A to Z Challenge: The I Towns #atozchallenge

During the month of April I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge has each blogger select a theme and then do a post thematically from A to Z during each day of April , except Sundays. My blog is number 1337 out of 1670 participating blogs. This year my A to Z posts will take you across the back roads of America to many unique what other bloggers will be posting about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

I The I Towns

Indian Head, Saskatchewan

Sumoflam at Indian Head Statue in Indian Head, SK in Canada in Sept. 2007
Sumoflam at Indian Head Statue in Indian Head, SK in Canada in Sept. 2007
Indian Head Side View, Indian Head, SK, Canada
Indian Head Side View, Indian Head, SK, Canada

It is interesting that three of my I Towns in this post have something to do with Indians (American Indians) and so I am starting off in Canada at Indian Head, Saskatchewan. Indian Head is anchored against the mainline of the Canadian Pacific Railway at the junction of the Trans-Canada Highway just 65 km east of Regina.  The town was both a railroad hub and is in the center one of the wheat producing areas of Canada. The Indian Head statue (shown above) was officially unveiled on August 4, 1985. The statue is 18 feet high (the head itself is 10 feet tall). It weighs approximately 3,500 pounds and is made from metal pipe, metal mesh and cement. The statue was designed by sculptor Don Foulds of Saskatoon. It is very easy to get to, just off of Highway 1 in Indian Head.

Intercourse, Pennsylvania

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Intercourse, PA Sign - the most stolen town sign in the US
Intercourse, PA Sign – the most stolen town sign in the US
Dutch Haven Restaurant, Home of the famed Amish Shoo Fly Pie, located in Ronks, PA just down the road from Intercourse
Dutch Haven Restaurant, Home of the famed Amish Shoo Fly Pie, located in Ronks, PA just down the road from Intercourse
An Amish Buggie speeds by in Intercourse
An Amish Buggy speeds by in Intercourse
Amish buggies can be seen everywhere in and around Intercourse
Amish buggies can be seen everywhere in and around Intercourse
Amish Buggy Sales lot just outside of Intercourse
Amish Buggy Sales lot just outside of Intercourse
Amish Buggy Interior with all of the amenities
Amish Buggy Interior with all of the amenities

Contrary to those with dirty minds, Intercourse was formerly known as “Cross Keys”, which was founded in 1754. The name was changed to Intercourse in 1814. There are several explanations concerning the origin of the name of Intercourse, but none can really be substantiated. The first centers around an old race track which existed just east of town along the Old Philadelphia Pike. The entrance to the race course was known as “Entercourse”. Some suggest that “Entercourse” gradually evolved into “Intercourse”. There are others, but perhaps the most quantifiable to me comes from the “old english” language which was is use in the early 1800’s. It refers to the “fellowship” or social interaction and friendship which was so much a part of an agricultural village and culture at that time. The Amish are really quite a social people and are well known for working as groups to raise barns, etc.   The town’s sign is considered the most frequently stolen town sign in the US and is now on a pole that is difficult to get to.  You can read more about my visit to Intercourse and Amish Country in central Pennsylvania back in 2008 HERE.

Ironwood, Michigan

Historic Ironwood Theatre in Ironwood, MI
Historic Ironwood Theatre in Ironwood, MI
Famed Hiawatha Statue of Ironwood, MI
Famed Hiawatha Statue of Ironwood, MI
Sumoflam with Hiawatha, America's tallest Indian Statue at over 50 feet
Sumoflam with Hiawatha, America’s tallest Indian Statue at over 50 feet
Downtown Ironwood looking towards the giant Hiawatha statue
Downtown Ironwood looking towards the giant Hiawatha statue
A sign from the past...Ironwood Motel in Ironwood, MI
A sign from the past…Ironwood Motel in Ironwood, MI
A portion of a mural honoring 100s of iron workers in downtown Ironwood, MI
A portion of a mural honoring 100s of iron workers in downtown Ironwood, MI

Ironwood, Michigan was the starting point of my massive US Highway 2 Roadtrip across half of the US Continent back in 2014. I started in Ironwood, which is on the western end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and it sits on the border with Wisconsin. Ironwood has a number of unique things to see including a giant Hiawatha statue which is touted to be the biggest Native American Indian statue in the United States (it stands 52 feet tall in the midst of a park in town). They also have some nice murals and a few other unique things to see. Its actually a great place to visit. As the name implies, Ironwood is a town that was settled due to iron mining. It’s history goes back to the 1800s. There are a couple of monuments to the iron workers in this town including a beautiful mural with paintings of the faces of almost 100 of the former iron workers. There is also a nice chainsaw carved sculpture in front of the old train station.  See more about my visit to Ironwood and my drive on US Highway 2 HERE.

