Museum owner Steve and Carole under model of Pterodactyl, Makoshika Dinosaur Museum, Glendive, MT 12/22/12
Carole and I got an early jump out of Bismarck. The next stop was planned; part of Plan A, actually, as I'd been aiming for this since we left Minneapolis. Namely, the Makoshika Dinosaur Museum in Glendive, MT. I spotted this Place of Interest on the AAA map, and it looked interesting, and on the way. I figured it would take a couple of hours to drive, at which point we could have lunch and go to the museum.
But first, we had to decide how far we'd get today. The weather was clear but cold. No snow, but 0° temps. Carole was still not up to snuff, and with the stop I figured the 550+ miles to Bozeman would be sufficient. We secured a hotel in Belgrade and set off.
While I had technically been to North Dakota before (staying overnight in Fargo while heading to the Winnipeg Folk Festival in 1983), the visit was short and I never felt The North Dakota Experience. This visit was longer, and while we only scratched the surface of what the state has to offer, I feel much better about waying "I've been to North Dakota" than I had.
And when we got to Montana, the first rest stop claimed a Visitors Center. Mostly (while we were there), unstaffed, with restrooms and maps. Again, it was very cold, so we didn't linger outside much. The sign proclaimed, "From this end of Montana to the west end is about the same distance as from New York to Chicago." which isn't quite true. The farthest distance in Montana, along the Canadian border, might be that long, but not the interstate route.
Arriving in Glendive, with the Museum's address in the GPS, we couldn't find it. We were initially fooled by the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum, which was closed for the season but visible from the highway. We continued on, and didn't see anything like a museum. Hmm. So we stopped at the Best Buy across the street from where it should have been to find that it was across the street. After a little business at the electronics store, we meandered over.
The Dinosaur Museum was created by Steve, the owner of the Hell Creek Music store at the behest of his then-12-year-old daughter. She went off to college (and I bought her music CD, made with her sister) and he moved the museum from its separate location to its present place attached to his store.
A few actual dinosaur bones, Makoshika Dinosaur Museum, Glendive, MT 12/22/12
The museum itself is small but interesting. Most of the dinosaurs you've heard of, claimed Steve, are from near Glendive. Other places we visited said the same thing, but Glendive can claim Sue (well, Faith SD, a few hundred miles away). All the complete skeletons were models, often struck from original castings. Most of the smaller bones were real. Nicely arranged.
The museum isn't worth a separate trip, though in season with the dinosaur trails and other places open the area might be worth a longer stay. Still, the stop was just at the right time. And considering it was the only touristy stop we made between Bismarck and Coeur D'Alene, I'm glad we dropped in.
Following Steve's suggestion we ate lunch at the Yellowstone River Inn. A small place, with a decent lunch. I don't remember what we had, but it was filling and good and the people were friendly.
Dave rescues Carole from skeleton of T-Rex. Photo by owner Steve.
Makoshika Dinosaur Museum, Glendive, MT 12/22/12
Technically, there's a speed limit of 75mph in Montana, but they don't enforce it as long as you're driving responsibly. So we zipped along at 80 or 85. As often happened during the trip, I'm so glad I was in the Camry rather than my previous car, a Protegé, or even Carole's Scion.
We got good mileage. Still, I always allowed for the worst and never let the gas get below half-full. Ya' never know when a snow storm might take us by surprise and we'd be in a snow bank for three days. Or something. Nothing ever happened, but the next gas station might be fifty miles down the road and I kept an eye out.
So we got gas in Forsyth, NT. Doing so really annoyed our GPS. Not for the last time. The gas station was okay, but the town looked seedy. Just as happy not to have stopped there in the middle of the night.
Howdy Hotel, Forsyth, MT 12/22/12
Hotels.com found us a nice place in Belgrade, MT, sort of a burb of Bozeman. It was dark when we arrived, and the lights spread out quite a bit. The hotel clerk compared Belgrade to LA, in that it was spread out. I took his word. We never really saw the area in the daylight.
By this time, the need for tire chains was becoming important. Tire chains are illegal in Minnesota, and so hard to get. You can order from the warehouse, but the stores don't carry them. But all the hotel clerks were more blasé. "I've lived in Western Montana all my life, and I've never used snow chains." Still, having chains was required in parts of Oregon. The advice was to get them just before we got to Mt. Hood. So once again, I put off getting a necessary piece of equipment.
I gave a good review on Yelp to the hotel, though I've forgotten the name at the moment. At some point, I'll figure out where we stayed and ate and review on the AAA webside and maybe Google.
To be continued: 20121223 Trip to Oregon and Back: Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon