On The Road Again
The minuscule thing that hit my cheek at 80 mph drew blood, but I don’t care. I am excited, perhaps more so than I have been to this point so far. I am heading for the mountain town of Red Lodge, Montana, the starting point for the fabled Beartooth Highway. The Beartooth is widely regarded in the motorcycling community as the most beautiful road on the North American continent and the little town which acts as the base camp at its eastern end is reputedly up to snuff. I feel as though some other worldly force is drawing me closer to my destination, it is controlling my throttle, demanding more speed, more attention, heightened senses, as I rise to meet the demand I realize that I must harness this energy and save it for the big dance in the Rocky Mountains the following day. I back off a bit and throttle back to 80 mph, what a thrill.
It is my 52nd birthday and I am giving myself quite a little party. I love riding my motorcycle and I love adventure so combining these two activities amounts to an enormously satisfying pastime for me.
As I motor ever westward on I90 I approach what for many people is a very special place in our country, the Little Bighorn. Here, in 1873, after attacking a Lakota village full of women, children and old folks, George Custer and the 7th Cavalry were called to task by a vastly superior force of Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors. In the end the Indians won the battle and as was their custom, mutilated the bodies of the fallen troopers so as to deny the use of their eyes, arms, hands, ears and other appendages in the afterlife. It is a solemn place. All of the other visitors speak in hushed tones, they are full of respect for the fallen whose grave markers appear all over the area. On last stand hill, simple tablets mark the spots where the troopers and their Indian scouts fell. George Armstrong Custer’s marker stands only two feet away from that of his younger brother, Lt Thomas Custer. To stand on this site of such a legendary battle seems a great privilege to me. To see the lay of the land and to see the artifacts in the museum and to stand on the places where their dripping blood made mud of the earth seems altogether surreal. As I get back on my mount I say a little prayer for the repose of their souls, those brave soldiers and warriors whose blood made mud on the Little Bighorn.
A short way down the road (120 miles) the sign pops up for Red Lodge. Heading south on CR212 for 75 miles I finally reach my destination and check into a rustic little lodge called “The Yodeler,“, a reference to the Alpine tradition of Switzerland. After a shower and a hot meal I retired to my porch for a birthday cigar. Putting a light to my San Lotano Oval Maduro, I draw on the lovely cheroot and think, life is good. Tomorrow I’ll slay the Beartooth!