Sunday, February 20, 2011

Western Vacation 2010 Day Seven: September 9th

This is the log of my western vacation in September 2010. Some of my own photographs are included and some from Wikipedia.

Dad and I tried fishing early again, this time on the Upper Gardner River, near the confluence of Indian Creek. Absolutely nothing would bite. There were no signs of fish anywhere. The water was cold and flowing hard, although we were able to find some nice still pools in this section, unlike the China Garden section we fished earlier. There was a thick fog in the highlands early in the morning, but the sun burned it off around 10:00 to reveal the peaks easily visible from this area. A single bison crossed the creek near us early in the morning, but we saw no other wildlife.

Once back at the cabin, we decided that today was the day we wanted to see Montana. The weather forecast showed some rain coming, so we all packed in the Liberty to head north. Dad drove us north on 89 to Livingston, through Paradise Valley. That valley is edged by the snow-covered Absarokas on the east and the Gallatins on the west. We had good sunshine for this portion of the ride.

We ate in Livingston, then turned west on I-90 towards Bozeman and Butte. We passed through the Bozeman and Three Forks valleys, which is some of the most sublime country we saw on the trip. Three Forks is the confluence of the Gallatin, Madison and Jefferson Rivers, which form the Missouri River- Lewis and Clark country. The mountains are tall but far apart, with lovely level valleys and rivers in the middle.

There's a small mountain range west of Three Forks and east of the Continental Divide, which is above Butte, with plains in between the ranges. It was in those plains that we hit the rain for the first time. It rained hard for most of the rest of the day, probably back in Yellowstone as well. The weather wasn't much of a problem as we crossed the Divide though, a pass which is only at 6300'. The fog kind of ruined the scenery though. We saw strange rock formations all over the hills leading up to the pass, a feature that I remembered from my first trip here.

We got off I-90 in Butte, and stopped at the Visitor Center. From there, we saw the Berkeley Pit Mine, an abandoned copper mine 1800' deep which is now filled with 1000' of water (and filling). Then we saw the World Museum of Mining on the other side of town (past Montana Tech). They have an interesting mineral room, equipment exhibits, and a unique multi-instrument player piano. We skipped most of the exhibits as they were outdoors, in the rain. Dad told us some interesting facts about the equipment we were able to see.

I drove us home on the same route we took out. We stopped at Buffalo Wild Wings in Bozeman, where we got to see the first quarter of the first NFL game of the season - the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings. It wasn't much of a game. The restaurant and town were pretty nice though. The rest of the trip was in the dark, in a tapering rain. We listened to Danny's Bill Cosby CDs, which were pretty funny.

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