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Author Topic: Montana?  (Read 8255 times)

hobsini2

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Re: Montana?
« Reply #25 on: July 12, 2021, 07:58:47 AM »

So, now I'm looking for suggestions on places to eat. Any noteworthy regional chains or local places?

We found a small regional chain called Buddy's BBQ in Kingston, Tenn., when we went to see the eclipse a few years ago. That was a nice find with some decent food. Something like that would be great. (Not necessarily BBQ, but a brand unique to a certain area or region.)

General route is I-75/US 23/I-75 to the UP, US 2/some M-route/M-28/US 2 from St. Ignace all the way across the UP through Wisconsin/Minnesota/North Dakota/Montana to Glacier, the I-15 corridor down to the SLC area, as-yet unknown routes down to the Four Corners/Mexican Hat/Kayenta area, more as-yet unknown routes back northeast to I-70 somewhere in Colorado, then I-70 and I-64 back to the Bluegrass. I'm not sure if I-70 in Kansas or Missouri is too far north to be in Braum's territory or not, but that's a place I wouldn't mind stopping at again.

(Don't say "Culver's" since we'll be in Wisconsin, as they've been here in my region for 25 years and are one of my favorite fast-food burger places.)

Do I understand correctly that In-n-Out has made it to the SLC area? There was not one convenient to where I was when I was in the San Francisco area a couple of years ago, so I didn't get to try it. But I'm still not happy that their menu and available toppings appear to be limited compared to Five Guys and other places.

Also, what are the best chain gas station/c-store brands we'll encounter? Thinking more of prices, decent restrooms, and meal options a la Sheetz. I'm not sure if we will be in Kwik Trip/Kwik Star territory or not. Given the length of surface routes we'll be traveling, I'm not sure how many of the big truck stop chains (which are usually dependable) we'll encounter. I can't see there being a Love's or Pilot/Flying J along US 2 every 75 or so miles the way they are on I-64.
I spend quite enough time traveling in the Great Plains and Midwest for storm chasing so this is from my experience. I have also linked some websites to help.
First the gas question.
In Wisconsin and Minnesota, you will find Kwik Trip all over the state. There are Flying J/Pilots in Grand Forks, Fargo, Minot, Williston, Sidney MT, Great Falls, Shelby MT on the way to Glacier. Here is the link to the website: https://pilotflyingj.com/ 
Love's is fewer along that route but there are several the further south you go. Love's: https://www.loves.com/en/location-and-fuel-price-search/locationsearchresults#?type=Travel%20Stop,Country%20Store
TA & Petro is another truck stop chain but not as frequent on the locations in the Midwest and Great Plains. https://www.ta-petro.com/location
Sapp Brothers is primarily in Nebraska and Kansas.
Speedway and Thornton's are also good for gas and a clean restroom.

As for food...
You can pass Whataburger. I have tried it 3 times in 3 different areas. Not a fan.
You do find more A&W Restaurants in Wisconsin and Minnesota and those are better than Culver's in my opinion.
My brother says that Gronk's (lunch) and Breakwater (breakfast) in Superior WI are excellent.
Too bad that you're not going to St Paul MN. The best pulled pork (with cherry bourbon sauce) I ever had was there near the University of St Thomas at The Bark & The Bite. If I didn't live 6 hours away, I would go there frequently.
Farm House at the Breckenridge Brewery is good. That's in Littleton, CO.
When we went to Moab, we ate at The Spoke on Center a couple times. The fish tacos and the pasta carbonara are excellent. it is a bit pricey but worth it.

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Rothman

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Re: Montana?
« Reply #26 on: July 12, 2021, 08:14:32 AM »

A&W better than Culver's?  No way.

Breakwater has changed hands over the years.  A third iteration of the restaurant opened in 2019.

When I lived in Superior, we mostly headed into Duluth when we ate out.

That said, if the DQ still has the same managers, it was the best run franchise in the country...if you're into DQ.
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Re: Montana?
« Reply #27 on: July 12, 2021, 08:15:32 AM »

Looks like this is a go for mid-August. My brother got his GSTR pass for Aug. 16, and it's good for seven days, so if we don't get there until the 17th, we're still good.

Here's what he has planned, although this is going to change somewhat because we're leaving the afternoon of Aug. 13 and won't make it much farther than Toledo or Ann Arbor that afternoon.



