Monthly Archives: November 2013

American Road Trip West, Part 9

The road home—the Beartooth Highway in southern Montana and Highway 14A in the Bighorns of Wyoming.

Looking back at the Absaroka Range from the Beartooth Mountains.

Looking back at the Absaroka Range from the Beartooth Mountains.

Pictures don’t capture the majesty of these mountains.

Chalk Bute overlooking Beartooth Lake in the Beartooths.

Chalk Bute reflected in Beartooth Lake in the Beartooths.

Nor do they capture the gut-clutching, death-defying, close-your-eyes-and-trust-your-driver feelings.

The Beartooth Highway— 8% grade—15 mph hairpin turns! Hair-raising!

The Beartooth Highway— 8% grade—15 mph hairpin turns! Note the “guard rails”—I almost laughed.

Fortunately, there are places to pull in, catch your breath, and stand and gawk at the grandeur.

The Beartooth Pass elevation is 10,947 ft (3,337 m).

The Beartooth Pass elevation is 10,947 ft (3,337 m). See the ribbon of road below?

Then on we drove to the northern route over the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming. And I thought the Beartooth Highway was nerve-wracking! I don’t have many pictures of this route because I was busy coping!

The grade here is 10-11%. Breath-taking is a good description! That’s usually a good thing, but on occasion I didn’t want to give up my breath! (Lots of exclamation points here, you’ll notice.) I almost kissed the flat ground when we got down. And I swore off ever driving in the mountains again unless it was in Glacier Park’s little red busses.

Looking out at the vastness of Wyoming from the northern Bighorns.

Looking out at the vastness of Wyoming from the northern Bighorns. This doesn’t look very high up, but trust me, it is!

In hindsight, when I had recovered and was relaxing at the Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, listening to a cowboy band, I thought of this day as one of the best mountain days I’d ever had. Thanks to my husband for doing the mountain driving, or I never would have had the experience.

Here ends my travelogue of our Great American Road Trip West; the harsh beauty of the West is a wonder to me; the indomitable spirit of the pioneers inspires me; and the enduring evidence of strife between peoples in our country saddens me.

Like Dorothy who stared in astonishment at Munchkinland and said, “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas,” the US is a whole of so many vastly different parts. Going from the Midwest to the West is like going from to Mars to Jupiter. Pictures and words absolutely do not convey the feel of the varied beauty of our country. Go see it for yourself.

Speaking of our country…


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American Road Trip West, Part 8

Horseback riding in the Absaroka Mountains of Montana (pronounced Ab-sor’-ka). I’ve been looking forward to writing this post.

The Skyline Guest Ranch is three miles east of Cooke City, on Highway 212. A  log structure purpose-built as a bed and breakfast out of timber salvaged from the Yellowstone burn of 1988, Skyline hosts guests who want to run around the mountains by various means and for various purposes—horseback riding, snowmobiling, fly-fishing, hunting, backcountry camping—or guests who want to sit on the porch and enjoy the view.

Skyline Guest Ranch, Cooke City, Montana

Skyline Guest Ranch, Cooke City, Montana

Our purpose was to ride in the Rockies. This is the way to see the mountains: from the back of a horse!

Say ahhhhh!

Say ahhhhh!

Wrangler Rob, on his trusty steed Sue (a gelding), led us up and down, through the forest, and over rocks—for two hours.

Rob on Sue

Rob on Sue

Dave and I are seasoned riders, though out of practice for many years. I don’t know how rookies do this! Not that I want to deter you if you’ve never ridden a horse and you’re burning to try it in the Rockies. Just a caution: don’t panic. The horse knows what he’s doing, even if you don’t.

Here we are close to the turn-around point. As you can see from my right hand, I wasn’t altogether relaxed! It wasn’t a sheer drop to my left, but it was pretty steep and a long way down. But I was having a blast!

Turn around HERE?!

Turn around HERE?!

To give you an idea of how steep it was, to take this picture Rob had to dismount on the right and crouch on the mountainside, then remount on the right because it wasn’t safe to mount on the left, the side from which you always get on a horse.

Shortly after Rob took this photo, he said, “Do you want to turn around here? or where it’s wider?” “Here” was the width of a horse, with DOWN to the left. So I said, “Wider.” Duh! Well…”wider” was two horse-widths! Our horses had the maneuver done before I had time to freak out.

