Our trip starts at Columbus, Justin’s and my new hometown. It's a small town of 2,000 inhabitants and the seat of Stillwater County, just off Interstate 90 and one hour away from Billings. It's the "city by the road". It's also the city by the rivers, as it is located at the confluence of the Yellowstone and Stillwater rivers.
Just off the Union Pacific Railroad, Columbus grew when its quarry was used to supply stones for the building of the capitol in Helena. The quarry may have closed, but mining is still a big thing. The Stillwater mine is one of the largest employers in the area and has its seat in Columbus. Montana's not the Treasure State for nothing, since platinum and palladium are extracted by the local mines. Agriculture, especially ranching, is also still a big thing. Montana is an open-range state, and our subdivision, which used to be a huge ranch, allows cows to graze during spring and summer.
We took State Road 78 towards Absarokee, the county's second biggest town and one of the cutest too. Once Absarokee is passed, it's a lovely drive through the hills and farmland as the mountains are looming larger and larger until you reach the foot and drive along them until Red Lodge. For those of you coming from Billings, take I-90 West, and at Laurel, take US 212 until Red Lodge.