Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Leadore And More - Part 2

Leadore is a town of 109 people that is located in the Lemhi Valley a little over two hours drive from Atomic City.
So OK...........a little over two hours if you drive straight through, but of course we did not do that.
About three hours after leaving the house we pulled into this small and silent town that is surrounded on all sides by mountains.
We had expected little in the way of business activity or homes, and were surprised as we pulled into Leadore to actually find..........stuff.
Buildings at least, and as we continued to slowly drive the two lane highway that cut through the center of town, we quickly realized that many buildings were empty.
It was Sunday, so of course some would be closed.
But I also suspected that (as with so many other very small towns in Idaho) many businesses were strictly seasonal.
I needed gum and a restroom, LC needed a restroom, and we both needed ice cream bars.
And so we pulled into the parking lot of a ramshackle and large structure that proudly announced OPEN and that it was called the Stage Stop.............
Inside, the Stage Stop was filled with the types of grocery items you would expect at a small Quickie Mart, as well as walls decorated with mountain and fish and bear and cowboy wood signs that were for sale.
The wall art-for-sale were the types that were cheap and decorative and whimsical, and I wandered briefly around the store waiting for LC, reading signs and enjoying the good-natured trashiness of it all.
After buying a Salmon newspaper, gum and two ice cream bars, my Mountain Boy and I wandered out of the store.
LC headed back to the Tahoe to retrieve our pup and let her walk, while I headed across the parking lot intent on taking pictures of the old building that was across the street................
With ice cream bar in hand and obviously not paying enough attention, I did not realize at the time that I was holding my camera lopsided.  
Nor did I realize at the time that there was a smudge or dust on my camera lens.
A lopsided picture of the empty building across the road...............
As I stood at the end of the parking lot scarfing down a Missisippi Mud and looking out over the snow-covered mountains, I absently wondered what the log structure was, and what the sign in front of it told of the history of this town.
I snapped a quick picture and moved on....................
 Still absently eating ice cream, I looked at the green and white road sign.
I knew that Salmon was only about 45 minutes from Leadore, and that Missoula was many hours drive beyond that.
But I was surprised to see the directional arrow pointing to way to Dillon Montana.
How far were we from Dillon??
I had no idea......................
Meandering my way back to the Tahoe I smiled as I approached my guy and my dog.
Kory was excited, energetic, eager to do something, go somewhere, see something.
I leaned down and rubbed her ears and kissed her on top of her head, and when I looked up I realized that I was being watched.
He was stunning.  Absolutely beautiful.  Curious about me (and us) in that way that horses are (which was something that I learned about horses only after I moved out west).
I headed in his direction thinking that his pen was located on the same property as the store.
LC called my name and when I turned in his direction he told me that he thought beautiful horse was on the neighboring property.
Looking more closely I was disappointed to realize that he was right.
I would have loved to greet him, talk to him, pet him, take closer pictures of such a beautiful animal.
Reluctantly I snapped a couple of distance pictures of him and then turned back to LC and Kory................
Kory is a big fan of ice cream as well.....................
Slowly we wandered in back of the store enjoying the day, eating ice cream and debating what to do next.
On the way to Leadore we had debated whether or not to continue to Salmon and take the Big Lost River Valley route home.
I loved Salmon but did not want to do that.
My feeling was that if we spent so much time driving, we would end up seeing nothing.
I wanted to do that entire loop but wanted to do it while camping - spend a couple of days at the campground we had found in this valley, spend another day somewhere else in the valley, spend a night or two in Salmon, maybe another night or two in Challis or Stanley.
Take our time - drive less and see more, as opposed to simply covering miles.
In the end, LC agreed with me.
So if not Salmon, then where?
How far was Dillon?  Should we take our time and just head back the way we had come?  Maybe stop at a couple of other places that had looked interesting, but which we had simply driven by on the way to Leadore?
LC headed back to the store to see what he could find out about Dillon, while I continued walking with my dog..................
A police vehicle that looks a little worse for wear..................
Looking down the main street of "Hustling and Bustling Leadore".............
Crossing over the two lane highway Kory and I headed for the sign, curious to see what I could learn about this tiny town (although not as tiny as Atomic City - the speck in the desert with the grandiose name).
This entire region is filled with Native American and mining history...............
As I stood reading signs I heard a vehicle approaching behind me.
When I turned I realized that LC had picked up the Tahoe and driven across the road to meet up with us.
Climbing back into the Tahoe he told me what he had learned.
Dillon was about 65 miles up and over a major pass.
Hmmmm..............that wasn't going to work.
Continuing on, he told me that there was a huge dam where locals fished, on the Montana side about 45 miles.  Again over the pass.
I would have loved to see it, but not on this day.  Maybe when we camped.
One last option was to head for the top of the pass.
The place at the peak of the mountains, where the Continental Divide passed through, where Idaho turned into Montana.  It was an eight mile climb to reach the top.
That was it!
THAT was what we needed to do before turning back.
Turning right at the road sign, we drove on paved road for only a few minutes before it turned to gravel road and immediately began to climb...................
The road was very steep and very winding.
And the hills and mountains that surrounded us were very beautiful.
When we had left the house earlier that morning we had assumed that we would be driving only through valley, with mountains surrounding us.
Now unexpectedly here we were, driving into the mountains leading to the border between two states...............
After climbing non-stop, we reached the top.
Eagerly I climbed out of the Tahoe.  It was cool and windy, and I reached for my jacket.
Grabbing Korys' leash she jumped out of the truck and immediately began pulling on the leash, wanting to explore.
She was definitely our dog.
She loved doing these kinds of things as much as we did.  
This dog was meant to be with us.....................
Aside from being windy, this place was absolutely silent.
LC grabbed the dog while I reached for my camera.
It was a clear day and I could see forever.
I wanted to try and capture forever in pictures...............
What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing?  It's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies............Jack Kerouac

The Continental Divide:

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