Sunday, April 13, 2014

Through The Grasslands Of Montana

If you haven’t seen the endless grasslands of Northern Montana you might just have no understanding what it feels like to be out on the prairies. And it is the hardest thing to describe. Supposedly one must be a gifted poet to find the right words. And it will be a different description if one has been there on a warm sunny summer day versus a day like it was today when wind-driven dark clouds were hovering above, and the sun would break through only occasionally lightening up a slight rise in the terrain, throwing shadows in between, just to make the pastures come alive with eerie colours. Black angus were grazing peacefully on the open range. They are able to eat and digest this old winter-yellow grass, which just a short while ago was buried under snow. Whenever I had to stop at one of the gas stations along this lonely route #2 which runs parallel and south of the Canadian border, I had to throw on my jacket, and yet the wind did not show any mercy. Good thing the Jeep’s tank is so small and fills up fast.
On this long and lonely highway it is a wise idea not to let the tank get too empty as it could be too far to the next station.

So I when I saw this very small Quick Shop with two ancient looking gas pumps in the middle of FT. Peck Indian Reservation on my right, I was fast to throw the wheel around. As I got out of the car an Indian fellow was just filling up his car. When he saw me opening my tank lit he told me “It’s Prepay only”. I hadn’t seen any information on the pump saying so, but I took his word and walked inside, where I was met by a young Indian lady, highly pregnant, and a white fellow with cigarette in his mouth. I always thought that smoking should be prohibited at a gas station but hey….this is Montana and who cares anyway?

I left my Credit Card on the counter and went back out into the icy blast. The white guy followed and once outside he asked where I was from. I told him New Brunswick, Canada and that I was going to Alberta.Turned out he didn’t know where Alberta was and it is just my guess that he sure never heard about the other province either. Why would it be necessary for a guy 40 miles from the Canada border to know ANYTHING about that part of the world?
Seems to me that if one lives in Northern Montana it is enough to know where to find the next gas station and the bar.

Northern Montana is the anticlimax to Williston,ND. Whereas Williston is pretending to be a major big city, the Montana prairie is wide-spread loneliness.  I happened to stop at Williston to get supplies at Wally World.
I had never seen a parking lot with 90% pickup trucks. And inside Wally World 90% of customers were single men. Most of them looked like out of some Klondike movie. They were bundled up against the cold, wore hoodies and thick parkas. It must have been the crew’s day off.  Yet I had seen long convoys of oil tankers coming up the road. So probably it was just the other shift having some time off.

Even though I had left Underwood, ND at around 12 noon, I made it to Havre,MT before dark. Took in at the Super8 and dropped a visit at a restaurant. Instead, I took my food supplies to my room and with the help of my little electric grill made myself 2 delicious ham/cheese rolls, toasted to crispy delight. Still had coffee in my Thermos and enjoyed a yogurt for dessert. Tomorrow I am going to make the border. I have booked a U-Haul truck for Monday and hope the RV-Park at Canmore will let me in one day early without charging hundreds of extra Dollars. If you wonder about the lack of pictures it is due to an empty camera battery. I ‘ll make sure it will be working again tomorrow.

Thanks for dropping by.


  1. Sounds like long drive through the prairies that I did 39 years ago.

  2. You did an excellent job of describing northern Montana and the people in that area. Good luck getting over the border and with the U-haul.

  3. Canadians sure seem to know more about the U.S. than Americans know about Canada - for the most part anyway.

    When I first started travelling and people would ask where I was from, I would say Newfoundland. I quickly learned to simply say Canada !! LOL


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