The Beartooth Pass, part of US Highway 312, connects Red Lodge, Montana, to Yellowstone National Park creating a squiggly asphalt line sixty miles through some of the most rugged and beautiful landscape the USA has to offer. It is consistently ranked in the top ten best drives in America, and often number one by motorcycle publications. It is a Scenic Byways “All American Road,” meaning that just driving it is a destination in itself.
This nearly perfect collection of curves and peaks starts just an hour from my home base of Billings, Montana, so I’ve driven it a lot. I’ve driven the Pass at night. I’ve been caught in surprise snowstorms. I know every curve in the road and many of the trails that leave the road behind for the glaciated summits and lake-jeweled valleys. So, I’m kind of bored of it, right?
Um, no. But, after so many experiences on the Pass, including seeing massive wildfires blacken mountainsides and being chased by mountain goats trying to drink my pee, not much surprises me about the Beartooth Highway anymore.
Real travel is when you put yourself in a position where the unexpected happens. Which is something I sometimes do accidentally.
While driving around Dallas with the cast of “Paulie & Me” and Donna, our awesome Keller-Williams real estate agent guiding us through potential sites for a brewery, we happen by a restaurant called Sol Irelandes. The restaurant’s host runs outside to say hello to our guide and ask if she’s coming in for a bite. We look at each-other and silently agree. What the hell, it’s lunch time and the scent of chipotle wafting from the little Irish-Mexican restaurant is making my stomach ache for something with a little kick.
What I get is a whole lot better. I order enchiladas with the hottest sauce they have available. I love spicy food, but I expect at least a few beads of sweat to pop out of my forehead when eating it in Texas. Surprise, it’s not hot. Our server, JC, appears, as if out of thin air, and hears my lament about the lack of bite. Rather than my complaint causing an awkward scene, JC smiles and heads to the kitchen to get me something special.