Upper Missouri NWSR Canoe Trip 2009


Days One & Two

I left work at 14:00 and called dad to say I was on my way. When I got home, we quickly finished packing and cabbed it over to Tony's to pick up his Bronco which was to be our conveyance for the trip. We brought it back to the house, loaded up, and got underway at last! There was some heavy traffic leaving Chicagoland, but the roads were relatively clear after that. We stopped several times (too many) for junk food and Diet Cokes.
Somewhere in North Dakota we caught a 20 minute nap at a gas station just before dawn broke. Once we got close to the Montana border - about 900 miles into our trip - the landscape suddenly changed from dreary plains and prairie to the most striking badlands. We stopped at Theodore Roosevelt NP to take some pictures, and soon crossed into Montana.
We decided it was high time to stop for breakfast, and within a few miles we saw a sign for historic Wibaux. Hoping that anything "historic" would have a good diner, we headed into the quaint little town, found exactly what we were looking for, and had a simple but splendidly prepared breakfast at a diner full of Elvis memorabilia. The truck had started making a strange noise (or we had just noticed that it was) but violently kicking Tony's muffler revealed the source of the sound and we continued on unconcerned.
Once we left I-94 we discovered to our chagrin that we had 380 miles of backroads driving left to do. We decided we (I) needed some cheering up, so we stopped for a weapons break. Duly refreshed after shooting at some bottles thoughtfully left next to a fence by some helpful soul we hopped back in the truck and hit the road again, taking grateful advantage of the Montana speed limits.
We ate another unhealthy meal at an A&W in Roundup, and headed for Great Falls to stock up on food and buy a 1200 fps pellet gun at Wal-Mart, after seeing the actual Great Falls of the Missouri. At this point the drive became unbearably long and we wanted to be there already! After another random nap along the roadside we finally arrived in Ft. Benton, 1455 miles and about 27 hours after leaving Chicago.
We had reserved a room at the Grand Union Hotel, a lovely historic building right on the river. After well-deserved showers and changes of clothes, we headed down to the hotel bar for a Stella and then to the restaurant for several more and a delicious meal by the water. The food was unexpectedly fantastic:
  • Prawn & Dumpling. Hawaiian Blue Prawn paired with Fresh Mozzarella-Basil Dumpling over Grey Goose Bloody Mary Sauce. Stella.
  • Summer Salad. Arugula tossed with Kasseri Cheese with a Mediterranean Cucumber Dressing served on a French Crouton.
  • Grilled Buffalo Ribeye. Paired with Rosemary Whipped Potatoes and Grilled Asparagus with a Pink Peppercorn Zinfandel Reduction. Root 1 Carmenere.
  • More booze.

  • Pan Tossed Escargot. Tossed with Mushrooms and Spinach in an Herb Shallot Glaze topped with Fried Beet Strings. Crios, Rose of Malbec.
  • A salad that was yummy but we can't remember.
  • Cocoa Dusted Elk Loin. Grilled and Paired with Espresso Whipped Potatoes and drizzled with a Tahitian Vanilla Gastrique.  Root 1 Carmenere.
  • Espresso.
While eating dinner, we noticed how swiftly the water in the river was moving. Afterwards we retired to the room for a while, and then had a smoke on a pedestrian bridge (with tables and chairs!) overlooking the river and went off to sleep, excited to start our adventure the next day!

Jacob Saunders | Create Your Badge
Jacob Saunders