An afternoon shower on the way back did nothing to dampen our enjoyment of our ride in the mountains. We were just glad we were off the rocks by the time it started raining, not that slippery rocks would have bothered Mason and Rodman.

Now, when I’m lounging at home, drinking my morning coffee, my mind often wanders back to this ride. It was great! No, more than great—it was one of those lifetime greats.

If you go to the Skyline Guest Ranch, these guys await you.

The herd at Skyline Guest Ranch.

The herd at Skyline Guest Ranch.

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Hopes and Dreams

Time to take stock. I launched this blog in June 2012, and my Facebook personal page and community page, Full Pitcher Christian Women, on Christmas Day 2012. What have I learned? Why do it?

I have a big dream—to reach Christian women around the globe with messages of insight and encouragement. I have no illusions that my efforts are unique or special—there are thousands of sites such as mine—but I always did like singing in a choir.

What I’ve learned:

  • You readers are shy with Likes, Comments, and Shares. I get that in this crazy cyber age of assaults on our privacy. However, let me give you what assurances I can. Before I approve a comment on my blog I edit out last names unless you tell me you want traffic to your blog or url, so there isn’t a cyber trail to you that I’m aware of. On Facebook my understanding is that if you lock down your privacy settings, no one can get past your FB front door, even if they see your name on a Comment. Please correct me if I’m wrong. So, if you’re comfortable, Like, Comment, and Share away.
  • You like photos. So do I. Feel free to share and plaster my copyrighted photos all over the place in any free application.
  • You like short articles or snippets. This seems especially true on Facebook where the News Feed goes by so fast and there’s so much to read. And, the universal lament, so little time.
  • You really are friends. I admit to being a cyber grinch at heart, skeptical of cyber relationships. But I’ve learned they are what they are, and they are something of value. That’s YOU.
  • Some of you readers are men. That’s great too. Though Full Pitcher Christian Women is intended for women, men are welcome to have a look. After all, it’s not a bad thing to have men learn more about our thoughts, our hearts, our needs. My blog is more gender neutral and guy-friendly.

Why do this social media thing?

  • It’s a ministry to you. Plain and simple: if you don’t benefit from it, there’s no point. Any feedback you have for me on what works, what doesn’t work, would be appreciated. If you want to keep it private, Message me.
  • It exercises my writing muscles. This is the part for me—writers write, and social media is a great platform for writing.  I’ve written a novel for Christian women that I’ll be letting you know about in the next few months, as soon as I find out how it fared in this year’s contest at The Christian Writers Guild.

You’ll notice that “you” appears many times in these taking-stock thoughts. You are why I do this. You are the key to spreading the word. So thank YOU.

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American Road Trip West, Part 7

Westward ho and away we go—to Virginia City and Nevada City, Montana. The two towns are separated by a mile or so, but they function as one museum of the Old West.

Virginia City, Montana

Virginia City, Montana

Virginia City is a little town in the mountains with a remarkably preserved main street from the mining days of the 1800s. Businesses like Bob’s Place (pizza!) are interspersed amid the old shops where it looks like the residents just up and skedaddled. Not much restoration here. You stand at the open door of the mercantile and peer in at the dust-coated merchandise stocking the shelves.

Dusty merchandise from the 1800's.

Dusty merchandise from the 1800s.

Tour the town in a stagecoach.

Tour the town in a stagecoach.

Nevada City is a collection of old buildings, some original to the site.

Nevada City, Montana

Nevada City, Montana

Here volunteers perform living history on the weekends. We caught the last performance of the season: The Hanging of Jack Slade. I wandered off to the side and took pictures of fancy chickens rather than watch Jack swing._DSC0455

These two wide spots on a western road were our furthest points west. The towns intrigued my husband when he read “Death of a Gunfighter: The Quest for Jack Slade, The West’s Most Elusive Legend” by Dan Rottenberg, so off we went.

If you want to see this part of the Old West, you’d better hurry. These towns are extraordinary, but the years are taking their toll. When I compare this wonderful piece of history to the glitzy museum at Cody, I really realize how much money it takes to preserve our history. These towns aren’t on the way to anywhere—your destination would be here, or you’ll miss it.

A jewel worth preserving.

A jewel worth preserving.

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