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Old Dogs Don't Want to Learn New Tricks


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After 2 1/2 months on the road and 9,000 miles, we've come to some realizations about ourselves. In hind sight, as always, they seem too obvious to even write down but maybe you'll be as amused as I am that it took us this long to accept what we all know about Scott and I.

We Do Not Like the Cold

We have now reached Canada and as I write this I am in leggings, a long sleeved under shirt, a wool sweater, wool socks, and my GoreTex jacket. Scott has on jeans, wool socks and hiking boots, a long sleeved shirt, heavy fleece jacket, and a down vest. It's June 18th people!

We keep asking ourselves - well, how did we get here?! The answer, of course, is we planned a trip to the Northwest and while intellectually we knew we were headed to colder climes, and we packed accordingly (thank goodness), neither of us really acknowledged it. I can't tell you how many times Scott has said, "I know I packed it but I never actually thought I'd have to wear it"!

The scenery is breathtaking.
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We're glad to have made the trek up here to see all of this but we aren't staying. After we meet the girls in Banff, we're going South! We've rearranged our trip to hit Colorado next and forego Washington State until later.

National Parks are for Tourists

Strictly speaking, we are, of course, tourists. But we aren't on a two week whirlwind tour of the Parks so we don't need it spoon fed to us. The National Park roads have their place. They're easy and they have convenient pullouts at the beauty spots. But they lack spontaneity and make sight seeing feel somewhat obligatory. I mean they made that pullout just for us how can we not stop at it (along with every other tourist on the road)?

We definitely prefer to make our own way and stumble on beauty spots and stop if we want to take them in. That's how we found spots like these.
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Hiking is Hard Work

Now I know what you're saying. If we'd get out of Ruby and go for a hike in the National Parks, we'd enjoy it more. Two problems with that. 1) Cadeau isn't allowed out of the parking lots and 2) we don't really like hiking. When we embarked on this trip, I thought - oh, we'll start hiking, we'll be outdoors people, we'll get active and get tons of exercise! And here we encounter why I named this blog post what I did. We like the pace of our lives and really aren't inclined to change it. Given the choice of sitting at a cafe or bar and looking at the mountains or going out and huffing and puffing up a trail into them, the choice for us is obvious. Now mind you, we like walking and walking in the woods counts. But there's a difference between walking and hiking!

Mornings Are the Best Time to Get Out and Get Active - NOT!

Which leads us to the next obvious observation. As I've mentioned before, in the afternoons the clouds often build on the mountains and can result in a rain shower and a cloudy afternoon. So, you might say, you need to get up and out early to enjoy the day before that happens. Right you are. Except we like to wake up late. We like to sit over coffee for hours. Getting moving before noon is pushing it most days. I think the most wonderful thing about retirement is banning the words "should" and "ought" from our vocabulary and replacing them with "want" and "like". As in "we should go drive the Going to the Sun road" becomes "I'd like to go see if we can find that lake". And we did.
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Besides, sunset at 11:00 PM is not conducive to "Early to Bed, Early to Rise". This was the view from our house at 11:00 one night.large_IMG_0906.JPG

And this was a sunset walk in the woods at 9:45.
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So to summarize, we are basically fundamentally lazy. We like sleeping in, chilling out, off-road adventures, and staying off the beaten path, unless it's a nice walk around a lake or through he woods. And, we want to be warm again. Hot would be okay, too!

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Posted by mrb430 09:37 Archived in USA Tagged montana Comments (0)

Driving, Hiking, and Family in Red Lodge and Billings


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It's been a busy few days and I'm way behind on recording our adventures. Although we are now in Whitefish, and more on that later, I wanted to take us all back to Red Lodge and Billings and finish up a few things there.

Red Lodge sits at the base of Mount Maurice.
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It sits at the end of town like a sentinel and watching the weather change over it, watching the sun set on it, it calls you to go explore it. Luckily for us, there is an off road trail that goes up and circles its base.

