Saturday, August 22, 2009

So Close and Yet So Far


Holter Lake

On our trip back to sunny, HOT California, we took the slightly longer, northern route across Montana. I've been that way a couple times, but with no time to stop and look around. Plus, in a semi, there's a limit to where you can stop anyway. And poor Tina had never been across there.

It was already almost lunchtime when we left, so we pushed as far as we could before stopping in to eat. The first part of the trip was interesting, with scattered badlands (or adoreablelands, as we call them), but the rest was pretty much the same, mile after hundred miles.

Ah, yes, lunch. That was a special lunch for me. When I got back from the bathroom, Tina had so kindly fixed my sandwich and weighted it down with a package of cheese slices. I bit in. Mmm, mmmm, mmmmm. Hunger is a good sauce! Eating my way around the crust like I always do, I could hardly wait to get to the soft and tender middle. Oddly enough, after several bites of the tasty middle, it tasted just about the same as the crust. Curious, I opened the sandwich, only to find it was empty. Bread. Yum.

I put my fillings in, but so late that they stuck out everywhere. Great, just great. Then the next day for lunch somebody spilled something or other on my sandwich, and I had to pick out all the bread in the middle. Eat off the crusts, and only filling is left. Figures. If it doesn't go wrong one way, it goes wrong the other.

We stopped for the night in a wondrous place. We all wished we could've stayed longer, and we're definitely going back again! It's our new favorite camping place of all time. Lake Holter is a little ways north of Helena, MT, is part of the Missouri river, and very near Lewis and Clark's famous Gates of the Mountains.

It's also near Mann Gulch, a place I have wanted very much to see for a number of years now. Back in the 30's, the new field of smoke-jumping was changed forever by the deaths of a number of firefighters during a blowup along the steep slopes of Mann Gulch. The three men that survived had an incredible story to tell. Eventually I'll go there, and bring back pictures. In the meantime, I contented myself with being closer than I had ever been before, and being able to see the actual peaks that were near Mann Gulch.

Arriving at sunset was magical. The place is gorgeous anyway, but throw all the colors of the sky into the lake and make them darker, and you've got a visit to remember. The deer were everywhere, just like giant squirrels.

In fact, when Tina woke up during the night, a whole herd was trampling right through the middle of our campsite. Poor Mr. Finley didn't handle that so well. He's used to genteel, discreet deer that keep their distance and mind their own business, not cheeky rascals that walk around as if they own the place. Oh, wait - they DO own the place. The softly bloodcurdling wails were enough to make your hair stand on end.

Grandpa sure had fun. As you scroll down, look carefully so you don't miss the joy on his face.

The next day, I admit we dawdled. None of us wanted to leave. Almost none of us. So it was later in the day than it should have been when we saw the statue known as Our Lady of the Rockies.

More than 8500 feet above sea level, and overlooking the town of Butte, the statue sits atop the Continental Divide. From what I've read, the sculptor who built it made the hands and head first, intended to be part of a 120-foot sculpture. Upon finding out that, according to FAA regulations, any structure over 90 feet had to have flashing lights, the rest of the planned construction was shrunken, but the hands and head remained the same.

So now they have a 90-foot statue with no blinking light on top of its head, and if you don't know it's not proportionate you don't notice too much.

We made Massacre Rocks just in time to set up camp before dark, and had a tasty supper of vegetable soup. True, it wasn't quite all the way hot, since the last of the propane went out in a quiet whoosh, but when you're camping, who cares?

Camping or no camping, it would have been nice to have a few more dishes than we did. Not to whine or anything, since it worked out fine to eat in shifts and drink our hot chocolate in shifts. We had a lot more dishes on the
way out, and I'm still not sure quite what had happened. On the way back to CA there were only 2 cups and 1 or 2 bowls. Silverware was limited as well, but that didn't matter so much. You can eat almost anything with your fingers. Oh, except soup.

The weather was beautiful, the mosquitoes weren't bad, and I think it may be our second-favorite campsite now. Very near the top, for sure. Grandpa loved it too, I only wish I could tell you how much.

The last day of the trip, we drove out by Gravely Ford in Nevada. Sometime, with 4wd, we might even be able to go see the graves from the folks killed in the Donner Party, as well as the location of the famous fight.

We made it back in the wee hours. Good thing there are no pictures of what we looked like by that time! And I've been working on the house ever since, getting it cleaned up and ready for vacancy. Not so much time to have adventures while moving, but that's ok. I'm still working on writing about the ones I've already had.

Until the next adventure, and may it wait a while,
Noni Beth

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