In the wide open spaces of the American West, sometimes you will not see the most spectacular scenery from the interstate highways. The real surprises begin off smaller highways and local roads that roll through the plains, twist though the canyons or climb the ridges of timeless landscapes.
That’s what I was reminded of during a recent drive down Montana Highway 7 not far from the small town of Ekalaka. Earlier in the morning, I left Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota on the long drive to Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming. Once I crossed into Montana, I decided to leave the comfort of I-94 and drive into the unknown.
Under those big blue skies of eastern Montana, I cruised along at 75 miles per hour past massive cattle ranches and farmland. As I crested a hill, suddenly thousands of sunflowers appeared on the horizon. Summer had officially arrived in Big Sky Country as the pedals opened skyward to embrace the warmth of the sun. They seemed to go on forever and I couldn’t help but stop and enjoy the serenity with not a car or eighteen wheeler in sight. For a moment the landscape could have been mistaken for Provence, but then a steer skull on a wooden fence reminded me that I was in the Wild West.