Da Mystery Road Trip Revealed, Part Twelve

After leaving Helena, we were back on the road with the big sky all around us. I thought of John Denver’s “Wild Montana Sky” duet with Emmy Lou Harris. I was loving every minute of this trip; it was such an adventure for a born and raised island girl. This is Highway 12 south, just north of Clasoil at Pioneer Fuel and Concrete.


Round hay bales near Winston in Jefferson County.

Hay bales - Jefferson County near Winston

This is near Cox Lane just north of Winston. Try look how the sky is lowering. We didn’t have any weather reports and didn’t realize that TryLook’s MSN da kine could’ve told us, but sheesh, just look at the sky and we could see.

South on Highway 12 near Cox Lane north of Winston

Now we’re almost to Beaver Creek Road near Winston.

Highway 12 South almost to Beaver Creek Road near Winston

Suddenly we saw something fantastic! Canyon Ferry Lake with the Big Belt Mountains in the distance.

Canyon Ferry Lake and Big Belt Mountains

The lake was absolutely huge. I wish we’d had time to explore this area too!

Canyon Ferry Lake and Big Belt Mountains in the distance

I did slow down a bit so that I could take it in as much as possible. It seemed to go on for miles.

Canyon Ferry Lake - Big Belt Mountains in the distance

See what I mean?


We’re now in the town of Townsend… and here’s a railroad trestle.

Townsend - railroad trestle

We’re crossing the Missouri River in Townsend.

Railroad trestle - Townsend

We saw this cool old fire engine in Townsend, parked next to the Full Belly Deli. Heh heh. This is for my friend Mike who’s a Lieutenant in the Gresham Fire Department and owns Hawaiian Beanz Coffee Shop along with his lovely wife Karie.

Old fire engine - Townsend - at the Full Belly Deli

Shaka, yeah? It was really fun to come across something so unexpected… and we’ve been doing that this whole trip!

Old Fire Engine at the Full Belly Deli in Townsend, Montana

We’re now coming up to another fork in the road… look at all the choices! We were definitely going to be late getting to Auntie’s though.

Bozeman - 66 miles! 4:47 p.m. Hwy 287

Here we were, zooming along at 75 miles an hour, and Lewis and Clark were trudging along this same area at what? Maybe four miles an hour? It just boggles the mind.

Lewis and Clark sign

This is the Flynn Ranch south of Townsend. It’s a working ranch, and you can actually sign up to go on cattle drives. Now that would be fun!!

Flynn Ranch, Townsend, Montana

We cross the Missouri River again. Montana is so vast and has so many wonderful rivers, and we enjoyed seeing each and every one.

Missouri River

In the distance, we could see rain coming down over the mountains. Or was it snow?

Rain coming!

About this time, once I got enough bars on my phone, I tried to call Auntie to let her know we were running late. The phone just rang and rang and rang, and I wondered where she was. We kept trying, but she never answered. So I had Nolemana call information. We didn’t even know the name of Auntie’s retirement community, but at least I knew the road she lived on.

The very nice operator was able to give me the number of Auntie’s place. I spoke with the receptionist at the front desk, and explained the situation and that I was concerned that Auntie would think we weren’t coming, since I’d been pretty specific about the time we’d arrive. I knew the front desk operator couldn’t just hand out Auntie’s phone number to me even though I was Auntie’s niece, but she did say she’d go down to Auntie’s room and let her know I’d called; she also confirmed that I’d been calling the wrong number. Which was, of course, why Auntie never answered!

So I left my phone number, and within a few minutes, Auntie called me back, out here in the middle of nowhere.

Snow and rain coming - Highway 287

The only problem was that we were out in the middle of nowhere, and when the phone rang, Auntie couldn’t hear me because we kept cutting out. So she left a message.

And look at the rain coming!

Snow and rain coming Highway 287

I knew we’d have to get out of daboonies in order to call Auntie back, but in the meantime, try look da rain! It was now about 4 p.m. The hay has all been cut now; I bet this was beautiful in the spring and summer.


The snow and/or rain have obliterated the mountains as we drove along. It was pretty cold, too.

Snow and rain obliterate the mountains

If you look closely, you can see the sheets of rain descending from the clouds.

