Visiting grandma

I wake up early, still feeling a bit tired from last night. Outside I can hear birds and squirrels around the tent. I go outside and break down my tent. Thankfully now at the third time I manage to pack the tent in one go. When the tent is in the bag I see a strip on the bottom of the back with the text “Remove to expand bag”. I laugh and wonder why I hadn’t noticed that before. I remove the strip and the bag is suddenly a bit bigger. That’ll make it easier to pack the tent the next time. When I’ve got everything packed up, I have breakfast at the picknick table, do the dishes and start driving again.
I’m excited, because it’s only a few hours driving left to my grandma in Montana. I decide to take the scenic route and exit the park via the north-west entrance. Traffic is fortunately a bit better than yesterday and except from some roadwork here and there I manage to keep a normal speed today. At the north-west entrance is a big old gate to the park, dating 1872. I remember that I’ve been here also several years ago. I stop to take a few pictures and as soon as I drive out the park, I suddenly have full reception on my phone again. Four bars and 5G. Apparently Montana has their infrastructure well in order. Also, here at the interstate you can drive 80 miles per hour (about 140km per hour), some of the highest speed limits in America. After two days of slow driving in the park, it feels good to speed up again for a while.
About an hour away from grandma is a town called Three Forks and it’s my tradition (like many other people in Montana) to stop here at a place called ‘Wheat Montana Bakery’. It’s a place where they sell really good bread and pastry. I buy a bread and a cup of coffee with one of the largest cinnamon rolls ever. It’s a good lunch break. The last hour of driving goes pretty fast and soon I’m driving into the city of Helena. That always feels a bit like coming home, since I know this place so well. I park my car in grandma’s driveway and walk inside the house, yelling “Goooood afternoon!”. Of course grandma is excited to see me and it’s great to catch up. It doesn’t feel to me that it has been almost a year since I was here. When we’ve talked a bit I invite grandma to join me to one of my favorite local coffee places called ‘The Vanilla Bean’. Over a cup of coffee we talk more and I enjoy being together again. When the coffee place closes around 4pm we drive back home and I do some quick groceries while she cooks dinner. I get my favorite ice cream ‘Moosetracks’ for dessert. It’s always exciting how many ice cream flavors they have in the supermarkets in America, so much more than back home.
We have dinner with another guest called Josh, the son of friends of grandma and we have good conversations over the meal. The ice cream is delicious and then grandma and I go for a walk on the hills right next to her house. We actually get lost a bit in the neighborhood and the walk gets longer than expected, but we also get to see a few deer (which are very common here), so that’s very nice. Back home we watch our favorite show ‘Last man standing’ until it’s bedtime. I’m happy to be with grandma again and to relax here in Helena, Montana for a couple of days. A nice break from the roadtrip and camping life.

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