1 Somewhere in the UP
2 Somewhere in ND or maybe eastern MT
3 Near St. Mary MT
4 Somewhere on the other side of Glacier NP
5 Somewhere around Dillon MT
6 Somewhere around Dillon MT
7 Somewhere in ID on the other side of the Magruder Road, or camped along the road
8 Somewhere near Craters of the Moon in ID
9 Somewhere near Dinosaur National Monument in CO
10 Moab UT
11 Monument Valley or Kayenta AZ
12 Somewhere in CO on I-70
13 Somewhere in KS
14 home (late)

Based on staying near Ann Arbor on the 13th, I figured it out to where we would probably make it to Ironwood on the 14th, Minot the 15th, somewhere near Glacier on the 16th.

Okay this agenda allows absolutely no time to do anything in the UP so why bother?
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hobsini2

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Re: Montana?
« Reply #28 on: July 12, 2021, 09:19:08 AM »

A&W better than Culver's?  No way.
Did I stutter? Those butterburgers at Culver's are not that great. And A&W is a better root beer. So yes, IMO, it is better.
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Rothman

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Re: Montana?
« Reply #29 on: July 12, 2021, 10:38:59 AM »

A&W better than Culver's?  No way.
Did I stutter? Those butterburgers at Culver's are not that great. And A&W is a better root beer. So yes, IMO, it is better.
Well, I suppose if one accepts a comparison of a burger to a root beer.
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hbelkins

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Re: Montana?
« Reply #30 on: July 12, 2021, 11:11:09 AM »


That said, if the DQ still has the same managers, it was the best run franchise in the country...if you're into DQ.

DQ is the only fast food place in Beattyville, not counting Subway. So I tend to pass on it, as I can get DQ anytime (they also have a new location in Jackson so I don't patronize it very often).

A&W better than Culver's?  No way.
Did I stutter? Those butterburgers at Culver's are not that great. And A&W is a better root beer. So yes, IMO, it is better.

A&W is common in my area, frequently paired with LJS. We even had an A&W at home for a few years.  A&W will do in a pinch, but I prefer Culver's. I actually prefer Culver's to a lot of the "gourmet" burger places like Smashburger and Five Guys.

Okay this agenda allows absolutely no time to do anything in the UP so why bother?

Just to get a flavor of the lay of the land and the geography. It's been passed off as this mythical place unlike the rest of the country, so it would be neat to see. There's also county collecting to be done (and a clinch of US 2 in Wisconsin).
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JayhawkCO

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Re: Montana?
« Reply #31 on: July 12, 2021, 12:06:29 PM »

I might be willing to give Whataburger another chance if we encounter any. Aren't they in the Denver area?

Not yet.  They are coming from what I read somewhere though.

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Re: Montana?
« Reply #32 on: July 12, 2021, 12:41:15 PM »

Okay this agenda allows absolutely no time to do anything in the UP so why bother?
That's an interesting question, given that this is a forum for roadgeeks...
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Re: Montana?
« Reply #33 on: July 16, 2021, 01:22:03 AM »

US A&W is garbage. Canadian A&W is far superior.

Anyway, as for the question that started this, the big Montana C-Store chain is Town Pump. You will definitely find those along US 2. And Montana is also Cenex territory. If you're seeking hot food you may need to seek it elsewhere though.

That said, US 2 is a major enough corridor that you will find familiar fast food chains. Wolf Point, Glasgow, Havre, Shelby, and Cut Bank all have one or more. I think you'll be fine.

Especially since you're not doing what I did and driving from Sandpoint to Williston in one shot. That was the day I crossed two time zone boundaries in the same day heading east. Don't do this. :-D
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Re: Montana?
« Reply #34 on: July 16, 2021, 10:33:40 AM »

US A&W is garbage. Canadian A&W is far superior.

I donít think US A&W is garbage, but the old legacy drive-in stores are better than the more recent ones that franchised with LJS. Most of the latter ones are almost all gone now anyway, at least from the upper Midwest.

The one I frequented across from my college campus was more like an actual restaurant, with daily soup specials available.
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Re: Montana?
« Reply #35 on: July 16, 2021, 10:50:52 AM »

US A&W is garbage. Canadian A&W is far superior.

