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  1. #101
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,978

    Default US-191 - Malta and the Canadian Border.

    In Big Timber I had picked up a brochure advertising the dinner train journey out of Lewiston, over a route which had three large trestle bridges. Unfortunately, when I got to Lewsiston, I was not able to mesh their schedule with mine. Still, I thought I would seek out the trestle bridges. The first one was a mere 6 miles out of town, albeit not in the direction I was heading. There was nowhere convenient or safe to get a really good photo. The other two bridges I was unable to find, as they were too far off the main roads. It disappointed me. But there were other attractions on the menu.

    At the ranger's office I was told that from Judith Peak one is able to get a 360 degree view over the surrounding mountains and country side..... without having to do any hiking. About 9 miles north of town was the turn-off onto Maiden Road.

    Maiden MT, which although there are still folk living there, is officially a ghost town. A mile or two up the steep road from Maiden is a track which leads to the ghost mining camp of Maiden. The camp dates back to the gold and silver mining boom of the late 19th century.. However, it is not something you can drive into, one needs to walk in. There is a locked gate over the track.

    I continued on through Maiden up to Judith peak. The road beyond Maiden was a good broad gravel road. However quite some way further up, and still well short of the Peak, the gravel turned to rocks..... including some which looked quite sharp. My fear was that I may end up with a flat tyre, and since the wheels on the van are much too heavy for me to lift, I could be stranded for a while. I turned around and headed back to the highway.

    This was the second time in two days that I did not reach an intended destination. I was starting to question my ability and lack of confidence. After all, I had learned that the road to Crystal Lake is travelled by vehicles much larger than mine. And on reflection, I could have easily waited out a flat tyre, should I have been unlucky to suffer one. I had ample fuel for the van, for the camp stove, as well as ample food and water with me. And someone was bound to come along that road sooner or later... there are several communication towers at the top. There was nothing scary about the road or the area. Still fear dominated my thinking. All my survival training seemed to have been lost along the highway. I continued on my way, quite disgusted with myself.

    Without any further specific attractions on my list, I drove straight through Malta and on to the Canadian Border. - the northern end of US-191. On a previous visit to Malta, the sheriff had assured me that it is possible to go almost to the border, without having to cross it. Told me just to turn around where the trucks turn.

    It was a good spot. I sat there for some time observing the goings-on and taking pictures. Then it dawned on me that they were probably observing me as well. [I did not take any pictures at the border in Douglas. Somehow, with all the problems along the Mexican border, it did not seem the right thing to do]

    On the way back to Malta I took some photos of the large rolls of hay in the fields, in some places scattered over the field, in other places lined up or stacked. The fields looked like freshly painted canvasses.

    Imagine my surprise, when on the flight from FLL to LAX the gent sitting with me gave me his copy of the Wall Street Journal - 17th Sept. -. In the Arts section an article on Minimalist Art at Dia:Beacon on the Hudson there is mention of Carl Andre's "Joint" .....consists of an uninterrupted 252 foot-long tawny column of 126 hay bales laid side-to-side bisecting Dia's south field.

    Back in Malta, mission accomplished, I checked into a motel for a couple of days of doing nothing. A storm had rolled in, it was pouring rain.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 10-11-2014 at 09:37 PM. Reason: add link

  2. #102
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,978

    Default US-191 - The Highway.

    Over the years, most of my seven trips have found me at one time or another on US-191. It started in 2001, when I found myself on the spectacular Coronado Trail, en route from Tucson to Putney VT. At other times it has been in UT, MT or WY. Even short sections of the highway would present me with a surprise. I wanted to discover more. I wanted it to give up its secrets, I figured it had to have a lot to offer along the way and surrounds, within 50 miles.... or so.

    A couple of years ago I set about planning to drive US-191 from border to border Until this year, the opportunity did not present itself.. Even though over the years it has been re-alligned, I aimed not be a purist, and accept it for what it is today - a border to border route less travelled. It can no longer be a thru route from Mexico to Canada (though it was before the Eisenhower Interstate System), heavy transport not being permitted in national parks. It does not pass through, or go direct to, any major city... does not even go near any, it doubles with I-10, I-40, I-70 and I-90 as well as other old US highways. Roughly 50% is a designated scenic route. And it passes through/near some of the most spectacular visual geological areas in the country, including NPs, NMs NFs, SPs, SF, and a wealth of other public lands.