Independence, Missouri

A mural of Harry Truman on a Law Office in Independence, MO painted by David McClain. Truman was born in Independence
A mural of Harry Truman on a Law Office in Independence, MO painted by David McClain. Truman was born in Independence
Liberty Jail is where LDS Church founder and leader Joseph Smith was held
Liberty Jail is where LDS Church founder and leader Joseph Smith was held…it is nearby Liberty, MO
One of a number of Lewis and Clark Murals in Independence, MO
One of a number of Lewis and Clark Murals in Independence, MO
A small wreath made of hair as can be seen at Leila's Hair Museum in Indeendence
A small wreath made of hair as can be seen at Leila’s Hair Museum in Independence
A portion of one of a series of ceramic murals on the Clay County Public Services Building in Independence, MO
A portion of one of a series of ceramic murals on the Clay County Public Services Building in Independence, MO

Independence is one of the great historical towns in Missouri. Decorated with murals all over town, filled with history and nearby in Liberty is the home of a major LDS (Mormon) Church Museum. It is the birthplace of American President Harry Truman.  Lewis and Clark ventured here in the 1800s and many pioneers came here on the Mormon, California and Oregon trails. It is also home to one of America’s really quirky museums in Leila’s Hair Museum.

Idaho Falls, Idaho

Gigantic Peter Toth carved Indian in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He has more than 55 of these around the US, all different. I have only seen two.
Gigantic Peter Toth carved Indian in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He has more than 55 of these around the US, all different. I have only seen five.
Snake River in Idaho Falls
Snake River in Idaho Falls
Wild West Designs in Idaho Falls...great wooden sculptures
Wild West Designs in Idaho Falls…great wooden sculptures
Idaho Falls Temple of the LDS Church
Idaho Falls Temple of the LDS Church
Yummy House Chinese - Idaho Falls, Idaho
Yummy House Chinese – Idaho Falls, Idaho
Scotty's Hamburgers - Old Americana
Scotty’s Hamburgers – Old Americana

I try not to include too many “big” cities in these posts, but I wanted to include Idaho Falls.  Its a nice place to visit and has plenty to see. There are vintage restaurants and burger places, such as Scotty’s above, a beautiful Mormon temple, one of the 55 Peter Toth wooden carved “Whispering Giants” Indian Statues and more. The Snake River runs through the middle of town with some wonderful waterfalls (thus Idaho Falls).  You can see more about my 2013 visit there by clicking HERE.

Iona, Idaho (Honorable Mention)

Approaching Wolverine Creek Wind Farm, near Iona, ID
Approaching Wolverine Creek Wind Farm, near Iona, ID
Turbines from the Wolverine Creek Wind Farm
Turbines from the Wolverine Creek Wind Farm

On a hill just northeast of Idaho Falls is another small town called Iona, a town settled by Mormon pioneers in 1884. It is now home to the Wolverine Creek Wind Farm. There are 43 turbines, which can be seen from Rexburg on a clear day.  This site produces about 64.5 Mw of power.

Inverness, Montana (Honorable Mention)

Sumoflam and the Dino near Inverness, MT
Sumoflam and the Dino near Inverness, MT
The dinosaur sculpture off of US Highway 2 near Rudyard, made by farmer Byron Wolery of Inverness, MT
The dinosaur sculpture off of US Highway 2 near Rudyard, made by farmer Byron Wolery of Inverness, MT

Driving along US Highway 2 in northern Montana near Rudyard, is the small community of Inverness. It was named by “Scotty” Watson, pioneer stockman, in memory of his native town in Scotland. The Scottish town is located on the inlet to Loch Ness, famous for the Loch Ness monster. There is a population of about 55 living there, including sculptor Byron Wolery who made an interesting scrap metal dinosaur that greets passersby near Rudyard.  They have their own “monster” now! See more about the Hi Line drive of Montana HERE.

