Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Three Musketeers in Missoula, MT

Rebekah, Kim and I headed to Missoula before Rebekah moved to another location in the park for the summer. We left after work on Friday and arrived late after a 4.5 hour drive west on I-90. We woke up early on Saturday and headed downtown. We walked up and down Higgins Ave.

We mostly did window shopping, but we did browse the Fact & Fiction bookstore for quite some time.

We headed to Caras Park for the Farmer's Market. I bought a tasty pastry for breakfast. Although we had an overcast day, Missoula was so much warmer than the park.

Heading down to the Market...

There were jugglers, musicians, and vendors. People out enjoying the day!

Mid-day, we sat on a hill overlooking Brew Fest and the Clark's Fork River. Great place for people watching and soaking up the intermitten sunshine...

Clark's Fork River running through Missoula...

After a tasty lunch at a mexican restaurant, we walked both sides of the Clark's Fork River...watching kayakers...

Late in the afternoon, we headed to our hotel, had dinner at McKenzie River Pizza Co., and enjoyed watching TV. TV was quite the luxury as we don't have TV in the park.

Sunday morning, we decided to visit Garnet Ghost Town. From Missoula, there are two ways to get there. One is to take I-90 East and then head north up to Garnet. Since we came along I-90 Friday night, we decided to see more of Montana and take Hwy 200 northeast from Missoula and then head south to Garnet...

Scenes from Hwy 200 East of Missoula...

Pretty farm and ranch land nestled against snow-capped mountains.
Just before reaching Greenough on Hwy 200, the access road turned south. So far, so good. The road was clear to begin with...

...but then was snow covered 3 miles in.

We decided to turn around, head back to Missoula, and try accessing Garnet via the southern route along I-90.

We exited off I-90 at the Bearmouth exit. Thinking this southern route right off I-90 would be more travelled, I didn't think we would encounter any snow along this route...

The access road was 10 miles from the main highway turnoff. The first 7 miles looked great! Road was clear, wide, and dry!

About 3 miles from the town, snow starting piling along the road. Obviously a snow plow had been through, so I still wasn't worried. However, I was unable to take any pictures of the snow/ice-packed and muddy roads that just so happened to appear as we rounded a corner while steeply climbing higher and higher in elevation all at the same.

Might I also mention that the road became a one-lane road with no pull-offs or places to turn around. It didn't matter that Kim from Georgia had a white knuckle grip as she fought to stear on the ice...there was no place to turn around and we couldn't slow down much less stop for fear of getting stuck in mud or losing all momentum and having no traction on the icy roads. Still not quite to the town...

Kim did a great job of getting us to the top safely! I was shaky and tense for quite some time after we arrived at the town!!! The whole time that I was walking around looking and snapping pictures of the buildings, I was praying that the Good Lord would get us back down safely! Mostly, I prayed that we wouldn't meet another car coming up the hill as were coming down the hill because neither of us would have any place to go. I, of course, imagined the worse like us losing control and sliding off the side of the mountain. I really couldn't enjoy the ghost town because I was so worried about having to drive down the mountain!

I did manage to snap a few pics, though!

Kelly's Saloon

Look at all that snow in MAY!

This makes me wonder how families survived during the winter here in the 1800's.

This is the original hotel and we could see a headboard and curtain in the upstairs window.

Davey's Mercantile

In 1898, Garnet had some 1,000 people who called it home. By 1905, the gold was almost gone and only 150 remained. In the years to follow, a fire and hard times sent people packing out of town.

Can I just say that after 2 years in living in MT/WY maybe I should have thought twice about heading to a mountain mining ghost town in May. However, the website did say that the roads were open to vehicles starting May 1st and that the visitor's center was open daily. Well, the visitor center above was not open...

The time I dreaded came when we had to head back down the hill. I put the car in the lowest gear possible and creeped down. Prayers were answered and we didn't meet anyone along the road! Rebekah helped calm me down by keeping a good conversation going over the icy stretch!

We headed a few more miles on I-90 to Drummond, MT. We stopped here for gas at a station across the road from Mentzer's Used Cow Lot!!!

From here, we detoured along Hwy 1 for a more scenic route.

Scenes from Hwy 1...

Hwy 1 brought us to the cute little town of Philipsburg, MT.

Main St. on Mother's Day

Philipsburg is home to the world's largest candy store and an indoor sapphire mining shop!

The Sweet Palace is the candy shop. They made some of the best taffy I've ever had!

More of the Sweet Palace

Wooden street signs...

Lots of cool buildings:

Had a late lunch at Doe Brothers Restaurant. I had a chicken salad sandwich with sunflower seeds, mandarin oranges, and sprouts. Yum!

Doe Brother's Soda Fountain:

Continued on Hwy 1 through Anaconda to Butte and I-90. Mountains surrounding Butte:

Butte is still a big mining town:

Mine in Butte

Despite the gloomy weather, it was a great weekend! A big thanks to Holly J. for drawing me a great map of Missoula and making some great suggestions of things to do!

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