Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mountain person

Living here in Oregon I know a lot of ocean people.  Me, I'm a mountain person. This means, simply the landscape you long for. The place where the air smells like air should smell, where you feel most alive and most at home in a very basic way. I think there are probably desert people and prairie people and city people too. That is why it felt so wonderful to drive through forests and up winding mountain roads on our recent trip. I'm a mountain person.

The Beartooth Highway, (my Dad always called it "The Cooke City Highway") goes from Cooke City, Montana to Red Lodge, Montana. Charles Kuralt called it the most beautiful drive in America. Last week, after spreading my Aunt and Uncle's ashes near the highway, just out of Cooke City, we drove to the summit.

You climb upward beyond the timberline where there are vast alpine meadows and small lakes. Still big patches of snow early in July, but lots of wildflowers as well. The road winds in a serpentine pattern up the mountain.

Partway up you cross over into Wyoming for awhile, then at the summit you are back in Montana.

Coming back down you see a stunning view of Index and Pilot Mountains.

We stayed in Cooke City, a small town just northeast of the north entrance to Yellowstone Park.It was beautiful and not overrun by tourists. Just a main street, with some pretty old buildings, but the surrounding mountains made it seem like a movie set.

A forest fire came close to the town some years back.

One evening Ray, my brother Steve, and I walked across the street from our motel to the saloon, just as the moon was coming up over the mountain. Not much action in the saloon, but we sat and had a drink and listened to a young guy play guitar and sing. We were his only audience it seemed. We told him we enjoyed the music and tossed a few dollars into his tip jar. The next night we had a big, catered family dinner at the old lodge where the rest of our group was staying. The caterer, cook, server, cleaner-upper was one guy—the same guy who was providing the music at the saloon the night before. Small town.

I can look at that photo of the moon and smell the pine-scented air and feel the cool mountain breeze after a brilliant, hot day. Intoxicating stuff for a mountain person.


  1. Glorious! I expect I am also a mountain person as I always feel so "up" when I am UP there.
    Thanks for the hat pattern. Del

  2. Growing up outside of Seattle, I am both a mountain and ocean person. I long for both. I live in the desert, what we will do for love! Ha! You spot lighted some of my favorite places in Montana. We do live in a beautiful part of the world, don't we! Welcome home!

  3. As an Ocean person who lives a 6 hour drive from the sea, I know exactly what you mean...sigh.

  4. Like you I am a mountain person. There are days here that I ache to simply see mountains. Perhaps I am that because I was born in a Sawtooth Mountain town. For whatever reason I long for the peace mountains bring to me.

    Thank you for the beautiful post.

  5. What gorgeous photos! I had to put this drive on my list of places to go, with a note of what it's like in July. ;D

  6. I'm an ocean person, but I love the mountains. Best of all, I will be driving that beautiful route you described this weekend. I'm looking forward to it.

  7. What a beautiful drive. My sweetie is a mountain person. I am a little mountain and a bit desert. That pine smell is great, but hot sagebrush and dirt is also pretty heady stuff.

    Thanks for the hat pattern!