Valentine Get-together - February 12, 2008: Yikes! I was in Rapid City, and Brian was in Bozeman, and it was almost Valentine's Day. So I called him and made a plan to visit; he enjoyed the surprise! Seems like this could be a very serious relationship!
Murray Hotel - February 14, 2008: Brian made reservations at the historic Murray Hotel in Livingston -- what a fun place! Sam Peckinpah stayed there in the last years of his life (1979-1984), drinking heavily and shooting holes in the ceiling of our room. We rode the old, folding door, creaky elevator to the third floor and our room. The lovely claw-footed tub and other fixtures were right out of the hotel's younger days!
We ate an enormous gourmet dinner at the Bistro -- and as we watched Jay Leno later, we learned more about love after sixty. Don't eat big meals late in the day -- you'll just burp and pass gas the rest of the night! And remember the Prilosec and Alka Seltzer!
Yellowstone National Park - February 15, 2008: Today we drove into Yellowstone Park. I can hardly find the words to describe the amazing sights! We drove on the old river road, MT HWY 540, along the Yellowstone River past Chico Hot Springs -- now a beautiful resort with a five-star restaurant but in 1965 the scene of our Senior skip day with the hot springs pool and a great burger joint at the bar.
Along the river we saw a golden eagle in the water tearing apart a huge fish caught on a log. The pictures are a little fuzzy since Brian didn't have his new camera yet. What a special glimpse of wild nature and something neither one of had ever seen in all our years in the mountains. We see eagles everywhere -- they're our magic and our totem.
On to Yellowstone on US HWY 89. The National Park Service keeps the road from Gardiner, MT, to Cooke City MT, open in winter. And winter is perfect wildlife viewing time -- very little car traffic, animals near the road and the hot springs to find food and water, low winter light for sculpture-like photography, and miles of glistening snow.
Brian worked for the Forest Service out of Gardiner while he was in college. He tells the most amazing stories about those years -- fire fighting, trail maintenance deep in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness -- this is the man for me! My mom took my sister and me camping all over Montana in the summer. Grandmother drove us to the campground and picked us up in a week. So Brian and I have much to share!
Lamar River Valley: The road winds through the Lamar River Valley, and we found a small army of wolf watchers rushing up and down the valley. The Lamar pack had killed a bison the day before so the "army" was busy. They're volunteers from the Yellowstone Institute, gathering wolf data for all the studies. Equipped with huge spotting scopes, cameras, and two-way radios, they followed the pack's progress. They're very enthusiastic about their wolves and kindly let us observe through their scopes. What an experience!
Brian and I are wolf supporters, too; the Park needs its full compliment of predators. We stopped for photos often; I love it, and Brian says he's never been with anyone who would stop at so many photo opportunities without complaint, let alone enjoy it (let alone pee in the ditch on those lonely back roads where there's no alternative).
Cooke City MT: We enjoyed a lovely dinner in Cooke City at another Bistro, this one owned by a Frenchman from Barbados. Spectacular food!! Cook City was buzzing with snowmobiles; we chatted with a group from Austria that was making a film.
Lamar Valley and Full Moon: On the way home in the light of the full moon, we stopped at a pull-out to enjoy the winter quiet and heard the eerie howls of the wolves as they protected their kill. And we heard the yips of the coyotes as they tried to scavenge the kill and their anguished yelps as the wolves drove them off. Brian said he had never seen such a beautiful night and told me a story about cross-country skiing into the valley in a snow storm.
Louise with photos by Brian text and photos copyright GoinMobyle, LLC 2009
Day 1Yellowstone National Park, Valentine's Day, 2008