Bear Tooth, Bear Claw, Buffalo Burger: A Love Story

DSCF0190This week, I was asking my family to tell me about the happiest times of their lives.  My train of thought on the afternoon commute from work one day took me down this path, and I found it very interesting to ponder that it was actually quite difficult to determine exactly what that time or times were.

DSCF0200 My kids told me that they had the same trouble I did coming up with answers to that.  It depends on many factors.  Did I mean a specific time, a moment, in which they were happier than they ever had been or were after?  Did that mean the best day ever?  How do you quantify happiness?  Does it mean that you laughed harder than you ever had, that you were having an absolute blast, or did I mean like in that quiet kind of way in which just everything came together to allow you to have a peaceful day in which you felt extremely content?  Yes, these are my children, there is no doubt.  Their answers were very insightful, and I hope I can use that information to create more happy moments for them in the future.

My answers to those same questions, though, despite it being hard to nail down, seemed to be mostly related to the past six years with Jason.  Sure, there were some nights with my college roommates in which we laughed so much and had a blast, but I have to say that in the past years by Jason’s side, he has made me laugh harder than anyone ever has, certainly to the point that I did or was in danger of embarrassing myself, running out of breath, having sore abs the next day, and having to cross my legs to avoid peeing myself in laughter or just to be able to hold myself up.  Also, though, there are many days with him that were those quiet kinds of contentment, perhaps from just the peace of having a true companion, or from sharing an adventure, or from spending the day doing what I love with someone who loves the same things.

When I think about the happiest day, one of the days that came to mind was this one that I am going to share pictures from, a day where we crossed from Wyoming to Montana a few times, driving from Billings to Red Lodge, through the Bear Tooth Mountains, and ending up in Silver Gate.  This was early on, a few months into our relationship, during a trip that I knew we would eventually consider some kind of honeymoon.  We spent the day geocaching, sightseeing, looking for wild animals and adventures.

We had crossed through some intense mountain scenery and played in the snow, and were a little cold and hungry when we hit Silver Gate.  We had been scouting for caches we were planning to look for, and got stuck on this one called Bear Claw.  The description said it was located at a place that sold bear claws, and the more we talked about this, the more we decided that we wanted one of those very badly.  We had worked up an image in our head of hot, fresh tasty pastries, so we were so disappointed when we pulled up and realized that it was just a gas station, and in fact the reference was to Little Debbie type snack cakes, which they were out of anyways.  There were no bear claws of any kind to be had here.

Disappointed but soldiering on, we drove up to the entrance of Yellowstone National Park to inquire about camping spots, only to be told that they were full and there were no spots to be had.  So we turned back around and drove the twenty or so miles back to Silver Gate and rented a little cabin for the night to a tune that was higher than we wanted to spend, but lower than the peak rate, so a negotiated compromise.  Then we went driving around the National Park, finding bison and antelope galore to feast our eyes upon (no no wolves or bears, which we hoped for).DSCF0258

That night, we walked across the street to this little restaurant, the Log Cabin Cafe, and ate the most delicious buffalo burgers you could ever dream of.  We still laugh about that, about how we had to eat one after looking at them all day.  I remember the feeling walking out of that place, breathing the crisp air, seeing the stars lighting up the sky all around us, and the feeling of love filling my chest and the feeling that it was settling there, that this was the start of something huge.

And this was one of the happiest days of my life, but it is just one of several wonderful ones we have had together since that time, in our various road trips and other smaller adventures we have together.  I came to this place in my life to be happy, giving up on my previous miserable marriage, and there are these days that I can count on to show me that this path I chose, this man I chose, was the way to find it.

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