Lolo National Forest to Missoula to Deer Lodge, MT
29.03.2016 - 30.03.2016
We woke up from our 10am nap in the forest shortly after we had gone to sleep, the sun hot and bright even through the blanketed windows of the car. It was just after noon and we were not feeling another adventure after a miserable night, so we decided to check out the one thing in the nearby area that caught our interest: the Garden of 1,000 Buddhas. Christian and I had taken a Buddhism class together once upon a time so we figured the nostalgia made it worth the visit. I was grateful for the low-energy venture.
Missoula was a couple hours from where we had camped this morning so we had a couple sleepy hours in the car before we had to get out and move again. The area was beautiful, even inspirational, and when we pulled into the parking lot of the garden we made sure to photograph it's surrounding landscape first.
As we walked up I was shocked to find this strange and remote buddhism worship site was a truly impressive garden with literally 1,000 meticulously placed statues in the shape of a wheel and a large sculpture in the center. On the path leading up to the buddhas, there was a golden pyramid that visitors placed small trinkets on for the buddha. Toys, stones, and letters to lost loved ones covered the statue.
Quotes from scripture covered the garden and directed visitors on which places to visit first. We were happy to find we even recognized some of the quotes from our buddhism class. Behind it all, there was a decorated pond with a half dozen koi swimming in it. It was so peaceful and quiet here, I got exactly what I needed today.
Around the garden, prayer flags of every color flew high in the mountain wind. It was the perfect finishing touch on the place. I made a short film of each piece of the garden moving as the sun set, but I won't post that here. You'll see it on my website soon!
We stayed at the site until almost sundown, strolling around the garden and reading the buddha's titles. After a few hours, we hit a local Starbucks in Missoula to use their wifi. We were going to splurge tonight and get a motel -- we earned a good night's sleep. And we got it. At 9pm, we walked into our motel room in Deer Lodge, Montana and immediately passed out.
According to my phone's sleep app, it was the best sleep I've had all year.