Monday, July 25, 2011

Behind Bars in Montana

This past weekend was spent exploring the 2 closest scenic Montana drives in a scenic byways book I recently bought. I brought my bicycle along to further explore and I'm officially in love with the Montana landscape.

There's something that just puts a smile on my face being out in the vast open spaces of this land. The green and yellow and gold colors of the grasses are ever changing and fairly new to me, so that helps make it fresh and exciting. There's virtually no automobile (read: pick-'em-up truck) traffic so its terrific for biking.

Saturday I drove less than an hour west of Bozeman and drove a 110-mile loop along the Madison River (some of the world's best fly fishing) and the Tobacco Root mountains. This picture is on the 6-mile spur road from Harrison, MT to Pony, MT after an early lunch at a little diner that was just what you'd hope for out here(note to self: they stop serving breakfast at 11). The bike ride was gradually uphill the entire way to Pony, which made for a super fun 6-mile downhill coming back.

On a short, lunch time ride last Friday just on the outskirts of Bozeman. Those are the Bridger mountains.

Sunday I drove the amazing Beartooth Highway from Red Lodge, MT down toward Yellowstone Nat'l Park (but didn't go all the way to the park).  The Beartooth is one of those that's been called the most beautiful drive in America. It's full of switchbacks with dramatic views and southern tourists ogling at the still visible roadside snow pack. The bike ride I took was a hilly little number strewn with wildflowers between cattle pastures. If you expand this picture you should be able to see the cows hanging out in the grass straight ahead of me on the inside of the road's loop.

I hadn't been through Red Lodge since high school when we took a ski trip out there with the church youth group. I didn't go check out the mountain on Sunday, perhaps turned off by the overly touristy main drag through town.

But I did have a fun dirt road drive through Luther and Roscoe on the way home and ended up having a very nice filet mignon at the Grizzly Bar in Roscoe. My spontaneous detour was driven by seeing a sign for a town named Luther just down the road a piece. I had to check it out. The town turned out to be a zero, but the drive at sunset for 15 miles on dirt roads through Luther to Roscoe was amazingly beautiful, especially how the sun shimmering off the grasses causes about a hundred different shades of green and yellow beneath the backdrop of snowy mountain peaks.

It was my first weekend of exploration via car and bike. In the next couple days my new used touring bike should show up and then hopefully soon an upcoming dispatch like this will be an overnight on bicycle.

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