The Art of Racing in the Beartooth Mountains

All right, all right, all right. Big changes here at Aloha Kuwait. After much counseling from my loved ones, I’ve reconsidered changing my blog title. You are now visiting the new and improved—or more geographically accurate—blog, “Angkors Away: Teaching in Cambodia, Trekking the Planet”. Love it, hate it, let me know in the comments below! The web address will always be alohakuwait.wordpress.com so don’t worry. You can also still access all the old blog posts here on this site. We just decided to create a blog title that fused our present with our past. Hope you continue to enjoy reading as much as I do sharing!

Onto the news…

I’m currently reading a book called “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” by Garth Stein. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Been on myriad best-seller lists, I stumbled on it through the $3.99 specials in the iBooks store. The reason—I think—the book is so popular is that it’s told through the perspective of a dog, and has some pretty profound realizations on reality.

Seems fitting, right? That man’s (and woman’s) best friend holds the wisdom of the world. But, some dogs seem more promising than others, if you know what I mean. We all know the difference between wise, sage dogs and the crazy, glossy-eyed dogs. Kind of like people, I guess. But I digress.

About half-way through the novel the dog, Enzo, reflects on humankind’s obsession with time:

“People are always worried about what’s happening next. They often find it difficult to stand still, to occupy the now without worrying about the future. People are not generally satisfied with what they have; they are very concerned with what they are going to have”

I’m sitting on a plane to Guangzhou, China. My summer in Wisconsin is officially over. Sean and I are about to begin the saga of our travels in Southeast Asia. Enzo’s reflections affected me so much because we are flying, hundreds of miles an hour, towards a future we have been obsessing over for months.

When I was in Kuwait, I obsessed about Wisconsin.

When I was in Wisconsin, I obsessed about the upcoming responsibilities of Southeast Asia.

Now, on the plane, I am sorting through photographs of the epic summer that it was, and longing for the past.

Life sure moves quickly, doesn’t it? I am thankful for my blog so that I can take moments of my life to reflect on the memories I’ve made, and the beauty of all that surrounds me. Hopefully I can be more like Enzo and not worry about what’s happening next. If you genuinely—and prudently—live in the moment, the future will take care of itself.

On to the photographs! I will wrap up this summer in two posts on the Beartooth Mountains. I hope to be updating you on Cambodia within the next week, so I want to share the events of the summer before moving on.

It’s an annual… journey. Trip. Excursion. Jaunt. Wandering. Odyssey. Pilgrimage.  Yes, certainly a pilgrimage. “A journey to a place associated with someone or something well known or respected.” Our annual pilgrimage is to the mountains. My family and I started our pilgrimage to the Beartooth mountains by driving the long and not-so-lonely road from Madison to Montana along I90.

1

Our first stop was in the National Grasslands outside of Badlands National Park in South Dakota. We went dispersed camping, which is when a national forest or national grassland allows camping spread over a wide area, pretty much anywhere you’d like so long as it’s not too near a busy road or destroying the natural landscape. The dogs ran, we sat outside watching the sun set, and my mom found a blooming cactus she wanted to take home, hence the plastic bag.

2

These blooming cacti were all over. You really had to watch where you were walking!

3

Next we made our annual stop at Wall Drug. Having started as a drugstore offering free ice water in the early 1900’s, it is now a popular stop on folks’ journeys West. I love the jackalope and the five cent coffee.

4

Our final destination was Cooke City, Montana.  It’s a tiny town between I94 and Yellowstone National Park. The Beartooths offer wilderness areas, high mountain peaks, waterfalls, cascades, and great camping and hiking. We loved the Bearclaw  café as they had great pastries and free wifi.

5

The family with a nice vista of the Beartooth range. The pointy mountain is Pilot Peak.

6

The most famous aspect of the Beartooth region is Beartooth Pass. It’s a highway that runs from through the heart of the mountains, and the pass tops out at over 10,000 feet!

7

Our first day hike was to Round Lake. (Exciting name, huh?) We wanted to test our gear before the five-day backpacking trip we were planning to undertake. That’s also what’s great about National Forests and wilderness areas—dogs can hike on the trail with you.

8

My Dad picked up a fishing license in Cooke City and caught a ton of beautiful trout.

9

Emily and I marveling at the grandeur.

10

Along the Beartooth Highway, there is the beautifully restored Clay Butte fire tower. It has been restored through donations and using all original materials. If you notice, I am sitting on a stool with glass cups on the bottom. This was for when the ranger had to be in the fire tower during a lightening strike. The glass protected the ranger from electrocution!

11

Emily on the lookout balcony of the Clay Butte fire tower.

12

Then we went on a five-day backpacking trip. BUT, that excitement must be reserved for next time. There is a lot of turbulence, and I’ve been on this plane for nine hours with no end in sight. Is this an example of when I should be living in the moment?

See you again soon!

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