Day 24 I'm at Washington State University in Pullman Washington. I stayed with my nephew Michael last night on campus. Brought back college memories, mattress on the floor, no food of any value, typical college setting. Its 8 am and Michael and I are going out to breakfast and getting some pictures of the campus. Its 35 degrees, windy, spitting rain and snow.
There is a FFA event at the auditorium. I stop to take a picture of the marquee, Jay Leno and Alan Jackson are to appear at later dates. I take the Picture with Jay Leno's name appearing. After all, he is a car connoisseur. I pop in Alan Jackson’s "Drive" CD.
I head for Moscow Idaho, State #14. and then turn south to Lewiston, ID. From there I head up Route 12 . This road parallels the Clearwater River and is also part of the Lewis and Clark Trail. Further up, the headwaters are formed by the merging of the Selway and Lochoa(lock-saw) rivers. The road continues up the Lochoa River. It continues to rain on and off, Temperature in the 40's. With the spring runoff and the rain, the river appears to be flowing just short of capacity. Further up, as the river narrows, the rapids are really starting to get big. I stop and take a picture of one of the water drops, Wow!
About three miles up from the water drop, there are kayakers on the river. I'm envious, I've always wanted to do that! One of them waves and gives me the high sign seeing the Corvette.
Unfortunately, a few more miles up the road at milepost 158 a girl has flipped her vehicle heading west. She appears OK. I try to use my cell phone, but no reception. I had just passed a highway patrol heading west a few minutes ago. A few miles up, I pulled into the Lochoa Lodge store to report the accident. Someone else had just been in to report it. I grabbed a soda and chatted with the clerk for a few minutes. They are just getting ready for the tourist season.
I am now using more caution in my driving. I had been driving carefully, being aware the temperature and rain, the roads were slick and I knew there could be black ice in some of the corners or shaded area's.
I start up the grade to Lolo Pass and its now SNOWING! The, top of the pass is 5233 feet. Its 30 degrees. At the top of the pass is also the border of Montana, State #15.
Heading down the pass, I am using extreme caution. It is slippery! With these wide tires I can feel the car moving under me. I keep my speed below 20 mph. There is little or no traffic. Getting to the meadow, the road becomes clear but now it has turned to rain. Its only 35 degrees so I am careful that there may be ice. Times like this, I appreciate the exterior temperature reading. I think it helps to make for safer driving.
Just when I think I'm out of the snow, it starts to pour “corn snow!” In a matter of minutes there are two inches on the ground. I can really feel the car move since I am making my own tracks. I find, what I think is, a safe spot to pull over on a short straight away. I believe this snow is only going to last a couple of minutes. While stopped, I see headlights coming in my rear view mirror. Its a semi pulling double tank trailers and he is moving! Behind him is a pickup pulling a 5th wheel. I am just praying these guys can keep their rigs on the road as they pass me!
About 5 minutes later, the snow has stopped and I proceed carefully. In a few miles the pavement is dry.
Pulling into Missoula, Montana the traffic is busy, Making a pit stop I find out college graduation was this afternoon.
I am now on the interstate 90 heading for Helena, Montana. There are dark clouds ahead. In a matter of minutes it is snowing. No, its a blizzard! Visibility is only a few hundred feet. I am crawling down the road, so are most others, then there are those that have SUV's and barrel past.
In 10 miles its all over. In another couple of miles, it starts again, A few more miles its over. Welcome to Montana! If you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes.
Pulling into Helena, the first thing I notice are two spirals rising into the sky. Its the Cathedral at Helena built in 1908 and is now a Historical Landmark. The Cathedral sits above the city on a hill and is visible from everywhere.
I try to find the capitol building and stop a jogger. The Capitol is through a residential neighborhood on Montana Street. Our forefathers had great eyes for architecture.
Heading south to Butte, Montana, it is an hour before sunset. There are numerous deer crossing signs. I am carefully watching the side of the road. I hit a deer when I lived in Montana 20 years ago. It did quite a bit of damage to my Blazer, I could only think what it would do to this Corvette.
Pulling into Butte on the Northwest side is a large open pit cooper mine. I inquire at dinner about the status of the mine. It was closed several years ago due to low copper prices and rising electrical costs to run the smelter. From looking around town, this has been a real hardship on this community.