Before we left Cody the next morning, we visited The Old Trail Town. It’s a collection of old Western buildings that have been brought together from within a radius of 150 miles. It includes cabins that were used by famous characters such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Barry really wanted to walk through the swing doors of an old Western saloon. We knew there was a saloon here, so that was a big draw for us. We paid the entrance fee and wondered round the many cabins that were filled with stuffed animals – bears, moose, coyotes and deer to name a few and real fur rugs. There were some graves that homed some of the famous folk heroes (no one that we’d heard of though). The very last building was the saloon. As we approached the doors, we were very sad to see that there were no swing doors, just a normal door that we have today. Inside it was like a traditional looking saloon but Barry was disappointed. I’ve promised him we will find a saloon with the swing doors, so the search continues…
We left Cody around midday and made our way to our 9th state – Montana. All the top things we’d read about for Montana were in the north of the state, but we were only going to be driving through the south-east corner so we’d decided just to drive straight through. We did find a town on the map called Terry so for no other reason other than this is Barry’s Dad’s name we decided it would make a good stopover for the night. It also meant we could ‘peg Terry’ as part of family tradition!
The weather started off nice enough. The sun was shining and it was warm, but about an hour into our journey, it started to rain and over the next two hours it got heavier and heavier. Suddenly we were surrounded by a storm. We could see lighting bolts striking in the near distance and either side of us. The rain stopped suddenly but the skies were dull and grey. We thought the storm was over – how wrong we were!
All of sudden a bolt of lightening shot out of the sky and struck the road straight ahead of us. And then the rain hit again. We were driving right through the middle of the storm. There were flashes all around us. The rain was intense and the cars in front were causing such bad surface spray on the road that it was making visibility extremely poor. At this point I was so glad Barry was driving and not me. As we came out the other side, the rain began to slow and the skies lightened, but we could still see lightening bolts striking in the distance behind us.
Just as we thought we were out of the storm, it started up again. It was meant to be a really scenic drive, but we literally couldn’t see a thing. This time, the rain got so bad we had to pull over. There were some big trucks that continued to go racing by. I kept expecting to see them overturned on the road ahead. We were only about half an hour from Terry, so we decided to drive on, crawling along at less than 30mph.
By the time we reached the turning for Terry, the rain had stopped and the skies had cleared. As we drove down the town’s streets, the roads were dry. There was no sign of a storm here. It was pretty much a one street town so weren’t sure what kind of accommodation there would be, but almost as soon as we arrived, we saw the Kempton Hotel. It was built around 1905, making it the oldest hotel in Montana and has apparently accommodated famous guests such as Calamity Jane and Theodore Roosevelt. As Barry checked us in, he got talking to the owners Russ and Linda Schwartz. They told him all about the hotel and how it is supposedly haunted. They did add that all the ghosts are friendly though so we didn’t have to be on edge during our stay. The lobby looked very old, with black and white photos, floral wallpaper and vintage wooden furniture, but it was all part of the character and felt very warm and welcoming. We had our own sink in the room but had to share a bathroom. We didn’t mind this though; we’d spent three months in Australia and New Zealand sharing toilets and showers!
There was a bar across the road called Roy Rogers, so we went to get ourselves something to eat. There were a handful of locals in there who we spoke to about our travels whilst enjoying a bottle of Moose Drool (a beer, not actual moose dribble!).
After enjoying a Roy’s Special Burger and some dollars (sliced potatoes), we made ourselves comfy back at the Kempton for the night, whilst we waited for the storm to hit. When it did, we were able to sit out on the balcony and watch the lightening strike again. It was a lot less scary watching it from a balcony, than it was driving through it in a tin can!
We awoke the next morning after having a lovely nights sleep in an amazingly comfortable bed. We packed up our stuff and went down to the lobby to check out, where we were greeted with an apple pie delivered fresh from the local bakery. After say goodbye to Russ, we sought out the ‘Terry’ sign and ‘pegged’ him!
After a short drive, we hit our 10th state – North Dakota. Apparently it’s the least visited state in the USA, with very few things to do and see. However, as we drove through, it had some of the most gorgeous scenery we’d seen. We were surrounded by hundreds of small hills jutting up from the ground. Some were covered in greenery, whilst others were made up of different coloured layers of rock. It reminded me of one of those pots you get in souvenir shops with all the different coloured layers of sand inside. North Dakota was just a drive through state for us, giving us just enough time to see the ‘Painted Canyon’. The few attractions there are, are on the east side of the state and we were only cutting through on the west side, so we continued driving on until we reached our 11th state – South Dakota.