Friday, May 18, 2007

Wrong Turn, Adequate Pic

I really enjoyed my visit to the States and didn’t want to leave. Little did I realize how little I wanted to leave until I tried to go home on Sunday.

First I went to the labyrinth in the town park for a while, then I stopped and got a sandwich which I ate in the park at the west end of town.
It has a magnificent view of the mountains and rolling countryside and a Horned Lark bopped around a few feet away looking for its lunch.
Then I headed up the highway to Great Falls.
I pulled into Eddie’s Corner about 17 miles up the road. I hadn’t had anywhere near enough road trip food and I wanted to try Coke Zero™.(NB this has all kinds of ingredients, none of which belong in any product that got its start as a glorious concoction of Coca leaf and Kola nut extracts.)

I also found some wonderful potato chips, Bermuda Sweet Onion. Sorry I can’t recall the brand, though. I was just settling back in the car with two fellow retreaters went by and turned at the intersection.
Now, logically, as they were from Calgary, going the way they went would seem like the right thing to do.
I’m not sure of the direction but they made a left turn while I went straight. I cannot say why I did this. I recall seeing a sign for some Fort or other and I supposed I thought they were off for some sightseeing.

Where do I get these ideas?

The important point was Eddie’s Corner was behind me and on the proper side of the road. I had a feeling something wasn’t right, but I ignored it.

The scenery was wonderful though not familiar and neither were the road signs. There was enough cloud cover to keep me from being sure where the sun was although I had a feeling it was ahead of me instead of behind.

So I drove. Munching and guzzling and enjoying the Montana speed limit.
It was wonderful. I even saw the above Sandhill Crane in a field. We have them up here but we usually see them in the evenings, not the afternoon.

It took a turn for the eerie when I drove through a wind farm. I came through some windmills on the way down but this seemed to go on forever. Wind energy is wonderful but windmills cast an otherworldly feel at the best of times. Driving through the middle of a never-ending wind farm on a cloudy day with no other traffic for miles was just plain creepy.

I bought some chocolate bars in a charming older-style store in Judith Gap and went on my merry way. Then I got a town whose name I don’t think I ever noted and saw a road sign pointing to Billings.

I only panicked a little. I knew I’d messed up. It was simple matter of looking at my map. I couldn’t seem to find anything on the map to match were I was. I couldn’t even find Billings.

So I asked at the service station. I’ve got to say Montana has some of the nicest, most helpful people I’ve ever found.
The woman behind the counter pointed to where a semi was parked and said to take the road that ran behind it, and that I about 130 miles from Great Falls.

Lewiston, where I started from, is 109 miles from Great Falls.

A few miles up road found me behind a vehicle about the size of a water truck. I was glad for someone to follow. After few minutes I realized the truck had an Alberta licence plate. Okay. He’s probably heading home. I’ll follow him.
It was calming to have something familiar to look at, especially going through that wind farm.
When we got back to the right highway I considered ever-so-briefly stopping at Eddie’s Corner again, just so I could drive back out and go in the right direction. I kept on going.

The truck I’d followed got too far ahead and put some vehicles between us. Clearly his job was finished. I knew I’d be okay and sent a thank you out to the Universe for sending me a guide.

I enjoyed my little side trip. It added about an hour to my journey, but I got to see rolling hills, wide, sweeping farmland, found some wonderful towns, and after I got back on the right road I drove through a pounding hailstorm for a few minutes.
Most refreshing.


Crabby McSlacker said...

Yay, the comments are back on!

(Not that I have anything too interesting to add).

We go on a lot of road trips in our camper van. I suck at navigation, but I hate driving and my sweetie actually likes it, so I'm usually navigator by default.

We get lost a fair amount.

Sometimes we can be philosophical about it, and other times it's really frustrating. (And it's not always my fault--sometimes the maps leave stuff out, or signs are missing, or whatever). We have found that the technique of "follow someone who looks like they're going where we are" to be wrong about 90% of the time. But at least it's something to go by and we still do it.

Dawn said...

You're a true traveller, Leah - able to get a lost and find yourself and make it all part of live's big journey. Sounds like you had a great time despite the odd detour.

Who is Takin, the Himalayan goat?

Leah J. Utas said...

Maps do leave stuff out, Crabby. And what's even more exciting is mapmakers will occasionally throw stuff in that doesn't actually exist. These are "map bunnies" and they're added so mapmaker A can prove that mapmaker B just copied the map. I read about this several years ago and believe it to be true even as I've never researched it for myself.

Thank you Dawn. Yes, I did. And yes, detours can be very odd.

The Takin is in the Edmonton Valley Zoo. I took its photo back in February. I wanted a goat photo though the Takin works just fine. And its got its head in a pail, so that counts double for me.
I suppose if I ever get take a goat pic I'll add it too.