Four States in (Almost) One Day
- Steamboat has beautiful glades. My bro used to live here, and he told us where to find the best locals' favorite tree runs. We hit them, but it was super slushy. ↩
We left Leadville and made our way to our next destination, Big Sky, Montana via Steamboat, Colorado.
The Steamboat stop is a recon to figure out where we're going to park Beastie when we come back here in a few weeks. We'll be meeting 1der's sister and her family for a fun week of skiing and hanging out.
Two things happened here:
1.The snow conditions and weather were a shock. It was ridiculously hot. As in a bluebird day, but mid-50's hot. As in the snow was suction cup sticky hot. As in people on the lift said it was super icy at 10am so they went into the lodge for a two-hour lunch until it finally softened up at noon hot (good thing we got there at the crack of noon). As in this snow can catch your edge and rip your knee apart in two seconds hot. In other words, the conditions sucked, even when skiing through Steamboat's famed, shaded glades.
2. We were about to leave Natural Grocers when a woman and her daughter came out of the store and stopped, looked up and started checking out Beastie. They weren't smiling or acting like normal Beastie fanboys / fangirls who typically drool and want to make eye contact so they could give us a big 👍🏼. They were examining him intently, talking and pointing. 1der was in the back and couldn't see them, so I said "there are two women looking at Beastie, and I don't know if they like him or are mad at us."
A few seconds later, the woman came to my door, and when I lowered the window, she asked if this was our van. I hesitantly said yes. She immediately got super excited and really animated. Relief! She wasn't mad at us.
She and her husband recently bought a van, and they were taking it to Colorado Camper Van (CVV) in a couple weeks to get a poptop installed. She had never seen one close-up and personal. Just like us, they are also doing a custom build-out of their rig. The opportunity to talk with us was a real boon for them. Her daughter was looking forward to getting the van so she and her Mom could go on girls-only trips. I thought that was really cool.
I'd say that was good timing for them. And for us too, as they are very nice.
On to Montana...
It's always a feast for the eyes to drive in the mountains at the end of a beautiful, sunny day when the light is warm and golden, and the trees cast long, dreamy shadows. Only problem with that is it's too easy to fall asleep (for the passenger!) with the sun bathing us in warmth.
During the winter, the only way / route to get to Big Sky from Steamboat is a 10+ hour, tri-state journey that took us through Idaho, Wyoming, and into Montana. The plan was to drive as far as we could before boondocking for the night at a rest area five hours away in Pinedale, WY.
The drive was going well, but it was dark and we were very tired as we approached Pinedale. We knew the rest stop was after the town, but somehow we blinked and missed it 😱. Of course we didn't realize it until it was too far out of the way to turn around, so we began to get desperate looking for a place to stop for the night. We even drove up a road in the middle of nowhere hoping there was a turnout, but no such luck. We were lucky we weren't met with shotguns as it turned out to be a private road leading to some houses.
With a stroke of luck, we found a big snowplow turnout on the side of the road. It was large enough that we were safe from cars, and because of a tall snowbank between us and the road, we were pretty tucked away from view from the highway. I get nervous when we have to boondock off the highway, so it was important we couldn't be easily seen (or hit!) by passing traffic. We popped the top and went to sleep.
When we woke up, there was fresh snow on the ground, and it was good to finally see our surroundings / where we were.
We were in Wyoming, so of course it was breathtakingly beautiful.
But we didn't know where we really were until we were pulling away and I saw a sign with information. I wasn't able to grab a shot, so I borrowed this image from the sign's webpage...
Turns out this was not a snowplow turnout. Rather, we boondocked in a historical place where the first white men, in what is now known as Sublette County in Wyoming, camped for five days in 1811. Click on the image to learn more about the history. This Wyoming Historical Marker is located on the northeast side of US Highway 189/191 between Daniel and Bondurant.
Here's what the sign, erected in 1994, says:
"On this site, Oct. 18, 1811, sixty-one Astorians of the Pacific Fur Company led by Wilson Price Hunt camped for 5 days. They were on their way to the Pacific Ocean from St. Louis and were the second group to cross the continent, just 5 years after Lewis and Clark. Here they met and traded with the Snake Indians, killed buffalo, and cured meat.
The group included Marie Dorian, the Iowa Indian wife of guide, Pierre Dorian, and her two children, ages 2 and 4. Later during the trip, on Dec. 30, 1811, stopping for only one day, she gave birth to her third child.
Continuing their journey, the Astorians crossed the divide one mile north of here on to the waters of the Columbia River. These were the first white men in what is now Sublette County."
In case you want the GPS coordinates from us vs. the web, pretend you got this text from 1der (with the kiss), just like I did. BUT, before you go / stay the night, please make sure it's legal to boondock there. There wasn't any cell service, so we couldn't check and we were desperate. Hope we weren't breaking the law.🤞🏼
We continued on our journey, and it was painful to drive right through Jackson and not stop to ski at Jackson Hole. Luckily we're going there after Big Sky, so no biggie.
On the other side of the Teton Pass is the state line of Idaho. As usual, and like we do every time we pass through this area, we snap a pic of the sign. Luckily there's a very nice, safe turnout.
As I was looking at the sign's image from this year, I thought it would be fun to compare the sign to the last two times we passed through.
I always love to look at the expansive, incredibly bucolic views outside of Driggs, Idaho. It's easy to get lost in one's dreams of living on a ranch in pure beauty...
After a truly spectacular drive through Idaho and into Montana, we arrived in Big Sky in the late afternoon. We are going to bed early with hopes of hitting the slopes tomorrow, but the weather is likely to be stormy, so we'll see.
I will go to sleep with tremendous appreciation for all the beauty we experienced today. Man, am I grateful for my eyes... 🙏
Three States in one day. Thank you, Beastie!
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