotel which is filled with antiques and has a history with Buffalo Bill Cody. I was served delicious, crispy fish and chips as we listened to live music.
On Sunday morning, we went to the “Bluegrass Worship Service” at their church: hymns & choruses accompanied by banjo, guitar, fiddle and bass. After dinner at Cracker Barrel, we said goodbye and drove in different directions.
The next day, I visited the battlefield at Little Big Horn, site of Custer’s Last Stand. The day was cold, rainy and windy which made for a somber mood viewing the cemetery.
On the way east, I wanted to stop at Pompey’s Pillar, where William Clark etched his signature on July 25, 1806 as the expedition was returning to St. Louis.
Several miles later, I left Montana, entering North Dakota and Central Daylight Time.