Driving the Magnificent Meeteetse Trail

The Meeteetse Trail takes off from Red Lodge these days and ends just north of the Wyoming border near Highway 72. It used to be a wagon trail all the way from Billings to Meeteetse Wyoming. It was built originally as a supply route for the army. Today, it's a beautiful 4x4 road. It initially goes up along a narrow road that circles the base of Mount Maurice and the rock palisades and then heads out into open country.

When you descend into the open range, once again you are greeted by fields of Indian paintbrush, Lupine, and Balsamroot.
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Hiking to Majestic Mystic

Lake Mystic is an alpine lake that sits above West Rosebud and Emerald Lakes. The drive back into the valley, along the river , and to the lakes is just beautiful.
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It's a place I've camped with family many times over the years and my favorite hike of all time. Check it out! I didn't add any audio track - this one is au natural.

You hike first along a river, then into and through Aspen and Pine forest, then up never-ending switchbacks, rising higher and higher, until you finally come to the top and over the ridge look down on the lake. It's a magnificent reward! P.S. From Scott: The reward was beautiful but the hike was a chore (that's the PG version of what I really thought). My only regret was I left my fishing gear in the car and I probably missed the best fishing we have encountered in Montana. In the end, worth the effort even if it did rain on us most of the way back. large_Bi1ODgOaS4K4swkqXmFbzg.jpg

We were pretty proud of ourselves for making it all the way!
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Visiting with Family at Woodbine Campground

On Friday, we drove over to Woodbine Campground to visit with my cousin Tammy and her family and friends who were there for a weekend campout. It's a beautiful drive through the countryside to get there and the campground is nestled at the foot of the mountains, like East and West Rosebud, and there is also a waterfall to hike to. Scott, Cadeau, and the others stayed in camp and Tammy and I ventured out.

PS from Scott: Many thanks to Tammy and Jim for a great evening and the opportunity for us to see our second Moose. This time up close and personal. I think he really wanted to learn how to grill a foil pouch dinner. If you would like to learn Jim will teach you. And no, he is not a fan of Mickey Mouse, those gloves are required cooking gear!

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We found this beautiful Spotted Coralroot orchid.
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And this guy just happened into camp.
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Revisiting Childhood

Billings
Many of you know I was born in Billings and spent my first six months of life there. Well it was in this house where my Grandma and Grandpa on my mom's side lived. He built the house and it still stands in Billings on Miles Avenue.
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Rapelje
We also drove out to Rapelje Montana where my father grew up on the family ranch. My Aunt and Uncle, Donna and Noel, live there now and it was so fun to get to see them. Tammy was able to come out with us and we all had lunch together at the cafe in town.
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This is the little house in town that my Aunt and Uncle built that they traded with my grandparents, who lived there many years. This is where I remember visiting them.
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This is the school in town. It's unusual in that it is still and always was First Grade to High School. My father graduated in a class of six people, my cousin Tammy had eight.
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When we were kids, we used to climb up this fire escape and slid back down.
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Here are my favorite photos of being out at the ranch.
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Pictograph Caves
Finally, we also visited the Pictograph caves outside of Billings. They are caves that have a rich cultural heritage for the native peoples. Most of the cave paintings have faded now but it was fun to go back. I remember having picnics here as child. I also remember one time standing in a red ant hill and having to strip down to my underwear to get them off me! Mortifying! Now it seems rattlers are the worry.
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Posted by mrb430 20:06 Archived in USA Tagged montana off-roading Comments (0)

Refreshed and Ready to Roll


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As I write this we are traveling down Montana Highway 212 from Red Lodge to Billings, our next stop. The sun is out, the wind is whipping across the basin grasslands, our traveling playlist is on, and I feel great. The last 10 days in Red Lodge were wonderful and just what we needed. Time to breathe, take it easy, live like we actually lived there for awhile. In a way, it gave us a taste of life after this crazy trip. And it made us know we've made the right choice. There are so many "Red Lodges" across this globe that we want to live in and feel the ebbs and flows of the daily rhythms of a town.

But this crazy trip isn't over and we're ready to move on. My feet are itchy to walk new ground.

Before that, I thought I'd share some of our thoughts from our time in Red Lodge.

