By Anna Gentry
As we set off from the great state of Washington towards Yellowstone National Park, we weave through some of the most scenic areas in America: Idaho and Montana. These vast lands are beautiful, highlighting roaming scenery that is peaceful and serene.
On our journey, we stop by the famous Hudson’s in Coeur d’Alene, a small family-style eatery that has been making burgers using only traditional methods since 1907. Their ground beef is never frozen and gently formed into free-style patties, while customers await wholesome goodness in their 18-seat bar-style dining area. Sinfully decadent, juicy and almost fluffy, these delicious burgers are served with pickles or onions.
Winding our way through Idaho’s mid-eastern frontier, we entered cattle country, which extends into Montana. Cows dot Montana’s bronzed landscape with lush green rectangles of Timothy grass. Whitetail deer graze, their tails swinging back and forth with happy merriment.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
The vast state of Montana is a rugged, picturesque paradise. Dotted with pine trees set amid rolling hills and thunderous, majestic mountains, this Big Sky state is a sight to behold. Hills appear carved from the palms of giant hands, shaped by massive fingertips with molded indentations and peculiar, unique Montana-style details.
Dinner is in Missoula, home to University of Montana, which celebrates several college events. At a locals’ only bar, we sneak past the sea of burgundy “Grizzlies” shirts and order ale with Cajun-style cuisine. Charlie B’s and Dinosaur Cafe defines local Missoula culture, energy and rugged “Grizzlies” devotion. With smoked out windows, this establishment is denoted by only a simple C.B. logo. If you do not inquire among locals, you will never find this hole-in-the-wall bar. With an energetic atmosphere, you leave longing to be a devout Montana fan too.
Onward ho we press the next day, stopping at Gem Mountain in Philipsburg. This sapphire mine is located south of Missoula, nested near the Sapphire Mountains. A fabulous adventure, this mine neatly tucks into the foothills, way off the beaten path. Well worth the trip, we have an amazing time, and find a total of 29.7 carats.
We arrive in the Craftsman-style town of Bozeman in the afternoon. As a fan of the adventure-filled book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die,” I have to visit the Museum of the Rockies. Their renowned dinosaur research facility heralds among the best in the West. The dinosaur exhibit displays million-year-old fossils and is the definitive dinosaur research center. Additionally, during our visit the museum features the “Treasures of Napoleon” exhibit. As I absorb my surroundings, which trigger former history lessons, I literally have to rub the slight chill from my arms. A spectacular highlight is seeing one of two carved busts of Napoleon – the other bust is on permanent exhibition in Paris’ renowned Musée du Louvre. As I walk around the bust, the very air that surrounds this marble statue exudes the presence of the Emperor himself. A very interesting man, he believed that “a picture is worth a thousand words” and “imagination rules the word,” prophesies he literally lived and died by and phrases he lays claim to.
Tomorrow we set off for Yellowstone National Park, as we press forward in our adventurous road trip into the heart of America’s renowned wilderness.