Glacier Natl. Park, and beyond...

Or: speeding in Montana?

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glacier1.jpg (37737 bytes)The drive from Yellowstone to Glacier was quite interesting. Leading through Montana most of the way, the speed limit was "prudent and safe", whatever that means. Let's say the average over 500 miles, of which were 100 still in Yellowstone and many others on the interstate, was 65mph. I think that's prudent. I had to learn that the roads in Montana are definitely not built for speeds much above 110mph, and neither are the drivers: twice an idiot merged right before me, with maybe a few car lengths to spare, at speed differences of maybe 50mph. This lead to some harsh braking (which - unlike with my old Accord - worked) and also to the conclusion that I would not test the advertised top speed of 138mph; instead I stayed in the 90 range most of the time. With about 22mpg the gas mileage reached a new record low, though - this in contrast to about 29mpg for most of the trip.

lake.jpg (51828 bytes)I arrived at Glacier at around 5pm in a slight rain shower. Just as I was setting up my tent a number of park rangers approached me and said that the tent nearby was attacked and demolished by a black bear just about an hour ago and that they discouraged people from sleeping in tents tonight. When I objected that I slept maybe some 4 hours last night and had a long drive both behind and before me, the ranger suggested that I have my car remote handy at night and - if attacked by a bear - sound the car alarm, which will most likely distract the bear. So I tested the car alarm for the first time ever, just to make sure it works if needed. And I had both remotes in my tent as well.

The campsite next to me was occupied by a number of rainbow flag guys from Montana who were here hiking. One of them has a bumper sticker on his car saying "Thank me - I voted Clinton / Gore". Especially in the current context a very funny sticker indeed.

No bear came by my tent during the night, but I still got up early to get on the road. There was no way to stay, anyway, as the rangers closed the campground until further notice, because of bears. The weather in the park was very inhospitable and so there was one less reason to stay. The main reason for an early departure, however, was in the beauty and simplicity of American immigration laws. I have no clue what really happened, and in a sense I don't want to know as I would probably kick some @$$, but over the past days I was in contact with my boss at Apple and the attorneys and - surprisingly - something went wrong again. Kinda hard to believe, after all that is (and more importantly, what is left out) in the preamble to this travelogue. Anyway, I had to rush to Boise, where I was meeting an old friend, and now also where the lawyers were FedEx'ing some documents to me. Ah beauty.

TicketProcSmall.gif (2910 bytes)The "fact" that there is no speed limit in Montana is a misconception, at least according to the two officers in bullet-proof vests who pulled me over for going 114mph on I-90. While I didn't have an opportunity to contest the issue right on the spot, I could also not come up with a strategy of how to fight this ticket - it's less the $70 than the entry on the record that bothers me. For me, having logged thousands of miles at speeds around 140mph in Germany, 114mph in Montana traffic (i.e., no cars) doesn't sound like a big deal. Oh well, somewhere deep I probably think I deserved it.

glacier3.jpg (82199 bytes)In two stages, but in one piece I arrived in Boise where I was expected by two FedEx packages - papers to fill out, fax and send back - and then, finally, meet with my friend Sarah. Unfortunately, her grandfather had just died and so she was obviously preoccupied with bigger issues, and we didn't get to spend too much quality time together.

glacier2.jpg (82067 bytes)While scouting out the Boise area, I got hit by the State Fruit, i.e. a potato, that fell off a truck. I should consider myself lucky, though, for not being hit by the logs that fell off a camper just ahead of me. You should have seen the maneuvers performed by myself and other motorists, including an eighteen-wheeler, in order to avoid a collision! Either way, now I have a nice dent in the hood, which was soon joined by even prettier scratches caused by a random cat or other not well behaved animal that felt like fooling around my hood. I guess a few hundred bucks will, or more accurately, would fix it. But it's just a car and casualties are to be expected.

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