Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Welcome To Montana, Red Lodge, and The #1 Motorcycle Ride in MT and WY

Welcome to Montana, enroute to the town of Red Lodge and Beartooth Mountain Pass Highway!  Beartooth is in every listing of the "Top Ten Motorcycle Rides In The USA," and in most it is number one.

First impressions of Montana - mostly grazing land and hay farms.

A rattlesnake warning is included in the welcome to Montana. Not quite sure how they teach the rattlesnakes to stay off of the sidewalks.

But they also had a clever rest stop area for pets, complete with fire hydrant.

Red Lodge is a neat little mountain town on Highway 212 at the beginning of Beartooth Pass (if you're heading westbound).  The Scenic Byway Pass is 67 miles long to Cooke City and the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park. 

We planned to take the historic walking tour in Red Lodge, but the weather did not cooperate, so we did a driving tour instead. We tried to follow the downloadable map, but are not including pictures here because the map did not tell if the places we were seeing were original or even the exact place. First we saw pretentious houses (brothels) called “Castles” that were labeled "female boarding houses" on official maps back in the day. The "ladies" entertained miners at picnics across the street in an area of aspens, a knoll, and a stream. We did not want to post a picture of some nice family's home as a former place of ill repute. Then there was the bank that the Sundance Kid tried to rob and the hotel where he stayed that might not have been built yet when he was in town. Finally, we learned that a house on S. Broadway was owned by “Punch Cowboy,” a notorious bootlegger. In the 1920’s the entire town entered the bootlegging scene by becoming producers, consumers, and distributors. So, Red Lodge had all the typical attributes of "wild west towns" back in the day. Today it is a nice little tourist town with everything you need but a place to eat a meal with vegetables. We asked at church where to go for veggies and were told Subway! 

For the third time now, we have arrived at our RV Park only to find that what we expected was not what we expected, all in the last few stops.  We had a 50 amp power problem at Sturgis but they quickly repaired it, so I won't count that one.  At Southern Hills in Hermosa, the power kept shutting off for our section of the campground so after 3 days we finally asked for our money back and left 2 days earlier than planned. (The new owner was super nice and was correcting the problem, but we were getting tired of the outages and having to run our generator.) At Perry's RV in Red Lodge, we got all set up at the site, then went to plug in the 50 amp power, only to find just 30 amp available.  I went back to Perry and he said, "The people in the site I had reserved for you decided to stay longer and all I have now is a 30 amp site."  Wouldn't that be a problem for the people that decided to stay longer and shouldn't he mention that before we headed to the site?  Then he explained that they had left for a couple of days and he had no way to reach them??????  Anyhow, he offered another 50 amp site down by the crick but would not be responsible for me getting stuck with the RV trying to negotiate tight turns and trees.  People were shaking their heads as we headed that way, one lady that lives there full-time even said to Rhonda, "That ain't gonna work."  I admit a chainsaw would have been helpful and then we had to go in opposite the normal flow of traffic, but we made it and the crick was beautiful!

I'll jump ahead of the blog here and mention that at our next stop in Wapiti, WY, their 50 amp was not reliable either (after we had already gotten set up) and we had to move again there!  But the folks there were very apologetic and as accommodating as they could be, and also offered to give us one day free of charge for our trouble!  Hey, stuff happens.

Bear story and then we'll ride.  Some of the campers at Perry's were reporting that a Mama bear and her cub were hanging out in the trees "but don't worry, they won't bother you."  Uh, I'm pretty sure that's the bear combination you are supposed to be concerned about!

  But we stopped at Red Lodge for Beartooth Pass, so let's get on with that.  It's all about beauty, curves, steep dropoffs, altitude, and the ride!  Most of this will be pictures - enjoy.  Headed to the pass below.

The steep climbs begin quickly.

You should be getting a sense of the steep climbs and dropoffs by now, but one thing you have not expected is that Rhonda is driving the truck through all of this!  I took a picture just to have proof. She normally is a little terrified (she says very terrified) of the curves when I am driving and she has now realized it is less scary for her when she is focused on the dividing line on the road rather than the edges and dropoffs.

As you approach the higher altitudes, there are grassy fields with lots of wildflowers.

I rode Beartooth the next day on the bike.  Picture is at the summit - 10,947 feet.

Starting down again to the lower altitudes, but plenty of beauty and curves remaining.

Rhonda had to check out the snow.

Grizzly bear country but we did not see any.

But like buffalo and sheep, cows can free graze and block traffic also.  

These bikers had to wait for this one.

Beartooth Pass Highway begins in Montana, drops down into Wyoming, back to Montana, and back again to Wyoming, so it is rated as the number 1 motorcycle ride in both states! I also rode about 70 miles of the number 2 ride in Wyoming - the 200-mile Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, but took no pictures and  just enjoyed the ride.  I may be able to finish that route due to its proximity to our next stop, Wapiti, WY to visit Yellowstone National Park.  If you recall, I had already ridden all 260 miles of the number 3 ride in Wyoming, so this has been a fun motorcycle state for me!

We attended church at Beartooth Mountain Baptist Church on Sunday morning before heading to Wapiti.  In lots of towns we have visited, it is difficult to find a church to attend, and for our friends back in Alabama - Baptist is not the predominant denomination!  Some of them are mission efforts from churches back in the southeast and frequently attendance is slim.

See you in Wapiti!

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