We’ve decided to combine yesterday and today‘s posts into one post. Yesterday we were too busy having fun to post so I’ll try to catch you up on both days. Michael will probably not be posting tonight; he’s too tired to think straight so you’ll only be getting my side of things.
Even mundane activities on Saturday were fun. Our Subaru needed an oil change as did our friend Kris’ car. The two of us thought we’d have plenty of time to visit while waiting for our cars to get serviced. However, Saturday was Homecoming Day at Montana State University, and there was no line at Jiffy Lube. We were done in less that 30 minutes. Given that that wasn’t enough time to catch up on each other’s lives, we moved over to a nice coffee house and had a great time reconnecting.
Later in the day, Kris drove us out past Gallatin Gateway and up the Spanish Creek Road to a trailhead. Spanish Creek Road crosses one of Ted Turner’s ranches and he graciously allows people to use the road to get to the trailhead. He raises Yellowstone Bison on his ranch and we were fortunate enough to see many of them in the distance and also close up as they walked along beside the road. The mommas and their young formed groups of about twenty or thirty. While the females seemed quite large to us, the four males we passed were much larger. The females attitude towards us was one of “You’d better not cause any trouble, or else.” The males just looked at us like “Go ahead, make my day.”
The sun finally came out after three days of rain. The golden hues of grasses on the hillsides contrasted with the greens and browns of lodgepole pines. Aspen and cottonwood trees were gleaming in shades or yellows and greens against bright white trunks. Shrubs covered in shades of vivid reds and golds filled in the edges of the blue green Spanish Creek. Clouds created shadows that wandered across the ridges. And bison wandered next to us. It was astonishingly beautiful.
Saturday evening, we dined on smoked pork that Brett had babysat all day. It smelled delicious and managed to taste even better. We had a great time discussing all manner of topics. Skipper and Jack, Brett and Kris’ english springer spaniels, made sure we took breaks to pet and admire them. If Michael were posting tonight, he’d probably blame the Despers for our not posting last night, but it’s not fair to blame someone for being such great hosts.
Late this morning, we said our goodbyes and headed west towards Missoula. Because I get dizzy and struggle with high altitudes, Michael drove the first hour to get us over a high pass just before Butte. The sun was out allowing us a much larger view than on Friday. Today we got “Big Sky”; Friday we experienced “Big Clouds.”
About half-way to Missoula we saw a tall smokestack some distance away. We learned from displays at a rest stop nearby that it is the Anaconda Smelter Smokestack and is all that remains of what was at one time the world’s largest non-ferrous metallurgical plant. The brick smokestack, at 585′ tall, is the tallest masonry structure in the world today. It is large enough to easily fit the entire Washington Memorial inside.
Tonight, we are staying at the C’mon Inn in Missoula, Montana. The C’mon Inn is like no other hotel I’ve experienced with a pool, five hot tubs and a large indoor waterfall surrounded by easy chairs and tables. Our room has some great wildlife and landscape photos on the wall. And the king size bed looks pretty enticing. I’ll be back tomorrow.
Here is a picture of Brett and Kris, two special people who I am pleased to call friends.