Friday, May 27, 2011

Deer Lodge MT and Western Americana

We journeyed on to Deer Lodge (past where we intended to stay the night, in Butte, MT) to get a few more miles (54).   We got in to the RV park about 5:00 pm, just before closing.  We were glad to land and so was Casey Noodle, who HATES the cattle guards on the highway because of the noise and rumble. 

We wanted to go further than anticipated  because we have learned over the past few weeks  that you travel when there are  low winds (5-10 mph or less) and low traffic.  We were happy to spend what we thought was a catch-up day in Deer Lodge, because there are so many museums and things to see here, even though it's a small town.  We have enjoyed the "just folks" aspect of Montana--it seems to be the most genuine of states.   

Started out the next morning at the Grant-Kohrs Ranch---a former HUGE ranch owned by Conrad Kohrs (a great family originally from Germany).  This rancher originally left home at 15 and sailed the world in the mid 1800's as a cabin boy for a few years.  The quest for gold led him to California and north, and in 1862 to SW Montana.  He got into cattle, and there he began counting his fortune. 

After a few years, Kohrs acquired 30,000 acres where he raised both cattle and horses.  He was active in local politics and later owned tens of thousands of acres of range land.  His grandson acquired the property, ran the ranch and bred clydesdale horses, then finally  sold a portion to the National Park Service,  and they later acquired the surrounding view acres to maintain the mountain views off the veranda of  the main  house.  They have a great ranger-conducted tour of the ranch house (9,000 sq ft at its peak), bunk house, ice house, stables  and blacksmiths. 

We have so appreciated the lifestyle and laid-back approach that residents of Wyoming and Montana have towards weather, life, setbacks and good luck.  We have seen so much good will and even though we didn't really fit in because of what we wore and what we drove, etc.  we felt so accepted and welcomed everywhere we went that we could become Montanans!  

We had a great time touring the ranch buildings and were so impressed with how the Park volunteers  approach teaching children about the "frontier life" and providing frontier-type toys, entertaining them with songs and rodeo-type, hands-on fun.

After the ranch,  we headed to the Old Montana Prison.   In an attempt to "tame the Wild West," a prison was erected in 1871 in Deer Lodge.   It was constructed primarily with convict labor, and was used until 1979 when it was moved west.  Inmates  were not housed as they are today;  often put in a  maximum security cell  after an infraction,  which was awful at best (black cell with no bed, nothing to eat but bread and water).

As you can see, I was willing to have Jeff arrested and jailed (note the casket on the left  as a reminder!!)  if he ever suggests a spring moho trip again!   ; - )     (just to set the records straight, we both wanted to do this trip, and I was probably the proponent of continuing...)

We love moho'ing, we love being together, but the weather was just too much for us this year.  Granted we didn't have the mid-west and southern  stuff,  but we certainly had our share of  crappy weather, snow and wind.  We have cancelled our reservations at Coeur d'Alene  for 4 nights    (they have winds, cold weather and flooding there, too).   We felt bad because we were their last cancellation after being booked to the max and then after the flooding, back to zero (they are right on a river--but it also butts the Coeur d'Alene trail, which we wanted to bike and hike).

We will motor on tomorrow  to wherever we get to, probably Spokane, WA area.  We love the Montana area and would have loved to spend more time here, but weather is just not cooperating.  I've prepared our breakfast for tomorrow driving-- we'll probably have this as we travel along   (sliced grapefruit, hardboiled eggs, V-8, ham/cheese/crackers)   and we will probably go  for 300 miles or so, weather/winds/rains cooperating.  

We are anxious to get home now,  since looking ahead at the we find that there is no relief in sight.  I really want to see my garden on Lopez that I planted before we left, and am anxious, as I know Jeff is, to relax and  enjoy a good-ole NW spring and watch the Mariners, enjoy our neighbors, and do the Waterfront Festival as we have done for several years now, as the beer-garden volunteers for the Rotary fund-raiser---we volunteer in the beer garden---Jeff is the beer "puller" and I'm the "beer wench"---we man (woman) the benign hours (11-3)  but we wield a mighty tip can!!!  We often get the most tips/beers there you go!

If we have this type of trip again (you have to understand that we have been on MANY a trip of dubious and often "special"  risk), we will be SUPER proactive regarding weather conditions, etc.  and LEAVE THE KAYAKS AT HOME!!!!

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