Saturday, July 26, 2008

Livingston to Butte - Montana Day 3

Virginia City along the Bozeman Trail

The wind in Livingston had finally died down that morning, and we were ready for an early start. Long day ahead with some primary targets for Kathy's ghost towning, down the Bozeman trail. Along with the mining ruins along the way, we land in Virginia City. This is a really cool town for those of us who like the old shops, various tours and antiques. Lots to do here, including a train ride over to Nevada City, Stage Coach tours, an old fire engine turned into a touring ride, shopping and plenty of history. In fact, it's a National Historic Landmark District with 200 historic buildings. If your not into just the ruins, but want a good small town, old west feel, Virginia City should be on your list of stops.

After wrapping up there we head just a few short miles to Nevada City, which includes a walking tour of the recreated mining town. I think some of the buildings are originals, but others have been brought in. It was an alright stop, but not as fun or large as Virginia City. We grabbed a bite to eat while there at a small restaurant that appeared to cater to the 'California lifestyle' (in other words, no grease or fat, and what I call weeds for lettuce...Hey, if that's your thing great, you'll love it).

Next on the list of must see's was Bannack. Along the way we got a little lost (gotta learn that Tom Tom doesn't always know best), but after stumbling onto a couple more ghost towns and taking a leisurely ride down many dirt roads out of Garnett, we finally made it just in time for a good Montana thunder boomer. We just paid our entry fee and were walking in when the rain started, so we camped out in the old hotel. Very convenient that they let you in all the buildings, and the hotel was a great place to spend some time. I think Kathy got a vibe that a spirit still lingered there, but all I got was the since of history in this incredible mining town. After the rain we ventured through the rest of the buildings, and Kathy decided to jaunt off by herself up to the Cemetery. She was on the grand search for Henry Plummer, the local sheriff who wound up in his own jail and then hanged by the gallows he created. You would think that she would remember that ol Plummer's grave wasn't even there, especially since she wrote about it on Legends Of America, but it didn't hit her until after spending quality time looking.

By now it's getting late, and we have a long way to go to get to Butte for the night. We had also decided to take the Wind River Scenic Byway, which included another ghost town on the way. The rain had moved out of the area, but the storm was pretty powerful. Saw several tree's snapped at the base along the roadside, before finding our turn to Coolidge. A four mile detour on some dirt road, which happened to be blocked half way in by a nice plump pine tree. Lucky we had our high clearance SUV, as Kathy was insistent on getting to her out of the way backwoods treasure.

Within about a 1/2 mile of the town, you're hiking the rest of the way in. This wouldn't have been so bad, if it weren't for the fact that the mosquitoes were also on a mission. By the time we reached the town I looked like something out of a cartoon. Hands and arms waving frantically, constantly moving to avoid large hordes of the blood sucking bastards gathering, and generally getting a miserable experience (note to self: Deep Woods Off). This ghost town did have some treasures though. Several buildings still intact, and a school that apparently found it self in a fast flowing stream. Only the top remains, with the water flowing underneath. Don't see that everyday. We made our way just over half way through the town when I finally had enough.."I'm done, going back to the car before these vampires suck me dry". Kathy being Kathy wasn't even phased by them, and the look of "go ahead you wimp, snivel on back" didn't help.

I cussed a while on my way, then realized I had just left my wife alone, deep in the woods, as the sun continued to go down, traipsing through god knows what miles from anywhere. OK OK, DAMN IT! "Thought you were going back to the car?" Kathy's inquisitive, yet comical smile could be seen clearly while I was still 30 feet away. "If I keep moving they don't overcome me as much" I said, trying to convince myself as I rubbed the back of my neck which felt like a brail Stephen King novel. Fortunately she was wrapping up, and after what seemed to be a long journey back to the rental, we were on our way to Butte. Thank goodness the local ranger had moved the tree before our return down the mountain, and it was smooth sailing to wrap up our 12 hour day of history.

Next on the blog, Butte to Marysville and Albert, Mad Man or Mountain Man.

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