Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pony, Montana

Saturday, August 21st
We arrived at the cabin in Pony later in the day than we expected. The drive from Spokane to Pony was abut 7 hours or so, including the hour for lunch and several stops for bathroom/drinks. Driving in to Pony was a surprise. I didn't know what to expect, but I guess I didn't expect the town to be nestled at the foot of some beautiful grassy hills -- but then again it is at the edge of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Forest. It's easy to see how Richard Hugo, and later Frances, were both inspired to write here. Its stunning surroundings and fascinating ghosttown-iness are food for the imagination.

The cabin itself is quite big room, with two bedrooms, a bathroom and laundry room off of it. The hot tub reminds me of hillbillies -- a large wooden barrel with a stove attached. Just behind the cabin is the creek (I think it's the North Willow Creek), giving the cabin continuous background music of running water.

The cabin has stone-composite tiled floors and the thickest towels I've ever felt. August's room has a twin bed with a trundle underneath, and Ray and I's room has a saggy doublebed -- we roll toward the middle when we're both laying down.

Waiting for us were a loaf of fresh homebaked wheat bread and some wrapped packages of elk meat and deer sausage in the fridge.

Sunday, August 22nd
After a leisurely morning (deer sausage scramble for breakfast!) we head south to Ennis to find the "real" grocery store, since the one in nearest town Harrison is not much more than a convenience store. Most of the way there (26 miles) we wonder if it'll even be open, given it's Sunday. Thankfully it is, and we wander around filling our cart with cabin-meal staples.

In the afternoon, we walk through Pony. The old 2-story brick bank building (now abandoned) is at the end of our block, where it intersects with the main drag. We walk down the street, past the only really thriving business in Pony -- the Pony Bar. We see people! We continue on to the antique store (open Sun - Wed, 12-5) and pick up a couple curios. Then back to the cabin to play, make dinner, and possibly try out the hot tub barrel. Ooops, rain storm -- we'll attempt it some other night.

Monday, August 23rd

On today's agenda are the Lewis and Clark Caverns, and then the Museum of the Rockies at MSU in Bozeman.

Today's big learnin'...August can go HOURS without using a bathroom. We decided against the 2 hour hike through the caverns because of the lack of potty, and then she refused to use ANY potty until we were back at the cabin hours later. Seriously--6 hours sans toilet. That can't be healthy. Anyway, back at the Caverns we walked through the visitors' center, watched the movie about the Caverns, and did a micro-hike and picnic in the woods. Got some great pictures from way up in the hills looking down toward the Jefferson River.

About 30 miles east was Bozeman and the Museum of the Rockies. The dinosaurs were pretty darn cool, though we were a bit confused about the Triceratops...both Ray and I had vague recollections about reading/hearing something recently "debunking" it in some way. Hmmm...oh, Wikipedia--. Anyway, August liked the museum okay, but was more interested in things like the "furry ropes" and standing on platforms than any of the exhibits. We also watched the "Dinosaur Chronicles" movie, which ranked "scawy" in her book.

Tuesday, August 24th
Stayed "close to home" today by driving down to Virginia City...which I had vague recollections of visiting as a child. On the way there, we had some excitement (according to small person) by witnessing an overturned cement truck. The town itself is a pretty cute Western-style town, with lots of stores preserved from the 1800s heydays, and some horse-drawn carriages to boot. We had lunch and walked around, and then let August pick out a few pieces of candy at the candy store. Thrills!

After driving back to the cabin for a nap, August and I drove up to the trail behind Pony. On our drive up, a small black bear ran out in front of the car…and since I was driving slow he ran way ahead of us for a bit, then ducked into the forest. Cool. We walked a little ways up the trail, which paralleled the creek for a bit, and took us up through grassy and rocky terrain with some brush a trees here and there. August tuckered out pretty quickly.

After dinner, we finally tried out the hillbilly hot tub...which took eons to heat up. August and Ray loved it. Me, the cold water lover, was too cold (must be a first/pregnancy thing).

Wednesday, August 25th
Big day today -- we drove down to Yellowstone, about 1.5 hours south of us. We first stopped in at the Wolf and Grizzly Discovery Center in West Yellowstone (not sure it was worth the $10.50 each), then drove into the park. Had a picnic and a wade in the Madison River, then drove to see the geysers...impressive blues and oranges. Then to Old Faithful, the visitors' center, watched the Yellowstone movie, snack, and back to see Old Faithful blow again. We picked up a little wolf for August, which was quickly adopted as a near-equal to Teddybear (!), and a little black bear for baby bro. On our drive back, we got several nice views of roaming bison, and some distant elk. Long, hot day, but absolutely worth it.

Thursday, August 26th

After our long Yellowstone day, we stayed close to home again…spent the morning up at the trail at the edge of the Forest, and came across some cowboys packing up to head into the forest to repair a dam. There was one guy on a horse, leading 3 other pack horses, and then two other guys on dirt bikes. Real deal cowboys, and surely infamous Pony bar regulars. Rugged. Then we drove around Pony a bit, back to the cabin for lunch, nap. Walked to the little picnic park in Pony, took more pictures and back before dinner and packing. Nice easy day before big drive out of Montana.

Friday, August 27th
Loaded up the car and left by 10 am. Drove all day, and once again (like several other days) August refused to use any bathroom, demonstrating impressive bladder skills (again, like 6 hours!). Arrived in Spokane and at hotel, and had a much appreciated swim. Dinner at Perkins...interesting. Our waitress seemed to be running the whole place, with a smile on her face. Big tip.

Saturday, August 28th
One more swim, breakfast, and on the road...we're ready to come home.

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