I donít think US A&W is garbage, but the old legacy drive-in stores are better than the more recent ones that franchised with LJS. Most of the latter ones are almost all gone now anyway, at least from the upper Midwest.

The one I frequented across from my college campus was more like an actual restaurant, with daily soup specials available.

Just checked and the one that was in my dad's home town, Lake City, MN, seems to be gone now, locally known as "the root beer stand".  Sad.  Lots of memories from there.

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Re: Montana?
« Reply #36 on: July 16, 2021, 01:52:02 PM »

Sudden thought (after seeing Oscar's latest post in the "Uno" thread): How far along is North Dakota in the replacement of the old-style state route markers with the new ones?

South Carolina still had quite a few stragglers the last time I was there. Did North Dakota put more effort into changing out the signs, or are they doing it on as as-needed basis the way South Carolina did?

Heck, I think you can still find some Oklahoma circles that haven't been replaced by meat cleavers in some places.
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Re: Montana?
« Reply #37 on: July 16, 2021, 03:02:23 PM »

Sudden thought (after seeing Oscar's latest post in the "Uno" thread): How far along is North Dakota in the replacement of the old-style state route markers with the new ones?

South Carolina still had quite a few stragglers the last time I was there. Did North Dakota put more effort into changing out the signs, or are they doing it on as as-needed basis the way South Carolina did?

Heck, I think you can still find some Oklahoma circles that haven't been replaced by meat cleavers in some places.

ND is doing it as signs are due for replacement. There were plenty of old shields around in May, possibly a majority.
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Re: Montana?
« Reply #38 on: July 16, 2021, 05:43:40 PM »

Sudden thought (after seeing Oscar's latest post in the "Uno" thread): How far along is North Dakota in the replacement of the old-style state route markers with the new ones?
ND is doing it as signs are due for replacement. There were plenty of old shields around in May, possibly a majority.

Agreed. Two particulars I noticed:

-- I'd have thought that there would be an emphasis on updating the markers for the three- and (especially) four-digit route markers, which require an awkwardly-elongated headress to make room for the route number, and work better in the new designs' rectangular format. No sign of that, still plenty of old-design ND 1804 and ND 1806 markers, at late as June when I was last there.

-- Also no emphasis on replacing the old design markers on Indian reservations, including those of the Sioux tribes (notorious for their sometimes prickly relationships with the state governments of both Dakotas, such as over the use of Indian-themed imagery and names).
« Last Edit: July 16, 2021, 05:48:22 PM by oscar »
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Re: Montana?
« Reply #39 on: July 31, 2021, 09:53:51 PM »

Two weeks out from the trip, and I'm now beginning to wonder if possibly there might not be a chance for an impromptu storm chase the first couple of full days (UP, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota). I've been seeing a lot of severe weather warnings for that area in the past couple of weeks, so I wonder if that pattern will continue.

Hopefully the heat wave will break in the upper midwest if it hasn't already.

My brother came near a twister somewhere in that general area (South Dakota or Minnesota, I think) years ago, possibly coming home from his honeymoon.
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Re: Montana?
« Reply #40 on: August 01, 2021, 10:12:04 PM »

Two weeks out from the trip, and I'm now beginning to wonder if possibly there might not be a chance for an impromptu storm chase the first couple of full days (UP, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota). I've been seeing a lot of severe weather warnings for that area in the past couple of weeks, so I wonder if that pattern will continue.

Hopefully the heat wave will break in the upper midwest if it hasn't already.

My brother came near a twister somewhere in that general area (South Dakota or Minnesota, I think) years ago, possibly coming home from his honeymoon.
We had a tornado warning in southern WI on Thursday morning. Havenít been keeping track of the weather up in northern WI/the UP but I do know that tornadoes are much rarer in that area than they are where I live. Further north the thunderstorms are less predictable, maybe due to the relative infrequency of weather stations compared to areas where more people live.
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Re: Montana?
« Reply #41 on: August 01, 2021, 10:47:14 PM »

Hopefully the I-70 closure in Glenwood Canyon will be fixed by the last full week of August, or else we'll be looking for an alternate way home.

Addendum: With the exception of seeing Glenwood Canyon, we are probably going to be in "get home as fast as we can" mode after we leave the Monument Valley area. With I-70 being closed, I would expect that mode of travel to involve taking US 550 to the Albuquerque area, where we would then probably make a left turn onto I-40, and take it and I-44 back to St. Louis.

