The long summer road trip is often romanticized as the classic American summer vacation. A true multi-state road trip hasn’t happened for me the last few years. With most of my adventures staying closer to my southwestern home, and rightly so because there are many lifetimes worth of things to see nearby and I still wouldn’t have seen the half of it. Having said all that about my home area, that doesn’t mean a long road trip is ever a bad idea. I had a river and stream course class in the Montana area this summer and figured I should take full advantage, make it a work/vacation kind of road trip.
I’ve made the 16 or so hour drive to northwestish Montana from Flagstaff a few times in the past. A marathon day of driving that is much more a chore than a road trip. This time I spaced it out and was able to take in some of the sights, stop at those side-of-the-highway wildlife refuges and rivers. Fish a creek that goes under the interstate or take a minute to do some birding at a rest stop swamp. A destination and but no real timetable on how I was going to pull it all off.
I’m very lucky to be working in stream restoration and habitat improvement and not stuck in the world of straight line, curb/gutter engineering. One of the perks is, when you get to attend a class they are usually outside and you get to see some pretty streams!
I had a new (for me I think) thought continually come up as I would drive by an exit or past a landform in the distance, that it was something slipping away. Not slipping away in permanence, but for this trip. It was something I wouldn’t see or a place I wouldn’t experience on this north/south trip. It was a gentle reminder that more road trips need be taken and odd backroads need to be turned down. For this trip though the pull of Bonneville Cutthroats rising to any dry fly (even mice!) you could throw overwhelmed my desire to see new spots and I returned to the side-of-the-interstate creek that had been so good to me a week before.