Tuesday, 4 May 2010


A cold morning. They all seem to be cold mornings so far. I think I may have been a little optimistic in not packing any shoes or socks. Sandals will see me through: I am going to America in May it will be warm! That was my reasoning…
A reasonable night in Eddy’s Motel, although with cheap motels there are sacrifices to be made as I outlined in the previous blog.
What I didn’t mention was the fridge and the rudimentary under-floor heating. These conspired to ensure that the sleep came in bursts.
“Tik wrrr gugga gugga gugga” went the ancient fridge as it struggled to keep the air inside cooler than the air in the room. It wasn’t cold but I would imagine in the depths of a Montana winter you would be burning the furniture to try and keep from turning to ice. Seemingly satisfied, there would be another “Tik gugga gugga gugga wrrr” as the mechanism would lapse into silence.
Just as sleep was overcoming me the fridge would decided it was a bit warm after all and the same rhythm would start again.
By 3am the fridge had pretty much admitted defeat and had decided to get a little shut eye itself. Or maybe it realised that it was time to bring on the star guest:
“Ladies and gentleman, Mr Elton John!!”
Or in this case the under floor heating.
It sounded like someone was trying to break in from underneath.
A knocking sound, some scraping and the odd clonk emanating from the corner of the room.
I had noticed a rather heavy duty grille earlier and deduced that it had once been heating. I never expected it to work. Work it did. Not so much in the room. Although it did heat the wall a treat. When I opened the door to the bathroom I fully expected to see the Devil sitting on the loo.
You could have grown tomatoes in there it was so hot.

I was ready to hit the road early. I wanted to get to Yellowstone and I wanted to get off the I-90 and onto some of the roads less travelled.
I had missed breakfast (if there was any at Eddy’s) by the time I had showered and not shaved. (I am letting it grow to see how I look after a month and if the Dark Lady likes it.) I had a beard 15 years ago and it was a woman who made me shave it off. I am a trichological pushover. Failing that, I wonder if it will spark as much newspaper speculation over Adrian Chiles and his beard?
Hmm, I think I can answer that already.
Eddy was gone and the office door was locked so I just posted the key and set out. I presume he had gone to the Mall to replenish his cigarette supply.
So, no early morning bagel and orange juice for me today. Good, yesterdays was horrible! The orange juice in dispensers tastes of nothing. I think when they mean “Orange juice” they are just referring to the colour and not the ingredients.
To the husband-and-wife-run BS café for a plate of corned-beef hash and a bottomless coffee.
Since I have been in the Pacific North West I have not noticed a lot of smiling. Maybe it is the weather. Although, the unsmiling woman who served me did wish me a nice day. Albeit without actually seeming to mean it. Shame. The food was good though.
Out onto the I-90 and after a few miles at Whitehall turned south onto the 287. Immediately there was a change. Dual carriageway was replaced by two lane blacktop and nearly all the traffic vanished. By the time I reached Norris I had about half a tank of fuel so decided to stop and fill up.
Went in to use the “restroom” and when I came out I thought it may be good to have a map. Sat Nav is only useful if you know the name of the place you are going. As I only ever have a rough idea and a lot of the places are not in the gadgets, memory maps can be a boon.
Behind the counter was the thinnest woman I have ever seen. She had a spectacularly bubbling smoker’s chest and she wheezed when she spoke. What is it about this area? It is obviously a regional pastime.
Each State has its own slogan very often embossed on its car licence plates.
“Great potatoes” Idaho
“The Spirit of America” Massachusetts
And ever belligerent:
“Don’t mess with Texas”
They should change them in the Northwest:
“Washington. The roll up state”
“Montana…Welcome to emphysema country”
“Wyoming where we’re ready rubbed”
She was busy cleaning near the vending machines. There were several jumbo hot dogs spinning on heated rollers; bearing in mind I doubt she ate, and the passing traffic was minimal, even though the 287 was probably the equivalent of one of our A roads.
Those franks could have been spinning since Explorers Lewis and Clarke spanned the continent in the early part of the 19th century.
Their names were everywhere in this area including one camp site whose sign declared: “An old trapper said Lewis and Clarke camped here.”
I asked for a map and when it was obvious she had nothing that would fit the bill she produced a much worn one from under the counter and pointed out the town of Ennis a few miles down the road.
“Go there…Gas up and you’ll be right for Yellowstone,” she wheezed.
As I left her, exhausted by the effort inside, I pondered on her words. “Gas up.” I had just done that and Ennis was only about 25 miles further along the highway.
I hadn’t reckoned on what Yellowstone was capable of.

The road was nearly empty and we wound around the valley bottom just me the road the river and the railway. Every so often a mile long train would appear with its wonderful lonesome whistle; one of the most evocative sounds of America.
I planned to get to West Yellowstone in plenty of time as now I had figured out how the computer worked I had a lot of blogging to do. Also, I was excited at the prospect of a Skype call. Computer to computer from the Dark Lady.
West Yellowstone is a tiny town full of motels and RV hook ups. It is a staging post for the main event. The park! I was going to be driving through it tomorrow…or so I thought. As I arrived in town it started to snow.


  1. I'm loveing the AA3 blog, Mr Lester. You paint vivid pictures. Any chance of one of your sandles in the snow? I look forward to pictures of Yellowstone in the snow. Good luck ! I'll be tuned in, tomorrow.

  2. Lovely descriptions Mr L.
    Makes for more entertaining reading than listening to the numpty doing your show

  3. Great account of staying in a cheap motel Alex. Please upgrade accommodation options from 20/05. Seems your white wardrobe matches the the weather! Almost a week in and travelling light - you must be in search of a motel with a launderette? Tuned in to hear your interview on your own shoe - you sound like a broadcaster! Happy Trails!

  4. Alex, Alex, Alex, please buy shoes! Sandals and snow do NOT mix....unless you're not fond of keeping all ten digits...I'm just saying!

  5. I'd always just imagined Montana to be wide and wild, not worn out and wheezy too. My mind has been expanded - thank you, Alex. By the way, I hope you haven't exported the dubious British combination of socks and sandals... Get some rugged mountain footwear and a woolly hat!

    Sounds like you're having a memorable time. Looking forward to your return to the Shoe.