One of the best things about only going into the office part time is that I can spend an afternoon in Red Lodge on a whim.  That is precisely what happened on Wednesday the 10th.

Leaving the office at 10:30 I came home and thought it would be fun to go have lunch in Red Lodge, and to take Holden to Wild Bill Lake.  After he finished his nap we packed things up and headed south.

The drive from Billings to Red Lodge in the summer is almost always a pleasant one (unless there is road construction on Highway 212, in which case it is decidedly unpleasant).  The scenery is nice, the farms and ranches always provide something to look at, and the trip is short enough that you don’t get restless.  We soon rolled into Red Lodge and started to think of where we wanted to eat.

Red Lodge is a great town for some Main Street shopping.  It has that old timey feel, unique shops, and some delightful little restaurants.  What it doesn’t have, however, is outdoor dining.  There are a few places that have some patio furniture, but for the most part everything is indoors.  Being a (mostly) mountain town it makes sense, but in the summertime it would be nice to sit outside.  Especially when you bring your dog with you.  This being the case, we decided to get a pizza from Red Lodge Pizza Co. and take it with us to the lake.

Red Lodge Pizza Co. has long been a staple to the area.  Obviously they serve up some of the best pizzas in town, but they have more than that going for them.  If you are in the mood for a burger, you can get one made to order.  If you are feeling like pizza but not in pie form, their Montana Rolls are really quite amazing.  After a long day (or week) of playing in the mountains, the full bar, which includes some local favorites from Red Lodge Brewing Company, helps to relax the muscles and calm the weary body.  Nothing tastes better after a backpacking trip or a day on the slopes than a big pizza and a frosty beer.  Ok, unsolicited plug over.

After getting our pizza we headed up the road, winded our way through the suburbs area due to Main Street being under construction, turned up toward Red Lodge Mountain, diverted off into the West Fork drainage area, and continued on for about 3 miles.  Before the pizza was even cold we were already in the parking area to Wild Bill Lake.  Along with about 15 other cars and two buses from the YMCA.

We settled into a picnic area, one of about 6 tables in a nice little forested area off the parking lot.  We ate our fill, and looked around for some source of drinkable water.  Sadly, there are none of those hand pumps you find at many other picnic and camping spots throughout Montana.  Fortunately we did bring some of our own.

 

 

A quick 50 feet up the trail and we were at the lake on the packed gravel path that leads halfway around it.  We had brought the little stroller, the one that collapses down for easy transportation but has wheels about the size of a donut.  It sort of worked on the path, but after just a short while I carried Holden while Jessica pushed the empty stroller.

We stopped and let Holden dip his feet in the cool water.  We looked at the fish swimming around, and splashed about a bit.  But before too long the summer camps from the Y were starting their fishing trip.  This caused the shoreline, and especially the two docks, to get crowded quickly.  We pushed on around the lake finishing our lap.  The time at the lake was quick, but it was a fun afternoon trip.

Heading back into Red Lodge we made a quick stop at the Palisades Campground to see what it was all about.  The small site tucked away near the palisades on the north side of the mountain is cool and inviting.  Nestled along Willow Creek, it seems to be the perfect place for a weekend getaway.  We made a mental note of it, and drove back into town.  Another quick stop at Red Lodge Pizza Co. for some Wilcoxson’s Ice Cream and we were on our way back to Billings while eating ice cream.

Since it was almost 4:00 when we were getting to Laurel we decided to stop by Fat Jack’s Brewery for a pint.  Seeing as it was Wednesday, which is ladies’ night at Fat Jacks (first pint is on the house for ladies) we saw no reason not to stop.  In order to pass the time until they opened at 4:00 we played in the Chamber of Commerce Park near the railroad tracks.  There’s not much to do at the park, but plenty of large cottonwood trees to provide shade.  A pint later, and a baby sleeping, we cruised back into Billings.   A fun afternoon behind us, and all after even going to the office in the morning.

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