Lewis & Clark Trail

Day 30: September 19th, 1999 Lewistown — Shelby

I try to get up not too late because I have to find a car wash to get rid of the heaviest dirt. It’s almost impossible to open any door without getting dirty fingers. First I drive to the Sportsman Club from yesterday evening for breakfast. The next stop is the gas station. I ask where I can find a car wash around here. Unfortunately there is none attached to the gas station but the guy gives me directions to one. There I have to study the operation instructions. It’s my first time at an American car wash. There is a high pressure wash which runs for a certain amount of minutes depending on the amount of Quarters inserted. I put in some money but nothing happens. Another guy in the bay next to me has the same problem. Looks like the car wash is broken. A third guy, who just arrived, tries to get in touch with the owner. But today is Sunday and he is not able to reach him. After fifteen minutes he returns. But he knows a different car wash where he will go now. There I meet him again. But I have no luck again. Also this car wash is broken. So I have to wait until my neighbour is finished. Now it’s my turn. The mud is now completely dried out. It takes a long time to get at least a little bit of the dirt off — even with the high pressure wash. Then I try to clean the underbody. There I get real big junks of mud out. I guess my car weights now 100 pounds less. After I got off the worst of the mud I take a look under the hood. Even there everything is covered with mud. So I have to try to also get the mud out here.

Highway 236, MT Highway 236, MT
Highway 236, MT

After an hour and a whole lot of quarters later (lucky me there is an exchange machine for quarters which also takes ten Dollar bills) I am ready to start my tour with a delay of 2 hours. But I cannot be happy about my cleaned car for a very long time. Already on Highway 191 back to Hilger I encounter that the car still has no power and the rattling at higher speed is now worse than before! I assume the rattle problem is due to the mud residing inside the rims. The reduced power looks like the motor is not getting enough air and something has clogged up the inlet. But Hilger is a little village. Therefore I do not start to find a car wash here. I decide to travel on and hope the best for the rest of the day. I hope I will make it. I drive on Highway 236 to the north. Just past Winifred the black top ends. But I am lucky as the weather is nice today. Not as warm as two days agao, but still nice. The morning was cold with around 35 degrees but it will warm up into the 70s today.

Highway 236, Missouri Breaks, MT Highway 236, Missouri Breaks, MT
Highway 236, Missouri Breaks, MT
Highway 236, Missouri River, MT Highway 236, Missouri River, MT
Highway 236, Missouri River, MT

When I reach the Missouri River again I have to drive down a steep hill. Yesterday I would have had no chance to survive the drive down the hill. But today with dry weather I am able to enjoy the beautiful view. There is not much vegetation at the surrounding hills, just a little bit of pines. But in the Missouri Valley there is fresh gras and everything is green. I use the opportunity to video tape the area. But I am not fast enopugh to also capture a deer running and swimming through the Missouri. But the landscape is great. I recall the river trip I did last year along the Rio Grande and I think to myself I have to paddle down this 100 mile stretch of the unaffected Missouri in a canoe. Eventually I have to leve this nice spot and have to travel on. I am still way behind my schedule and it is still a long way to go for today.

Highway 87, MT Highway 87, MT
Highway 87, MT
Marias River, MT Marias River, MT
Marias River, MT

At the other side of the valley the road climbs back up the hill. I drive on Highway 236, which is just a dirt road, to Big Sandy to reach Highway 87 to the southwest. Now I am back on pavement and I can catch up time until Loma. At Loma I follow the Marias River on another dirt road. Lewis & Clark spent a couple of days at the confluence to decide which way to go. At that time it was not obvious which one is the Missouri River. Marias River carry the muddy water they already know from following the Missouri River. But the Missouri River has from that point on a clear water. After a couple of days they decided to follow the river with the clear water which turned out to be the real Missouri. On their way back from the Pacific the party separated here. Clark set out to explore the waterways of the Yellowstone River while Lewis explored the path of Marias River. He hoped that this river will enter Canada and that the USA may be able to claim territory north of 49 degree latitude. But he soon had to discover that the river turns back west again.

Highway 417, Marias River, MT Highway 417, Marias River, MT
Highway 417, Marias River, MT

I follow the river as good as possible on the backroads. Around 4pm I reach Tiber Dam, one hour ahead of my scheduled time. The road across the dam is also a dirt road. Then I follow Highway 366 and a couple of other backroads to Highway 417. This one takes me up north to Highway 2 West. Now it’s just a couple of miles to Shelby and the Crossroads Inn, a former Best Western Motel. The price is pretty high for this region. But I am not in the mood to start a long search for another motel. I take the room for 43 Dollar. Just across the street is the Dixie Inn Restaurant. It already looks expensive from the outside. Therefore I start to look around if there is maybe another nice place to have dinner. But there is nothing close to see. Instead I find a car wash where I definitely will stop tomorrow morning. I drive back to the motel and cross the street to the restaurant. The dinner is really good. But it is also a bit pricy — upper tourist level. I return early to the motel to have enough power for the car wash tomorrow morning…

  • Sights
  • Several car washes…
  • General
  • Breakfast: Sportsman Club, Lewistown
  • Dinner: Dixie Inn, Shelby
  • Motel: Crossroads Inn, Shelby
  • Distance: 267 miles