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2004 » August

Entering Montana

August 31, 2004 by  

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The north entrance/exit of Yellowstone brings you into the neighboring town of Gardiner Montana on the Wyoming/Montana border. River Motel owner Gayle Phillips had an exceptionally warm personality and upgraded us to a suite. Of course, like most small towns, little was open after 8 pm, so we had to scramble to catch a bite to eat. It was here where we had our most expensive dinner on the trip to-date, at the Italian Park Street Grill on the main drag. The food was fabulous and while overly priced for what it was, it marked a watershed for the rest of the trip. Leaving_yellowstone Montana and Idaho were to be the more nurturing states on the trip, and while this didn’t mean adding expensive hotels and restaurants to the agenda, it did mean slowing down, reducing the number of miles per day, adding a nice glass of wine to a meal, and hanging out a bit later in the evening. Montana_4 Near_yellowstone Montana allowed for that since we were passing through college towns Bozeman and Missoula.…

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Yellowstone

August 31, 2004 by  

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Img_2063My second time to Yellowstone National Park, I decided to take a different route and explore the northern part of the park since we entered from the South last time. The last experience in the park was also during August, which I recall being hot and sunny, so much so that we didn’t need our cooler temperature sleeping bags at night. We entered Yellowstone from Cody, the East Entrance to hit a snowstorm only moments after entering the park. It was as if we hit a time warp and suddenly it was December not August. The snowstorm followed us for miles and with such a heavy load, the drive was stressful with a Texan at the wheel. The roads were so icy and the traffic so backed up, we couldn’t switch drivers, so I held Teddy and did what I could to add two more eyes to Paul’s visibility. 4100700r102511 As quickly as the snow and ice hit us, it stopped. The roads were still lined with a thin layer of snow however, so we stopped for some hot coffee at a rest stop…

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Wyoming & Virgin Karaoke

August 31, 2004 by  

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I could have spent weeks in Wyoming alone, hiking, exploring, floating down rivers in a kayak, or just lying on the edge of a mountain with grass between my teeth begging for an answer to why I was moving to another city. Another_ranch Heavily weighted Hamilton slowly made the Route 14 pass through the Big Horn Mountains. Leaving Sheridan, the views were spectacular, so much so, I had to pinch myself, especially when I couldn’t come up with a good answer to the above question. Wyoming_terrain So peaceful and breathtaking, we took our time through the mountain pass. We stopped at the biker/trucker Alamo Hotel on Main Street in Sheridan. After we checked in, I announced to Paul that I should overcome my negative association with Karaoke given that it was a popular pastime in Dallas and Paul professed to be a pro. When in Rome……and hell, it’s not as if it was hard to find a Karaoke bar in a small Wyoming town. Through the hotel owner, we found our way to LBM – “Little Big Man” on the opposite side of the…

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Wyoming Sky

August 30, 2004 by  

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There’s something dramatic about the wide open plains but even more so when the sky beomes gray, eerie and lingers above your head, following you as you continue your drive west with nothing between you and nature. 4100710r102410a Wyoming_sky_2


Historical Images in Wyoming

August 30, 2004 by  

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Inside_s_dakota_saloon South_dakota


Rapid City and the Blur Beyond….

August 29, 2004 by  

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Rapid City is where the plains and the Black Hills meet. The stretch continues to present kitschy billboards for miles and small no-name motels with odd names like Lamplighter, Big Sky, Budget Host, Penny Motel, Powder House and Holy Smoke Inn. There really wasn’t any “true city” experience anywhere in South Dakota. The towns became a blur….we stopped in Sturgis, which is known worldwide as the annual gathering ground of up to 500,000 ‘hog’ (Harley-Davidson motorcycle) lovers. We just missed the Sturgis Rally & Races event, but some of the color remained as we witnessed one night at One-Eyed Jack’s Saloon on Main Street, a biker bar that served little other than buffalo burger and happy hour beers from 4-7 pm. Img_2029 Img_2030 Just before we reached the Wyoming border, we hit Spearfish, which is at the mouth of the scenic Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway (US 14A). Spearfish was closer to the actual Dances with Wolves film site than the ghost town that housed most of the props up the road. The drive was beautifully but sadly serene in an old Wild West kind…

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The Black Hills

August 29, 2004 by  

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I found the Black Hills intriguing mostly for its historical imprint and its natural beauty. The name Black comes from the dark Ponderosa pine-covered slopes, which have been always considered sacred, spiritual and an ancestral home. Black_hills_road_2 We spent a chunk of time exploring the mountainous region through back-road drives, visits to caves, a hike in the Custer State Park, Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse monuments. Mt. Rushmore was what I expected – large and spectacular but also overcrowded with numerous overweight Americans eating ice cream cones. The faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt stood 60 feet high. Carved in the granite of a Black Hills outcrop, the effort was completed by sculptor Gutzon Borglum in 1941, taking 14 years to complete all four faces. Rushmore_with_flags You have to pass through the Wild Western-like town of Keystone, which was once a mining town. Touted as the world’s largest monument, Crazy Horse Memorial is not far from Mt. Rushmore, a mere four miles north of the town of Custer. Still in progress, the monument of the Sioux leader astride his…

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The American Diner

August 28, 2004 by  

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There are American diners and there are American diners….my idea of a charming American diner is Rosebuds in Davis Square (Somerville/Cambridge) just outside Boston. It is an original classic with a silver exterior, soft cushioned barstools, the Flo-like waitress behind the counter who is ever appearing with a coffee pot, booths with coat hangers on the end of each seat and traditional ketchup and creamers on every table. Img_1802_1 There are diners that resemble Rosebuds in many small towns around the country, including my hometown’s New York Lunch in Gloversville, NY. Less traditional in character, it has its Flo-like waitresses, the soft barstools, homemade rice pudding to die for and the gut wrenching but popular “everything hotdog” for $1.95. When you ask for the “works,” you get it all – the mustard, ground beef, ketchup, onions and relish. Then there are the American midwest “in the middle of nowhere” diners. These diners often don’t have the soft barstools or the tableside jukebox machines but they do have the Flo-like waitresses armed with coffee pots, the endless cokes with large straws and real cowboys. We discovered Doo-Wah Dittys Diner, a crossbreed diner/truck stop…

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