I’d like ‘GPS Fails’ for 600, Alex

Alex Trebek:   “This scenic road in extreme northwest Montana extends westward from Rexford to Yaak”

*** DING ***

Alex:   John?

Me:   What is Route 92?

Alex:   Correct.

When I was staying in Bozeman about a week ago I showed my Airbnb hosts Korey and Jake my map of Montana and the scenic roads I was planning to drive while here.  Jake suggested several roads in the northwest corner of the state which weren’t on my radar but which he said were also quite scenic.  I spent most of the day Saturday back in Montana driving many scenic roads, including the ones Jake suggested.

You might want to grab a cup of coffee for this amusing JohnBoy story….

After studying my trusty AAA map I headed north from the town of Libby on Route 37.  Using only my Spidey-sense I thought it was going to be pretty straightforward:  Go north just past the town of Eureka and turn left on Route 92.  Simple, right?  Not so fast, Skippy.

When I reached Eureka I turned left but within a few minutes found myself just two miles from the Canadian border at Roosville!  I discovered that I had missed my turn about 15 miles back before Eureka and was now on Route 93, not 92.  So I backtracked, took the big bridge I has passed earlier west over Lake Koocanusa and, presto, there was Route 92.

Since my map-reading skills had let me down I thought I’d better fire up the GPS.  In it I entered the town of Yaak, which appeared to be about 40 miles away on the road I wanted to be on.  When my GPS confirmed I was on the correct road I resumed driving.

After a few miles the road jogged to the right and the road straight ahead changed from paved to semi-paved.  I went right, assuming 92 was the paved road.  Well, my GPS unit started yelling at me to go back, so I did.  When I turned on the semi-paved road (which had several big potholes and wasn’t in great shape) I stopped and checked the GPS and she assured me I was on Route 92.  I proceeded along the semi-paved road, which soon became a gravel road.  I drove about 11 miles.  The gravel road was actually in pretty good shape and although slow, I was able to maintain a good speed.

And then it ended.

I turned around to backtrack out to the main road.  While retreating the 11 miles I wondered “why didn’t the guy who’s pickup truck I met on the way up the hill stop me and ask ‘where exactly do you think you’re going, pal?'”.  Once I got out to the paved road (and I hit one of the same frickin potholes on the way out as I did on the way in) I started heading back towards the bridge.  After about two miles here was a road sign that said if I turned right and went 41 miles I’d be in Yaak.  I turned and took that road.  In a few miles I re-entered Yaak as a destination in the GPS and she started yelling at me to turn around (which I did NOT.  Fool me once…).

After I had gone about 20 miles on this nice, paved road I noticed that the speed limit sign had a sign posted below it which said “Radar Enforced”.  Really???  I’m going 45 miles an hour (or less) on a road in the middle of frickin nowhere Montana and you’re going to stick a speed trap out here?   Seriously?  Doesn’t law enforcement have anything better to do?

Well, I continued on to Yaak, never seeing any trace of the law, and completed the rest of my journey without incident.


The incident, or “almost incident” (fortunately) had occurred before my little off-road excursion.  As I was driving north on Route 37 towards Eureka I came real close to hitting a deer.  Real close.  I had my cruise control on 70 as I was driving up a big hill when I noticed this deer running alongside me to my left, coming diagonally towards my lane.  I hit the brakes and as she continued on and got in front of me I pushed the pedal so hard the anti-lock brakes kicked in.  She was a big girl, and would have definitely left a mark, but we both got away unscathed.  Fortunately there was no one behind me so I didn’t get run over in the process.  I don’t think I missed the deer by more than about 8 feet.  It was the closest I’ve come to hitting a deer in a long time.


It was a long, but exciting day (my third 600+ mile day this trip!) and it was worth every minute.  I’m glad Jake suggested the roads that he did and they (even the side trip) were, indeed, very scenic, as were the other roads I had already been planning to take.  I guess my experience is a good example of the current Montana tourism theme. It is represented on t-shirts and car stickers with nothing more than an outline of the state, inside which are simply the words Get Lost.

Tomorrow I plan to make a big scenic loop south of Coeur d’Alene.  Who know what adventure awaits.  Monday I head over to Wenatchee, Washington for 5 nights, and then on to Oregon.

And I guess it’s time to start shopping for what will be my 4th GPS unit.



But wait… there’s more…

The post above is only of the lower falls and while it is impressive on its own, this is the real prize.  These are the upper falls, and are spectacular.  I took several video/audio clips from a variety of vantage points to try and capture the feeling of being here.

The lower photo shows the “tiers” above the falls, over which the water flows before going down the falls themselves.  The river is even wider here than it is downstram.

Troy, Montana

I passed this scene on Thursday as I drove over to Idaho from Kalispell.  It was late afternoon that day and I knew I’d coming back up here to drive more scenic roads so I thought I’d wait and take this picture when the sun was behind me.  This is between the towns of Libby and Troy in northwest Montana.

Run Silent, Run Deep

A Navy submarine base in landlocked Idaho??  Well, kinda sortof.

As you can read, this is the Acoustic Research Deployment Facility located in Bayview, Idaho.  To get to Bayview I traveled about 20 minutes north of where I’m staying in Coeur d’Alene and got off the highway at the little town of Athol (pronounced… uh…  be careful now… don’t be a potty mouth).  Turning right it was then a short drive past the entrance of Farragut State Park to Bayview, which is at the southernmost point of Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced Pond Array, or Ponderay).  The lake is one of the deepest in the United States and because of the way it has developed over time, is ideal for the type of research the Navy does here.

This is where they test new submarine designs to be as undetectable as possible.  The title of the post refers to a classic 1958 submarine movie with an all star cast (Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, Jack Warden and in a serious role, Don Rickles).  It is actually a great movie and if you ever get a chance to see it, check it out.  It has a 100% reviewer rating on Rotten Tomatoes!

But I digress…  The Navy uses 1/4 scale models of actual submarines and surface ships to monitor the noise they generate, both from the water’s surface and below.  They are helping design and test both physical and mechanical stealth technology to make the vessels quieter.

They do most of their testing at night, which adds to the mystique of the place.  I presume they do that to reduce the clutter of underwater noise generated by recreational surface craft (boats and jet skis) which are on the lake during the day.  A woman who works at a convenience store right up the street from the entrance gate told me that lately they have also been testing designs of surface ships, like destroyers.

There are no tours, and it is a rather secretive facility.