But before that story could happen, or almost happen, we had to get ourselves four hundred miles to Bozeman just in time to meet the girls on the Laurel Locomotives bus.
NOTE: I will be posting photos of our just completed trip to Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah in following installments. The nature of Day One did not, for reasons that should be clear, lend itself to photography.
It’s a long drive from Spokane, Washington to Laurel (west of Billings), Montana, which presents a great opportunity for introspection: a wonderful chance to examine oneself and determine new directions and explore other mental opportunities. But let’s face it; that’s boring. It’s much more entertaining scanning the radio band again and again for something that’s not Religion or Country until the Missus slams her hand onto the dash and selects a Country station. I don’t blame her. She was raised in Yakima, so when it comes to music, she literally had no choice.
After a stop in Deer Lodge for fuel, we continued on our way to Laurel, Montana (just outside of Billings) where we were to stay at the home of old friends. As the Missus drove (I needed the break) we talked briefly about our friends and if we would even recognize their kids after the seven years since we last saw them. I figured I’d recognize the boy, but girls change a lot in seven years and Anna was now in high school, playing sports and all that. I didn’t think I’d recognize her.
We stopped in Bozeman an hour or two later, the several Diet Cokes we consumed having issued demands upon our bladders that could no longer be ignored.
The Police Were Not Called… This Time.
As I waited by the car with Beorn while the Missus used the facilities, I watched a bus pull into the rest stop. The bus was brightly painted with school colors proudly announcing the riders as the “Laurel Locomotives”. The bus stopped, and unloaded a uniformed team of high school female athletes.
If I was any less self aware (a measure so fine it’s best done in metric), I’d have run up to that bus and started asking for Anna. Because nothing says “Family Friend” more than a creepy old guy in shorts with Funyun crumbs all over his “I Passed Insensitivity Training” T-shirt.
Fortunately, I had a vague idea of how that particular behavior was likely to be interpreted. Also I didn’t think the Missus brought enough bail money.
As it turns out, Anna WAS on that bus, as we found out when we finally arrived in Laurel at our friend’s house. Their soccer team had a match in Bozeman that day, and had traveled in the team bus.
When Anna returned home that night, I told her what almost happened, and her look of terror convinced me of one thing:
It would have TOTALLY been worth it.
The next morning we headed south for the Beartooth Scenic Byway, which would lead us to Yellowstone and our Day Two destination, Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Coming in DAY TWO: Thrills via wildlife mis-identification!
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