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Beartooth Highway, MT
Saturday, July 4, 2009 - 7:15pm by Tommy
560 miles and 9 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay
We woke up on Day 4 to what has been a very familiar sight on the trip so far: rain. But luckily it wasn’t long after we left the Badlands until we hit some nicer weather.
Because of the rain and infamous Badlands mud we opted not to stay and cook breakfast, but to just pick up something on the drive. We had to get gas at a truck stop in the-middle-of-no-where, South Dakota and we all enjoyed Subway sandwiches at about nine in the morning for breakfast.
We had then been truckin’ along when our directions had us pull off the highway and go through Belle Fourche, South Dakota en route to the Bear Tooth Highway. Belle Fourche was a very nice town, but unfortunately for us it was the Fourth of July. And Belle Fourche has a parade through the towns’, essentially, only road. And luckily for us, we didn’t find out until we were right in the middle of that road, and they stop traffic, where ever it happens to be, for the duration of the parade. So not only did we get front row seats to the parade (the car was literally parked right in the middle of the road that the parade was coming down) which puts Upper Saddle River’s Memorial Day Parade to shame, but we also lost about two hours of travel time.
With our entrance into Big Sky Country, Montana we found ourselves fighting with the gas gauge and pulled off into Broadus Montana to fuel up. The gas pumps again were older than carbon but our previous experience using very similarly outdated equipment led us through to a successful fill-up. We pulled out of the station and stared heading back towards the highway when John, who was driving at the time, looked in the rear-view mirror and said, “Is that for us?” Everyone looked back and saw the flashing lights pulling us over. We got a speeding ticket for doing 50mph in a 40mph through town. We decided to plead guilty, pay the fine, and not attend out July 14 court date. We shrugged it off and moved on.
About two hours later, still in Montana and with John still behind the wheel, it was de ja vu. The flashing lights, us being pulled over, the ticket (85 in a 75), the whole deal. So that made two tickets in two hours (both in Montana), both for doing a lousy ten miles an hour over the speed limit. And for the second one cruise control was set at 80. I guess we were just paying the price for being New Jerseyians in Montana, literally.
Finally, we made it to our destination, the Bear Tooth Highway, which snakes through parts of Montana and Wyoming, is so high that we were driving through clouds and past snow drifts on the side of the road. Now although I can’t speak for everyone, the various views from this road were the most majestic and beautiful things I have ever seen. And although Tommy and John are both great photographers I don’t think that any picture could ever substitute for seeing it all in person.
Our plan was to continue as far on the road as we wanted until we saw a campground that we could stay the night in. It was getting dark when we spotted a prospective site and headed over to check it out. We thought about heading farther to find a site that was a bit more populated (we were the only people at this one), and maybe a little less secluded because we were right in the middle of Grizzly Bear country with no cell service and were tens of miles from any sort of civilization. But while we were checking out the prospective site we got a tip from some locals that all the larger campsites farther down the road were full. So instead of driving more to a probably full campsite and then having to set up camp in the dark, we decided to try our luck where we were.
Other than the fact that it probably got below freezing and our tent was still soaked from the night before in the Badlands, it wasn’t a bad night.
A Narrative of general information would go here.
Beartooth Highway location map in "high definition"