Pat & Rita's BIG Road Trip travel blog

Swan Lake




Twin Toilets



Little Bighorn





After the dismal weather yesterday, this morning dawns clear. As soon as we get loaded up our first stop is at the drive though car wash to remove some of the grime. The car was looking more like a farm pickup than a girl car. Somehow the back window was not all the way up (Miss Tia has learned how to lower the window) and the girls got a minor wash down as well as the car.

We have put ourselves entirely in Gertie’s hands as we make our way to Billings, our next stop. Gertie must be in a good mood as she has chosen a beautiful scenic route through a National Forest. The road follows a river and some lakes. The first lake is Swan Lake nestled between the mountains and deep blue in color. There are turn outs to stop and admire the view form time to time. As soon as one lake ends in a few minutes there is another. The area seems sparsely populated with no towns to speak of – at one point we stop at a roadside bar/casino to use the facilities.

Obviously with all the beautiful mountain roads we are not making very fast time. It is coming up on two o’clock and we are getting pretty hungry, actually we are starving! The town of Avon comes and goes, and not an eating place in sight. We come to intersection where we need to turn and we spy a sign for Avon Café to the left. We look at each other, and realize it is our only option. It turns out to be a little local café, and by the “Road-side Eatery” rule of more than 6 kinds of pie it must be good we know we are in good hands as they have 12 kinds of homemade pie. I have breakfast for lunch and Rita has the special Meatloaf which looks like it could feed a family of four!

The two waitresses are a hoot. The strangest thing is the women’s restroom. It has twin toilets sitting next to each other – not two stalls, two toilets. We want to go on record that the Texas Divas did not use the tandem toilet together!!!!

As we leave the café we head for the interstate. Oddly, to go east we must wind west for 5-6 miles over multiple cattle guards before we can enter east.

Add day the landscape is beautiful! We think Montana is the prettiest state we have seen! There are not many people and it is a long way between towns. We see lots of cows and lots of hay. We see three bald eagles and one golden eagle.

Because we took so long on the scenic drive, it is 7:30 before we arrive in Billings. Usually our days are much shorter, but it was worth the sightseeing. Billings seems like a nice town it is the largest city in Montana but not large at all. We are THRILLED to be back at the LaQuinta who actually welcomes dogs, rather than just tolerating them like the Best Western. The hotel recommends Jake’s, which turns out to be Billings’s best restaurant. It is beautiful and the food and service are very nice. Of course it is 9pm before we even arrive.

Everyone sleeps tight tonight.


Today is another beautiful Montana day. The sky here is cloudless and brilliant blue. We head out on Interstate 90 for Hot Springs, SD. This will be a three state day: Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota.

About an hour out of Billings we stop at the Little Bighorn Battlefield where Custer made his last stand. Custer and the 200 or so soldiers attacked 2000+ warriors from three Indian nations. The museum and battlefield are very interesting. The rangers give entertaining and informative talks. On the road into Little Bighorn we see prairie dogs sitting atop their burrows! We were able to enter with our pass which is turning out to be the best $10 of the trip. Guess who we see? The Rockport Tours bus. Small world.

This country is very empty – no people, no trees and only an occasional cow. There is no traffic and the speed limit is 75 so we are making good time.

We are learning so we see a sign for a town about 1 pm and we pull off for lunch in Buffalo, Wy. In contrast to the countryside, we find a beautiful town with charming houses, trees and a vibrant downtown. We park the girls under a tree even though it is only 75 degrees and stroll around downtown choosing Udder Delight in an old drugstore. Cute and delish! Rachel Ray would be proud to eat here.

We are back on the road and heading to Hot Springs, SD and the BnB for pets!

Oops! There’s the exit for Sturgis. You KNOW we have to go and take a look. It is a pretty cute town, with los of motorcycle accessories and lots of bikers even though it is a work day. It is no wonder that it takes us forever to get anywhere, but at least we have fun.

We finally arrive in Hot Springs and with Gertie’s help find the B’nB. It is right on the edge of town, but the driveway is steep, gravel and has lots of ruts. We finally make it to the house, which is pretty nice. The proprietor is kind of an old hippie. There is another guest upstairs, with a dog, and we will see how it goes. It is peaceful and nice and we hope it will be nice. We have lots of room which is good!

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