Iron River, Wisconsin (Honorable Mention)

Iron River, Wisconsin
Iron River, Wisconsin
Iron River Mural in Iron River, WI
Iron River Mural in Iron River, WI

West of Ironwood, MI on US Highway 2 is the small town of Iron River, Wisconsin. This small town has a huge mural done by the same artists that did a number of lovely murals in Ashland, Wisconsin. They began this project in 2006 sponsored by the Iron River Lion’s Club. The town is proud to claim 96 Lakes, 12 Trout Streams, 4 Rivers, 500 miles of groomed ATV trails, Chequamegon National Forest, North Country Hiking Trail and many more great hiking trails, Camba Mountain Biking Trail System, Skiing, Snowshoeing, Dog Sledding, Waterfalls, Fishing, Birding, Berry Picking, Wildlife and Summer Sunsets. I hope to visit the area again in the future on a more extended visit.  See more HERE.

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Top Ten Travel Photos for 2014

SUMOFLAM PHOTOGRAPHYThroughout my travels I drove over 10,000 miles and took over 3000 photos in 2014. I have numerous shots from the road of quirky places, offbeat sites and some nice looking places.  If you missed my “nature photos”, some of which are from my travels, please check them out on my Sumoflam’s Singlewide Site.  Following are my ten favorite travel shots from 2014 and the stories behind them (and a number of honorable mentions).

NUMBER 1 – OLD PRAIRIE SCHOOL HOUSE

Old Prairie School House on Smith-Frisno Road west of Havre. I wanted this one in black and white...
Old Prairie School House on Smith-Frisno Road west of Havre, Montana. I wanted this one in black and white…more authentic feel

I once saw a photo of this old school house and knew that I had to get to this relic of the past.  So, on my way to Shelby, MT from Havre, I sought to track it down.  Instructions from most are difficult to find, so I figured if I could find the place I could also document its location.  I took color shots, but edited this one to be in black and white. Gives that old-timey feel.

NUMBER 2 – PAUL BUNYAN AND BABE

Paul Bunyan and Babe in Bemidji, MN
Paul Bunyan and Babe in Bemidji, MN

It had always been a dream of mine to get to this famed roadside attraction from 1937 located in Bemidji, MN.  I first saw this in a LIFE Magazine Travel book in the 1960s. From that time my wanderlust kicked in and finally, in 2014, I was able to get there.

Pictures shown in LIFE Magazine in February 1945
Pictures shown in LIFE Magazine in February 1945
SumoPaul Bunyan with Sumoflam....done as a complement from Roadside America
SumoPaul Bunyan with Sumoflam….done as a complement from Roadside America (roadsideamerica.com)

NUMBER 3 – CARHENGE

Carhenge - May 2014
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska

Car art at its best, my 2014 visit to this famed roadside attraction fulfilled my goal to hit the trifecta of car art sites (the other two being Cadillac Ranch, which I visited in 2013 and “Spindle”, the Cars on a Spike,  which I visited in 2007)

NUMBER 4 – GIANT HIAWATHA

Another angle of Hiawatha statue, which is supposedly the tallest Native American statue in the US
The giant Hiawatha statue in Ironwood, MI, which is supposedly the tallest Native American statue in the US

I went to Ironwood, MI to begin my journey west on US Highway 2, which I drove for over 1200 miles, eventually to Browning, Montana. This giant can be seen down the road as one enters the town of Ironwood from the south.  It was one of many “giants” I would see in 2014.

NUMBER 5 – “I AM MO” MURAL

The enormous "I Am MO" mural in the Lexington Distillery District
The enormous “I Am MO” mural in the Lexington Distillery District, Lexington, KY

Sometimes the best sites are in your own backyard.  This amazing mural was done in the summer of 2014 as part of the PRHBTN Arts program.  A number of murals were added to Lexington.  But this one is humongous!!

