Third Leg of Our Journey: Dixon to Ronan

I’ve shared images that were taken right after our first snow, on our journey from home to Polson, Montana. The first set was from our town to the Perma Curves. The second set covered the distance from the Perma Curves to the town of Dixon, Montana. Those to segments covered about 30 miles. This group of pictures covers the rest of the way to Ronan. I realized belatedly that I didn’t take pictures from Ronan to Polson.

This segment of the journey took the most time to make. That isn’t because of the distance and it wasn’t even because of the snow and ice, though there was more of both. Rather, we had to slow way down because of the ice fog. Through much of the last segment, the clouds were at ground level and at times the ice fog was so dense that the visibility was about 50 feet. 

Unlike a lot of people in other states (apparently), we don’t drive very fast in the fog. A child, adult, car, truck, dog, cat, deer, elk, bison, or steer in the middle of the road would be bad news, even at 40 mph. The speed limit over most of this part of the trek is 65 mph, but only an idiot would drive that fast in fog this dense. There are also a number of sharp curves on the road and with thick fog, it would be very difficult to navigate them.

Highway 212

Up until this part of our journey, we were on Highway 200. Right after Dixon, we turned onto Highway 212, which goes right by the National Bison Range. This picture is right after we turned on to Hwy 212. There is an abrupt increase in the amount of snow on everything here. Directly ahead and over the trees are the hills of the Bison Range, but they can't really be seen due to the clouds.

Other side of the road

This is looking to the left from the previous picture. The snowfall here was only about three or four inches, but it did a good job of coating everything in snow. Except for a few fir trees, all of these trees and bushes had leaves just two weeks before this picture was taken and this view was primarily green with some autumn gold and red. Now it is mostly white.

Bison Range in snow

This is looking back at the Bison Range. While the hills tower above this part of the road, they appear to abruptly disappear because the cloud level is only about 100 feet above the ground. This is before it started getting really dense.

Yes, there are hills there

A few turns down the road, the clouds were actually a bit higher; around 500 feet. This shows the hills of the Bison Range that couldn't be seen in the last image. Although we didn't see any in here, the bison actually thrive in weather like this. They seem to love it.

Getting into ‘pea soup’

Just beyond the Bison Range, we started getting into the ice fog. It isn't too bad right here, with visibility of about 1/8-mile. The clouds also tower upward above us so it almost looks like the beginning of dusk, though it is actually broad daylight. It is no wonder that we saw so few animals in this part of the trip. There could be a huge herd 1,000 feet off the road and they would have been invisible.

Outskirts of Charlo

This is coming into the town of Charlo, Montana. Charlo is a tiny town about double the size of Dixon and it is on Salish Indian land. The Salish word for the town is Sallu. Anyway, there are about 400 people here and we reached it as we were starting to get out of the fog. Incidentally, from way before we got to Charlo until we get to Polson, this is all American Indian land.

A big nothing

There is actually some beautiful scenery out there, but it can't be seen for the ice fog. This isn't even the worst of it. I took a picture where the fog was thickest. Afterward, I thought, "Why did I do that?" Literally nothing can be seen in that picture. This one at least shows some grass and fence posts. Still, it was rather like being in the middle of a giant empty.

Pablo, Montana

A couple of miles beyond Charlo, we turn on US Highway 93. Very shortly after that, we come to Pablo, Montana. This is it. It's hard to see in the picture, but the clouds are breaking up here and there are some pale blue skies above town.

St. Luke’s Hospital

About 11 miles north of Pablo is Ronan. This is St. Luke's Hospital in Ronan, where my daughter works as a CNA. The main reason we made this trip, to begin with, was to come here so my daughter could make a brief stop at the vampire office. That is my nickname for it. In other words, we came here so she could have blood drawn as part of the periodic blood screening she has to do to work here. Of course she came out clean. 

Salish civic center

This is the last picture in the set and it is in Ronan. This is the Salish Indian Civic center, just down from the Salish Community College. It is a boardwalk that stretches over the highway to an administration building. It is really quite scenic and there is a gift shop and a museum here that features Native American artifacts and history. If people want to know about Native American culture, this is a place to put on the bucket list, though it is rarely advertised. 

The architecture here is impressive and it was all done by Salish Indians. 

What do you think?

5 points

Written by Rex Trulove

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    • Yes. The US is the third largest country, after Canada and Russia. It is very dry in California and Oregon, snowy across the top of the US, cold in the northeast, and the cold and snow are spreading east and southeast with temperatures 10-30 degrees F cooler than normal for this time of year.

      It sounds like it is almost time to get out the skis where you are.

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