    I stepped outside my comfort zone and did quite a bit of research, especially to find what there is on offer on public lands.... in other words for little cost or for FREE! When I started out on my trip I had a folder around 3/4 inch thick with print outs and notes. Other than at the very start, I don't think I referred to them once. However, the overall picture which my research imprinted on my brain was of great help along the way.

    By far my greatest source for information was locally wherever I went. Rangers, forestry service, BLM offices, visitor centres, law enforcement officers, and local libraries, are the best resource for information on the road. All will tell you their favourite local places, if you share your interests with them. I would invariably ask for places which they would normally not recommend. Rangers are best at that, they know all the off the beaten track attractions. (If there was a brochure about an attraction, I knew it was most likely not for me.)

    Not discounting the local populace - simply asking "Are you a local?" would invariably bring the response of "Yes, what can I do for you/how can I help you?" (Or... where are you from?) I could then ask about their favourite places; about signs I had seen; about a particular road/route; etc. Even if the person I approached was not a local (though most folk with little kids are), I could ask them where they had been, what had they experienced, done and seen. Sometimes that was useful/interesting.... other times it was irrelevant. Very few people ignore such approaches, even fewer are offended. (My box of souvenirs came in handy.)

    In the end I was directed to many places I had never heard of, and have never seen in print. The most outstanding ones have been recorded above. Am so glad most of it went fairly well, though there were a few 'moments'. Have lots of photos, and precious memories.

    But I should also add, that if it were not for forum, I may never have attempted it.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 10-12-2014 at 07:42 AM. Reason: typo

  3. #103
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,978

    Default Never a dull moment.

    It was now time to get back to Newton, for the celebration of yet another family birthday. I was looking forward to driving US-2 through the northern States and the Upper Peninsula. When I got to Duluth there were wild thunder storms. I was at the Holiday Truck Stop where I had planned to spend the night, when lightning struck something not too far away. All power was off. Not a light to be seen, other than the police cars which had come from every direction, covering major intersections. The few of us who were in the shop, were told we could not leave till the power came back on. Not that any of us wanted to get out in that storm.

    When the weather finally abated. and I went outside, I found my keys were locked in the van. A lovely sheriff who came by to check if the boys in the shop were OK, was kind enough to break into my van. I asked (jokingly) if that was something he had learned at police academy. His response was quite serious - it is something they all have to know how to do as it happens quite frequently that they have to rescue young children and animals left in cars. I was quite shocked. Apparently they learn to open every make and model, without damaging them.

    Next day dawned a beautiful day, and I set out quite early, decided I would get breakfast somewhere along the way. When I got to Ashland, there was a 'Family Restaurant', right on US-2, opposite the lake. The car park was packed full, which I took to be a good sign. I asked the lass at reception if they could make me eggs and bacon on toast. She was not sure. Then Tim came to join us and asked what it was that I wanted. Not a problem, we can do that. I did not know if he was the owner, manager or chef. But he was most obliging and brought me the requested meal just as I had asked. He also made me a cup of tea, made the way it should.

    Since they had wifi, I had got my computer and was enjoying my breakfast when Tim came to join me. He wanted to know where I was from, what I was doing, and all that. We talked for some time. He asked about my vehicle and lots more, and I got the usual response... 'I did not know that!' When I added about the times my credit card has been rejected, just because it is not North American issued, he looked at me and stated that he would not be able to accept it either.... and with that, tore up my bill. Tim was at the cash register when I left, and I gave him the $5+ of coins I had in my purse.

    If you're ever up that way, I can highly recommend them. An efficient, clean, friendly and most obliging establishment.

    I had been up that way a couple of times, but had never crossed the Mackinaw bridge, or been north of Sarnia in MI. Not that by this time I had a great deal of time to do sightseeing, and basically headed straight for Toledo, whence I picked up US-20 to I-71/I-76 and my now familiar route into Newton.

