Gardiner and around, MT

Friday, July 17th, 2009
store sign  
Yellowstone Northern Entrance  
Yellowstone Northern Entrance  

Wednesday, July 15th, evening. We met many people today on the road coming to Gardiner, to pick up some oil, the original Northern entrance of Yellowstone. A good reason to be here, as I write about it. A bit of I would not call it strange, only coincidental day through who we met. It is our first time out traveling light. Meaning no cooking, no cot, no chair, planned for a couple nights deeper into Nature, this was a trial run as Michael was not camping. Quick set up and as well quick take down. 3 gallons of water, sun shower if we get lucky to be near a stream which also means lucky enough to be surrounded with mosquitoes. Base camp is behind us and I already know two aspects which are not working out. Hard to wash a plate or a bowl for lack of water, we need to switch to paper. What I already miss is my too comfortable for reading or writing Kermit chair. It is a heavy piece of equipment! Look for the generic version? lighter? I don’t think so. Old Faithful is just going to have to pull just a few more pounds. Besides it all, it has been real nice setting up quickly this single wall tent found in Cody at the Sierra Design Outlet store for a third of it’s original price.

campsite view  
Tent tent

Not being sure of the dirt roads around here we end up in a primitive campsite where the other campers, including their kids, also seemed to wear that label. I pass this one on for experience as already near by, Tim, the oil dealer (Amsoil) happens to work in the Park and map in hand I picked his knowledge of the area, the roads which are dotted, the unpaved ones. Tonight seems as a miracle of the skies, for the first time it is not raining, how unfortunate it is we have to return tomorrow as we will be moving Friday toward Manhattan, not New York… still Montana. I am wanting to settle a bit around here, as in “one month”, and be able to really explore the western side of this State with the Big Skies.


A can of chicken, black beans, lime and some cumin. Might have to rethink this dinner “thing”. Any thoughts?

We actually stopped in the little town of Manhattan earlier in the company of Michael who rode with us part of the way, I am sure painfully due to our “tourist” speed, and I found it to be a real nice town. We had lunch at the local eating establishment called “Garden Cafe” as it turns out the owner, here for the past eleven years, is from Switzerland, near by where my own Culinary School took place. He has given up the fancy cooking, serving instead what people want to eat, but he excels at it as his hamburgers are local beef ground daily, his French fries, correction… Manhattan fries, are also local grown sliced and shredded every morning and his eggs are organic. Breakfast and lunch only, might have to stop there some early morning. Smart man, I am sure that our chatting will surely go on one or more rounds.

Ozark tool Ozark tool b

A great tool from Walmart for under $4, saves a lot of space. Of course my can opener weighs 5 lbs!!!


We found a friendly Rattlesnake at camp, actually while I was setting up Michael found him while hiking around the rocks and waiting for me. This is what all my Friends do when they ride with me… wait! Quickly, camera in hand I did the best I could till he took shelter in his hole about 30 feet from my tent. It was a nice one, they are truly more scared of us than us from them as long as they are not too disturbed. This Rattlesnake actually was responsible for us eating the sweetest watermelon I have had in a long time. We warned the neighbors and the sweet fruit was our reward. Life on the road, if one can only take the time.

rattlesnake rattlesnake

Thursday, July 16th, morning. Out of the tent I realize that the ICW (icy cold wind!) will not make room for the sun till most likely mid morning. My fingers are stiff, they have not woken up yet either. Do not set up camp again by a mountain in a canyon eastward! I knew that. Not throughout a Montana summer. The rays are everywhere except here where needed to get this body warmed up matching the morning couple cups of coffee, special delivery. If I could only pack up and make it a mile down the road which is already baking I presume, I would get a nice head start on this morning ride.

Gardiner Gardiner

Thursday, July 16th, evening. There is much on my mind tonight as I finished “Tuesdays with Morrie”. There are not many lives we live within the same time, only one, only one path and at times that path becomes so rich as I now realize that the moment I left for this Journey, Life itself would become my Teacher. Everything that passes by, everyone met, every curve taken and thoughts sparked and doings accomplished, or in the midst of it, have become the pages giving me so much knowledge when at times I can claim to understand. Someone asked me a while back “who helps you?”. I did not have an answer at the time, the road is so often unpaved, today I realize that I can only help myself as every day the tools are present for the taking. Every day. One step at the time, one “patience” at the time.

blue Swan  

It is kind of funny that after all, as many originally thought this Journal would be a “ride report”, it truly ends up to be one, and what a ride it is in it’s yet infancy I feel as it’s path never ceases to widen. I was refueling yesterday when a man approached us. Spirit is always the key that opens so many doors to conversations, another non coincidental aspect of the Journey, and the usual questions started pouring, but not I felt in a flow I am getting used to. He went on to tell me that his son at 29 had just passed away from a motorcycle accident. He was reaching out, as also his wife joined us and together, for those brief moments, we were one. Same day, afternoon, near by Gardiner, stopped at Tim’s house, a rider himself, and as the conversation went on toward the roads taken he told about a white cross for his daughter just a few miles away, on the side of the road, she had fallen asleep while driving. It had happened right after graduation.

cl 360 turn signal

I use to ride one of those, wrecked it the first day. It is amazing I don’t fall anymore.

