We climbed back into the truck excited about the prospect of driving deeper into mountain country.
As we had climbed up Chief Joseph Scenic Highway to Dead Indian Pass I had visually followed Heart Mountain, wondering exactly when this eternal mountain that dominates Park County would finally disappear from sight.
I don't remember the exact moment, but for a few brief seconds before getting back into the truck I looked back down the highway and then out onto the horizon, searching for it.
It was gone.
We were now over 9000 feet and knew from experience that from this point forward we would be driving on steep and winding mountain road that contained extraordinary hair-pin turns, lots of overlooks and quiet mountains.
There would be only occasional homes, some campgrounds and really no other civilization in the foreseeable future................
My Mountain Boy stopped the truck often, giving me the opportunity to look deep into the mountains.
So many times on this day I stood looking out over them, waiting in vain to hear their stories.
I tried to capture the vastness and the sheer beauty of the mountains that surrounded me 360 but a camera just does not do justice to such vastness....................
My Mountain Boy and my dog.
We had been talking for weeks about heading into the mountains but could never seem to garner enough energy to make the trip.
On this day I was very glad that we had finally made it.
There is something incredibly healing about mountains.
We stayed at this one pull off for a long time before continuing further.
Jamie wandered, doing her Jamie things and I watched my puppy again (as I have so many times over the past couple of years) in awe of her simple and quiet goodness, her ability to adapt to the changes she has experienced, the unconditional love and loyalty that she has devoted to both me and LC.
As LC walked with James I watched him as well.
He is such a good and decent and kind man. After everything he has been through in his life he deserves so many good things to happen to him.
I stood watching him walk in the grass with our dog in the mountains.
I regarded him closely, realizing again for the thousandth time that I love him.................
After traveling slowly and stopping often LC and I realized that we were starving.
Poppy-lemon muffins from a gas station only takes a person so far and we on the spur of the moment (and thinking that we were in Crandall already) pulled into the first signs of civilization that we had seen in a couple of hours.
Located alongside the Clarks Fork River, this rustic restaurant was certain to have burgers.
For a second I became introspective, suddenly remembering something my oldest son Sean had always said to me.
We went for dinner often when he was in college - usually picking one town or another, and one restaurant or another, that was part way between my house and his inevitably rundown college apartment.
Sean would always take his time reviewing the menu, always picking something different to eat each time we went out together.
I on the other hand would invariably open the menu, glance at it for all of 10 seconds, slam it closed out of boredom and tell Sean I wanted a burger.
He looked up from his menu somewhere around the 20th time we had performed this same ritual and shook his head at me from across the table. Seriously (but not really because the tell-tale half-smirk was on his face) he said to me "Ya know........people are gonna start thinking that you can't read if you just keep ordering burgers".
I laughed when he said that. He had obviously read the same article I had at some point (that most people who cannot read frequently order burgers so that they do not let on to others that they are illiterate).
People could think what they liked. I wanted a burger then.
And I wanted a burger the other day......................
After we got home much later in the day I regretted having not taken pictures of the inside of the restaurant.
It was a rustic place filled with wooden furniture, and many windows that looked out over the Clarks Fork River.
While LC and I were waiting for our food we wandered around first the small convenience store and then the crafts section of the restaurant that was filled with rustic items emblazoned with moose and bears.
The entire complex is 26 acres. In addition to the restaurant and small stores there is a bar and campground.
After we arrived home I looked to see if this place had a website and found this:
The front of the restaurant and stores was at street level and very humble.
After eating great burgers and then taking left over burger and fries out to our pup, we three travelers walked around to the back of the building, down a long set of gravel and log steps, and walked beside the river.
The back side of the building...............
I hung back for a few minutes so that I could take pictures of the old wagon, and as I turned I smiled when I saw LC and James.
Jamie had been stuck in the truck while we were in the restaurant, and even though she had been in and out of the truck multiple times during our trip while I took pictures, she was overjoyed to finally be able to take some time and really walk.
This place was gorgeous.
Surrounded by green. By mountains. By pine trees. By quiet......................
As we slowly took our time heading back to the truck I looked up onto the side of the building and saw this sign.
As LC and I loaded Jamie back into the truck he asked me if I wanted to continue on to Cooke City so that he could buy lottery tickets.
It was turning into a long day.
I looked at my guy, wondering if he was also getting tired, but he smiled at me and I knew that he was happy to be here in this beautiful and peaceful place.
Sure..........let's go to Cooke City...............