NUMBER 6 – GREETINGS FROM AUSTIN

Welcome to Austin Mural - Austin, TX
Greetings from Austin Mural – Austin, TX

One can’t visit Austin without visiting this famed mural.  They continue to update it over the years, but it is well known.

NUMBER 7 – TEE PEE MOTEL

Tee Pee Motel - Wharton, Texas
Tee Pee Motel – Wharton, Texas

A throwback to the 50s and 60s, this motel was rebuilt in the 1980s but left with the vintage style buildings and furnishings.  A few other similar ones can be found dotting the country.

NUMBER 8 – THE GREAT TEXAS SUPPER

The Great Texas Supper at LSA Burger in Denton, Texas

The Great Texas Supper at LSA Burger in Denton, Texas

This mural is play on the Last Supper but features famed Texas musicians enjoying a meal with Jesus.  It was painted by Icon Studios in Dallas.  I got the opportunity to visit LSA Burgers for a special visit before they opened for the day (back in June 2014). They were kind enough to give me a nice tour thanks to Denton’s famed ghost tour lady Shelly Cumbie Tucker. L-R in the painting: George Jones, Selena, Roy Orbison, Waylon Jennings, Scott Joplin, Janis Joplin, Bob Wills, Willie Nelson, Freddy Fender, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Holly and T-Bone Walker.

NUMBER 9 – MAMMY’S CUPBOARD

Mammy's Cupboard in Natchez, MS
Mammy’s Cupboard in Natchez, MS

Mammy’s Cupboard is a great place to eat and an awfully unique roadside attraction.  I found out about it as I researched my trip to Galveston.  I had to not only grab a photo, but had to stop for a bit to eat just so I could say I have eaten in this historical roadside attraction.

NUMBER 10 – THE BIG FISH

I love this angle - Big Fish Eats House!!  In Bena, MN
I love this angle – Big Fish Eats House!! In Bena, MN

This Big Fish is, in my opinion, one of the “Big Three” roadside attractions in Minnesota (though there are dozens of other good ones – the other two are Paul Bunyan in Bemidji, above, and the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth). I got a number of angles, but I loved this one where it looks as if the giant fish is about to devour the little house.

SOME HONORABLE MENTION SHOTS

The Rugby Monument to the Geographical Center of North America
The Rugby Monument to the Geographical Center of North America in Rugby, ND
Corner of Live Oak and Stockwell in Damon, TX
Corner of Live Oak and Stockwell in Damon, TX
Showmen's Rest, a cemetery for circus workers in Hugo, Oklahoma
Showmen’s Rest, a cemetery for circus workers in Hugo, Oklahoma
The Disaster Memorial by David. W. Moore in Galveston, TX
The Disaster Memorial by David. W. Moore in Galveston, TX
The Mushroom House in Hyde Park area of Cincinnati
The Mushroom House in Hyde Park area of Cincinnati
The Pyramid Shaped MSR of the Mickelson facility in Nekoma, ND
The Pyramid Shaped MSR of the Mickelson facility in Nekoma, ND
Gateway to the Blues, Tunica, Mississippi
Gateway to the Blues, Tunica, Mississippi
Pink Elephant in Guthrie, KY
Pink Elephant in Guthrie, KY
Stephen F. Austin Statue as seen from Highway 288 in Angleton, TX
Stephen F. Austin Statue as seen from Highway 288 in Angleton, TX
Jackalope Country - Douglas, WY
Jackalope Country – Douglas, WY
Detail of the "Whispering Giant" of Red Lodge, Montana...one of many across the country
Detail of the “Whispering Giant” of Red Lodge, Montana…one of many across the country
An outdoor dinosaur at the Old Trail Museum in Choteau, Montana
An outdoor dinosaur at the Old Trail Museum in Choteau, Montana
Boudreau's Antiques Boudreau's Antiques and Collectibles on US Hwy 2 east of Ashland, WI
Boudreau’s Antiques and Collectibles on US Hwy 2 east of Ashland, WI
The old abandoned Elms Restaurant in El Paso, IL.  Vintage neon and a classic old building.
The old abandoned Elms Restaurant in El Paso, IL. Vintage neon and a classic old building.
Cincinnati's "The Singing Mural" (detail) by C.F. Payne
Cincinnati’s “The Singing Mural” (detail) by C.F. Payne
Camp Disappointment west of Cut Bank< Montana looks out towards the mountains of Glacier National Park
Camp Disappointment west of Cut Bank< Montana looks out towards the mountains of Glacier National Park
The Pink Elephant of DeForest, WI at exit 126 on I-94
The Pink Elephant of DeForest, WI at exit 126 on I-94
Winking Smiley on backside of Water Tower in Grand Forks, ND
Winking Smiley on backside of Water Tower in Grand Forks, ND
The Gol Stave Church replica and museum at the Scandinavian Heritage Center in Minot, ND
The Gol Stave Church replica and museum at the Scandinavian Heritage Center in Minot, ND
Big Dino Statue in Bynum, Montana
Big Dino Statue in Bynum, Montana
a portion of the Mindfield Cemetery in Brownsville, TN
A portion of Billy Tripp’s Mindfield Cemetery in Brownsville, TN
Cannon line the grounds of Vicksburg National Military park in Vicksburg, MS
Cannon line the grounds of Vicksburg National Military park in Vicksburg, MS
P'MAWS Bait Shack in Pierre Part, LA (Notice it is SWAMP spelled backwards)
P’MAWS Bait Shack in Pierre Part, LA (Notice it is SWAMP spelled backwards)

