Thursday, July 6, 2017

Why Wander? Here's one reason

Westbound with dawn on the horizon this morning found both the Ion and its owner in need of refueling and once more finding only “No Service” interchanges along I - 94. Before the situation got too grim, we reached one signed with pictographs promising “fuel” and for “food”. Okay, can’t see anything out there, though …

There were no follow on guides at the end of the ramp, but a right turn took us across a railroad crossing and down the street of a very small town. Past a casino (is that what they meant for food?), a tiny shack offering “SON RISE CAPPUCHINO” (better, but …), a well groomed town park, a farmers’ collective, some other small shops, and just as we were about to turn back, a two pump gas station and mini market. Saved!

Somewhat. Both sides of the pump island were occupied by pickup trucks pulling lawn contractor trailers, sitting unattended while the owners sat and took a morning cup and smoke with friends.

Right. I parked, walked up to the mini mart with a nod and a smile, and went in to buy some foodlike substances for myself. When I came back out, the station owner had shooed the boys off. Ion refueled, oil and tires checked. I waved good-bye and drove up the street to the park with my gleanings from the market shelves.

The park was in use by a few locals already, but there was plenty of room for everyone to keep a polite distance. Dogs being more social, though, a well groomed boxer came trotting over to see if there was anything left over? There wasn't, but I offered friendly scratches.  

Next, down to the cappuchino shed. There was a train on the track blocking the road bck to the freeway, you see, couldn't be helped.

The owner and her two daughters were a little surprised to have an actual walk up customer to fit in with their drive up business, and also to have someone actually ask for a capp instead of a regular coffee.  Turned out that her barista laurels still rest uneasily on her shoulders, so I negotiated back to a skim milk latte. The younger daughter took care of the cash register, under supervision.

Striking up a usually safe conversational direction, I asked how far the girls had to travel to get to school and got a cheery description of a well run public school only te minutes away, where the husband works.  Doing my part for the "academics is great!" cheerleading team, I assured the girls that both of my grandchildren would like to be going to school here in the mountains and without a long bus ride. Okay, stretching a bit. We said our goodbyes, and I drove back to the freeway.

Thirty minutes later, the Ion cleared the next set of hills to the west to reveal the thriving city of Billings, with all of the essentials for modern American life. That’s an important life lesson: if I had just kept going a little longer, I could have got fuel,  eaten breakfast at McDonald’s, and been back on the road in half the time.

Son Rise Cappuchino

Ride through West Yellowstone and Big Sky was a pleasant slow trip past towering summits, fir-covered ridges, and great stone outcrops. It might have been more enjoyable if the reason for the slow traffic had not been following a guide car through dust clouds and road repairs, but it was more than good enough!

Tomorrow, I expect to finish this first trip of my summer ramble, stopping in Boise to wait for the rest of the Strawberry Mountain hikers to arrive Saturday night.

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