Lucky Lil’s Blue Montana Sky

Great Falls, Montana, United States
Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Today started with excellent check out service at the Davenport, a yummy raspberry Danish from Starbucks, and friendly, helpful service from a gas station attendant. Things went stressfully downhill from there until we got to Montana. When we left Spokane it started raining…and raining harder…and raining harder. Driving up and down the mountains of Spokane and through Idaho would have been fun on dry pavement; on wet, pooling roads it’s somewhat less so. But we got through it and took a much needed break in Missoula, Montana.

Before anyone asks, no, I did not see Hank Green anywhere, damn it! And yes, I was looking. I guess he didn’t feel like venturing to Walmart, Buffalo Wild Wings, or Lucky Lil’s Casino to meet me. It’s okay. I understand. I’m sure my family will be greatly disappointed, though.

Lucky Lil’s did turn out to be lucky for me, though. I put $20 into a poker machine expecting nothing in return and left with $329. Yes, Noltings, you read me right — I actually won at some form of poker. It’s a bloody miracle. And just to prove I am not a gambling addict, I won the entire amount on one bet and did not continue playing.

We left Lucky Lil’s, had some fun confusing the Australian-voiced GPS as we made random turns and missed instructions trying to find our way back to the I-90, got some gas and finally headed out. We had a paper map as backup (thank you, Auntie Lillian!) and planned to take the I-90 south then Highway 12 east to Helena, then Highway 15 north to Great Falls as that looked like the most efficient route. Our Australian-voiced GPS kept insisting we take the more direct route through the mountains. We heeded Uncle Al’s warnings not to take the mountain road because it would add three hours to our trip. We stubbornly ignored the increasingly persistent GPS instructions to turn around, for the love of God, turn around, and kept going south on the I-90 until we realized we could shut her up by programming the trip to Great Falls via Helena. Happy sigh, that did the trick.

The rest of the trip was absolutely pleasant driving through truly exceptional scenery on 97 percent dry roads at a legal 120 kph. Montana is hands down the most gorgeous and relaxing state I have seen yet.

We got to Great Falls at about 8:30 pm, but when we got to our hotel — the Staybridge — we were told they had overbooked the hotel and moved our reservation to the Holiday Inn, that they would be paying for the room, and they provided us with a one-night complementary certificate to use on a future stay with Staybridge. Okay. I’ll take it. I was looking forward to staying at the Staybridge because of the really good reviews on Tripadvisor, but their level of compensation to us under the circumstances still left me with a good feeling for them. I would have been happy with them ensuring we had a good, clean room to stay in somewhere as long as they paid any difference in price and/or got us a decent discount; instead we got a good, clean room in a decent hotel at no cost to us. Awesome! And we finally arrived early enough to take a dip in the pool. All in all I’d say this was a good day.

Wildlife sightings: a hawk, finally!

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