Thursday, June 7, 2012

'Trippin' the Beartooth Mountains

I don't know if any of you have heard, but it's going to be a hot summer this year, no matter where you live. We happen to live here and already May flew by with not nearly enough rain. It certainly won't be sufficient to get through the hottest summer months.

It cooled down a bit last weekend and we finally managed to make it on Jacob's all-time favorite drive ever: the Beartooth Highway. On May 31st they finally opened the pass, although by the time we got up there, it was difficult to determine why. Well, you'll see...

That line through the hill is a dirt road Jacob is determined to drive, even though it inclines, and wraps around the mountain, and isn't much bigger than one lane. He expresses this desire to me every time we pass it, and then I have nightmares that night.

Still before the gate they close at the end of the season.

There are definitely very ominous parts of the mountains.

 The part of the drive I like the least and makes me the most nervous is the side where nothing grows. 

"I freakin' LOVE my Sun Chips!"
There's a scenic point on the way up with bathrooms and a walkway so you can really feel like you're on the edge of the world. So we got out and walked around.

 My little daredevil baby.

Yes, I was nervous. Just looking at these pictures, my heart is in my throat.

 This mountain face always gives me the heebie-jeebies.

 My baby, on top of the world.

 Straight down. I normally wouldn't be able to stop shrieking long enough to take a picture like this. Honestly, I really don't know what came over me.

Our carefree-on-a-mountain pose.

 Usually during this time of year, this is mostly snow....

 The temperature was a brisk 46-degrees near the "top," a stark contrast to the 90-degrees we left behind in Billings.  I joked to my friend in Phoenix, does Montana think it's Arizona or something (minus the grotesque politics)??? He replied that he *wished* it was 95-degrees; it was so hot already he was sure his tomato plants wouldn't make it.

This poor guy had nothing to do. :-(

 For awhile, this was all Father Winter felt like doing this year. Must be a Congressman.

 Finally, we were getting to the good stuff....

 That line down the middle wasn't a mistake and is something I've found completely fascinating since I moved to Montana (I'm sure they do it elsewhere, but this is the only place I've seen it). It's a very long stick attached to the end of the side-of-the-road-markers. It's used for this:

 You can faintly see some poking out of the top of the snow.

 They enable plows (and/or whomever) to know where the road is when the snow gets this deep. I'm sure probably everyone already knows of these, even people who've never seen real snow. But I'm the perpetual tourist so everything is always cool (and my memory sucks so everything is always new).

 The bottom of the picture is a snow bank, but I think it looks like a cloud. I should have said nothing and just let you believe it was a cloud....

 Things leveling out and gradually beginning our decent. 

 Then just as suddenly, we were back to a bright, sunny summer day.

I'm going to pause for a second to get on my soapbox. As we were driving down the other side (just as curvy as the first side), we came upon two motorcyclists from Colorado. One pulled over on what could generously be called an arm-length of a shoulder, while the other pulled up behind him and stopped in the middle of the lane. On a switch-back. On a mountain pass. Covered in snow and ice (not the roads, just the surroundings). I don't know if it's the mother bear in me, or the fact that, as a motorist, I loathe any two-wheeled vehicle, either operated by feet or gas. For some odd-ball reason, electing to be free of metal, plastic, and airbags has made it acceptable to act like a dick on the roads; like your life is more valuable than mine and my family's because you've made the decision to partake in an activity that requires a safety helmet. I used to laugh at the guy in my high school who wore a helmet when he drove his car, but maybe I should.

This anger comes from a very specific place: the fact that as he passed us on the double line, flipped us the bird. So what if I yelled out the window after they stopped in the lane, "WHAT THE F*CK DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?!" They deserved it! But I realized my rage began with bicyclists, and grew after I saw one too many Subaru's with a SHARE THE ROAD bumper sticker. No. Guess what, douche-nozzle (my new favorite expression), the *road* is the only place I - as a car - can go! You can go wherever you like, where as I cannot. Furthermore, I'm a lot bigger than you so how about YOU look out for ME!

Wow. That was some anger......

Let's get back to happy things.....

I call this Booby Mountain. The top totally looks like a nipple.

 The next time we stopped was after we got off the Beartooth Highway and onto Chief Joseph's Scenic Highway. This is in a specific part called Sun Basin. Zoey's playing "Listen to Sounds with [Yo Gabba Gabba's] Toodee" after she heard a bird chirp.

 OMG, LOVES "bwowy (blowy) flowies!!"


 Sun Basin. It as always a basin of Sun every time we drive through there.

 Nature girl, collecting things along the way.

 Yes, we let our daughter walk around a mountain with no shoes on, we're awesome parents like that.

"We shall find what we need that-a-way!"

 "Lookit, Daddy, lookit! Stick!" I think she even called for Louis once or twice because she knows he loves his sticks.

 My clever picture taking, the outhouse as our backdrop instead of the beautiful mountains we're facing. *sigh*
At least we'll always remember this outhouse....

 "This shall be.....

 "Land Zoey!"


Skelator Visits the Mountains.

 I take these same shots every time we do this drive, but it's always so picture-worthy. I think this is the best year yet, there's never been such vibrant color in either the rock or grass.

Zoey Roadtrippin'. Tinkerbell came along too. Coincidentally, she hasn't wanted to watch it lately, and when I've asked her if she wanted to, she's promptly said no.
Maybe she was so relaxed from the drive.....

Or from the yoga she did with Mommy that morning.

Sunday was an equally hot day, but we still managed to get a few house things done. And then this week happened and now it's over, and thinking about all of it makes me tired, and, coincidentally, it's just about time for my post-dinner, pre-bed-time nap.