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The so-called Evergreen State
15th Jun 2008
Drive across Washington and Idaho

Since I intend to spend a lot of time in New England, I will be hopping across the northern leg of my journey quite quickly.  To this end, I drove from Olympia to Glacier National Park in Montana, spanning the width of Washington and the top width of Idaho.

Despite Washington calling itself the Evergreen State, it has many faces and climates, only one of which is evergreen.  In the middle of the state the terrain changes quickly and drastically to (what looks like) desert, featuring plantless rocks and sandy plains.  Once the sage bushes started to appear as I headed east, the state reminded me more of New Mexico than of those Evergreen number plates.

After the desert stretch I hit a potato patch.  Mile after mile of potato fields, all irrigated by those huge rotating wheeled sprinklers.  

Idaho was a beautiful state; despite the stretch I drove comprising conifers and hills, it was unique.  The mountains are much more rounded than others, and the trees more spread out. 
I was delighted to have left the West coast when I saw petrol for sale at less than $4 again for the first time since Arizona.  I was surprised to see ski lifts visible from the freeway, though they had been static for months.

Once I reached Montana, my journey from the freeway to the park took me past a fine example of America's most beautiful bird, the bald eagle.  My hawk-eyes spied it by the side of the road, and as I turned around I saw it land in a roadside tree, where it pouted and posed for my photos.  That five minute break from my long journey was the highlight of the day.

Just around the corner I spotted a black bear cub climbing over a fence and balancing for a moment on the fence post.  At the time I was simply happy to see a bear, and a black black bear at that (the last was a brown black bear), and it wasn;t until I showed the photo to a Ranger to identify the species that we realised how likely it was that a huge and protective mother bear was not too far away from me.  I caused a small "bear-jam", where following cars see a tourist pointing a camera in the bushes and also stop to see the fuss, creating a little congestion.

The countryside in Montana was postcard-perfect, particularly a stint towards Flathead Lake where the road ran through meadows parallel to snow-covered mountains whose image glistened in the pools of clear water in the meadows.

I managed to last 10 hours on the road before ceding to the fading light and the never ending miles; I turned into a random state park to spend the night just with the last of the light.  After almost 600 miles' concentration I could not sleep.

Next: Glacier National Park; driving Montana
Previous: Hoh Rainforest; Olympia

Diary Photos

The so-called Evergreen State

The so-called Evergreen State

Welcome to Idaho

Skilift, Idaho

Idaho mountainscape

Idaho mountainscape

Sub-$4 gas! Montana

Montana landscape

Bald eagle in flight, MT

Bald eagle, MT

Black bear, Montana

Montana meadows and mountains

Montana meadows and mountains

Montana double mountains

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