Let me start tonight's post by explaining that I cannot adequately describe the beauty I've seen in this country. Every state is more beautiful than the last. This drive has been absolutely surreal and I feel so blessed for having the opportunity to cross this country by car.
I woke up this morning in South Dakota and began my trek toward Big Sky country. It is amazing how distinct each state really is. As soon as I crossed over from South Dakota into Wyoming, it was a clear change from the rolling green hills to the wild west. Wyoming was full of pastures and open space for roaming purposes. Going along with the "small world" theme, I had lunch with a friend (Hannah) of a friend (Jeremy) of a friend (Kallie) in Sheridan, WY.
As I've described, it's been amazing to see real people living real lives in these locations that I've only heard about. While I was hoping that Hannah lived in a little 500-person town off the beaten path, Sheridan was a big oasis of a town in a vast western expanse.
As I said previously, each state is better than the last. Last night, my favorite state was South Dakota. Tonight's new favorite is Montana. Pictures and words cannot accurately explain how vast the sky is in Montana. Imagine being able to see in every direction for 10 miles, then imagine what that clear blue sky looks like above. At one point I recall seeing a wall of clouds with clear sky to the right that looked like a literal sea. I crept over the hill to see this ocean of sky, wondering what body of water was approaching.
I remember reading an article that my friend, Dave Mesing, posted a while ago about the experience one has in a town when they ride a bike versus driving. When you drive, you simply enter your vessel at one end and emerge at your destination. You see the things in between, but they just seem like scenery on your way.
The same can be said for traveling across the country in a car versus a plane. If I would have flown from Pittsburgh to Tacoma, I'd have been there a few days ago and would have missed an immense collection of beauty that cannot be described in this post. Driving through Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana has given a face to these locations. I've interacted with people who live in these places and learned that life happens here. People grew up here, worked here, lived here.
I arrived in Bozeman, MT, tonight with some daylight and a desire for a coffeeshop, dinner, and a beer. Bozeman is an awesome little college town, hosting Montana State University. As I rolled up to the coffee shop (Wild Joe's Organic Coffee and Tea), I was immediately asked if I had a doobie to spare. Sad to say, I didn't. I guess if you roll up to an organic coffeeshop with your life packed in a Honda Civic and a bike strapped to the back, you can expect to be asked about having pot.
I had dinner and a couple beers at the Montana Ale Works, which was a cool ale house with some good food and a packed house. The beer selection was fantastic, including mostly local Montana brews. Dinner and beers were great and I rounded out the night with an old friend; Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Tomorrow I have a place to stay at Gonzaga in Spokane, WA, so I've got about 6 hours of driving tomorrow before 5 more on Monday to arrive in Tacoma. I'm so thankful for safety and smooth sailing so far. Thanks for your prayers and I look forward to another enjoyable trek tomorrow.
Before I call it a night, let me try to explain how valuable a GPS, smart phone, and good stereo are on a cross-country roadtrip. I don't know where I'd be or even how much I'd be able to handle this trip if it weren't for these modern amenities.
I leave you with this tonight: These places are real. I've driven through the documentaries. You absolutely must see this country.