Sunday, June 12, 2011

Red Lodge Montana

With a population of 2300 the town of Red Lodge sits nestled in a valley carved by glaciation and the swift waters of Rock Creek.
Located at the northern edge of the great Yellowstone region, it offers easy access to a diversity of landscapes and lifestyles.
Red Lodge is the kind of place where cowboys queue up for fancy espresso drinks and talk shop with ranchers and ski bums alike.
The kind of place where a walk downtown takes you past old-timer cafes and upscale restaurants, a hardware store and the hippest bead shop this side of the Continental Divide.
Originally a resting place for the Crow Indians, this valley was eventually discovered by European settlers, and with the opening of a post office in 1884 , the town of Red Lodge was officially established.........

With one of its bragging points being that it has the hippest bead shop this side of the Divide, Red Lodge is not a town that either LC nor I have a lot in common with philosophically.
We visited Red Lodge not long after we first landed in Cody.  
It was still Winter (likely Spring in reality but it still felt like Winter) and the town was very quiet, and still in hibernation.
It IS nestled in the mountains - a yuppie and isolated ski and kayaking town that is a very lovely place to visit.
Yesterday Red Lodge was celebrating the Beartooth All-American Road 75th Anniversary, LC and I wanted to drive into the mountains, and before unexpectedly driving the Beartooth we spent some time exploring this lovely town at the height of the tourist season.
The first picture above was taken at the top of the final hill which quickly drops down into the valley where Red Lodge is located.
From that vantage point it is very easy to fall in love with this small tourist town.............
We pulled into a parking lot immediately after turning into town because I wanted to take pictures of the beautiful and now very fast flowing river that borders the length of Red Lodge.
As I walked over to the river I was excited to see that there was a kayaking competition taking place.
I took many pictures of the paddlers as they weaved through the rapids and through the gates.
It has been a few years since I paddled on moving water, and it was fun to watch these guys in action.
In Eastern Tennessee while on the way to races, or trainings or simply camping trips I would often stop at a bridge at a section of the Ocoee River called the Hell Hole (near the site of the kayaking competition when the Olympics were held in Atlanta in '96) and watch the hot doggers.
These kids (usually around 18 or so) would line up along the side of the river and take turns paddling directly underneath the bridge where the heaviest of the churning water was located.
Each kid would do unbelievable rodeo tricks for a few minutes before popping out and paddling to the back of the line to wait their turn to do it all over again.
These kids had mad technical skills:
While I was taking pictures of the kayakers LC (who was parked across the road from me) took pictures of this interesting place and the unique art work located on the grounds outside............
As LC and I wandered around town taking in the sights and sounds and relaxed atmosphere of this lovely town I took many pictures of random sights.
I took this picture of a piece of yard art.
The homes in the town proper reminded me very much of Juneau.
Surrounded by mountains these houses were pretty little homes all close together with small yards...........
A large map of Red Lodge painted on the side of an old and historic brick building............
The day was grey but it was also warm, and LC and I were having a great time visiting this artsy little mountain town..........
Lots of arts and crafts stores, lots of painting and statue stores, antique stores, cafes and small independently owned restaurants...............
As we continued wandering along the main street I noticed this motorcycle with side car, and then noticed a beautiful and sweet German Shepard in the side car.  
As we walked closer I took a picture of this "big happy Montana dog"............
As we stood beside the bike I looked further down into the car and saw that this bike rider was not visiting with just one traveling companion, but in fact two.
One big sweet critter who looked bored, and one smaller sweet critter who looked a little scared and overwhelmed by everything that was going on around him............
The museums in town were all free to visit during this day of celebration but my Mountain Boy and I only visited one.
It was a hugely interesting museum that contained vehicles, photographs and information related to the bus company that took visitors on tours of Yellowstone Park during the 1920's and 1930's.............
While LC walked through the bike shop I remained outside and took pictures of things around me.
It was a great day.  We were having a good and fun walk.  It was a peaceful and relaxing time..........
Another wonderful and very beautiful painting on the side of another building.
I love this painting.............
Two people who instantly raised my curiosity.
I had an overwhelming urge to run across the street to talk to these complete strangers.
Who were they?  Where were they from?  Where were they headed?  How long had they been on the road?  What had they seen?
After taking a second look at this couple though I could tell that they were not on a long distance journey under their own steam.
Not enough gear, too clean, not tired enough looking.................
A sure sign of Spring in the mountains.............
After heading back to the truck, finding the community bar-b-que and hungrily scarfing down lots of great food (including left overs for Jamie-dog) we drove through town for another few minutes and I took these pictures..........
This town not only is surrounded by mountains and has a river that runs through it, but it also contains a multitude of wonderful individual and creative pieces that capture your attention and delight.
Whether it was unexpected totems or carved moose and bear or metal sculptures I loved them all...........
A link to our first trip to Red Lodge in March:
We came.
We saw.
We ate.
And then we drove beyond Red Lodge for the first time and drove up into the Winter Wonderland that is the Beartooth Highway.
Happy 75th Birthday!

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