Canada Trip – Day 9

by Jonah

We discussed the day before how long we wanted to take getting back and decided that it would be really nice to have a day to relax before going back to work/school. So we set Berck’s phone alarm for 6 a.m. the next morning determined to get as far as we could get the next day.

6 a.m. is apparently still completely dark in Eureka, Montana at the end of March. But by the time we got on the road, the sky had begun lighting up a bit in the east. Still, Berck had to slam on the brakes three times in the space of about 5 minutes to avoid hitting does and their fawns crossing the road in front of us. Deer are remarkably road-colored in that light. One time was even while we were in the opposite lane trying to overtake the only other fellow on the road that early on a Saturday morning. As much as I hate getting up early, I hate even worse waiting in the daylight for Berck to finish reading the entire internet so we can get going.

Berck suggested we get breakfast in Kalispell, and since we had the internet again, I could do a search for breakfast. The best hit wasn’t in Kalispell at all but further south in Woods Bay on the east shore of Flathead Lake. The Woods Bay Grill doesn’t look like much, but every single review I could find was positive, including one saying that it was the best breakfast ever. Obviously, we had to try it. We walked in to find it almost empty, even though it was peak breakfast time. The two guests at the lunch counter were having the following conversation:

Her: “Are you building a cannon for self defense?”

Him: “No, I’m just building a cannon.”

Only in Montana.

Berck ordered the chicken-fried steak and asked if they could poach his eggs, which they weren’t set up for but could “steam grill” them. The waitress suggested I get the kids’ order of hash, and we ordered a half order of biscuits and gravy. She brought out the biscuits and gravy, which was actually one big biscuit cut in half on a platter which was then filled completely with the best country gravy I’ve ever had, swimming with bits of really tasty breakfast sausage that they get from a local meat processor. Berck was so impressed, he exclaimed, “This is really good!” right when the waitress came back with a caddy of little plastic containers of their own salsa and jellies and jams. The chicken fried steak was excellent, and Berck seemed happy with his eggs. The hash was just hashbrowns with bits of corn beef mixed in, but my over easy eggs were really, really good. Usually I don’t touch my toast, but I smeared my grilled sourdough with the jam that was in the container labeled “M” in marker. I’m guessing that stood for mulberry, but there was no second guessing about the taste. I had TWO pieces of toast, trying without success to get all the purple off my knife before each time I wanted to tuck into Berck’s chicken-fried steak. The portions were huge, and despite how good everything was, there was no way we could finish everything. I really wanted to try their huckleberry ice cream, but there was absolutely no room left in my stomach.

Back on the road, we continued along the scenic east shore, most of which seems to be small cherry orchards. The clouds were playing hide and seek among the mountains instead of visa versa for once. We eventually got on interstate 90, and our trip became a high speed series of stopping at gas stations for gas and buying a drink, stopping at gas stations to use the bathroom and buy another drink, and stopping at the occasional rest stop. We listened to nearly a year’s worth of This American Lifes, a Planet Money, and some All Songs Considered. The sun set as we drove through Casper. We decided to continue to Cheyenne and get gas and supper. As we approached Casper, Berck realized the car was burning gas much more quickly this tank than usual, possibly because we had the headlights up, and they create much more drag than when they’re down. We apprehensively counted down the miles to Cheyenne and pulled off at the first exit where we saw a gas station sign, and put 11.987 gallons in the tank, which holds twelve and a half. Then we stopped at a truck stop to get Subways at 9:30. We ate them in a fraction of the time it took the lady behind the counter to construct them, although she was nice and wrapped our halves separately without us even asking for it.

We figured we could get home in two and a half hours, so we listened to two This American Lifes, the second one ending right as we pulled off the interstate on Woodmen Drive. It was 12:15. We’d driven from the Canadian border to home, 1,140 miles, in less than 18 hours.

It was a fun trip, and we didn’t get any traffic tickets. It sure was nice to sleep in our own bed last night, though.

Pictures are up in the Gallery.

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