Leaving out using US 160, since I would still love to drive that route end-to-end and any trip to get out of the Four Corners area using that route would probably involve significant mileage on it, what other good options might there be?

Trying to get to the Oklahoma panhandle somehow is intriguing. But on the map, US 64 to the Taos area doesn't look like an exceptionally fast route. And then once in the panhandle, there's the matter of quick access to I-44.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2021, 09:41:43 AM by hbelkins »
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Re: Montana?
« Reply #42 on: August 02, 2021, 11:03:23 AM »

Heck, I think you can still find some Oklahoma circles that haven't been replaced by meat cleavers in some places.

Maybe if you go alignment hunting or something. I haven't seen a standalone one posted on an active highway in years. Any stragglers are things like town installs, JCT signs on non-state-highway cross roads that ODOT forgot they even put up, and odd-sized markers on LGSes that are presumably too much of a pain to patch over.

Trying to get to the Oklahoma panhandle somehow is intriguing. But on the map, US 64 to the Taos area doesn't look like an exceptionally fast route. And then once in the panhandle, there's the matter of quick access to I-44.

The Oklahoma panhandle is interesting for county-counting purposes, but that's about it. Otherwise, you're likely to find it less appealing than In-N-Out; it is by far the least interesting part of the state, and the main east-west access is a two-lane slog. I-44 access from that general area is probably best achieved by taking US-412 across the state and picking it up in Tulsa; this would let you see the Glass Mountains (the only interesting geological construct anywhere near the area) and would also net you the Cimarron Turnpike, which is the western half of the proposed Enid-to-Springdale interstate.
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Re: Montana?
« Reply #43 on: August 02, 2021, 12:17:21 PM »

Heck, I think you can still find some Oklahoma circles that haven't been replaced by meat cleavers in some places.

Maybe if you go alignment hunting or something. I haven't seen a standalone one posted on an active highway in years. Any stragglers are things like town installs, JCT signs on non-state-highway cross roads that ODOT forgot they even put up, and odd-sized markers on LGSes that are presumably too much of a pain to patch over.

Trying to get to the Oklahoma panhandle somehow is intriguing. But on the map, US 64 to the Taos area doesn't look like an exceptionally fast route. And then once in the panhandle, there's the matter of quick access to I-44.

The Oklahoma panhandle is interesting for county-counting purposes, but that's about it. Otherwise, you're likely to find it less appealing than In-N-Out; it is by far the least interesting part of the state, and the main east-west access is a two-lane slog. I-44 access from that general area is probably best achieved by taking US-412 across the state and picking it up in Tulsa; this would let you see the Glass Mountains (the only interesting geological construct anywhere near the area) and would also net you the Cimarron Turnpike, which is the western half of the proposed Enid-to-Springdale interstate.

I'm sure it gets worse east of Boise City, but western Cimarron County actually has some fascinating terrain. I hiked Black Mesa a few months ago and very much enjoyed seeing the New Mexico-style plateau/mesa country in Oklahoma. SH 325 was a fun clinch.

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Re: Montana?
« Reply #44 on: August 02, 2021, 05:49:15 PM »

I'm sure it gets worse east of Boise City, but western Cimarron County actually has some fascinating terrain. I hiked Black Mesa a few months ago and very much enjoyed seeing the New Mexico-style plateau/mesa country in Oklahoma. SH 325 was a fun clinch.

I enthusiastically second western Cimarron County and extreme NE New Mexico. That area is remote with beautiful scenery and fun driving. NM 406 is in miserable shape, but it is empty with nice views NB.
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Re: Montana?
« Reply #45 on: August 02, 2021, 05:52:12 PM »

Two weeks out from the trip, and I'm now beginning to wonder if possibly there might not be a chance for an impromptu storm chase the first couple of full days (UP, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota). I've been seeing a lot of severe weather warnings for that area in the past couple of weeks, so I wonder if that pattern will continue.

Hopefully the heat wave will break in the upper midwest if it hasn't already.

My brother came near a twister somewhere in that general area (South Dakota or Minnesota, I think) years ago, possibly coming home from his honeymoon.
We had a tornado warning in southern WI on Thursday morning. Havenít been keeping track of the weather up in northern WI/the UP but I do know that tornadoes are much rarer in that area than they are where I live. Further north the thunderstorms are less predictable, maybe due to the relative infrequency of weather stations compared to areas where more people live.

