Our 2021 Road Trip #31: The Montana Montage

I-90 and mesa!

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’…

Prior to 2021 I’d been to 32 of our United States. Plenty of Americans have walked around more states than I have, which is pretty cool for them. Our last six annual road trips took us to new places we hadn’t seen before, but they were all in states we’d already visited in the past. This year we finally crossed another state off the to-do list as we exited Yellowstone into the southwest end of Montana. Pound for pound Wyoming was prettier overall, but the Montana scenery had its charms.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. We were each raised in a household that couldn’t afford annual out-of-state family vacations. We’re geeks more accustomed to vicarious life through the windows of pop culture than through in-person adventures. Eventually we tired of some of our self-imposed limitations and figured out how to leave the comforts of home for the chance to see creative, exciting, breathtaking, outlandish, and/or bewildering new sights in states beyond our own, from the horizons of nature to the limits of imagination, from history’s greatest hits to humanity’s deepest regrets and the sometimes quotidian, sometimes quirky stopovers in between.

We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.

Technically not even 2020 stopped us. We played by the new rules of the interim normal and wandered Indiana in multiple directions as safely as we could. This year the long-awaited vaccines arrived. For 2021 we agreed we had to go big. Our new primary objective was Yellowstone National Park, 1500 miles from Indy…

wooden bear!

Carved bear along our morning walk, the closest we came to seeing an actual bear on this entire trip.

DAY SIX: Wednesday, June 30th.

Anne and I escaped from our cramped motel for a brief jaunt to fetch breakfast. The streets were mostly empty; the parking spaces and restaurants were much more occupied. We fed, returned to the motel, tossed out the last remaining Flyboy donut gone stale, checked out, took care of errands…


…and took the highway out of tiny Gardiner to I-90, where we’d spend the next several hours enjoying our first full day in Montana. Luckily for us we’d toured Yellowstone before the record-setting heat wave that overtook western North America in our wake. Over the course of the next few hundred miles Anne took photos of our surroundings and insisted I concentrate on driving. Competing traffic and anything resembling a congested road would prove not to be a problem. At all.

As with a few previous chapters, all photos are presented in the order in which they were taken (except our lead photo, which slots into 9th position) to convey the constantly changing terrain around us. It was hard to stop photographing.

Mountain giants bike ramp!

A bike ramp for young giants.

roadside rock formations!

Rock formations not far off the roadside.

Montana body of water.

Modest bodies of water leaked through here and there.

angled mountain photo.

Holy angular tiny towns!

train track!

A train ran parallel to us for several miles. We won the race.

Montana mountain.

Multilevel mountaining.

bale farm!

A wild hay bale farm.

grassy ramp!

Another natural ramp too big for us puny humans to do wheelies on.

rolling light green hills.

Rolling hills garnished with intermittent flora and rocks.

Montana trees.

Trees proliferated as the backdrops began to flatten in the east.

Montana forest.

The Parliament of Trees gather around a fallen comrade.

Montana dirt hills!

Far from the Badlands, their design pattern echoes in other barren areas.

hillside strata!

Visible strata across large hills, again aping the Badlands.

hazy mountains!

The mountains return with a vengeance through the summery haze.

Montana hills!

More hills and another railroad, this time trainless.

trestle over river.

A trestle over a river as we approached the town where we’d spend our next evening. Before that, I have to backtrack for a stop we made…in our next differently picturesque chapter.

To be continued!

* * * * *

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email sign-up for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my faint signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]

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