Red Lodge

It's a Happening Place
It's a really busy little town. And I don't mean with tourists. There was a music festival going on while we were there that involved the school kids and their music teachers. It seemed the whole town participated. Since our house was right by the school, every day we saw kids coming and going with their instruments. Each evening the teachers and locals that had attended the recitals would end up in the restaurants and bars afterwards. One night, they set up to play more music in the bar. There was live music in a few of the bars; different genres but all good. Town filled up almost every night with people having happy hour or dinner. During the day the Main Street was hopping. As we left town, a group of about 20 musicians was playing bluegrass in the small city park. In a few weeks, they have a singer-songwriter festival with musicians coming in from Nashville. And on it goes.

Free-range Kids
There are tons of kids. This is not some dying western town. School got out just after we arrived and summer kicked off for the kids. They were EVERYwhere! Riding their bikes, walking, playing in the skateboard park, just generally being kids and living outdoors. The sound of children playing competed with the barking dogs to provide the soundtrack for our stay. These kids don't sit inside playing video games, they are out until 8:30 or so every evening. On their own, roaming around. It was nice to see.

Proud History
The town has a little museum as well as a walking tour of historic properties and parts of the town. There are beautifully restored homes and Main street retains many historic buildings. They are very proud of their role in creating the Beartooth Highway and in Montana's commitment to getting it open by Memorial Day "even if it's only to drive up to the state line and turn around". There is local metal sculptor who has populated the town with beautiful art in the form of benches, signs, and garbage cans. Out of town his work is on ranches and roadsides.

Life with an Old Dog

As many know, this trip is about two things, me showing Scott a part of the country I grew up with and that he has never seen and us spending Cadeau's final year(s) together with her. She is an awesome travel dog. In the truck, she does two things - sleeps and [/i]FARTS[/I]! As some of you know, she can clear a room. In the truck, it's an all windows down kind of moment! Ha!

She's also developed some hip issues (yes, Ginny, you were right!) It's harder and harder for her to get up from laying or sitting and jumping up onto the bed or the couch is a thing of the past. Stairs sometimes require assistance with a hand on the butt to keep her going forward. I took her into the vet in Red Lodge. Side note I love vets that treat horses and other animals as well as dogs and cats because they have an attitude towards animals that agrees with me. I once visited one in Pocomoke Virginia and he was also awesome. In any case, we did X-rays and there are no red flags so just another sign of old age. That was a relief.

On the bright side, I now get to wake HER UP! After years of the early morning call from her to go for a walk, eat breakfast, and just generally get my butt out of bed, she now sleeps soundly until 10 am sometimes if left undisturbed. Most mornings, it's me giving her a nudge to get it up and moving. Now that's a good travel dog!

Admittedly, in someways it limits us. We can't go on all day hikes, etc. But realistically that's not our style anyway and it encourages us to off-road, an activity she can join in. It encourages us to find cafes and bars with outdoor seating, which we prefer anyway. As long as she has some shade, hope of a morsel dropped, and a bowl of water, she's happy. And we are so happy to have her with us and to spend these days with her.

CAPS WIN

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Capitals taking the Stanley Cup while we were here. It's been really fun to search out sports bars to watch the games. We've been to all varieties. In Red Lodge, we went to Foster & Logan's Pub and Grill. It was a nice pub-type bar that willing played the game for us and in which we actually found a few other folks interested in hockey, not a guarantee out here. I can't believe we actually won it! I'm so happy for DC and wish we could have been there for the celebrations, almost.

In summary, we've seen beautiful country, enjoyed the slow pace of a small town, and appreciated the break from travel. Recommending Red Lodge to anyone, we take our leave.

