New Year’s Road Trip

I was watching a show on space exploration and the solar system. The focus of our planet’s magnetosphere presented some amazing images of the auroras at the poles. I began researching the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and from where they could be viewed. Apparently, northern Montana has some opportunities for viewing them. So began an exploration of easy to reach destinations.

It was two days after Christmas, and we had about a week left of our two week vacation. I went from exploring beautiful photographs of auroras to planning a road trip to northern Montana. With no notification, I informed my partner to start packing for a road trip. We started out from home, about 20 miles from Mexico and 10 miles from I-15…headed for Canada. With a decent touring sedan, warm clothes and a reservation at a hotel outside Provo, Utah for that night, we embarked. No, I didn’t check the weather reports. At least not as I would have as a professional driver. Here goes!

Those final hours, in the late night, winding through mountains in a snow storm at 35mph was quite stressful. The second day, travel was beautiful from Utah to Great Falls, Montana. The roads were almost completely clear and the snow in the surrounding mountains was picturesque. I opted for a larger town not as close to Canada as I had hoped, but this turned out to be a great decision.

We explored all the waterfalls in the area. We went to the Lewis and Clark museum, and visited a natural spring that feeds the shortest river which feeds into the Missouri river. We walked and drove around the area exploring local coffee shops, restaurants, real estate and a western wear store. We never caught a glimpse of the northern lights. The solar winds and the weather have to align at the right time with a dark sky to catch them…so, this one remains on my bucket list.

We gained an appreciation of Montana, enjoying an unseasonably warm New Year’s, knowing that these people endure some extreme weather. We learned a little more about the final days of the expedition to discover a waterway to the West coast. We witnessed the massive power of rushing water harnessed to provide electricity. We look forward to revisiting the area in the summertime and maybe trying to witness those elusive northern lights again.