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  Chicagoland MG Club:Driveline
NAMGBR 14th Annual Convention
July 6-10, 2005 - Olympia, Washington
Hosted by: The MG Car Club Northwest Centre

Olympia Trip to MG2005, Part 1
See photos on line here.

We had three cars going to MG2005 from the Chicagoland MG Club. We met at the Cracker Barrel in Elgin on Saturday, July 2, to begin our journey. I was up at 3:00 AM (couldn't sleep, as usual before a trip) I loaded up the car, did a last minute once over of the mechanicals, and did some last minute work at the house. Ann was up on time and we headed up to meet Roger, Shirley, Oscar, and Diana. They were waiting for us when we pulled into the Cracker Barrels lot, so we got some coffee and headed west.

We followed I-90 into Madison, WI where it joined I-94. We would be spending a lot of time on I-94 the next two days. Back in January, when we were planning this trip, we said we would like to get to either Alexandria or Fergus Falls, Minnesota the first day. I got a little more ambitious and set a first day target of Fargo, North Dakota. We were doing pretty well until we came out of Minneapolis when the traffic just stopped. I can only guess we hit the after game traffic as we saw no accident or construction sites. That cost us about forty-five minutes, so we stopped fairly early in Fergus Falls. That first day we saw the heaviest traffic of the trip out, but it was July 2, after all. We had a very nice dinner that night at Mabel Murphy's. It wasn't exactly a pub, but they did have excellent food and cold beer. On the way back to the motel, Ann and I stopped for some Solarcaine as someone had their left arm out the window all afternoon and got a sunburn.

The next morning we left in a light rain towards Fargo. We didn't stop and I kept my eye out for wood chippers. You just can't be too careful, you know. The rain soon stopped and we had an absolutely perfect day for travel. We stopped for lunch in Bismarck. Everyone had a nice healthy meal at the Wendy's except me (bacon cheeseburger and fries). A few miles down the road, we crossed the Missouri River at Mandan, ND. Fifty miles later we crossed into the Mountain Time zone. It seemed reasonable to me that since it was around noon again, we should have another lunch, but Ann told me to forget it so we kept on driving. We stopped at our first National Park of the trip about 90 minutes later. Theodore Roosevelt Park is divided into two units. We stopped at the south unit to see the Painted Canyon area. It was almost like a small Grand Canyon, multicolored rock layers carved by rivers and streams. We then went over to the visitor center where we met a woman who had a B when she was younger and just had to run out to see our cars. This was just the first of many such encounters. Soon we were back on the road heading to Montana. Our destination for the night was Wolf Point, a little town on US 2 less than an hour south of Canada. We left I-94 at Glendive, MT for our first two lane roads. It would be two days before we saw an interstate again. We spent the night at the Homestead Inn and had dinner at the only restaurant in town still open at 5:00 on Sunday evening.

July 4, was another beautiful day. As we were riding along, I realized why they call Montana Big Sky Country. The sky was an incredible blue, with hardly a cloud and it was the same shade from horizon to horizon. It wasn't long before we got our first glimpses of the Rocky Mountains as we followed US 2 to Shelby, MT where we stopped for gas. As we got out of the cars, we smelled charcoal grills. I thought it was the little city park across the street, but the attendant told us it was the local fire department's annual BBQ. It is a thank you to the community for their support during the year and everyone is welcome. We drove up to the fire house, parked the cars, and had a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, really sweet corn, baked beans and even ice cream for dessert. We made some new friends including the fire chief who took our picture and gave us Official Shelby Fire Department patches. It was a most enjoyable experience. All too soon it was time to get back on the road as we had reservations in Glacier National Park. The scenery was spectacular. US 2 is a designated scenic highway all across Montana and we weren't disappointed. We turned on to US 89 for the drive up to St. Mary, MT and it was breathtaking. What beautiful MG roads. We climbed and descended several good grades before settling into the valley around St. Mary Lake. We stopped at the visitor center where we saw a presentation of the history of Glacier and the surrounding area. Six miles down the road was our lodge. That evening we sat on the front porch of our building and enjoyed wine, cheese, crackers, beer, and apples for dinner as the sun set on the mountains across the lake. We walked over to the amphitheater for a ranger presentation about the plants and animals of Glacier. It had been a truly rewarding day.

On July 5, we woke to a brilliant sunrise being reflected off the mountains. They were a deep shade of red in the early sunlight. We had breakfast at the Rising Sun Lodge dining room. We learned our host was from Clarendon Hills and was working there for the summer! We had a nice leisurely breakfast before starting the climb on the Going to The Sun Road to Logan Pass at 6646 ft. above sea level. This would be the highest elevation of the trip out. It is hard to describe how beautiful Glacier Park and its mountains are. It is mostly an Alpine ecosystem with plants and animals that are adapted to the climate. The flowers are beautiful and there are waterfalls coming down the mountains. There was snow near the parking lot at Logan Pass and lots more on the mountains. We saw mountain goats in the parking lots where they lick the antifreeze off the pavement. Our ranger, the night before had said the goats eat up to a quart of antifreeze a day without ill effects. We continued along the road to Lake McDonald on the western side of the park. We passed one area called the Weeping Wall where a waterfall dripped on the road. We stopped at the Apgar visitor center for a break and some shopping. Next it was on through Kalispell, to Idaho and, hopefully, Washington before we stopped. Soon we were back on well traveled roads by Flathead Lake until we turned west again. The road we took was marked as a truck detour and that led to the only bad incident on the trip. We were driving along a two lane state highway, when three construction trucks passed us. One of the trucks dropped a rock that smashed Oscar and Diana's windshield. No one was hurt but Oscar had glass in his face and lap. We pulled into a little general store/gas station and checked out the damage. Oscar decided he was going to Olympia, so we went into the store, got some clear packaging tape, and secured the broken area of the windshield. Then we drove on to St Regis, picked up I-90, and headed on toward Washington. We were only in Idaho for sixty miles, so soon we were in Spokane, Washington. We stopped at a Shell station and learned fourteen MG's had stopped there a couple of hours before and cleared their shelves of 20w-50 motor oil. We picked up a travel book, decided how much further we wanted to travel, booked our rooms and headed for Ritzville, WA. We had dinner that evening at a little place called the Blue Bike Café. It was run by two women who baked pies and cookies on the premises. We had a fantastic dinner followed by pie, ice cream, and cookies to go for the next day.

On July 6, Diana made me get up at 4:00 AM so we could be on the road by 5. It had been in the upper 90's the day before, so we wanted to get an early start. We drove to Moses Lake, pulled over for gas and decided to go ahead and have breakfast. We were sitting in Denny's when David Deutsch, the president of NAMGBR and organizer of the New York contingent's trip came in and joined us. We had an enjoyable breakfast and met new friends as other members of the group came in. They were headed for Mt Rainier before arriving at the hotel. We headed on into Olympia through the Cascade Range and more beautiful scenery. We got to the hotel around 11:30 AM having missed the heat of the day in western Washington.

John Schroeder We had traveled 2238 miles since we left home. The cars carried us very well and we had arrived safely. Thirty-seven years ago on our first date, I had told Ann two things which she has often reminded me of. One was that I wanted to own an MG and the second was that I didn't think North Dakota really existed as I had never been there or met anyone who had (she married me anyway). Now I know for sure North Dakota is not only real, but beautiful and I have my MG. It had been a wonderful trip so far. Next month - MG2005


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