Posted by mrb430 11:32 Archived in USA Tagged montana redlodge Comments (0)

Another Epic Drive - Beartooth Pass and Dead Indian Pass


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Bearthooth Highway from Red Lodge to the Pass

Beartooth Pass is one of the most epic drives I've ever done. This was at least the third time I've done it but it took A LOT of patience to finally get through it with Scott this time. We had intended to take it from Big Sky over to Red Lodge, passing through a part of Yellowstone on our way. Unfortunately, this area had the most snow in ages this year and although Montana got their side open to the border by the target of Memorial Day Weekend, Wyoming didn't...and didn't...and didn't. They finally got their side open on June 1st. In their defense, there was a lot of snow on their side!
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The road starts out pretty benign, traveling into the valley. But then you start to climb...and climb...and climb through switchback after switchback.
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I think it was about here where I had to turn the wheel over to Scott. I had intended to drive so he could take it all in but it seems I've developed a fear of falling off the side of a cliff!
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See those switchbacks down there! Those were the EASY ones!
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Vista Point and the Hell Roaring Plateau
Finally, you reach the first real stopping point at Vista Point to look out over the Hell Roaring Plateau.
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And you are welcomed by these cute little guys scampering around the rocks! "Hell roaring you say? We call it home!"
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45th Parallel
After reaching the high alpine plateau at the state line, and having found some of all that snow everyone is talking about you reach the 45th Parallel.
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Halfway between the North Pole and the Equator is an obvious "selfie moment".
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Gardner Lake
Gardner Lake is the first of many alpine lakes to come. It's a beautiful spot and our first chance to get out and walk around and of course the first thing I notice is all of the wildflowers! The tenacity of these little alpine gems is amazing! Especially given the temperature had dropped to about 50 degrees and the wind was whipping about 20 miles an hour!
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The Bear's Tooth
Did you know there is actually a Bear's Tooth Mountain on the Beartooth Highway? I didn't. See that pointy peak? That's the one most people agree is "the tooth".
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West Summit - 10,947'
The road keeps climbing and the snow gets deeper and deeper, the wind blows harder and harder, and the temperatures get colder and colder and then you reach the summit! At this point I do still have my travel dress on but also a t-shirt, leggings, a wool sweater, and a Goretex jacket!
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Starting down the other side, the land opens up a bit, the switchbacks are gentler, there are people skiing down the slopes between switchbacks and taking advantage of the open snowy areas for kite boarding.
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Then you pick up the Upper Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River as you near Top of the World store with Beartooth Butte rising in the distance.
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Beartooth Lake and Beartooth Butte
After passing another frozen alpine lake, you reach Beartooth Lake with the Butte rising behind it and the river rushing out from it. It was awesoemthe sun came out and the temperatures rose, I shed a few layers after this stop!
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Pilot and Index Peaks
As you keep moving g down the Wyoming side, the Absarokee Range comes in to view and it's breathtaking stretching out before you for ever. Especially wonderful are Pilot and Index Peaks. They tower above and you can pick them out from the rest. In my opinion, these are the best peaks - the ones that are instantly recognizable.
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Lily Lake
Being who we are, we saw a dirt track heading off the highway and had to take it.
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Good thing we did because this was out reward!
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See if you can pick out Pilot and Index Peaks at the beginning of this video and later when we are almost to the lake.

Lake Creek Falls
Finally, just before our turn off, we came to Lake Creek Falls. It was a short walk so LOTS of people did it and it was pretty crowded but it was a pretty falls rushing with snow melt.
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Chief Joseph Scenic Byway and Dead Indian Pass

We decided rather than going back across Beartooth to head out on the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway back to Red Lodge and see some other sights. I'm glad we did; it was yet a whole other ecosystem and land form to see. Another set of switch backs to get over Dead Indian Pass, a deep gorge, and even towards the end some badlands-like formations.
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It was a great day of driving!

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Posted by mrb430 19:10 Archived in USA Tagged mountains montana beartooth off-roading redlodge Comments (3)

Taking the Lonely Road to East Rosebud Lake


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Today we took a trip to the lake at East Rosebud.
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Opting for the back road through Luther, it took us through some amazing open pasture land with views of the mountains getting closer at every turn. The road was pretty bad after awhile from winter damage but that's why we have Ruby. Unlike the other rivers we've seen, the East Rosebud Creek was crystal clear. Kind of funny they call these "creeks" though when you see them in Spring.

Hope you enjoy!

Posted by mrb430 19:43 Archived in USA Tagged mountains wildflowers montana off-roading redlodge Comments (2)

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