Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cooke City

This is a blog post from a trip LC and I took to Cooke City at the end of May last year:
Even though the calendar told us that we were only a couple of weeks away from the first day of summer there was still a lot of snow in the mountains on that day.
Almost 14 months later we again found ourselves on the way to Cooke City after spending a lot of time taking pictures of Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, Dead Indian Pass and the Clarks Fork and Spoon.
When LC asked me if I wanted to continue on to Cooke City I thought when we stopped to eat (in the previous blog post) that we were already in Crandall.
If that was the case then Cooke City was only another 20 scenic miles or so down the road.
After leaving the very lovely and rustic restaurant that was located in the middle of nowhere deep in the mountains we drove for 30 minutes before finally realizing that we had not actually made it to Candall yet after all.
Cooke City was further away than we thought it was.
As we drew closer and closer to Cooke City I looked through the window in front of me and saw the jagged mountain peak in the picture above.  I remembered that mountain.
Just as Heart Mountain dominates the area where we currently live in Cody, this particular mountain peak dominates the terrain in this part of the country.
We had further to travel than we both thought but the scenery only continued to get more and more beautiful.
It was all good....................
The outskirts of the tiny mountain town of Cooke City................
With so much snow on the ground and still in the mountains last May, we hit the town before tourist season had begun and it was still a very quiet place.
Cooke City is mostly isolated and many times cutoff from the outside world during the winter.
Trucks with snow ploughs attached to the front, ATV's and snow mobiles are common forms of travel.
I don't know a lot about this town and in the few times I have been there I think of it as more working class and more rugged than Red Lodge which is the other tiny mountain town located in the region.
Red Lodge is filled with small art galleries, bead stores, craft shops, outdoorsy people in the same vein as those who live in Juneau right down to their technical REI-inspired clothing.
Cooke City by comparison contains trading posts, eclectic bars, and folks who wear Carhartt and Cabellas.
When we were here last May the restaurants were empty, there were few vehicles in town and few people walking.
The other day the town had undergone a complete summer-inspired transformation.
Outdoor patios decorated with flowering baskets were extensions of the bars we saw last year.
Junk food and dinosaur-bone vendors had set up temporary quarters in spaces between the stores.
People were walking and drinking and eating and wandering on foot throughout town.....................
The largest and (at least from the outside) the most interesting looking store in town.
Leaving our pup in the truck LC crossed the road and headed for the gas station to pick up lottery tickets, while I wandered up and down the street randomly taking pictures.
In truth I had no real desire on this day to walk into stores.
One day soon - when the tourists are gone but before everything shuts down for the winter - I would like to come back and do the tourist thing.
But on this particular day I was just content to be outside and alone for a few minutes with my thoughts and my picture taking................
I stood in the middle of the road (which I do often when taking pictures and which sends LC into fits) to take pictures of town first looking in one direction...............
And then in the opposite direction.
The north east gate of Yellowstone is not too far away heading further still into the mountains...............
After spending hours slowly but assuredly making our way to this town, we ended up staying in Cooke City for all of fifteen minutes before turning back and beginning the journey home.
We only made a couple of brief stops on the way back to Cody.
On the way to Cooke City LC and I had unexpectedly passed by a two mile stretch of road that contained heavy blankets of bright yellow flowers growing in the grassy banks....................
With the exception of Clarks Fork River in back of the restaurant where we ate, LC and I did not come across a whole lot of water in our travels the other day.
As we came to this very large series of ponds I realized that I remembered them from our trip this way last year.
I asked LC to pull the truck over so that I could again take pictures of these ponds.
Between the water, the mountains, the pine trees and the variety of different colors that were in front of me, I realized that this was one of my favorite places from the trip......................
If adventure has a final and all-embracing motive, it is surely this: we go out because it is our nature to go out, to climb mountains, and to paddle rivers, to fly to the planets and plunge into the depths of the oceans... When man ceases to do these things, he is no longer man................Wilfrid Noyce

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