MN and WI aren't exactly Nebraska, Kansas, or Oklahoma when it comes to tornadic activity; we get maybe one mildly intriguing outbreak a year. In addition, much of the area has been dealing with drought conditions this summer, so it's unlikely there will be much storm activity. And if there is any significant storm activity, it'll likely be late in the evening or overnight which makes storm chasing impractical.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2021, 05:54:16 PM by TheHighwayMan394 »
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Re: Montana?
« Reply #46 on: August 02, 2021, 07:05:11 PM »

Leaving out using US 160, since I would still love to drive that route end-to-end and any trip to get out of the Four Corners area using that route would probably involve significant mileage on it, what other good options might there be?

Trying to get to the Oklahoma panhandle somehow is intriguing. But on the map, US 64 to the Taos area doesn't look like an exceptionally fast route. And then once in the panhandle, there's the matter of quick access to I-44.

US 64 might not be your idea of "fast", but it does have some very nice mountain scenery and an impressive arch bridge over the Rio Grande.

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Re: Montana?
« Reply #47 on: August 02, 2021, 07:38:27 PM »

US 64 might not be your idea of "fast", but it does have some very nice mountain scenery and an impressive arch bridge over the Rio Grande.

Last times I was there, at the west end of the bridge, there was a viewing area with a chain-link fence. Conveniently, both times someone cut a hole in the fence, large enough for a wide-angle lens (which you'll need to photograph the whole bridge in one shot).
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Re: Montana?
« Reply #48 on: August 02, 2021, 07:50:15 PM »

The whole prospect of finding an alternate route should I-70 still be closed has brought out just fickle Google Maps routing can be.

Just for the heck of it, I ran Kayenta to Owenton for the best route back to my brother's. The first time, it routed me to a point near Gallup (I didn't zoom in for the particulars) and then I-40 and I-44 to St. Louis to pick up I-64.

I refreshed the page, and it ran a route across southern Colorado to hit I-70 at what I assume is Limon, Colo.

Then I refreshed a third time, and it did the I-40 to I-44 routing, but it took us off I-44 at Springfield to use US 60 into Kentucky, and then the WK Parkway to Elizabethtown.

I realize that Google adjusts for traffic and other issues, but it would be nice to calculate a route that doesn't take any current problems, slowdowns, etc., into determining which of several very different routings is the best.

Just for fun, I may run Grand Junction to Owenton to see how Google handles the I-70 closure.
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Re: Montana?
« Reply #49 on: August 02, 2021, 08:56:37 PM »

... I thought about crossing the Mighty Mac and going west through the UP of Michigan. Everything I've ever read about the UP indicates that it's a whole 'nother world up there.

If he's amenable to going that far north out of the way and then making a 90-degree left turn, what would be a good suggested routing to get the full flavor of the UP? It looks like US 2 skirts the lake for much of its length. What would be a fairly-direct route west that would still provide the UP experience?

And from there, routes west to Rugby that aren't too terribly slow but still allow for a good taste of northern Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota?

Taking the Mackinac Bridge has the advantage of avoiding Chicagoland and the Twin Cities, which could at least partially counter any added time depending on when you'd be passing through. It is absolutely a worthwhile detour in my opinion, especially if you've never been to the UP.

My recommendation would be to stay on US 2 heading west from the Mackinac Bridge until at least M-117, and then take your choice of routing (likely M-117, M-77, or M-94) up to M-28. That route meets back up with US 2 at Wakefield not far from the Wisconsin line. Personally, I think M-28 is preferable to US 2 for several reasons: it's less mileage, it has better scenery (including of the Lake Superior shoreline, which you can't go to the UP and not see), and it passes through the "heart" of the UP, including Marquette, the largest city in the UP.

Max mentioned taking the detour up to Copper Harbor, but if you don't have time for that, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (just east of Munising) is a great stop that's not far from M-28.

US 2 is probably going to be your best bet west of the UP. There are some two-lane sections, especially in Wisconsin and Minnesota, but much of it is four-lane divided west of Bemidji.



Every...single...person posting about the UP says Pictured Rocks and Mackinac Island and never mentions Soo Locks, Tahquamenon Falls, and the shipwreck museum
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