Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Quick Trip To Montana - Part 3

As we did throughout the morning and into the early afternoon, we followed a secondary road that (more or less) followed the path of the interstate.
We often found ourselves crossing under or over the interstate to pick up the winding two lane road again, but as I continually looked back at the busy four lane I-90 I knew that we were doing the right thing.
We had left Atomic City late in the morning the previous day, in the mood to blow out of town, to be on the road, to be on the move and seeing a new part of the country, and we were doing just that.
Impulsively we turned off the two lane road often, curious to see where random signs (such as the one above) led.
Sometimes they dead-ended.  Sometimes they led to mountain views.  Or river views.
 Sometimes we thought we could find a different route back to Bozeman.
But we didn't.
And ended up turning back.
And all of that was OK.
Kory happily stood in the back of the Tahoe looking out of the window.  Sometimes sticking her nose through the crack in the window to smell where she was.  Sometimes sitting or laying down and napping briefly.
And often we stopped at river accesses and our dog happily waded and swam in the Yellowstone River.
It was all good.................
Whenever I see homes like this one - partially hidden in the trees - I wonder what it must be like to live in such a place.
A place where the Yellowstone River can be seen through their front windows and the Crazy Mountains can be seen from their back door.
It was only after we returned to our nice but humble home in the Snake River Plain that I had the opportunity to do more research on the area.
It is highly doubtful that we would ever be able to afford to live in such an area.
Very beautiful.
Beautiful to see as a visitor.................
A beautiful little school house in the quiet little community of Springdale.
I saw this old and renovated school house at the last minute as we were driving by it, and snapped this picture on the go assuming that it would not turn out.
Thankfully it did.
Lovely little place, and seen during one of our failed attempts to find one more back road that would lead us to Bozeman.
After veering 20 minutes off course we finally turned the Tahoe back and returned to roads more familiar.
But the side trip was not a total waste.
They never were.
More beautiful parts of Montana that we would not have seen had we not taken the roads less traveled..............
A lady we know in Montana suggested Livingston, Belgrade and Manhattan to us as towns to look at based on our needs and interests.
We blew through Livingston, surprised at how big and how dirty it was (and it was during this trip that I - for the first time - regretted not having one of those Smart Phones complete with Internet so I could research while on the go).
We immediately disliked Belgrade and immediately loved Manhattan (only to learn once we returned home that this pretty little bedroom community to Bozeman was completely out of our price range).
Our puppy had yet one more chance to swim in the river.
She rejoiced in the opportunity to cool down and swim, and we enjoyed watching her play.
It was HER trip as well.............. 
After some quick shopping in Bozeman both LC and I realized that we were in the mood to head home.
We still had 250 miles to drive.
250 MILES!!!
When I write that now I realize just how far we traveled in a day and a half.
And in hindsight I realize just how restless we both were.
LC and I didn't travel far throughout the winter.
The weather was very cold and we had what seemed like endless snow, and so we stayed mostly close to home.
In very early spring we were both restless.
Preparing to put our house on the market.  Thinking about where we wanted to be and where we could afford to be.
Needing to see new places, new faces, new mountains, new rivers, even new trees.
Just needing to be in motion.
And so we stayed in motion.
As we drove back through portions outside the gates of Yellowstone National Park, through West Yellowstone, and as we again found ourselves back across the state line into Idaho we looked around us.
The world in Montana was beautiful.
So was the world in Idaho.
For whatever reason, this trip seemed to calm both of us.
Maybe we both just had too much energy that needed to be released after a long winter.
Maybe we just needed to stretch our legs as winter finally transitioned begrudingly into spring.
But for whatever reason, we arrived back at our house knowing for certain that we needed to try and sell our home and move.
Somewhere closer to water and closer to the mountains.
But also knowing for certain that we would not stress over it.
When it happened, it happened.
And when (and where) it was right.......it was right.
Until then, we were fine right where we were...............
Not sure if I mentioned it before, but late last fall we decided to gut out and redo an old camper.
We finished it a few weeks ago, and took it out on its maiden voyage during a camping trip to Challis, ID last week.
Pictures to come..............