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Dream Highway: US Highway 212 and the Beartooth Highway

IMG_6519Like so many other people, I have a bucket list of places I want to visit in my lifetime. On my trip in May 2014 I was able to scratch off TWO of them!  The first was a trip across US Route 2 from Michigan to Montana, with a stop in Bemidji, MN to see the giant Paul Bunyan and Ox statues (so it was kind of a three for the price of two really).  You can read about that portion of the trip HERE.

Beartooth Highway
Sumoflam on the Beartooth Highway (All-American Road)
US 212 East on Beartooth Highway
US 212 East on Beartooth Highway

The second, and perhaps more thrilling and fulfilling to me, was being able to travel US Highway 212 across Yellowstone and then over the Beartooth Highway, one of America’s greatest Scenic Byways.  This 68 mile trip makes its way through Yellowstone and then from the Northeast Entrance across northwest Wyoming and winds its way into southwest Montana ending at Red Lodge. I have dreamed of taking this highway for almost a long time.

US212Map
US 212 Map from NE corner of Yellowstone to Red Lodge, MT

I actually started the day in way up north  in Shelby, Montana and drove down US Highway 89 and the King’s Hill Scenic Byway into Yellowstone (see post here). I continued with a drive to Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. The hot springs are most certainly one  of the spectacular sites in Yellowstone.

Looking north to Roosevelt Arch and Montana from Yellowstone entrance
Looking north to Roosevelt Arch and Montana from Yellowstone entrance
At the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park, still on US 89 in Montana
At the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park, still on US 89 in Montana
Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park
Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park
Road into Mammoth Hot Springs
Road into Mammoth Hot Springs
A shot of Mammoth Hot Springs
A shot of Mammoth Hot Springs
Another view of the Mammoth Hot Springs
Another view of the Mammoth Hot Springs
Liberty Cap (the big cone) and the hot springs in the background
Liberty Cap (the big cone) and the hot springs in the background

While entering the Hot Springs area, I came across a beautiful elk.

An elk was seen roaming the area around Mammoth Hot Springs
An elk was seen roaming the area around Mammoth Hot Springs

Just south of Mammoth Hot Springs I finally left US Highway 89 and got on to the Grand Loop Road, which goes across the northern section of Yellowstone to the beginning of US Highway 212. at the Northeast section of the park. The Grand Loop is a very scenic drive and features mountain vistas, lakes and plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities.

Grand Loop Road as seen from Mammoth Hot Springs
Grand Loop Road as seen from Mammoth Hot Springs
The Blacktail Lakes in Yellowstone
The Blacktail Lakes in Yellowstone

In May 2013 I visited Yellowstone and saw a few bison, but on this northern part of the loop, there were hundreds of them.

