DAY 5 - Friday, July 12, 1968
Chris is soon up and Sylvia comes out of her room saying she and John have already eaten breakfast and he is out walking somewhere, but she will go with Chris and me and walk down with us to breakfast. We are in love with everything this morning and talk about good things all the way down a sunlit morning street to a restaurant. The eggs and hot cakes and coffee are from heaven.
Breakfast for the day in Laurel at a restaurant down the street from the hotel.
Sylvia says John has talked to someone in town about another route to Bozeman, south through Yellowstone Park. “South?” I say. “You mean Red Lodge?” “I guess so.”
Direction is set, South toward Red Lodge. There's really only one route. The alternate was probably to stay north, on US-10 or I-90, which would make Bozeman possible on this day rather than day 6.
Soon, beyond a railroad underpass, we are on a twisting blacktop through fields toward the mountains up ahead.
The underpass is easy to find on US-212, southeast of Laurel.
At Red Lodge the road’s almost joined to the base of the mountain. The dark ominous mass beyond dominates even the roofs of the buildings on either side of the main street. We park the cycles and unpack them to remove warm clothing. We walk past ski shops into a restaurant where we see on the walls huge photographs of the route we will take up. When coffee is finished we put on the heavy clothing, repack and have soon traveled to the first of many switchback turns across the face of the mountain.
Pretty self-explanatory. Morning coffee here in Red Lodge.
At a turnout on the road we stop, take some record photographs to show we have been here and then walk to a little path that takes us out to the edge of a cliff.
These are the day 5 photos that can be seen on the original trip images page. There are a few overlooks on the way up: Rock Creek Vista Point, Gardner Lake Overlook, and West Summit Overlook.
We stop and park at a turnoff where a number of tourists take pictures and look around at the view and at one other.
From my own machine I remove the tool kit and spread it out on the seat, then take the screwdriver, start the engine and with the screwdriver adjust the carburetors until the idling sound changes from a really bad loping to just slightly bad. I didn’t adjust them, out of curiosity to see what eleven thousand feet of altitude would do.
A stop at another turnoff, of the three listed above.
11,000 feet is about right, along this road - Beartooth Highway - it appears that about 10,900+ feet is about the highest altitude achieved at Beartooth Pass.
AT COOKE CITY JOHN AND SYLVIA LOOK AND SOUND HAPPIER than I have seen them in years, and we whack into our hot beef sandwiches with great whacks.
Lunch here at Cooke City, dipping back up into Montana briefly.
We’ll be entering Yellowstone Park soon. At the park entrance we stop and pay a man in a Smokey Bear hat. He hands us a one-day pass in return.
Again, their route description through here is fairly clear. They will enter Yellowstone through the Northeast entrance. I need to make sure I have a National Park Annual Pass.
We exit from the park at Gardiner, where not much rain seems to fall, because the mountainsides show only grass and sage in the twilight. We decide to stay here for the night.
Again I believe this is an unexpected stop for the night, as they could have made Bozeman directly on the northern route. No real mention about the 50 miles through Yellowstone they just did.
Across the bridge they’ve already turned the lights on at the motel where we check in, but even in the artificial light coming from the windows I can see each cabin has been carefully surrounded by planted flowers, and so I step carefully to avoid them. When we return to the motel from the restaurant an elderly couple are sitting in a small garden outside the office enjoying the evening breeze.
There are numerous lodges, cabins, cottages, motels, etc in Gardiner just across the river, and plenty of restaurant options as well....Continue to Day 6