Day #11: Butte, MT to Big Sky, MT

We left around 8am, headed to Bozeman, MT, to the Museum of the Rockies but first I wanted to stop by the

Missouri River Headwaters State Park. I don't know why but I love finding the headwaters of rivers, and if we are driving right past this one I can't skip that. I was a little disappointed to not find a closed-in trail out to a tiny spring in the ground, but then that shows you how much I know about the Missouri River. It doesn't start at a spring but instead begins as the confluence of three other rivers (Jefferson, Madison, and Gallatin Rivers). The confluence is marked and there are signs up but if you get lost in minute details like I do, and you want to visualize each river turning into the Missouri, then the signs won't help. There is not a map there and so we were left guessing which was which but it was still a great history lesson for the kiddos (who left still thinking we got all excited over some dirty, running water). Over the next few days we would cross over the Gallatin River 8-9 times and enter more than one Gallatin National Forests. I need to find out who Gallatin was! Here, we read the story of Colter's Run and that was about the most interesting bit of history for the kids. If you don't know the story, check it out here.

The drive into Bozeman was pretty but not like the drive into Butte. The Museum of the Rockies is pretty easy to find with google maps but not if you are following road signs. They are affiliated with Montana State Univ and now also with the Smithsonian Institute, and houses a full-size T-Rex. The last time we came through Montana (me, momma, and the kids) was in 2012 and since then, Garrett has wanted to visit the dinosaurs in Montana museums. He still wants to make a checklist and hit every single one, one day, but that'll have to be another trip. This one is phenomenal! It cost around $45 for all of us to get in and they have dinosaurs, planetarium, native american room, music room, and a living history house out back that is set up for kids to touch and enjoy. We ate bison/elk sliders for lunch from a food truck out front, and we stayed there for almost six hours. We saw every show the planetarium offered and inspected every square inch of the buildings, before we left exhausted and sweaty. It was 82 degrees and we are not used to much over 70. Garrett loves pictures of him running from things so we set up one where the whole group of us was scared. However, my phone missed the good pic and all I have is this one where I'm so obviously out of sync with everyone else. That is sometimes my story though -- I'm often the odd one of the bunch lol.

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We found a bookstore (we are always looking for bookstores) and then headed south to Big Sky, MT, where we'll stay the night before driving through Yellowstone National Park. We were in awe at the scenery as we drove down Hwy 191, through the Gallatin Gateway, and to the entrance of Glacier National Park. We didn't realize it then but they were in the process of shutting down the go-to-the-Sun Road due to forest fires. They were evacuating residents and tourists. We saw a guy riding his horse through town and those super cool buses that are tour vehicles for the park. We got our pics by the sign and I have the purple braid clip that Ellie says make me look cooler. I felt like a dressed up "My Little Pony" but I wore it for her.

After a few minutes, we headed down to Big Sky where we had a reservation at Buck's T4 Lodge. I meant to ask what "T4" means but I forgot. It was a great place to stay. The scenery all around it was beautiful, the lodge was "rustic yet modern", in the words of Ellie, and it was affordable yet cozy. We checked in and then ate supper at the Lodge. I got a meatloaf grilled sandwich and don't tell my momma but it was the best I've ever eaten. Poor Garrett was so tired (and maybe carsick) that he just found some chairs and laid down instead of eating. Outside the restaurant is an arcade so we played $20 worth of pool, ski ball, bag tosses, and hunting. That was the first time the kids had ever seen ski ball and they were bouncing off the walls. About the time we got to the room, Garrett decided he "may be hungry" and so he scarfed down an entire 6 oz steak, garlic potatoes, and bread, in less than 6 minutes.

The double-bed "room" was actually a two room thing joined by a kitchen and bathroom. We will totally be spoiled after these rooms. So Will and I had a queen bed room, then you walk into the large vanity/sink room, then into the kitchenette (with bathroom next to it), then into the kid's vanity/sink room, then into their room with queen bed. They had their own door even. It would be perfect for two families. I had a hard time sleeping though because they felt so far away. What if somebody/thing came through their window or their door. I got up twice just to make sure they were okay. It was cool at first but not later when we got ready to sleep. Now I'm "feeling" what my momma used to tell me I'd feel one day. Yikes -- I think she might have been smarter than I ever knew before. :) I love you, Momma!

In all today, we drove 137 miles and were in the car 4 hours.