Bison roam freely along the Grand Loop road
Bison roam freely along the Grand Loop road
A big bison poses for me
A big bison poses for me
Bison and calves relax by a lake
Bison and calves relax by a lake

A good part of the Grand Loop Road runs alongside Lava Creek, which was full to overflowing due to snow runoff.  There were plenty of scenic views with mountains, meadows, lakes and the creek.

Lava Creek with snow capped mountains in the background
Lava Creek with snow capped mountains in the background
Eastern potion of Grand Loop Road
Eastern potion of Grand Loop Road
Bison relax along Lava Creek while pronghorned antelope look on from the background
Bison relax along Lava Creek while pronghorned antelope look on from the background
Another splendid mountain scene from Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone
Another splendid mountain scene from Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone
Mountains near the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone
Mountains near the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone

Once I arrived at the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone National Park, I began my journey on US Highway 212.  I felt very fortunate that the Beartooth Highway was open for travel.  They had opened it only five days prior to my visit so my timing was perfect!

Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone
Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone
A welcome sign for me. I had a smile at this point
A welcome sign for me. I had a smile at this point
Goodbye Yellowstone
Goodbye Yellowstone
Hello Beartooth Highway
Hello Beartooth Highway

The first stop along the way, after leaving Wyoming, was Silver Gate, Montana. Silver Gate is located just one mile from the Northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park and is only three miles from Cooke City. The small town is located on land homesteaded by Horace S. Double, for which he was granted a patent on May 2, 1897.

Welcome to Silver Gate, Montana
Welcome to Silver Gate, Montana

And just past there was Cooke City, Montana. The town of about 100 people was at one time a mining camp for gold and had The population consisted of 227 voters who that supported two smelters, two sawmills, three general stores, two hotels, two livery stables and the local meat market.

Cooke City, Montana
Cooke City, Montana
Cooke City, Coolest Small Town in America
Cooke City, Coolest Small Town in America

And Cooke City is also the real gateway to the Beartooth Highway.  Just three minutes form downtown I was already high up in snow country and heading higher in altitude.

The Beartooth highway just east of Cooke City, Montana
The Beartooth highway just east of Cooke City, Montana

The road then veers southward again and back into Wyoming for the fun stuff!

Welcome "back" to Wyoming
Welcome “back” to Wyoming
Heading into the mountains.  Snow depth on the side of the road was about two feet at this point
Heading into the mountains. Snow depth on the side of the road was about two feet at this point
View of the Beartooths from the highway was awesome
First view of the Beartooths from the highway was awesome

As the highway climbed the grand views were amazing

Amazing view of the Beartooths
Amazing view of the Beartooths

The road continued to climb and the snow grew ever deeper. The snow on the side of the road, as seen below, was the actual depth…it was not scooped there….

First view of really deep snow
First view of really deep snow
Snow walls
Snow walls

The road from Cooke City dropped for a while so I was in some prairie with mountains.  I took this panorama photo with my iPhone.

Panorama of the Beartooths from east of Cooke City
Panorama of the Beartooths from east of Cooke City

After about 25 miles of driving and continuing the climb, I got to the Top of the World Store which sits at 9,400 feet altitude. I had to stop for some photos and a snack and a restroom break before the great ascent to Beartooth Pass.

Welcome to Top of the World Store
Welcome to Top of the World Store
Top of the World Store - technically has a Cody, Wyoming address, but it is a long way from Cody
Top of the World Store – technically has a Cody, Wyoming address, but it is a long way from Cody
Sumoflam at Top of the World
Sumoflam at Top of the World Store
Found the sign "Follow Your Bliss" in the store and I was already with my bliss!
Found the sign “Follow Your Bliss” in the store and I was already with my bliss!
I parked next to this stop sign which was covered by the snow...it was this deep all around
I parked next to this stop sign which was covered by the snow…it was this deep all around

From Top of the World the winter wonderland became more amazing as walls of snow grew higher. I was loving it!

Walls of snow continue along the Beartooth Highway
Walls of snow continue along the Beartooth Highway

From this point the road was switchbacks all the way up to the pass.  I actually took a video of some of the drive through this winding wall of snow.

