Voyage II in Jenny II… Red Lodge, Montana.

by R. McKinnon Baxter

It’s Thursday morning… but honestly, I doesn’t seem to matter what day it is anymore. I suppose that has been a goal of sorts for me for some time. After years of hardcore suit wearing, presentation giving, dress-for-success living, today… I work in my underwear… my sweatpants, and in general, whatever feels good.

My 1950’s coffee pot is percolating right now… and only the sound of Rock creek just steps from the back of Jenny II competes for my attention.

percolating coffee in Jenny II

percolating coffee in Jenny II

Jenny, Hahnna and I pulled into Red Lodge around 4pm, just before the storm hit. It was a hot day, still in the 90’s, but we could see the storm on the horizon when we got off in Columbus, refueled and headed south on highway 78. As we drove from Columbus past the towns of Absorakee, Roscoe and Luther Montana, I was thinking about the people of Montana… the folks who lived in these beautiful and remote towns. Sure, it was maybe an hour’s drive to Billings to stock up at the Costco, the Walmart or the like, and Red Lodge certainly had much to offer, but these folks, like many in the remote parts of Montana, lived simply… and somehow, I found them to be the richest, most wealthy folks on earth.

highway 78

highway 78

When we left Bozeman we were all uptight. Hahnna had been worked on pretty hard over the past few weeks… a new chain, new battery, oil change and service. She was feeling good, but anxious… anxious to get on the road again. Jenny II, well, her maiden voyage home left a few scars on her, and I sensed she wanted to prove herself on what we are calling trip II… As for me… well, it didn’t take more than a few days back home, let alone a few weeks to realize that I was once again a fish out of water in my home town… as much as I liked my choice for home base. It seems that being on the road, or in and around water somewhere was where I was meant to be… moving and flowing as my regular pattern of operation. This, it seemed was where life was truly being lived for me… this, it seemed, was home.

It took an hour before I was able to take that deep breath and sigh of relief. Sometimes it takes longer, sometimes a day, sometimes several days… so I took this as a good sign. It was becoming easier to release the stress of the “life I’d created” and move on into uncharted territory where only the future and what lied ahead mattered.

On our way to Columbus, I remembered a three-section bridge that I had taken pictures of years ago, and had somehow lost over the years… so when I saw the spot coming up as I was approaching Columbus, I took the “ranch access” exit, drove through the one lane underpass, and headed down the “dead end” road. I must say, it struck me as odd that a bridge of this stature would in fact be a dead end, but with my eyes fixed on the bridge in sight, I thought nothing of it.

bridge over yellowstone river

bridge over yellowstone river

I love bridges… have something of a fascination with them. Yes, I read the book, and yes, I thought it was a moving love story, and yes Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep gave wonderful performances in the movie in spite of the fact that I had envisioned much younger and more stimulating characters… but my point here is this… the Bridges of Madison County had and has nothing to do with my fascination for bridges… I have liked bridges ever since I was a small boy, exploring the country in which I grew up in upstate New York. Bridges of course come in all sizes and shapes. They come in vintages of sorts, and they all tell a story of some kind. Who built this bridge? Why did they build it? What did they build it out of? Who did the work? So when I find a bridge that I have not seen before, especially a bridge like this one, I can’t help but photograph it, inspect it, get on it, and take in the experience of the old gal.

bridge over yellowstone

bridge over yellowstone

bridge 3

bridge 4

This bridge in particular was something of a work of art. The shadows, the steel… it was like a tremendous metal sculpture, and it was fascinating. Perhaps in my youth those erector sets I could never quite figure out added to my fascination. Was never good at those damn things, but Dale Harpending, about a mile down the road from our family farm was… the kid was weird though… an erector set savant of sorts.

I took this little bridge sideline because, well, I wanted to, and I could… I didn’t have a meeting I had to get to… I didn’t have a deadline I had to make… and I was not “expected” to be somewhere or do something for someone at any point in time in the near future. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of good a person can do, doing things for others, and meeting those expectations for others who truly need you and love you for your generosity… but at this moment in time, I was not interested in a popularity contest measured by the kindness of my heart. Sometimes you just have to realize you have been getting the short end of the stick in life, and it’s time to take charge and give yourself what you need… or you will never be any good to anybody. Somehow I knew, this was my time to step back and do just that.

So the dead end was in fact a dead end in spite of my selective ignorance otherwise… and turning Jenny II around in this ranch style cul-de-sac made only for the stupid who did not read or properly interpret the sign, proved difficult. My biggest concern backing Jenny II up is the thought of smashing Hahnna against some building, or tree, or Hummer… because for one, I probably could not ride her for a while, if ever again, and two, I don’t like people who drive Hummers, and would expect that this particular Hummer driver encounter would prove most certainly an excellent example of why.

When we finally got turned around unscathed, I noticed that while there was in fact an off-ramp to the ranch, there was no on ramp, at least not in the direction I wanted go. We Americans and our conveniences… where’s my fricken on ramp? Is this some kind of sick joke someone is playing on me? Well, douche bag, try backtracking west about 5 miles to Reed Point, where there will be a lovely on ramp for you to go in your preferred direction… and so I did… and don’t call me a douche bag. In short term, we were back on the road… Life was good.

Perry’s RV park, while having a rather white trash red-neck name to it, was, I must say, very nice. I’ve often wondered, when you have an RV park right at the foot of the continental divide with a majestic creek running along the campsites, nestled in shaded trees and all the comforts of a cool spot… why you would call it, Perry’s RV… I mean seriously, I can come up with a dozen names better than that, to help draw people into your spot… Red Lodge Creek RV Park, Crystal Rock Creek RV Park, Serenity Creek RV Park… etc, etc… I mean, I met Perry… nice fella, but as a camper thirsty for a getaway, Perry was certainly not what I had in mind for a good time.

Since I am relatively new at being an RV’er, I continue to learn lessons in my travels… and upon arrival at Perry’s RV park, and pulling into my spot, today’s lesson was two-fold… One, it’s a good idea to do your damnedest to get into your spot before it starts raining. Just makes life a little easier, but two, and this is the big one… you simply must have a level space to live in! Seems fundamental, I know, but all you need is 60 seconds in a cock-eyed, slightly skewed camper to realize this just ain’t gonna fly. So in the rain, I open up my back compartment, sliding between Jennie and Hahnna to do so… I know, kind of kinky but I really had no time to enjoy it… and I pulled out the 1970’s wood blocks that I suppose, let’s call him Harl, the original owner, cut in his wood shop, just for this particular level-the-camper type dilemma. After backing up, then forward, then back, then removing, then adding… finally, ahh, it was juuusst riiiight, and I settled into my level living. It’s an interesting metaphor actually, and I suppose the lesson is balance… I was “off balance” and I didn’t like it. Made me think about my life and where this out of balance discomfort was happening in other respects…

Jenny II's Mobile Office overlooking Rock Creek, Red Lodge MT

Jenny II’s Mobile Office overlooking Rock Creek, Red Lodge MT

Rock Creet at Perrys RV Park

Rock Creet at Perrys RV Park


After getting settled into our new spot, I set up my mobile office for the first time in Jenny II, looking out at the creek just 10 steps away, and got a little work done. Before too long, I took out “T” and started learning a new song. All in all… life was extraordinarily good in Red Lodge, MT.

R. McKinnon Baxter, an Automated Business and Online Marketing Expert, has sold nearly $50 Million in products online over the course of 12 years. Today, he enjoys his life as a Travel Writer along with the freedom of the mobile working lifestyle driven by his automated business model and strategies. To learn more about McKinnon’s principles and methodologies, visit www.AutomatedProducer.com.

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