 My wild and free side unsettled some, and unwedged others..........Brigitte Bardot
My wild and free side unsettled some, and unwedged others.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/unsettled.html
My wild and free side unsettled some, and unwedged others.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/unsettled.html

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Quick Trip to Montana - Part 2

Before heading into the bar for a burger and (hopefully) some insight into the town, I snapped a couple of pictures of the outside of the building.
They came out sideways and I have no idea why.
There's a way to flip them on my computer and I have no idea how.
Such is the vaguely frustrating life of one who is barely computer literate.
I know how to do what I know how to do, and that's ALL I know how to do.
When I first opened the camera I searched the box for a user manual and found only a one page "getting started" page (printed in English, Spanish and five or six other languages), which was enough to.........get me started.
Included was the one sentence at the bottom of the page (in all languages) encouraging the new owner to download the manual from a www address.
When I got home from Montana I downloaded the 90 page English language manual, and even though I glanced through it, it may as well have been written in Spanish (or five or six other languages) for all the sense it makes to me.
So.........learning about my fancy new camera is going to be a process..............

Most of the pictures of the inside of the bar are blurry because of the low light, but I posted a few anyway, just to give a sense of the atmosphere of this small town establishment.
It was obvious that this bar had been around for a very long time and the decor was nothing short of interesting and eclectic.
Filled with pictures (including an old and very large picture of a beautiful and bare breasted woman immediately over the bar), animal heads, old license plates, pool tables, tin signs, a small dance floor in one corner, and so much more.
Behind the counter was a large, older lady in a short skirt, tight top and flip flops, and sitting at a table in the middle of the room were two men, one woman, and a toddler. 
It was a lot to take in.
New people and a large room filled with endless things to look at.
Both LC and I had to use the rest room and by the time I was done he was already sitting on a stool at the bar ordering burgers for both of us.
Once the waitress went to prepare food I leaned over and told him that if he wanted to have a good time he could call Jennifer (whose phone number was proudly displayed on the wall in the ladies stall).
He smiled at me and told me that Jennifers' name was also posted in the mens.
Well alright then.  Somebody gets around...............

