As Lewis and Clark passed into what would later be called Montana, they noted in their journals a large tributary on the left which French explorers called Roche Jaune; the name referred to the unusual-colored country from which the river rose. Today we know this country as Yellowstone.
Base camp: Cooke City, Montana. Elev.: 7,500 feet. Pop.: 100. People seen with guns in hip holsters: 2. Gunshots heard on Sunday, April 22, at 2.15 am: 3.
Very close to the spot where David Gaillard died on Dec. 31. Gaillard was an experienced skier and Northern Rockies representative for the Defenders of Wildlife.
Cooke Peak: someone getting after it in the chute.
A dual-sport day: afternoon ride in the very quiet Lamar River Valley.
Funny looking deer.
Weekend accomplished: Soda Butte Creek on the run home.
So, we took the kid to Texas for Spring Break, and for his dedication in the family church there.
The occasion brought together what I suspect to be 95% of the world’s supply of Schmerkers and respectable percentage of Pattersons, too.
The event was followed by a sultry week of cleaning, organizing, shopping, and consuming my body weight in Mexican food, Pakistani food, and Texas food. Pakistani food? For some reason America has approximately 5 million Indian restaurants and about a dozen Pakistani restaurants. The foods are similar, but I think we decided Pakistan wins. (I had hoped to also try Afghan, but that did not work out this time.)
(Resisting the urge to feed the kid lentils just to see what would happen)
The fact that Houston has both Pakistani and Afghan restaurants speaks volumes to its cultural diversity – something in limited supply in Montana. (And good thing Houston has good food, since it lacks mountains and therefore anything else fun to do.) So besides consuming the food I also bought bags and bags of it from grocery stores to cart to the Big Sky State. I think it’s safe to say we’ve now got a year’s worth of achiote.
(First swing ride!)
(First time putting on a dress!)
The week in Texas was sort of like a vacation and was followed by a sort of follow-up vacation, which was sort of not like a vacation: we drove back to Montana. The occasion was the picking-up of a ’new’ car. Cross-country road trips are rare gifts, though to do one with a five-month-old in tow stretched the meaning of the word ‘vacation’, to be sure.
(Hello Fort Worth!)
We drove from Houston through Dallas, Fort Worth, and Wichita Falls to Amarillo (‘yellow’ in Spanish, but the locals say ‘Amarila’, so I guess it doesn’t actually mean a thing) where we slept. An 11-hour day. Then it was to Raton, Trinidad, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, and Cheyenne to Casper, where we spent the second night. A 12-hour day. Then it was Sheridan, Billings, and Bozeman before our triumphant return to Missoula. A nine-hour day.
(Quanah, Texas, where the high plains take over.)
We drove the 70-mile length of Houston in post-peak rush hour, which was certainly one of the most dangerous things I have ever done. We spent a pointless hour in traffic in Fort Worth. The expanse covering the rest of Texas is useful as it gives meaning to the mountains when they can be seen shortly – almost magically – after leaving Texas. We saw a friend in Fort Collins, lots of antelope near Buffalo, and signs for North Dakota upon entry to Montana. Just-plowed snow enlivened the section from Big Timber to Drummond, and some of the radio stations in Missoula come in clear from 70 miles away. Suddenly you pull up in front of the house and wonder where the three days went.