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Three Days Up

An unexpected event left us with a great house in Montana – and a need to travel 1200 miles fast, through the Great Basin.

Flying to Missoula or Glacier Park International and renting a car was prohibitively expensive, and we’d just burned a month of vacation. So we had to drive, and fast – Albuquerque to Kalispell, Montana in three days, five days to get the property ready to rent in Kalispell, and three days back.

We planned stops in Green River, Utah, and Idaho Falls, Idaho. Green River is a bit farther north than Moab’s sprockethead mecca. There’s not much there, but it is a pretty spot.

Book Cliffs in Southeastern Utah

Book Cliffs near Green River, Utah

We discovered the wooded, friendly Green River State Park was all booked up, so we ended up at Shady Acres RV Park. The place had more “No [blank]” signs than I’d ever seen at any RV park, but it was clean and available. We ate dinner at Ray’s Tavern, the only decent food alternative. Burgers are huge, cheap and char-broiled – but beer is Utah’s usual thin-tasting 3.2% ABV. If you’re a beer drinker you’ll want to try something else.

Sunset outside Ray’s Tavern, Green River, Utah

Idaho Falls has several places with good beer, and the Snake River RV Park had space. But the real jewell is the walk along the Snake River. The mid-town hydropower dam is an unexpectedly scenic foreground to the Mormon Temple.

Snake River, Idaho Falls

Four Day Return

We made it to Kalispell, took care of the house, and chose a property manager.

Since we did it faster than expected, we left a day early and took more time coming home. We stopped at Butte, Montana for a great dinner at the Uptown Cafe, and a stay at the rustic 2 Bar Lazy H Campground.

Evening at 2 Bar Lazy H Campground, Butte, Montana

Butte has the feel of Missoula in the 1960s – a civilized small town. And the Uptown Cafe‘s four-course dinner on fine linen tablecloth was a reason to stop all by itself – and was less than $70 for two of us, including the beer and drinks.

Soup course, Uptown Cafe, Butte, Montana

Civilized Utah

Then it was on to Provo, Utah. Salt Lake City is a nice-enough place with the Wasatch Range for a backdrop, but Provo is a small walking town without all the people or traffic. I discovered you can actually order stronger, tastier ‘export’ beer at Provo’s Oregano Italian Kitchen to go with their excellent lasagna, chicken gnocchi, or spaghetti and meatballs.

Oregano Italian Kitchen, Provo, Utah

Afterwards, we had ice cream made before our very eyes at Sub Zero. We were going to watch 4th of July fireworks with our desert, but we decided not to wait until 10:00PM, and headed back to the KOA. On previous trips we had enjoyed Provo’s spacious and wooded Lakeside RV Campground, but they were booked up for the holiday weekend.

4th of July, Provo, Utah

4th of July, Provo, Utah

It was time to get out of Provo the next morning, past the Book Cliffs and Moab again. There were desert rains and strange critters to look at on the way, which made it more interesting.

Desert rain between Green River and Moab, Utah

One of Utah’s other desert residents near Moab

On to Durango

We love Durango for its vibrant restaurant scene and out-in-the-country RV campgrounds, not to mention the scenic possibilities west and north of town. The town is probably best known for the Durango & Silverton Narrow-Gauge Railroad.


Mountain views from the Animas River Trail, Durango

Our usual food spot is Chimayo Stone-Fired Kitchen downtown. After a waiter tried to serve us the same well-done hamburger when we’d ordered rare and had it sent back, we’re not sure we’d order burgers there again. Their house-baked bread and fish dishes have been very good, though, so we’ll probably be back.

Eating at the bar, Chimayo Stone-Fired Kitchen

Then it was south to Albuquerque. I love to travel, but it’s always good to be home.

Snowy egret, Shoreline Park, CA