As I got to the top of the pass, at nearly 11,000 feet, I truly felt like I was on top of the world.  Following are more photos of the spectacular scenes from the highway.

At Beartooth Pass
At Beartooth Pass
Mountains as seen from the top
Mountains as seen from the top
The Bear's Tooth (Middle left)
The Bear’s Tooth (Middle left)
Glorious Mountain Vista from 11,000 feet
Glorious Mountain Vista from 11,000 feet
Another panorama from Beartooth Pass
Another panorama from Beartooth Pass

And how about a Panorama 360 view?

[panoembed pano=”LLapRC” width=”500″ height=”250″]

The view from the Driver's Seat
The view from the Driver’s Seat
At Beartooth Level
At Beartooth Level

From the pass, the road still wound its way slowly down hill as I went north back into Montana.  The views and scenery just kept coming.

Welcome back to Montana
Welcome back to Montana
Mountains and valleys in southern Montana
Mountains and valleys in southern Montana

I finally made my way through the switchbacks and then down the hills for the 30 mile drive to Red Lodge, Montana, which is the northern gateway to the Beartooths.

US 212 drops considerably as it continues north of the Beartooths
US 212 drops considerably as it continues north of the Beartooths
Welcome to Red Lodge, Montana
Welcome to Red Lodge, Montana

Basically, from the Northeast entrance of Yellowstone to Red Lodge, Montana, via US 212, took me about two hours and 15 minutes, including stops along the way.  One of the most amazing and beautiful 2 hours of my life (not counting marriage and children being born of course!!).

Downtown Red Lodge, Montana
Downtown Red Lodge, Montana

Red Lodge, Montana is a nice little town booming with personality.  There are old neon signs, unique eateries, a Peter Toth “Whispering Giant” (see my writeup from Idaho Falls’ “Whispering Giant”), and I even came across a unique art shop that makes animals out of juniper.

The Red Lodge Cafe sports an old classic neon sign.
The Red Lodge Cafe sports an old classic neon sign.
Took this photo for all of my cycle friends (you know who you are) - Bone Daddy's Custom Cycle in Red Lodge
Took this photo for all of my cycle friends (you know who you are) – Bone Daddy’s Custom Cycle in Red Lodge

Hungarian-born and American immigrant sculptor Peter Toth has made a name for himself fomr his awe-inspiring giant wood-carved “Whispering Giants.”  Over the years Toth has created at least one of these huge statues (all different) for each state in the United States.  All of them collectively (at least 74 are documented) are known as the “Whispering Giants”.  This was the third one I have seen on my trips in the past three years.  Many of the Whispering Giants can been here.

Peter Toth's "Whispering Giant" of Red Lodge, Montana
Peter Toth’s “Whispering Giant” of Red Lodge, Montana
Detail of the "Whispering Giant" of Red Lodge.
Detail of the “Whispering Giant” of Red Lodge.

Then there are those juniper animals. I love the creativity of artists around this country.  Rocky Fork Juniper is owned by Lee Kern and Pete Imbs and they have other artists as well. Here are a couple of their unique works (they were closed when I got there).

Rocky Fork Juniper, Red Lodge, Montana
Rocky Fork Juniper, Red Lodge, Montana
Rocky Fork Moose
Rocky Fork Moose
Rocky Fork Grizzly
Rocky Fork Grizzly
Whimsical Lamp made of juniper at Rock Fork
Whimsical Lamp made of juniper at Rocky Fork

As the day wound down I made my way east from Red Lodge on Montana 308 to Belfry, then south on Montana 72 towards Wyoming, which turns into Wyoming 120, to end up overnight in Cody, after a wonderful day of driving through some of the most beautiful country in America.

Belfry, Montana with sign to Cody, Wyoming in background
Belfry, Montana with sign to Cody, Wyoming in background
Welcome to Wyoming (again!)
Welcome to Wyoming (again!)
Highway to Cody, Wyoming
Highway to Cody, Wyoming

The next post will cover my return trip leg from Cody through Douglas, WY (the Jackalope capital of the World) and then on to Alliance, NE, the home of the famed Carhenge.

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