photography, random thought, travel, writing

journal: montana

6-18-09

my car is facing away from the mountain. ¬†i wake to the cold and rain. ¬†it’s 5:30 a.m.

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behind me, the mountain is covered in a thin fog, like a bride under her fine lace veil.  she thought she was hiding from me, but how could i not notice her?

cooke city, montana has always treated me well, but this morning, i feel lost.

i rolled in late last night. ¬†weary from the road and rain. ¬†the miner’s saloon, as inviting as it always is, seemed distant. ¬†they only take cash, and the big city man i am, i only had plastic. ¬†no problem, i thought. ¬†this always happens. ¬†luckily, they have the only atm in town. ¬†i slid the blue card in nice and easy, and yanked it back in a forceful, but fluid motion. ¬†“out of order.” ¬†!?!? ¬†but i had already started drinking my beer!

i apologized.  the bartendress seemed annoyed at my genuine apology.

“well, i guess this one’s on me,” she said angrily.

i finished my free scapegoat pale ale and left.

my usual “free” campsite at the edge of town was closed with no explanation. ¬†i put “free” in quotes because i believe you’re supposed to pay. ¬†but i always seem to pull into cooke city after dark… so, i never have.

i decided to park at the old city dump, on the other edge of town.  it only takes about two minutes to walk from one end of town to the other.

i reclined the driver seat of my chevy aveo rental, wrapped myself haphazardly in a sleeping bag, and called it a day.

now here i am; seven hours of restless sleep later.

the sun rose somewhere already, but not here. ¬†the cloud cover is thick, and there’s a light drizzle. ¬†35 degrees. ¬†massive lodgepole pines in front of me absorb the rain like thirsty sailors imbibe on the first day of fleet week.

lately my heart’s been heavy like a sandbag.

this morning is no different. ¬†in fact, today it’s worse.

it feels like someone tied a cinder block, or a dozen, to my chest, and dropped it in the deepest ocean.

if it felt possible to cry, i would. ¬†but i wouldn’t know what for. ¬†after all, i’m in one of my favorite places in the world.

so i decided to start my day.

i made a cup of coffee and rolled a cigarette. ¬†yeah i know, i quit smoking three years ago. ¬†it was three years ago almost to the day when i started again in spain. ¬†then it continued on into lebanon…

you can smoke anywhere in lebanon. ¬†just walk into the airport in beirut with a lit cigarette, and see if i’m exaggerating.

so, unfortunately, for a time, i’m smoking again.

slowly my mind and body, cold and slightly wet from the night before, begin to wake up.

the lamar valley of yellowstone anxiously awaited my arrival. ¬†but the sun still hides it’s precious rays.

in spite of my thoughts, behind the clouds, the light is there just waiting for me to remember it still exists.

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all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2009

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