Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Only Tourists in Town

I leave Red Lodge for the four hour drive to my next rental. Along the route is Bozeman, Montana.  No GPS, nothing, I find a large natural food Co-op. I have a nose for these things.

Truffle goat cheese, anyone. I actually resist.
Seeing as I'm doing far less exercise than I normally do during a day at work on the farm, I'm feeling the effects in the girth of my waistband.

I stock up on vegetables instead. 

Pea shoots! Be still my beating heart.

OK, so I do get a thin slice of cheese.

I knew there was a reason I had packed my grocery bag for this trip... Gustatory premonition.

My copilot.

The drive takes us through the Madison River Valley. Spectacular.  Fly fishermen dot the river and beautiful farms fill the fertile valley. 

"Seriously, are we there yet?"
It hasn't bothered me that there isn't much snow. There's enough to make me realize that if I'd been pursuing this trip a week earlier, I wouldn't have made it. All along the road, there are pull off areas called ' Chain Up'... Where you install your chains on your tires. I did buy chains, but max speed is 35 mph, compared to the 80 everyone is doing on these secondary roads this week.
We make Virginia City, Montana early and are instructed by our host to wait for him at the gas station.

I drive through town twice, nothing is open but a tiny post office. This is the only gas station I find.

This mountain mining town is on the historic registry thanks to a couple in the 1940's who started buying up all the dilapidated buildings and shoring them up. They didn't modernize or change anything. It's all slowly deteriorating, adding to its living ghost town appeal.

Happily, our rental is new. I suspect the place was our host's former bachelor pad. The decor is Harley Davidson, I'm all for it.  Cutesy Victorian makes me wanna puke.

We're told we can hike in the back to our hearts content.

Pete is ecstatic!

Cole is hot on the trail of antelope or something.  In this terrain, he's perfectly camouflaged. He's taken off twice over the horizon, so we abort mission. 

Pete may have visions of a warm couch, but we must explore the town.

After I get the car out. I shouldn't have trusted the guy in the big 4x4 truck who said to drive down the driveway, " you'll be fine".
My Michelin Super Arctic Grip winter tires fail me miserably. But, I needed to learn how to use my new set of chains.
First lesson, put them on before you get stuck. Spent 15 minutes draping them over the tire, then trying to drive up into them, only to have my tires spin, shooting the chains into a tangled up pile.

Finally. And this better work because I've slid back and I'm only 3" from hitting the side of the house. 

Giving up is not an option.
Fifth time is the charm.

My new car, Binky, is telepathically telling me : I didn't sign up for this crap!

Binky does it!

We have the entire town to ourselves, being the only 4 tourists here. Do pinch me. The amazing benefit of off season travel!

Main Street is dead.

Everything shuttered.

We walk in the middle of the road, exploring.

Some of the doors are held shut with nothing but baling wire.

I peek though all the windows.

What beautiful windows.

A mix of log structures, stone and clapboard.

Then we find the oldest section of town. Before there was a main street.

People must have been shorter back then.  It all seems miniaturized.

Looks like we've finally earned supper.

Gee, I wonder why we're all gaining weight?

Dreaming of what we'll be savoring tomorrow.