Another gorgeous, cloud-free day greeted us on our last morning in Washington State. It seems every motel in the country has free “continental breakfast” in the morning, and ours was no different. The presence of biscuits & gravy reminded us we’re no longer in Seattle. We grabbed a quick breakfast, filled our coffee cups and hit the road.
Continuing on Route 2, we headed north out of Spokane before turning east into Idaho. The evergreen trees grew more prolific the further north and west we travelled, as did the logging trucks. Arriving in Montana, we were greeted with the typical “Welcome to <your state name here>” sign, followed by Montana’s version of a “Please Drive Carefully” sign: a billboard explaining that the white crosses we would soon be seeing on the side of the road represent recent traffic fatalities. The next 100 miles are dotted with white crosses and we have no problem staying at or under the 70 mile per hour speed limit.
We’d been driving through narrow valleys along fast-running mountain streams for hours, when the terrain opened up and gave us our first views of the high mountains in Glacier. We’d entered the Bitterroot valley, home of the largest town in this part of Montanta: Kalispell. Earlier in the day, we’d read in a guidebook about an old hotel in downtown Kalispell that was recently renovated. The guidebook picked a winner in the Kalispell Grand Hotel.
We set out for dinner at about 6:30, only to discover that all of the restaurants in downtown Kalispell either close at 6 or are closed all day on Monday. Disappointed, we got back in the car to try to find something on the outskirts of town along Route 2. All we could fine were national chains and junk food joints. Ah, the franchising of America hits again. We ended up eating at an Applebee’s adjacent to the center of smalltown life: Wal*Mart.