Saturday, August 22, 2009

Yellowstone Park & 2 days in Darby

BLOG TWO OF MONTANA TRIP Yellowstone Park, and 2 days in Darby

Friday, July 24, 2009 Montana

We awoke just before dawn, about 5 am; we’d both slept through the night pretty well considering everything. In the mad scramble to reach the door handle we set off the car alarm resulting in a ear piercing alarm clock for our neighbors asleep in their tents.

A fast trip down to the rest rooms and we rapidly threw everything in the back and headed out of the campground as fast as possible. Today’s drive was slow because of having to stop several times for road work; sometimes up to half an hour each time. Soon we were in Yellowstone National Park. We’d arrived so early that the gates were wide open without any attendants to collect fees. Its beautiful country but we also noted in addition to the tree damage from the bark beetles, there are many acres showing the results of wildfires over the past several years; most of which are started by lightening strikes. My husband and I spent our honeymoon in the summer of 1960 working in a lookout tower in Sequoia National Park charting those strikes….another story.

We found “Old Faithful” and hot coffee at the same time. The rain had finally arrived after days of “dark clouds” that never produced the needed drops. Old Faithful Geyser is only one out of hundreds of geysers spraying throughout the Park. But, this one has earned its name and viewing platform because of keeping fairly regular hours; enough so that they post the next schedule eruption…give or take ten minutes either way.

Old Faithful was having a sluggish day and didn’t produce quite the display that we’d expected; maybe the rain had dampened her spirits. But while waiting we saw some of the other geysers give some awe inspiring clouds of steam into the sky in the distance that gave me some great photo opportunities. We also visited the famous Old Faithful Inn, one of the largest log structures in the world. There was a long yellow bus parked outside just like in the movies! She finally blew and we ambled off to continue our journey into Montana; our destination for today was in Darby.

We headed out of the park from West Yellowstone and continued north into the western part of Montana. We had to cross the Continental Divide again near Butte; we’d crossed it once already in our drive through Yellowstone National Park. As we approached the down side of the mountain, I looked up to the east on top of the mountain and discovered a snow white statute of the Virgin Mary perched on the crest of the mountain. At first I didn’t believe my eyes but then I got out the trusty tour book and sure enough, there it was:

Our Lady of the Rockies is a colossal 90-foot statue of the Virgin Mary that overlooks the beautiful city of Butte, Montana from her lofty perch on the East Ridge of the Continental Divide. The statue itself was built as a monument to honor not only Mary, but also all women regardless of race, religion, or creed. (This goes doubly so for mothers.) She stands at an elevation of 8,510 feet above sea level, which is also approximately 3,500 feet above the elevation of Butte itself.”

By this time we were also back on the Interstate System and moving rapidly along our route towards Missoula. There we stopped for an early dinner before heading south on the smaller roads for another hour towards Darby where we will spend the next two nights with our friends who are celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

In Darby we turned off of the main street and soon found ourselves on a dusty drive down the gravel roads just before we arrived at their large two story log home in the Bitterroot Mountains. All four of their children had arrived from California and Washington. Their parents were at a neighbor’s home we found out; and we were expected to also attend. There we found a group of eight waiting for us to start dinner. Not having expected this meal we sat with the group while they enjoyed dinner and then we joined them for dessert. We found another of the old neighbors had also made the trek (by airplane) and so there were three of us for the occasion. After dinner we followed them back to their house; stopping along the way to observe a herd of elk grazing just off the road in someone’s yard.

Our hostess has arranged for her out of town guests to stay with various families as public lodging is hard to come by without driving many miles. We were assigned to an unbelievable log cabin house that has been built as a model design home by the builder for his family named “Almost Heaven”. Absolutely stunning; the owner is a wild game hunter and his trophies were displayed everywhere. A full bear in the entry way; a bison head over the living room fireplace, a moose head in our bedroom, and the downstairs family room was like a miniature natural science museum. The property is on the market for $1,800,000. as the family has decided to move back to Southern California. They are gone for the weekend so we had the place to ourselves…..just us and the zoo! Check out the website at for more information on this home.

After a long day of travel we were delighted with our lodgings and most importantly for me: the house had an unsecured wireless Internet so I was able to sign on and complete my Blog entry for the day!

Saturday, July 25, 2009 The Party in Darby, Montana

We had a leisurely “sleep-in” morning available in our private hide-away in the hills of Montana; but we also knew that the Tour de France was climbing Mont Ventoux in France this morning. We had sat on Mont Ventoux in 2004 to watch the Tour summit the mountain and that was the last time the race was on Mont Ventoux until today!

Couldn’t resist waking up early…booting up the computers….and watching the race live on! There were televisions all over the house but we couldn’t get any of them to turn on. There was a power shortage the week before but for some reason their wireless network was alive and well!

After completing my summary of today’s race and posting my Blog we dressed and headed into town to pick up some groceries for breakfast and lunch. While there we explored the town and found the local library. Gossip at the dinner table last night was about the free wireless Internet at the library; it was turned off after someone brought down the whole town when someone tried to download too big of a file. But, there are still a few who are unaware of the problem and sit in their cars in the parking lot to access the web; totally unaware that they are actually on an unsecured site that belongs to someone in the neighborhood. Sure enough….we found one guy using his laptop propped up against his steering wheel. Small towns can be fun!

We arrived at the 50th Anniversary Party about 2:30 pm. The priest arrived about 3 pm and we all walked into the woods for a beautiful renewal of their wedding vows. Their one and only grandchild held their rings for the blessing and the priest asked all of their children to stand beside them for the ceremony. There was hardly a dry eye in the group by the end of the ceremony. The remainder of the seventy plus guests began to arrive and the chef from Seattle started a huge wok on a specially built BBQ for today. He is the fiancĂ©e of the youngest daughter and truly demonstrated today why he is considered a Master Chef! He started with chicken and continued to add: spices, onions/garlic, rice, mussels, clams, prawns ………. plus everything else to create a main dish of Paella for eighty people! He worked with a fellow chef who now lives in Montana and came for the day to bring the cake and help with the preparation of the food.

The salad was a cascading waterfall down the center of the table of everything that you could think of to put into a salad. The dinner was served buffet style with guest sitting all over the decks on both levels. Finally, the piece de resistance arrived: a three-tiered wedding cake that was melt in your mouth…died and gone to heaven….a real feel good all over treat! Just after they cut the cake…the skies opened up and God celebrated with a thunder and lightening storm accompanied by heavy rain drops and hail! What fun! Other than moving the cake under an awning the party continued as though the storm didn’t exist. It was a short-lived storm that settled the dust on the gravel road for our way home just before dusk. The young folks continued to party into the night!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Such a wonderful wedding anniversary and what a great "room at the inn" you had. The Paella in the WOK looks very much like what we had in Granda.
This time you knew how to eat the prawns. Look forward to your next post. Hugs Mary