    This was the last visit with the Boston family for this year. An eighth birthday was celebrated and on Labor Day a neighbour had a crowd over for a BBQ. This is the lovely lady who looked after my van while I took the children to Melbourne for a week. It was good to catch up with the regulars she invites to her BBQs, which includes a couple from Brisbane.

    The children, who all go to the same schools, were having a great time playing, when they decided to play hiding, and one would have to find them. Grandson decided the tree house was a good place to hide. Half way up the ladder, the ladder gave way under his weight, and he came crashing down on the rocks at the edge of the garden.

    I have never seen so much blood run down a driveway. The response following the 911 was mere minutes. The fire engine came first. The ambulance came next, closely followed by two police cars. It was a site. All these vehicles half blocking a busy through road in the narrow and winding streets of suburban Boston. The police were there to keep the rubber neckers moving. .

    Mum went along with the ambulance. The BBQ continued. It was not long before son got a photo from his wife of grandson sitting up on the bed in the ER, head bandaged and a big grin on his face. He started school next day with six staples in his head.

    Just one more story to add to the rich fabric of family life.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 10-17-2014 at 10:09 PM.

  4. #104
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,823

    Default That's a rarity.

    He also made me a cup of tea, made the way it should.
    A rare find indeed in the USA !! ;-)

    Enjoying the report Lifey.

    Dave.

  5. #105
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,608

    Default

    I'm so glad your grandson is okay! Reading about that fall, scared me! I could only imagine what his mother and grandmother were going through.

    Ashland, WI -- yes, a beautiful town. Lovely that the manager thought so much of you, too. We stayed overnight there in the Super 8 this past summer, and spent two hours in the waterfront park there, but did not eat in town except to grab a hamburger. They also had a decent Wal-Mart on the east side of town. US-2 is a beautiful drive through MN and WI. (I didn't know, until we got home, that an old friend from HS lives in Superior and works in Duluth. We would have looked him up.)


    Donna

  6. #106
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,978

    Default We were OK.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    I could only imagine what his mother and grandmother were going through.
    Actually, it was his little sister who was hysterical when he was placed in the ambulance. Have to admit, it did not look pretty..

    Lifey

  7. #107
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,978

    Default The last week.

    It is almost two months now since I placed the van in storage in Greensboro NC. It is all starting to feel like a dream. Seems all so long ago.

    The last week, from Newton to Greensboro ended up being quite busy.. I called in at the hairdresser in Jim Thorpe, who is rapidly becoming my regular hairdresser when I travel - situated as she is, not far off the route to and from Newton.

    Swung through Charlottesville to see the folk at Crutchfield. My new tape player had 'eaten' a couple of my tapes, and I wanted to know what I was doing wrong. They replaced the unit under warranty.

    Had to call in at Raleigh where I had been asked to drop off a set of keys with our friend and colleague Foy, who offered to keep an eye on the vehicle.

    The rest of that week was full of unplanned events, most of which I would rather forget.

    I had booked a taxi to the airport and a flight to Fort Lauderdale. Tried to pack as much as possible before dropping off the vehicle, so that I would not be running late. Which of course is not the way it worked out. Finding the place was not as easy as I had anticipated. Consequently the last few things which were not already packed..... well, let's just say, some of them are still in the van.

    I have no doubt that my van will be well looked after and waiting for me when/if I return. The batteries have been removed and are in good hands in Raleigh.

    A week with the family in FL saw us celebrating two more birthdays, regular outings and attending to normal family activities. All too soon it was time to say goodbye. It was late at night on 17th Sept. when I boarded the flying kangaroo for the long haul home, but not before one more surprise.

    Ever since my first trip in 2001, I have moved through the airport at LAX.... through the construction, hoardings, dust and noise. This time it was different. The new terminal from which we left is spectacular. The hours waiting at the gate were filled with watching all the changing light murals, the light shows and more. It was so absorbing that I never got to read at all. People commented.... each time you looked there was something new to see.

    A really nice farewell.

    Lifey

  8. #108
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Live in SW England, Work in Dubai, Travel in USA
    Posts
    175

    Default

    Lovely to read your report, really enjoying your travels.
    Definately a van in my future too I think, hotels are getting too expensive!

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