Monday, September 01, 2003



Moab/Green River/Salt Lake City/Pocatello, ID/Dillon, MT/Butte/a rest stop somewhere on I-15

a rest stop somewhere on I-15/Great Falls/Conrad/Shelby/Lethbridge, AB/Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump/Calgary

Day 7 got off to a good start, wandering around Moab. Both of us dropped a load of cash, from a vase for our mother to decorative tiles for my place. North of town, rocks dominated the landscape. We didn't go to Arches National Park, but the landscape around it was fulfilling enough.

Outside Moab

Most of the day's drive was uneventful. Had another good meal in Green River (place called the Tamarisk, lunch buffet with homestyle staples like fish and meatloaf), then drove up US 191 and US 6 towards Salt Lake City. Wasn't prepared for just how far Salt Lake City and its related towns stretch out in a corridor along Salt Lake and I-15. We drove quickly through downtown Salt Lake, passing the temple and the old Union Pacific terminal. Took forever to figure out how to get back to the freeway.

Wound up in Pocatello, Idaho for dinner. Didn't look like a happening place. Wound up at a Subway (after the restaurant next door was too busy). We laughed over the evil new customer card program they were testing in Idaho - sounded like an unfriendly way to scam personal info out of customers to sell to advertisers.

It seemed too early to get a hotel room, so we pressed on into Montana...

First stop was Dillon, which had a few hotels. All booked. Just missed out by 5 seconds the last room in town. Noticed there was no shortage of casinos. Figured it must have been a gambling town - maybe we'd have better luck in Butte.

Butte had more hotels...and casinos. Even the gas stations had casinos! The only room that was available was a honeymoon suite at a Days Inn, for the reduced rate of $175. No thanks.

Since it was approaching midnight, decisions had to be made - press on to Helena or spend the night in the car? Chose the later, but it felt like an eternity to the next rest stop. We had passed one before Butte with several cars pulled in for the night. We sghould have seen that as a warning. Finally stopped at one near Helena. Put the seats back and prepared for the night.

Except I couldn't sleep. Maybe half-hour at most. Amy was in la-la land, but I wasn't.

It drove me so crazy that around 4-5am, I got back on the road. Then the sleepies came over me. I'm astonished I didn't run off the road or into anyone. Felt like a drunk driver. Stopped at the next rest stop (a long 70 miles), slept for an hour. Around 6, both of us decided we couldn't sleep anymore, so we headed off for signs of breakfast.

We tried Great Falls. Nothing, except a seedy-looking dive. Lots of casinos though. Went through Conrad. Even less. Finally found eats at a truck stop in Shelby, 35 miles south of the border. Huge skillet breakfast, enough to fill us up for most of the day. This place had a room of slots too, as well as some of most defeated-looking people I've ever seen. Everyone looked dazed, like zombies, and not in that morning-dazed way. It was very sad, seeing people shuffle to the slots.

The whole Montana experience was not a pleasant one (though the food was fine). Will avoid in future.

We never cheered so loudly crossing the border. It was messy, a huge construction zone for more booths and security equipment. Got through with no hassles. Rushed to Lethbridge to get Amy a coffee fix.

Our home and native land...

We headed to Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump, but then decided we didn't want to pay to wander down trails we were too pooped to enjoy. It was the purest National Lampoon's Vacation moment of the trip.

Reached Calgary...which leads to the nexrt entry.

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