WanderlustBy Sam Lepore
(Click map for full size)
Bozeman to Broadus
Subject: Wanderlust 22 - Broadus, Montana, on the Powder River
Date: Thu, 24 Jun 1999 18:55:53 -0700

Dinner with Duner was decidedly delicious and doubtlessly delightful, despite delaying both the detailing of discussions and delineating descriptive definitions in my daily diary. Darn. But Danke! Duner :)

        "What is the feeling when you are driving away from people and they recede on the plain until you see their specks dispersing?"
        - Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) American writer

        Montana is an amazing place geographically. Nearly 2/3 of the state is rolling prairie, with all the rough stuff scrunched up on the left side. You think of Montana and you think of mountains. Funny, the name almost says that ... but you probably do not think of Missouri, as in River. Did you know there is more length of the Ol' Mo in Montana than any other state? The Missouri officially starts here, just a few miles from Bozeman, at the town of Three Forks where the Jefferson, the Madison, and the Gallatin (he was a president?) Rivers come together. Oh, pleeeeze, not Koo-koo-kooskia again - enough of that. There is a wonderful little state park at the Missouri Headwaters. And the town of Three Forks isn't bad. I wonder if it is the custom in the town cafe to set 3 forks at the table. I would. :)
        The three rivers were again faster and higher than I expected for this time of year, causing the park to be almost inundated. As I rode away from Bozeman and followed the Yellowstone River, it was fast and muddy. This has been a hard year in the high country. But it makes beautiful scenery. Following the river, chasing the clouds, with the snow capped Absoroka Range filling both my mirrors, it almost made up for the fact that I had 150 miles of Interstate ahead. There are no east-west paved roads through the Beartooth Range.
        Then, of course, it is summer. What does the state do when the highest number of people are on the roads? Close lanes for construction. I wouldn't mind if there was a reasonable buffer of lane closure around workers on the road, but when you ride through 8, 12, 16 miles of one lane behind a RV driver who can't think if his foot is off the brake - well, I wonder why there is so much closed road when they are only working on a bridge every 2 miles. I know the answer ... it is easier for THEM. Who is the 'customer' here anyway? I'd like to see lanes restricted only where there is current work - not where they will start ... in the fall.
        So, after a 20 mile stretch of construction west of Billings, I had enough with being on a 2-lane 4-lane. I looked for a real 2-lane. And I was rewarded magnificently in the unmarked 'old' US87 from Billings to Hardin. Follow the signs off the Interstate for Chief Plenty Coups monument which leads you to 87 (then it bears south and away). US87 climbs up a rise that gives a panoramic view of Billings. This road is actually too curvy for the posted limit - 70.
        Approaching Hardin I saw a sign for "Custer Fight Reenactment". On June 25 every year the locals stage the entire battle as an entertainment event. I was thinking of sticking around ... but I know how it ends. Bv. Major G.A. Custer (he was *not* a general) plays the title role in the Sioux version of Groundhog Day. Hardin is close to the real battleground, so I dropped in to see how it has changed. While I was in the lot, a troop of Buffalo Soldiers in reenactment uniforms piled out of a white Ford van. Somehow that sight was ridiculous. Makes me wonder what the Indians would use ... Jeep Cherokee?
        As I expected, commercialism has shown its hand. Here on the land that should be a monument of pride to every descendent of those warriors, here there stands across from the entrance ... The Little Big Horn Casino.
        At least the white "penny soldiers" are still losing the battle. This time to greed instead of ego.

        Continuing east through the Crow and Cheyenne reservations to Powder River County, I was greatly impressed at how much this area of Montana is like the Black Hills, especially around Lame Deer. I thought all of eastern Montana and Wyoming was flatland, but this is rugged and yet peaceful. It made me wonder about the nomadic life of the tribes. It made me wonder further if somehow today a tribe were "discovered" way back in the wilderness, still happily living the 'old way', would our society be capable of allowing them to remain happy? Would it be civil to 'civilize' them? What about their 'civil' rights if they didn't want to change? No, I am not a romantic about life on the plains in buffalo skins, but I wonder. Have we learned enough to leave well enough alone.

        A chicken in every pot, a dirt road in every trip. Hasn't failed so far. Every trip I take there is one unexpected dirt road, although I'm not sure this counts because Duner waned me about it. There is 10 miles of no pavement on US212 just west of Broadus. It wasn't bad until about a mile before it ended ... when the three 18-wheelers passed me doing the speed limit - 70.

        Ok, so it is the end of a long, hard, hot day in the saddle and you drift into some nondescript prairie town with a crossroad intersection, a stop sign, and a single side street. The motel looks like it could have been ready for being designated a former glory preservation museum, but it is clean enough, and you settle in. Next up is hunting for comfort food - something that will help you rest and maybe relax. In most towns like this that means choosing between the Country Cowboy Cafe or the Broken Spur Bar and Edibles on that side street. In most towns ... but not in Broadus, Montana.
        In many of my travels I have had luck in finding good food where it would not be expected - even in some of those plastic curtain cafes. How about this for the 'comfort food' I enjoyed tonight?
        Salad: roasted sweet red peppers with pine nuts and niccoise olives over mixed greens including *crisp* arrugula, fresh beet leaves, and red butter lettuce sprinkled with a house made balsamic vinegar.
        Entree: seared chicken breast in a sauce of Khalula reduced into heavy cream, sauteed potatoes with fresh herbs from the house side garden, vegetable mix of asparagus tips, zucchini and celery braised in white wine.
        Dessert: puff pastry carved then filled with fresh whipped cream, toffee pudding and bananas, resting in a bed of caramel sauce with raspberry decorations, drizzled with chocolate and dusted with powder sugar.
        House made bread rolls, glass of wine, and cappuccino.
        Well ... as I said to the waitress, I know good food. THIS is good food. In San Francisco the entree alone would cost more than this entire meal. She admitted the owner really doesn't make money from the business, but he does well in Los Angeles and has "roots" here - he wanted to have a nice place to bring people for dinner when he kicked back ... so he started the restaurant 4 years ago. The place is in a quality restored home that was the residence of the presiding judge in this county seat ... which is why it is called The Judge's Chamber Restaurant. Oh, yeah, the price? $22.80. Yes, that is the *total*. Eat here. Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. Broadus, Montana. Whodathunkit?

FuelPlus 323 miles, 5:37 hours, 58 mph
Bozeman I90 old US87 US212 Broadus

Sam Lepore, San Francisco
Wanderlust Rider

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