Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Montana Adventure 2012 - Road Signs Seen Along the Route to Great Falls, Montana

For Thanksgiving our family road tripped from Newberg to Great Falls, Montana.  We spent five days with my brother, his lovely wife and our three beautiful nieces.  So many crazy stories emerged from our time together that I'm breaking them up into a few blog posts

Our family hasn't gone on a long road trip in over two and a half years.  I don't think anyone in our family was looking forward to the fifteen hour drive (each way) and we wondered if we'd be feeling very celebratory by the time we arrived.  So we decided to do an experiment.  On the way to Great Falls we broke the drive up into two seven-ish hour drives.  On the drive home we tackled all fifteen hours in one day.  Praise Jesus - both trips exceeded our expectations.  The kids rarely slept, rarely bickered, and kept themselves (and us) entertained with their imaginations and creativity.  The time in the car was life-giving for our family.  How cool is that?

We did encounter hairy road conditions on both trips.  The first ten hours of driving on the way out were through POURING rain.  Water was beating on the windshield faster than the blades could wipe it off and pooling on the interstate.  Since the first seven hours were in the pitch dark it made it even trickier to see the huge puddles and we hydroplaned three different times.  Poor Curt was sweaty palm, white knuckling it until we got on the other side of the Rocky Mountains and the sun came out. 

On the way home we left before sunrise and hit the highway through the Rockies as the sun was coming up.  We watched the temperature plummet from the high 40's into the low 30's and then the snow/freezing rain came.  The highway hadn't been plowed and we drove on a sheet of ice up and over the Rocky Mountain pass.  We knew it was dangerous when we saw a minivan upside down, all the windows blown out, on the side of the road.  Praise God the family was safe but we did a lot of praying as we drove through that storm.

The biggest form of entertainment on our drive was the road signs.  Since the weather was so awful there were tons of ominous and slightly funny signs along the way.  We made a list and tried to take pictures of the ones we saw with enough time to whip out the camera.  And so, in no particular order, I present to you our list of Road Signs Seen Along the Route to Great Falls, Montana.

(I did my best at 60+ miles per hour with an iphone. ) 
1.  Rocks Falling on Cars - these usually appeared on treacherous parts of the mountain passes.  As if we weren't nervous enough already...

2.  Watch For Big Horn Sheep Ahead. - We also saw watch for Deer and Cow signs as well.  The Bighorn Sheep warning was warranted.  On our way home, we slammed on the brakes for an entire herd of them.  They were very slowly and carelessly crossing the road.  It was my first time seeing a bighorn sheep in the wild.

3.  Trucks Tipping Over on Curves

4.  A Very Wet Welcome to Montana

5.  A Semi-Truck full of Coffee in the middle of the night and the pouring rain.  Yes Please.

6.  Watch for Changing Weather Conditions - a flashing sign at the mountain summit between the Idaho and Montana border.  Problem is it was pouring/sleeting/snowing so badly that we could barely make out what the sign said.

7.  Welcome to Idaho - the state line between Montana and Idaho is at the summit of a mountain pass in the Rockies.  It is so gorgeous!

And now on to the non-photographed but equally entertaining signs.

8.  Do NOT Pick Up Hitchhikers -  Half-mile down the road, we saw the sign to exit for the Corrections Facility.   

9.  Wind Gusts and High Water - these were portable signs on the side of the Columbia River Gorge  and were hard to spot through the pouring rain and blinding spray from the semi-trucks we were passing.

10.  Rattlesnake Area - at a rest area.  Get me out of here!

11.  WARNING: Blowing Dust Area - pretty sure we didn't have to worry about that one since everything was water-logged.

12.  Rocks - That's all it said.

13. Low Flying Aircraft

14.  Camels Hump Road - that would make for an interesting address.

15.  Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over - outside of Coeur d' Alene, Idaho

16.  Watch for Ice on Bridge

17.  Water Over Road

18.  Caution - Road May be Icy (are you sensing a theme here?)

19.  Two Mile Road and Threemile Canyon - any guess as to how long these might be?  The run-on word is tricky but I bet you could still guess.

20.  Frequent High Winds - mountain summit by Coeur d' Alene, Idaho.

21.  A town in Washington called "Ritzville."

22.  A billboard advertising for the "Testical Festival" outside Missoula, MT.  I have no words.

23.  Clark Ford - this river winds back and forth across Highway 200 not once, not twice, but a whopping THIRTEEN times in one direction.  Which means we saw the "Clark Ford" sign TWENTY-SIX times in a matter of hours.

24.  The "Blackfoot River" gets honorable mention in the river crossing category.  We crossed it three times in each direction.

25.  Icy Spots Next Ten Miles - boy did that sign get old.  We saw it a lot.

26.  Miller Lite Celebrate Beersgiving - at a gas station casino outside Great Falls.  Again, I have no words.

27.  Keep Cool Creek - can you guess what people use this creek for?

28.  For Sale - 5,140 acres - We saw this sign outside Bonner, Montana.  What on earth would you do with 5, 140 acres?

29.  And my favorite, even though it's blurry:  "Welcome to Oregon."  

There's no place like home.


  1. Its amazing how quickly one gets used to those type of signs! When you live here it is part of the culture, you don't even blink at "Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival" or "deer crossing, I always thought it looked more like a deer jumping!" Such a different world we live in, even though we live a mere 14 hours away! Love you, looking forward to the other posts, Q

    1. What exactly is a "rocky mountain oyster." I can only imagine... Love you Sis!