As LC sipped on a Pepsi I wandered around the room taking in all the very interesting sights.
I snapped a few pictures knowing that they may not turn out well because of the low light, but I took them anyway hoping at least a few would be presentable enough to post in a blog.
This place was pretty awesome and it was obvious that it had been in business for decades and that the decor had sprung up organically over time.
Very likely with individual visitors adding random pieces and contributing to the effort.
It really was a hugely interesting place to see............
Quarters pounded into wood................
If anyone reading this blog ever finds their way to Reed Point, Montana there are three things you MUST see.
The Yellowstone River.
The old flour silos.
And this bar..................
After doing a quick walk-about I returned to my stool next to LC.
The waitress had not returned, and it was becoming very obvious that we were likely not going to get much information during our burger-eating bar-visit.
Looking around me I non-chalantly (I hoped) scanned the people sitting at the table in the middle of the room.
Little boy was fast moving and the woman repeatedly ran to retrieve him.
Somebody had been hung over that morning from the celebrations of the night before, and laughed that he would be hung over again tomorrow morning.
A shared picture of an ultra-sound.  Somebody's wife was pregnant.
About 15 minutes after we had ordered our burgers they finally arrived, and the food was good.
The waitress disappeared immediately after delivering our food but returned a few minutes later to see if we needed anything else.
LC and I both tried to engage her in conversation.  
How long had this bar been open?  She wasn't sure, but she had been working here for 46 years.  
Do you get a lot of people passing through town?  Yes, lots of tourists all year long.  
We could understand tourists in the summer because of the river, but what draws people here in the winter?  The river. 
Do you know anything about the building a few doors down that was empty?  No, not really.  It's been empty for a long time. 
How often do the trains go by?  About every hour. 
During our brief conversation the womans' adult son walked in and ordered a beer and the woman laughingly commented that he had been raised in this bar.
After a few more uninsightful non-answer answers her cell phone rang, and she was on the phone for the rest of our meal.
 LC and I just looked at each other, finished our burgers and left.
It had been a very long day, it was now almost dark, and we needed to find a place to stay.
After a few minutes of debate (should be go back to Big Timber or go on to Columbus), we quickly decided on Columbus.
It was closer.
And we were tired................
Immediately after pulling into Columbus we filled up the tank and then drove down into the small town proper in search of a motel.
Grateful to see a sign for a reasonably priced family-owned motel we pulled into the parking lot, and I walked in the lot with Kory while LC went to see if they accepted dogs.
A few minutes later he walked out looking disgusted.
Sixty five dollars.
No internet.  No refrigerator.  No coffee.  Just a room.
From the looks of the outside, I assumed that the room would be nothing to write home about.
Eager to look on my lap top and check out some of the other towns in the area between Bozeman and Columbus, I suggested we try the chain motel up the road.
A few minutes later LC walked out of the second motel looking even more disgusted.
$115 plus tax.
Holy Cow!  Maybe he and I are just cheap.  Or maybe that was the going rate for motels in 2017.  We had no idea.  It had been a few years since we had stayed in a motel but that seemed very expensive to us for one night.
OK - probably we were just cheap.
But in one instant we decided to go back to the family motel.
Hopefully they at least had a TV.
They did.
But an hour after we checked in LC and I were sound asleep.
Right before we fell asleep we heard a train go by across the street.
We just smiled at each other and shook our heads....................
All three of us woke up early the next morning and while LC went on the hunt for coffee I rounded up all the gear we had thrown carelessly all over the room in our exhaustion the night before.
As we drank coffee and woke up, we both looked at each other and quickly decided that there was no need to meet with the real estate agent later that morning.
I sent a text.
We had told ourselves we were tire kickers (after all - we had sold one house in Tennessee but still had a house in Idaho to sell).
But the place had had.........possibilities.
Aside from the river, our trip to Reed Point the day before had been uninspiring.
But it had answered a lot of questions for us and that was a good thing.
From this point on we would begin to worm our way back towards Idaho.
Maybe we would spend another night on the road.
Maybe we would travel home.
We didn't know this early in the morning but, in a good mood and eager to just wander, we quickly loaded the Tahoe and headed out.
We'd grab something to eat on the road...............
Traveling the interstate back towards Reed Point, we pulled off the highway when we arrived and slowly took one more spin down the few streets that made up this little community.
Looking wistfully at the Yellowstone River we decided to stay on a secondary road instead of picking up the interstate again.
It would wind our way back towards Big Timber and possibly beyond, and travel would be slower and more leisurely.
We would see what we would see, and be in no big hurry to see it.
20 minutes later we pulled over to the side of the road so that I could take these pictures.
With no agenda to speak of, no rush to be anywhere in particular, and no idea what we would run into in our travels, suddenly we were both having a very good time.
And the scenery was spectacular ................
Alright, I'll just fess up right now.  
We spent the day driving back roads as much as possible, took endless pictures of mountains, rivers, live stock eclectic buildings.
And we blew through every single town big and small we saw along the way.
Big Timber................
After blowing through Big Timber without seeing a restaurant to eat breakfast, we hungrily pulled into a gas station to pick up coffees and snacks before continuing on.
Consciously still staying on slower secondary roads, what we DID find time for was to snap random pictures of random signs, and to seek out the river.
During one of those side trips we realized that we had an audience and I joked with LC that the one lone young calf that was staring at me as I snapped picture after picture of his brethren, would be made famous on my blog..............