Missoula, MT: Making Time

Center map

Lots of miles, little cell signal!

Yes, the speed limit in Montana is 80! Eighty. Not for me, of course, as I usually travel at or below “truck speed limits” for safety—and to be frugal with fuel.

It’s been raining or snowing and sometimes both for the past few days—after I left Spokane. For at least a day, I haven’t had any cellular connection so, emails and other apps that require internet access haven’t been working.

It’s okay; I knew where my next few stops were: a rest area—and a Dollar Tree (“where everything’s a dollar”) store, in Butte, for some windshield cleaner (I’m out—and it’s dangerous driving without a way to clean your glass). As I sit in this McDonald’s, I am thankful for an internet connection that works; the last three Mickey D’s I stopped by wouldn’t let me connect!

Adios, Spokane!

While in Spokane, I bought two new tires, a case of Mr. Heater propane cylinders (that should last me a while, no?) and some other everyday supplies (water, paper towels, cookies, etc.) and treated myself to some Thai food!

I’m pretty picky about my Thai food—that’s what living in Los Angeles does to you—and, after a quick search online, I found an amazing, little hole-in-the-wall place where grandma does all of the cooking: Phonthip Thai restaurant in Spokane on Francis Avenue. Phonthip is easily the quality of a large city’s Thai offerings.

I pigged out on some Pra Ram (spicy peanut chicken).

Rest Area Awards!

I am thinking that I am becoming quite expert in analyzing the quality of rest stops, after seeing so many of them!

Well, my friends, the decision has been made—and I’m awarding TheMinivanExplorer “Best TP Award” to Idaho! Two words that sealed the deal for Idaho: “two ply.”

Yes, Idaho rest area toilet paper is the best TP I’ve encountered at any rest stop!


Every time I go to the bathroom from this point forward, I will think of Idaho! Okay, maybe that isn’t the best endorsement for Idaho but, it’s something!

What the hell is that!?

“Okay Google, what is that tall smokestack thing in front of me?” That, Dave, is the Anaconda Smelter Stack, built in 1919 and at 585′, it’s the tallest free-standing all-brick structure in the world!

It really threw me for a loop: it’s so tall, there’s nothing around it, it sits on top of a small mountain—and I could see it from, easily, ten miles away. For your viewing perspective, know that it has a diameter of 75 feet at its base—and the entire Washington Monument could be hidden inside of it.

One more mountain.

Okay, mountain range—and I’ll be sliding in to Boseman, which is just north of Yellowstone. I’ll try to update you before I get lost in the forest there for a couple days.

Happy trails my friends!

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