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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.


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!

The road starts out pretty benign, traveling into the valley. But then you start to climb...and climb...and climb through switchback after switchback.

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!

See those switchbacks down there! Those were the EASY ones!

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.

And you are welcomed by these cute little guys scampering around the rocks! "Hell roaring you say? We call it home!"

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.

Halfway between the North Pole and the Equator is an obvious "selfie moment".

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!

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".

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!

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.

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.

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!

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.

Lily Lake
Being who we are, we saw a dirt track heading off the highway and had to take it.

Good thing we did because this was out reward!

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.

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.

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.

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)

Relaxing in Red Lodge

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Fin+Pin Lodge

We got into Red Lodge on Wednesday so we're three nights into our 10 night stay and we're already feeling like locals. Our house here is super comfortable, quiet, and cool.

The best part is the kitchen! I went a little crazy at the grocery store but it was worth it to be able to cook!

We're just a block off the main street, Broadway, so we walk to the bars and restaurants, to the store, and to sightsee.

It's nice to be able to walk Cadeau around a neighborhood, too. And we get plenty of time to enjoy it - the sun rises at 5:30 and doesn't get fully dark until 10:30! This is the view off our back porch that faces West. They are the longest sunsets I've ever seen

Beartooth Range

We are right at the base of the Beartooth Mountains. Coming into town from the North was really beautiful. It was almost as majestic as the approach to the Tetons.

May and June are Bloomin'!

We did a nice hike our first day that followed a ridge out and then cut down through a beautiful meadow full of wildflowers to follow the West Fork of Rock Creek back.

These Pasqueflowers are beautiful and then they develop the totally cool seed heads below.

King of the Mountain!

Mountain Forget-me-nots! So special and just everywhere in one particular open area.


The next day we did a scenic drive over to the site of the Smith Mine Disaster. They have "preserved" the site as a memorial to the miners who died. It was interesting but I would have liked to be able to get closer.
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And of course there were more wildflowers. It's fascinating to see how the flowers change with the ecosystem.
There were huge stands of this Fuzzy-tongued Penstemon that were a totally new one for me.
And the Indian paintbrush was really orange here where other places it's been red. It was just covering the tops of the hills along with the Western Blue Flax. What a great combination.

We plan to travel over the Beartooth Pass later this week so more to come on that. In the meantime, follow us on Instagram @arrradventures for (almost out) daily pictures and random silliness.

Posted by mrb430 10:25 Archived in USA Tagged wildflowers montana beartooth redlodge Comments (3)

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