Day 3: Missoula, Montana to Billings, Montana

Highlights: Beautiful views along I-90, Butte downtown

Lowlights: Severe storms

On day 3 (Thursday), we drove from Missoula to Billings, Montana.  As predicted in our second blog post, we broke in the travel potty with “the inevitable emergency side-of-the-interstate-in-Montana pit stop” somewhere between Missoula and Butte.  I-90 through Montana gets pretty sparse after Missoula so we didn’t make many stops.

The Hummingbird Cafe in Butte, MT

We took a break in Butte for a delicious vegan lunch at The Hummingbird Cafe.  We planned to picnic at Chester Steele Park but they have a giant sign covering the entire side of the bathroom building notifying you that you’ll pretty much lose your life savings in fines if a dog so much as looks at the park.  To avoid going broke, Laney took a nap in the car while Chris, Zoe, and I had a quick lunch and played on the playground.  Dog-friendly amenities are becoming fewer and farther between as we’re making our way east – we’re certainly not in Seattle anymore!

Butte is an interesting town, with a history centered around its mining industry.  It still has a rough feel, but also has more hipsters than we expected, the greatest coffee shop we’ve discovered on our trip so far (Oro Fino), and beautiful old buildings.  After running around at the playground, we enjoyed cruising through the historic downtown and seeing the ornate Victorian and Queen Anne architecture.  The whole city is situated on a hill that offers great views from almost everywhere.

The drive from Butte to Billings is spectacular and we were fortunate to have beautiful blue skies for the first half of it.  We crossed the continental divide and cruised about 55 miles north of Yellowstone (bummer that we didn’t have time to stop!).  About an hour outside of Billings, we started to drive into some severe storms with dramatic thunder and lightning.  Being born in Seattle, Zoe and Laney aren’t very familiar with intense weather.  Around midnight, a storm considerably worse than anything we saw in seven years in Seattle rolled through Billings, with booming thunder and lightning strikes within a half mile of the hotel.  Fortunately, Zoe was exhausted and slept through the cacophony.  Laney, however, is terrified of all loud noises and tried to take shelter under the bed.  When she couldn’t fit, she tried to climb in the bathtub.  I ended up sitting on the floor of the bathroom with her for about 30 minutes, with the door closed and classical music blaring.  Needless to say, it wasn’t a restful night!

Next up, our first adventures in North Dakota!

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