Leaving Yellowstone we decided to take the Northeast exit and hopefully get to Billings, Montana to have dinner and stay the night. We didn't know at that time that our chosen route (Hwy. 212) is also known as the "Beartooth Highway" - a very fitting name, indeed. Of course, we made the mistake of leaving the park in late afternoon on a Saturday. (We know now to leave much earlier when planning on tackling a mountain pass.) It had just started to get dark, when we arrived at the start of the switchbacks and a pea soup fog set in. You couldn't see very far in front of the car at all, so Eric was only going about 10 or 15 miles an hour. We did start to see small rocks on the road, which were no issue, but then we nicked a football sized rock and blew out our front right tire. Amazingly, we quickly found a place to pull the car off the road (at the outside of a switchback curve). Fortunately, road construction we encountered earlier had stacked up several cars right behind us, so almost instantly two cars pulled off and offered assistance. There was no cell phone coverage, so we hopped a ride with a very nice couple from Boston who were headed to the nearest town anyway. They took us to Rock Creek Resort (a few miles outside of Red Lodge, Montana), where they had a reservation, and we had a lobby with cell phone coverage for Eric to call our roadside assistance service. Cara walked over to the resort's Piney Dell Restaurant, which was closing, but a super nice worker named Lauren Hunter took pity our situation and gave Cara a nice dinner salad and rolls for free. Eric got the tow truck lined up for the next morning, and we got the resort's very last room (which was reserved for emergencies). Glenn from Red Lodge Towing picked Eric up early Sunday morning to retrieve our poor, disabled vehicle from the side of the Beartooth Highway. On the return trip Eric was treated to some of the views that make the road famous.
|Glenn from Red Lodge Towing hooking up our disabled car|
|View from the Beartooth Highway in Montana.|
(You can see our car being towed in the side mirror.)
The tow truck picked up Cara on the way into Red Lodge, where the place that could look at our tire was. Of course, it was Sunday, so nothing would happen to until the next day. We were dropped off with our car at one end of town, and our new hotel was at the other end of town, but Eric had made friends with Glenn, the tow truck owner/driver, so he had to make another tow run, but then he came back after that to give us a ride with all our stuff to the hotel. So, since we were "stuck" in Red Lodge for a day we decided to walk the town. It is really a cute little town, with basically all the businesses located along their main street. We looked into many of the shops.
|This statue greets you at one end of the town of Red Lodge, Montana.|
|The main street in Red Lodge, MT|
|The ski store had an ingenious bench outside their store made from used skis.|
|A motorcycle is also called an "iron horse", but this one looks more like an "iron buffalo".|
Glenn had also told us that there was a microbrewery at one end of town, so we felt we had to check that out. As we got closer we could see tents in the back, but the brewery's sign for their Octoberfest had the previous days date, so we thought the tents just hadn't been taken down yet. However, as we got closer we could hear music. We arrived at Red Lodge Ales and learned that we weren't the only ones who had a crappy Saturday, so they had to postpone their Octoberfest until Sunday - lucky us! So, we got to enjoy some good local beer, live music, and great food. (I guess we missed the big events, like a keg toss.) Eric loved the bratwurst he got from a booth at the festivities outside, while Cara enjoyed a yummy panini from the brewery kitchen. We also got talking to a couple at the bar (fellow Hoosiers, from near Fort Wayne, believe it or not!), and we made fast friends. What a blast we had in Red Lodge, Montana! We couldn't have asked for a better place to be "stuck" for a weekend.
|Octoberfest at Red Lodge Ales|
|Octoberfest at Red Lodge Ales - many people came dressed in German garb.|
Rocky Mountain Tire looked at our car first thing on Monday morning. Fortunately, we hadn't bent the rim and had just blown the tire. Unfortunately, when you blow a tire on a car with full time 4-wheel drive you must replace all four tires, not just one (yikes$$$). Fortunately, they had four nice new tires in stock for us, and we were on our way by early afternoon.
|Rocky Mountain Tire got our car fixed right up|