LC, Jamie and I took a quick trip to Red Lodge a few days ago.
The day was warm, and although we are continually experiencing false starts, spring is definitely in the air.
A few more weeks and we will see the birth of a new season.
On this day we drove away from Cody, drove past the isolated and mountainous community of Clark, drove through seemingly endless miles of desert, and when we reached the outskirts of the tiny, dying town of Belfry (where the school mascot is........surprise.........a bat) turned onto the winding two lane highway that leads to Red Lodge, Montana.
The climb from Belfry to Red Lodge is constant.
It is filled with winding road, progressively more mountain, progressively more snow, and a couple of tiny communities that contain a few homes and home-based businesses and not much more.
As we continued our climb we came to this place.
It used to be an active coal mining site until the early 1940's when it experienced a catastrophic explosion.
If you click on the sign you can read about the disaster.
The last words of the sign are the most haunting. Final words from two fathers who knew that they would not make it out of the mine alive:
Walter and Johnny. Goodbye.
Wives and daughters. We died an easy death.
Love from us both. Be good............
Click on any of the pictures to enlarge them................
Aside from the markers located close to the highway that describe what happened at the site, the only thing this area contains are now abandoned buildings.
Most people unthinkingly pass by these kinds of places all over the country. Sites of work place disasters. Sites of historic battles. Historical cemeteries.
I know that most people snap pictures and read the signs, and then simply and quickly move on to the rest of their day.
For some reason I always find these kinds of places very compelling and they always give me pause. They are not simply interesting tourist sites and photo ops. They are places to remember the lives that people led and the lives that people lost................
15 minutes later we paused one more time, climbed out of the truck and stood looking out over forever.
The world, from the top of a mountain in Wyoming, looks and feels both empty and endless.
As I stood at the rest stop I looked out over the universe in front of me and realized that I could see sixty, eighty, maybe even more miles in all directions.
From this point all the way to Red Lodge, we were now irrevocably in the mountains...............
As we arrived at the outskirts of Red Lodge, LC pulled the truck over one more time so that I could take pictures looking down over the tiny ski-resort town of Red Lodge.
I had taken pictures here the last couple of times we had visited this sweet little town, and each time I stood in this place the only thing I could think was that (from this vantage point) the sight of Red Lodge looked like a postcard.
Filled with river and snow and pine trees, and surrounded by mountains, it is a beautiful little town.
Red Lodge is one of those little communities that always seems to exist in its own, isolated little world.
Juneau was like that in Alaska.
Sewanee was like that in Tennessee.
Red Lodge is like that in Montana.
To a lesser extent Cody is like that in Wyoming.
Sometimes that means a liberal enclave surrounded by conservatism.
Sometimes that means people relishing in their own "personal specialness" brought about simply by their living in a special place.
Sometimes that means more money floating around than one would find in surrounding communities.
Sometimes that means feeling so isolated it would be easy to imagine that you live on an island instead of a mainland, and that you are untouched and untouchable by the real world that exists somewhere "out there".
Red Lodge is a special place for some of those special reasons.
A place I love to visit and a place I would not be content to live in, and so I eagerly climbed back into the truck and looked forward to heading into this small, mountain town to visit and grab lunch.............
Immediately after you drop down into town you come to the river.
The last time we were here was the summer of 2011, and during that trip (that turned into a hugely long and wonderful day) my guy, my dog and I stood beside this river and happily watched the kayak races.............
While eating lunch in a downtown restaurant I looked up and saw this picture.
Lunch suddenly forgotten I grabbed my camera, walked over to the enlarged photographed, and scanned the faces of the burly, rugged coalminers.
As I looked at these mens' faces I thought about the mining disaster site we had stopped at only an hour before.
We died an easy death. Love from us both. Be good.............
Only one brief stop on the way home...............
A previous blog post of a trip we took in the past to Red Lodge during the summer of 2011.