It was good to wake up in my own bed. I never sleep as well anywhere else. Good to be home. Piles of mail, piles of laundry. The cat had a nervous breakdown in our absence and is still insistently telling us about it. Grandchildren welcomed us with hugs and kisses and their sweet drawings and gifts. Yard, garden messy and overgrown, but it is all good. All good.
The final leg of our trip was the "brothers tour". We closed one big loop, by landing, again, at my brother's place in Pocatello for a night, then headed for Hamilton, Montana, where Roy, our traveling companion lives. It was a beautiful drive, with a stop for a picnic lunch at the Big Hole National Battleground.
This beautiful valley was the site of a terrible battle between US forces, and a band of Nez Perce who were resisting relocation by the U.S. Government, led by Chief Joseph. The Indians were taken by surprise and about 70-90 killed, including many women and children. A sad place. Roy filled us in on the history and the mosquitoes nearly carried us away.
We found Roy's house intact with flowers blooming.
We said our goodbyes. We were a good traveling trio. It was a little sad to leave Roy behind.
Our trip to Ray's brother, Ron's (yes, Ray, Roy and Ron-—don't do this to your children...) house in Cottonwood, Idaho took us over Lolo Pass into Idaho and along the Lochsa River for many miles.
Oh, those Idaho rivers! Nothing compares. Then the land opens up into the Camus Prairie, this exquisite rolling farmland that just glows. That unbelievable golden strip is rapeseed, from which canola oil is made.
Ron took us on a tour of the country surrounding his little town of Cottonwood, which sits in the middle of the prairie.
Just out of Cottonwood, the historic Monastery of St. Gertrude, sits atop a hill. Built in the '20s, it is the home of the Catholic Benedictine Sisters of Idaho. Peaceful and beautiful. We wandered around the buildings and grounds. We were there too late in the day to see the museum or tour the facility, but it was a joy to just enjoy the grounds and the view.
Our last driving day was long and hot and we were growing impatient to be home. But, as we drove, we counted up the states—26— and remembered our route and tried to answer the question we were already being asked—"what was your favorite thing?" There is no answer. We were also asked if we had a theme or a list. Civil War battles? State Capitols? 30 Things to see in America before You Die? Nope, none of those things. Just people and places we wanted to see. Pretty random. We got a lot of advice and took some of it and ignored most of it. We'd still be out there if we had gone to every place people told us we just "had to see." There were unexpected surprises and a few disappointments, but mostly a greater sense of the country—the land, the people, the culture(s) and the history. Ask me today what I especially loved and I'll probably tell you how beautiful Wyoming was and how moving the little Cemetary where Sacajawea is buried. Ask me tomorrow and the answer will be different. No regrets, though Ray will say he regrets missing Dollywood. That is a joke, though it could be one of someone else's favorite places! It's a big and varied country.
We drove almost 9000 miles. If we'd taken just a few extra turns getting home we would have, but we just wanted to be here at that point.
We're going to call it 9,000. (This is not a Prius endorsement, but check out those miles per gallon!)
That's a lot of bugs
Thanks for following along. If we inspired you to take a similar trip, go for it! Look for America! It's out there waiting to be found.