Montana is the third least populated state with about 7 people per square mile (behind Wyoming and Alaska). The grass plains go on forever between great mountain ranges. The continental divide splits the state into eastern prairie and the mountainous west. We drive on two lane highways, where the speed limit is 75, but it seems too slow, you have to go faster, have to hurry to traverse the great expanse, to get to your destination, which never comes, there is always more road straight ahead to the horizon. Above the plains the sky is a pure blue and it seems so low you can almost touch it, with looming clouds that hang in perfect stillness above the plains. The corn fields of South Dakota give way to horse and cattle ranches, the animals are on their own with no one tending them, only once in 10 miles an old crumbling building shows up and its surrounded by equally dilapidated rusted farming equipment, ancient tractors, horse trailers and trucks. A collector could find some exotic relics going from ranch to ranch here in Montana. We saw some unique 50′s chevys, 1960′s school buses and 70′s muscle cars loosely strewn about in abandonment.
As the plains very gradually give way to rolling hills, we pass small towns, or more like clusters of various houses and kitschy hotels and western themed businesses. Many of the houses are home trailers, with additions haphazardly attached to the back and sides. The unifying theme to all of these house complexes are cars. An average of 8-10 cars litter the property. Some are new, some are obviously not in driving condition, but usually its a hodgepodge of older passenger cars, trucks, vans, campers, an RV or two, with a rusted out classic car with flat tires thrown in to the mix. Later, at one of the campgrounds, we talk to a guy who has lived in the area for a while, and he told us that all the locals hope to sell one of those cars once they are a “classic” and make lots of money. Seems like that kind of thinking would go hand in hand with a gambling and striking it rich mentality, which might explain all of the casinos that are more numerous than a gas station. Signs advertising a casino are at every truck stop, alongside all the diners, in every little town that we pass through. They are not really Vegas Strip, more like the Vegas Airport. Going into one on a Friday, it looked popular with locals, who huddled around poker and black jack machines, with rolls of coins and stacks of dollars, filling up on bud lights at the bar.
As we approach the continental divide, the rolling hills give way to dense pine woods, the road starts to go up into the Mountains of Glacier National Park, and we feel the chill of cold winds.
Roma and Natalia are world travelers, photographers, and an all around fun couple. When they are not travelling far away continents or driving around USA in their trusted Highlander, they can be found in San Francisco, California.