After the Mallard Island art residency and a couple of days visiting with siblings, it was time to return home to Seattle. Work would soon be beckoning again. Mentally, I was also feeling the end of my vacation and I was ready to go back.
I planned virtually no sightseeing or painting stops for my return road trip, and I so I plotted the quickest possible route on I-94 and I-90. No more moseying along country roads. I tried not to get ahead of myself and wish the journey over, but to simply flow moment by moment, staying open to the scenery along the freeways and taking breaks as needed.
About 35 miles from the Minnesota/North Dakota border, I saw a large flock of blackbirds rise in mass from some trees along the road. I pulled over to the side of the freeway (possibly an illegal move, but there was very little traffic) to enjoy the sight. I had always wanted to see a murmuration of starlings, and wishful thinking made me hope my dream was being realized. My birding experts (my brother and sister-in-law) said that this flock was more likely to be blackbirds, which also migrate in huge flocks. I love the mystery of any mass movement of animals, and I enjoyed my moments of being amazed on the side of I-94 about an hour into my return journey.
I drove straight across North Dakota with stops only for gas and bathroom breaks. I had driven I-94 eastward on my road trip, so this was familiar landscape. I had planned to stop for the day at the North Dakota/Montana border, but it was just late afternoon, so I decided to press on.
I drove from sun up to sun down, plus a bit more. After 755 miles, I had made it to the end of I-94 and the start of I-90 near Billings. Gosh, Montana is a huge state! I pulled into a rest stop and slept in the car.
I woke a bit before sunrise on Day 2 of my return journey, and I immediately hit the road. As day dawned, I could already see how hazy the atmosphere was. The haze from the summer’s wildfires never really dissipated for the rest of the drive back. It made for reddish sunrises and sunsets.
The landscape along I-90 in Montana was much hillier than along Hwy 2 to the north. More grazing land; fewer wheat or other fields.
I stopped in the little town of Three Forks and stretched my legs by strolling the small-town Main Street. I stepped into the historic Sacagawea Hotel , with its beautiful lobby and front porch lined with rocking chairs. I saw a wild deer near a pond and meadow as I was leaving town.
I finally made it across Montana. (The 80 mph speed limit helped eat up the miles!) From there, driving the narrow panhandle of Idaho was a snap. By early evening, I was in my home state of Washington.
I didn’t really want to drive after dark, but I was now anxious to get home. The 300 miles of I-90 crossing Washington State was a familiar jaunt, so I didn’t mind missing the scenery in the dark. I took a long break for supper and a stop at the Ritzville Library. Then I began the final leg of my journey home.
The last sunset was a spectacular Grand Finale. Even though I was in a hurry to get home, I kept stopping along the freeway exits to photograph the changing sky. (I will post some of those sunset photos in tomorrow’s blog post.) At long last, I walked across my doorstep at 10:30 p.m. I had driven 786 miles in one day. After a marathon two days of driving almost nonstop, my journey was over.