Traveling Man Part II - Heading Home

On my return home I decided to come a different route. I wanted to knock out a few more states that I have never been through. The route was going to be Washington, Montana, North Dakota, down to Iowa and home.

outside Seattle
Traveled up the highway of Washington to the outskirts of Seattle before jumping on I-94 to head East. I toyed with staying in the city for a day but opted for a couple of days in Montana instead. Seatle is always a more likely return due. This is more of what I imagined the Pacific Northwest to be like with small mountains and trees as far as one can see. It was rather beautiful.

After a few hours I entered the northern part of Idaho, which surprised me as it was very different from the southern part of the state. You go through some major mountainous territory. And it continous as you enter Montana. But again, it was breathtakingly beautiful. I should have made a couple stops but by the time I hit Missoula, it was close to twelve hours on the road and getting dark.

I pulled in my room at the Red Lion, which may be my new hotel of choice when out West, showered and hit the town. Missoula is small town which seems to cater to outdoors types and The Univeristy of Montana. My first stop was at Tamarack Brewing Co. for food and drink. A nice selection of brews as a sampled a bourbon vanilla stout (which was one of the best things I drank on my trip) and ate some tasty fish. 

 Afterwards, with my belly full, I walked around the downtown area for a bit and made my into a bar called The Iron Horse Brew Pub which had about twenty different types of beer on tap, most from the Northwest. I had a couple more and felt very tired despite only being 10:30pm. Back to the hotel I went for sleep.

The other place in Montana I wanted to stop was Billings. It was only a five hour drive so I slept in and took my time before leaving. This town has a huge beer culture and I wanted to check it out. I drove and at somepoint during this short drive I feel in love with the state of Montana.
Montana Brewing Company
Angry Hanks
Carter's Brewing
After checking into the Dude Ranch Motel, my first stop was at Montana Brewing Company and had a late lunch consisting of a macoroni and cheese dish and a Custer's Last Stout, both hit the spot. After one more, it time to head to the next brewery, Angry Hank's. This place is only a brewery and due state law, has a three beer limit. I had three, all of which I cannot complain about as they tasted good. My next stop was Carter's Brewing
which ended up being my favorite, and last stop of the night. Here I cozied up to the small bar and ordered a sampler. Chatted up with the awesome bartender, who I quickly became smittened with, and a couple of regulars from town. I also found out another state law. Not only to breweries have a three beer limit, but they close at 8pm during the week. If I would have known this before I would have left Missoula earlier than I did. I drank my limit and stayed until closing. The Carter de Saison was great! Unfortunately, my pub crawl came to a screeching halt. I could have found a bar to sample more but I had been pounding top notch beers for four hours and was feeling good. So I decided to go back to hotel. An early start for Fargo, North Dakota was in the near future.

At the crack of dawn I pulled away from Billings and headed East once again. The scenery remained outstanding Montana and as I crossed into North Dakota it remained. I came across a sign that had a scenic look out. I needed to stretch so I pulled into Teddy Roosevelt National Park Lookout. This turned out to be one of the best part of the trip as it overlook the Painted Canyon. I just stopped and stared for minutes. I was speechless at this amazing landscape. Pictures dont do it justice. This reminded me that once in awhile, you need to stop and take in the view.
Painted Canyon
I continued my drive across North Dakota with thoughts swirling around my head. Fargo was a good point of stoppage and place I wanted to stay simply because of the Coen brothers movie of the same name. Imagine my disappoinment when not one "Don'cha know" was said to me. Once checked into the hotel, I did my usual... walk around and fine a place to eat decent food and drink decent beer. I found this place called Sickies Garage.
Sickies Garage
It's a burger joint and craft beer bar. Very good selection on tap, roughly thirty. It's a very cool layout too with a few booths having their own tap where you can pour your own and get charged by use. Since there was no room at the bar I found a table and ordered a jalapeno burger with tator tots and an Alaskan Raspberry Wheat, Big Wood Brewery Morning Wood, and a Lucky Bucket Cowbell Saison. I was content and weary from the road. At this point, I was ready to be home and had my fill of driving.

Once again I pulled out at dawn leaving Fargo in my rearview mirror and soon crossed the over the Minnesota state line. I made the decesion to head down to Des Moines, Iowa and stay the night since I had to stop over night one more time unless I wanted 15 hours in a vehicle. And I did not.

Again, it was a short drive day at about seven hours. My first stop in the DM was at burger joint called Zombie Burger which is an awesome idea. The decor is unique with movie posters and zombie art work. The burgers are uniquely named combonations of awesomeness. And dont forget a thick, delicious shake should you stop here. And you should stop here and make it a destination.
Zombie Burger

With my lunch and zombie fix satisfied I checked into the hotel and made my way to a one of the nation's top beer bar's, El Bait Shop. This place is amazing. A interesting look on both the exterior and interior with about hundred taps of rotating greatness. This is another definite stop for beer lovers. In my few hours there I tried a Backpacker First Anniversary Stout, Goose Island Big John, Goose Island Night Stalker, West O Red, and Tallgrass Brewing Velvet Rooster. It was Friday and I was feeling good. But it was off to another reknown beer bar Royal Mile. The place is known for European beers but honestly, I was a tad disappointed with the selection. I had a bottle of  Salopian Entire Butt Porter and was very buzzed. While walking back to the hotel I remembered about Belgium Bar upstairs. Damn.
El Bait Shop

Royal Mile

Once again it was rising at dawn and hitting the highway. Eight hours later I was home. And glad to be back.

This ended up being a great trip. One that I will remember for a long time. I am convinced if a person wanted to get lost and start over in obscurity they could do it in parts of Wyoming, Idaho, South Dakota, North Dakota, or Montana. Doesn't necessarily sound like a bad thing either.

With this trip I have now either drove through part of or flew into a city in each of the 48 continential states of the USA. Not too shabby but there are still lots of parts to explore. Heads up Alaska and Hawaii...
I'm coming for you too!

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Observation of An Illogical mind by Sean Kimmel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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