Rain coming down

These guys are definitely getting ready for winter!


More rain was coming down over the mountains in the distance, but it wasn’t upon us yet. I was glad for that because otherwise Nolemana would’ve had to fight the windshield wiper action in order to get photos. Not to mention he’d probably get wet when and if I rolled down the window for the side shots!

More rain

Here’s the Missouri River again.

Madison River

Look at the rain! Or snow? Or a mixture of both?


The rain finally gets to us, just about the time I was able to call Auntie back and give her an update on our ETA. Oh my goodness, it was so good to hear her voice!

Rain gets to us

We are almost to Bozeman. And yes, that’s our destination. Bozeman, Montana, a place I’ve wanted to visit for years and years!

Almost to Bozeman!

Bozeman is surrounded by mountains; I’d heard that it was just beautiful, and now look! We’re here! This is looking north.

Rain and snow over the Bridger Mountains in Bozeman 4:40 pm 38 degrees

We were lucky enough to catch this shot of geese flying over. This was one of those times when poor Nolemana was desperately trying to take the photo while I was excitedly saying, “Get it! Get it!” And he did!


It was about 4:30 p.m., and we’re headed for the Main Street exit. That’s what TryLook told us to do. So we did it.

Bozeman!  4:36 p.m.

Someday, I want to visit this museum.


We’re almost there! I was getting so dang excited to see Auntie after so long.

5:40 p.m.  Almost to Anna's!

Finally, after a couple of wrong turns trying to find the front entrance to Auntie’s place, we arrived at the incredibly beautiful lobby. It looked like a lodge instead of a retirement home. I was speechless for several minutes.

Anna's place, main lodge room

The receptionist called Auntie on the phone and told her we had finally arrived. “Your niece is here!” Such sweet words after such a long trip. I hadn’t seen Auntie for many, many years. Too many. Mostly because she and my mom were sisters-in-law, and they were the ones who’d kept in touch through the years. I’d kept up with Auntie’s activities, of course, through my mom, but it wasn’t till right after my mom died that I talked to Auntie for the first time in decades.

When I was eight years old, my parents had sent me to the mainland from Hawai‘i to visit ‘ohana, and it was then that I’d met Auntie, Uncle, and Cousin for the first time. I still remember visiting their place up in the Oakland hills of California. We had a picnic outside, and among Mom’s things were movies of that time. I knew that Auntie and Uncle had lived in Honolulu with my parents for awhile, but that was long before I was born.

And now, here she was, walking down the hallway toward me. My eyes filled with tears, wai maka to da max, and they flowed down my cheeks as we hugged for the first time in so long. We looked at each other, then hugged again, and then I introduced Auntie to Nolemana, and they hugged too.

What an exciting end to an already wonderful day! And it was going to get even better!

Here is our map for today’s journey.



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4 Responses to Da Mystery Road Trip Revealed, Part Twelve

  1. Kikue Mugen says:

    That looks like a ski lodge rather than a retirement home! Wow! What a great looking place! It must have been a blessing to you to see that the place wasn’t one of those dark, dingy places where the staff were moody and unfriendly.

    On the way down… You know that cattle drive place. I’ve always wanted to do something like that. In fact when Uncle Del was still around the Lanai we’d talk about that stuff, because as you know, Uncle Del was into the whole cowboy bit. Gosh, I miss him. Anyway, since I was brought up practically living on a dairy I would often daydream about doing the cattle drive thing.

    Again, wonderful pictures and your story is so beautiful. Even I got emotional towards the end when you finally got to see Auntie. Wow.

  2. Clare says:

    Wai maka for you & Auntie. So glad you got to visit w/each other. Love da geese & da fire engine too! What’s da name of Auntie’s retirement place? (I’m planning ahead.) 😉

    Mahalo big time for sharing dis adventure. No can wait for what comes next!

  3. AFK says:

    Wow, you’re finally there! What a wonderful reunion!

    Your crossing the Missouri River reminds me of that old American song, “Shenandoah”:

    “Oh Shenandoah, I long to see you
    Away, you rolling river
    Oh Shenandoah, I long to see you
    Away, I’m bound away
    ‘Cross the wide Missouri.”

  4. I missed this entry some how!!!
    I got my morning wai maka out of the way ;-}

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