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Montana The Magnificent

Montana The Magnificent

“An inner anger is poison. A person who is angry is poisoning them self and poisoning the environment.”
-David Lynch

David Lynch - born in Missoula, Montana


Montana, South Dakota and Idaho were the states that surprised me the most on this road trip. Mostly because of their external beauties and how many activities there were to be enjoyed in these areas. Montana is a huge fucking place. Yes, Texas is the biggest state in the Continental US but Montana sure felt like it while I was driving through her. It was so big, I spent two nights in two different cities: Billings and Missoula.

Here’s a size comparison of Montana and Texas.

Montana vs Texas
Size comparison of Montana and Texas.

This is crazy. I still don’t believe it even though I have been to El Paso and Dallas, Texas and I know how brutal it is to get from one to the other (635 miles). Add another 239 miles to get to Houston and that adds up to about 12 hours of driving. Holy Bison ass, Texas!


Elk crossing sign - Montana In the middle of nowhere, auto-correct doesn’t work even if you have a signal on your iPhone. The phone just sits there, spinning.

Elk crossing sign - Montana It’s not unusual to drive on the freeway and all of a sudden go from 90mph to 65mph to 45mph to 35mph to 25mph in under 2 minutes. Sometimes it’s because of construction. Other times, you’re passing through a town that looks like 41 people live there.

Elk crossing sign - Montana Expect signs like this one and take it very seriously: “NEXT GAS EXIT: 82 miles”.

Elk crossing sign - Montana Montana was not as flat and brown as my drive through North Dakota. She will reward you with rolling hills, valleys, beautiful mountains, pretty lakes and lush, green vistas.

Elk crossing sign - Montana Do you really hate people and technology and never want to be bothered again? Move to the middle of North Dakota or the eastern section of Montana. More specifically, along the 12 freeway between Bowman, ND and Miles City, MT. I guarantee ZERO visitors except for some Bison and migratory birds. You’re welcome.

ND to MT
Google Maps: Bowman, ND to Miles City, MT.

Elk crossing sign - Montana There’s no one in your rear view for 100+ miles between Bowman, ND and Miles City, MT. It’s awesome and creepy all at the same time.

Elk crossing sign - Montana It’s scary when you’re going 90mph and a huge semi-truck speeds by and shakes your Toyota Prius. Whoaaaah! Hold on tight.

Elk crossing sign - Montana The end to end drives (east to west or vice versa) of Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas and Montana will clear your mind and bring things into perspective very quickly. It’s a gem many should experience at least once in their lifetime. No talking. No music. Just drive and listen to your inner self.

Elk crossing sign - Montana If you just had a really bad break up, do this drive: Bowman, ND to Miles City, MT. Your head will magically clear and before you know it, it’s “Becky, who”?

Elk crossing sign - Montana There’s a lot of roadkill in Montana. Get used to it and be alert.

Elk crossing sign - Montana There are lots of vehicles with oversized loads (Jesus, did I just write that?): Tractors, semis, semis carrying homes, semis carrying cars and semis carrying farming equipment. Sometimes, you will have to drive behind them for a few miles before you can pass and go on your merry way. Practice patience. You’re going to need it.

South Dakota: More than just Mount Rushmore

South Dakota: More than just Mount Rushmore

“I practice my golf swing naked.”
-Cheryl Ladd
Cheryl Ladd



I have a confession to make. If you’ve read many of my travel blogs, you would think I was a travel expert dandily navigating through the United States without a care in the world. It’s so far from the truth. There were a few scary moments for me throughout this entire trip (including South Dakota). Before I share a list of them, let me clarify the meaning of “scary”.

My main fear was always about breaking down in the middle of nowhere. Not racism. Not the police. Not giving up. I was always worried that my car would hit a nail, an animal or just simply give up at any point during the 20,000 mile adventure.

My hands and feet were sweaty in the back roads of New Mexico during sunset as a lightning storm loomed; leaving Grand Canyon National Park in the early evening, where families of deer could be seen lining the roads; driving from Iowa to South Dakota while a dark, gloomy storm waved at me from the Northeast, as I headed west and lastly, driving from Sturgis, South Dakota to Bowman, North Dakota (145 miles of brown grass, blue sky, no police in sight and 1 Bison).

South Dakota’s two main cities, Rapid City and Hill City, were well worth the long, anxious drive. It’s almost as if these areas were built as the ultimate rewards for driving a half day to get to them.

My observations during the Monday morning & afternoon drive from Des Moines, Iowa to Hill City, South Dakota:

Motorcycle Started seeing a lot more motorcycles than any of the previous states.

Time Clock There was a time zone change in the middle of the state (I gained an hour).

Desert-like in South Dakota The drive felt like a Los Angeles to Vegas trek sometimes, with the vast lands and mountains in the distance and every now and again, you saw a small town.

Iowa Tigerhawk In Iowa, it seemed like there were no small towns for hundreds of miles. Just farmland and corn fields.

South Dakota Speed Limit The speed limit in South Dakota was 80 mph along the 90 Freeway. Yippee!!

90 Freeway sign in South Dakota There was a sign that said, “Next rest stop, anyone’s guess. Fill up now.” That was hilarious and made me look at my gas gauge! I was okay.

Hourglass icon In terms of distance and length of travel, the drive across South Dakota from East to West reminded me of the drive in Kansas from West to East. Long as shit!

Cow Wagon Saw a lot more vehicles on the 90 freeway carrying either other vehicles, animals or farming equipment.

Roadkill Saw more roadkill along the freeways than any other state so far.

Flat Road For 500 miles going from East to West (Iowa to South Dakota), everything is flat like Kansas. Then all of a sudden, South Dakota turns into the mountains of Colorado. They literally come out of nowhere, like the casinos when you drive into Las Vegas. And then before you know it, it looks like you’re in the middle of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. It’s actually a beautiful reward after so much driving.

To conclude, I must mention that South Dakota is more than just Mount Rushmore. Imagine driving 500 miles to see Mount Rushmore, dining at Dakotah Steakhouse for dinner, retiring back to your hotel for the night and then leaving the next day. Ouch. That would suck!

Here are some other activities Hill City and Rapid City have to offer:

  • Reptile gardens
  • Golfing
  • Putt Putt golfing
  • Hiking
  • Canoeing
  • Mount Rushmore monument
  • Crazy Horse monument
  • Beautiful countryside drives
  • Wildlife park
  • Different restaurants with different kinds of foods (e.g. Bison, Elk) — Dakotah steakhouse
  • Dinosaur museum
  • Camping

If possible, don’t stay in Rapid City. Head into the mountains and stay in Hill city near Mount Rushmore. You’ll thank me later.