Saturday, October 3, 2015

Road Trip: Little Bighorn and Beartooth Highway

As evidenced yesterday, things don't always go as planned on the road. That's why there are so many life on the road songs, right?

The Almighty Itinerary indicated we should be heading toward Yellowstone by 6 a.m. Instead we had a Continental breakfast at the hotel surrounded by cowboy hats (enjoyable) and Fox News on the common room TV (not) before getting on the road around 8:30. We quickly found ourselves in Montana, saw signs for Little Bighorn, and after consulting the GPS MFD pulled another wildcard.

I'm glad we stopped even though I have major white man guilt over what happened to the Native Americans in their country.
As you might imagine, it was solemn and quiet. Especially up on Last Stand Hill where Custer went down.
When I first saw the cemetery, I was thinking holy shit I didn't think this many people died here. And they didn't. Google tells me that the graves in the cemetery at Little Bighorn are known and unknown veterans of this nation's wars, as well as women and children from isolated frontier posts, Indians, scouts, and Medal of Honor recipients. The graves at the top of the hill are the 7th Cavalry men who died there. There's also a few stones for the horses, which existed long before the Indian Memorial. Really? Yes, really. The Indian memorial was not opened until 2003.
The bottom right photo above is Last Stand Hill from the Indian monument. Not many people walked into the circular Indian monument that blends a little into the land. I'm glad we did. It was my favorite part.

Back on the road, we stopped for supplies in a Walfart in Billings. We should've gone another exit down because that one was a) the exit we needed to take to get to the Beartooth Highway and b) less fucking insane at noon on a Saturday.

Some of my required supplies: bear box for food, food that travels well, travel coffee mugs because I forgot ours, a small bag cooler, and a $15 coffee pot. Worth it. The coffee in Yellowstone was hit or miss, and the rooms we were in that did have a small Keurig supplied decaf K-cups. Say what?

The Beartooth Pass. I would like a t-shirt that says I Survived Driving the Beartooth Highway. Or one that says We Survived the Beartooth Highway Because I Drove Instead of MFD. Those of you who have driven with him know what I'm talking about. Support group forms to the left.
The Beartooth Highway is a 68 mile trek.  It starts just south of Red Lodge, Montana (elevation 6400 feet), rises to 10,947 feet at the Beartooth Pass Summit in Wyoming, and ends near Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana, at 7,500 feet.
two sides of the same sign
While it's only 68 miles, the switchbacks and hairpin curves make for some slow going. This boring video shows some of that along with the snow that was evident as we climbed:

It was closed due to snow and ice on Thursday, open on Saturday when we took it. It is hands down one of the most beautifully scenic drives I've ever been on. It is also hands down one of the most crap your pants driving experiences I've ever had. I was extremely woozy at the summit due to the elevation and also freezing my ass off but elated by the views. I forgot that I also had to drive down which was no picnic either. Luckily I had my big girl pants on and dealt with it...punctuated of course by many oh shits.
Other Road Trip posts: Badlands, The day we saw it all

Up next: Yellowstone

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  1. You made such wonderful memories. I feel the same white (wo)man guilt at similar sites; I remember feeling after visiting the Smithsonian American History museum exhibit on segregation and civil rights. You have taken the ultimate field trip. I feel like I should go back and read up on those battles or listen to the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast. It's been such a long time since I've been in a, probably quite biased, U.S. History class. Loving these posts, Steph.

  2. I Loved the video. I am saddened by what destruction human beings cause.

  3. LOL on you being the driver. It made me feel very sad reading about the Indians and I am kind of happy that Custer went down. The TV westerns years ago, with the exception of Tonto with the Lone Ranger, depicted Indians as such savages, scalpers, etc. I am traveling through your eyes and your words and it is such a joy!!
    Love, your Momma

  4. LOL at all the oh shits required to make the drive. I've been on a handful of drives like that and I get woefully car sick, so thanks for the warning!!

  5. I did NOT find that video boring and in fact watched it closely! Beautiful scenery (I could have done without the ceiling coverage) and nerve-wracking turns! I wish you had a video from the top and back down!

  6. Gosh, what a drive BUT oh how beautiful :)

  7. Glad you guys had a great and safe trip Steph! Love the photos :) Yikes all those burials at that cemetery.. makes you think about all the history and the lives of those individuals. Have a great one! -Iva

  8. Snow and ice?! Dafuq?!?!
    You Doyles do NOT fuck around when it comes to vacationing and site seeing!

  9. Beartooth pass reminds me of this road in Italy (near Almafi) that I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown on. My dad was driving and lets just say I'm nervous when he is driving in the U.S on a straight road. A curvy road on top of a mountain with Italian drivers? Holy crap, it's lucky I didn't just walk back. Looks like the view was worth it though! Breathtaking and beautiful.

  10. It looks really beautiful. I am super jealous but I am glad that you all had such an epic adventure!

  11. Support group for his driving...dead. Those turns would make me nervous and I love driving. The views are beautiful though.

  12. can I join the support group because my husband is the same, i think.
    i feel like i just sat through a very interesting american history class. seriously. very interesting. can't believe the snow and ice! jeepers.

  13. My girlfriend RAVES about that drive and they did it on their way out to meet us in Montana this year. It's definitely on my bucket list. The photos are gorgeous!

  14. I did not expect to see snow! Was the road totally clear when you took it? I can't even handle being a passenger on those kind of roads! Jacob's a really good snow driver though, so I'd just sit back and take video too. Haha!

  15. Roads like those scare the shit out of me. (I'd still want to drive it, though, just because it's so beautiful.)

    I definitely get white man guilt when I start to think of all the terrible things our ancestors have done.


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