Yes, we become Family and with strangers now Friends only met minutes ago, we share our tears as together we relive our Love for our Children. What does one say? What does one do? Nothing. Nothing but let know that we are here for each other, always, unconditionally. We do have each other, nothing else really matters, as I know also the many others that have lost loved ones have recognized the present priorities, have dug deep to each continue a legacy within their own way. I have three years ago decided to write, to daily express my words, images of what a Life on the road could be, a “ride report” encompassing both the physical and the Soul, only one of the ways many other’s choices each have chosen to project within their own Lives.

View coming back from Gardiner  

I believe ourselves have a bit left of the Life we use to live. But we are closer to the truth of why we might be here, we are closer to what is real, we are not above it all or below it all as we are all alike, but we have been given the ultimate lesson in Love, humility, forgiveness and true care for each other. The road is so bumpy and will always remain as such, that is human nature, no one truly reaches perfection whatever it’s definition could be, but we sure try, we try to feel as every day is a gift we just cannot turn down since we have that chance to be amongst each other unlike our missed ones. Above all, we do not need to miss a Loved one to be so. Why some of us have to be given such Life’s content? I don’t know. I can only wish we could all live without the lessons received, not harsh ones anyhow.

Meditation Point  

Friday, July 17th, afternoon. I love the land surrounding us. I have never seen so many work it with such diligence and effort as I feel everyone should come and see and feel the present surrounding fields. It is only “hay” that I witnessed, but I have always felt the same for everything that so easily we pick up at the Market as I so often hear the complains regarding their prices. So few know the work it takes to plant, water, harvest and wish daily for the perfect weather for the perfect crop.


I finally stopped to really take it all in, walk a little bit up the driveway which did not have a “No Trespassing” sign. A few minutes went on as I was standing, mesmerized by the moving sprinklers, moving every so often as by some magic force, and a tractor started coming my way. It stopped a bit passed us and a real nice Farmer came up to chat, my favorite pass time with strangers.

field entrance  

We shook hands and talked about his Farm. We talked about the fact that it takes 17 acres to feed one cow, we talked about the water used by the sprinklers coming through canals from 7 miles away. He explained me that the row of sprinklers, all tied in together, are radio controlled with sensors around the field. How can one not like traveling at our speed with time on our side as meeting such a man that gave me his own time and a handshake from the goodness of his heart. An impossibility when going a hundred miles an hour as were witnessing looking up upon the Freeway near by. He had to get to work, it was time to load the bales on this truck and long open bed trailer that was also coming down the driveway, except as he pointed out, one could barely see a couple small hands on the steering wheel. It was his 11 year old son who I waved to and watched him negotiate the entrance of the field with perfection. I smiled. And I know Lance also did.


Be well… always.

Merchandise on Smugmug, Photos and Free “e-card” on my new Zen  Gallery

Your support will help us continue these endless chapters you read. It will be more than greatly appreciated.

Ara & Spirit

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4 Responses to “Gardiner and around, MT”

  1. Doug Smith Says:

    Man your kill’in me………….all those photos of home………and me stuck in the Texas Panhandle, watchin another big black storm comming at me………….So bored we’re “Hackin” to Liberal Kansas to the Mid America Air Museum”….then to Dodge City to camp at some lake ( or swamp?) for the weekend…….can’t sit at home for another weekend!

  2. texascindy Says:

    Oh, Ara…I can almost imagine I’m right there with you. Except for the snake, that is…would not be able to sleep on the ground knowing I was so close to one. Wonderful words an dpictures you shared today. I hope your contentment continues…
    Safe travels, Cindy

  3. Joseph Schmoe Says:

    Thanks Ara,
    A few comments on your wonderful photographs. First, I can tell Spirit is a good lookin dog, but he isn’t quite as cute as the M/C passenger in that first photo. Please don’t tell him this as I don’t want him to be offended!

    I am always amazed at your ability to make good photographs out of ordinary objects such as the small towns, farm equipment and of the landscapes that people drive by avery day.

    Beautiful shots of the rattlesnake. Frankly, they scare me a little bit, but I admire their beauty.

    Whats not to like about the Honda CB/CL twins.

    Lastly, the bond that you have with the people who also lost their children is, fortunately, one that most of us will never have to form. Although I don’t believe that time can heal all wounds, It is my hope that time will allow us to recover enough so that our moments of joy and wonder surpass those of loss and sorrow.

    Have a good ride,

  4. chessie Says:

    Ara, my favorite is the stone work. A single memorial of a mason’s work, somewhere…solitary…standing through time…

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