Sunday, November 1, 2020

Mosaic Monday #103: Road Trippin', Part I

Yes, we recently took to the highways and byways of the West, and we went BIG.  2300 miles and 13 days = an epic road trip.  In keeping with the classic American "vacation," we hit some of the hot spots.  Yellowstone.  Grand Teton National Park.  And what would a vacation be without some lesser known attractions, such as the Museum of Clean in Pocatello, Idaho?  And we were blessed to visit family along the way.  Most people would schedule such a journey in the summer, but we are not "most people" and these are not ordinary times.  So, buckle your virtual seatbelt and come along for the ride as I recount our adventure in several installments.

October 13: A Drive Back in Time

When I was young, we did not take many family vacations.  But I remember distinctly my father deploring the major highways.  In his view, a drive on the nation's byways revealed the true nature of the country and its people.  In college, I was also deeply affected by the book Blue Highways, by William Least Heat-Moon.  Hailed as a masterpiece of American travel writing, the book is an unforgettable journey along the nation's backroads (which were denoted by the color blue on maps at that time).  Both of these memories coursed through my mind's eye as we skirted the eastern edge of Flathead Lake on Highway 83, a two-lane that is squeezed between the Mission Mountain and Swan Mountain ranges.  It was a misty morning and I shivered in anticipation as we passed Seeley Lake and began to roll through countryside that was new to us.  

It might have been the gloomy skies, or maybe the rain had washed off the dust, but either way the aspens, larches and sycamores shone through like an army of yellow torches.  Numerous bald eagles perched majestically in the sycamores, pumping my heart with pride near to a bursting point.  Along Highway 12, I observed loaf-shaped haystacks as tall as a house, each one surrounded by a fence.  Curious ...   

Ever since we got to know our neighbors with the farm, I pay more attention to farm affairs, and I was fascinated that this method is so different than the round bales and rectangular bales we see in our part of Montana.  I sent a haystack picture to Dear Neighbor Friend, and in turn she sent me the link to the video below. According to Wikipedia, these haystacks of loose, unbaled hay are intended as fodder for livestock.  They are made with a beaverslide, a frame supporting an inclined plane up which a load of hay is pushed to a height of about 30 feet before dropping through a large gap.  The device was invented in the early 1900s and was first called the Beaverhead County Slide Stacker after its place of origin, the Big Hole Valley in Beaverhead County, Montana.  Once I read about it, I realized I had seen one or more of these structures, but didn't know what it was!

As we planned our trip, it was easy to slot in the big puzzle pieces such as Yellowstone.  We could have a little more creativity as we traveled to those places, and I reveled in the chance to research options.  One of them?  "Drive west on Highway 43.  When you come to the fork, go south to Wisdom or north to Opportunity."  How cool is that?!?  Unfortunately, we could not build that into our itinerary, but when we saw the sign for Opportunity, we just had to take a photo!  (By the way, the video of the beaverslide is from Wisdom!)

After passing this exit, we quickly reached Butte, with its massive tailings from gold, silver and copper mining.  On the eastern side of the fifth-largest city in Montana, fascinating rock formations dazzle the highway driver.  Definitely an area I would like to explore, but alas, no time on this trip!  My research yielded an extensive list of possibilities that would have filled a decade of vacations; for our first day of travel we narrowed it down to two ghost towns along Highway 287.

Nine booming gold camps sprawled along remote Alder Gulch in 1863.  Nevada City and Virginia City were the largest.  Dozens of stores and cabins extended back six blocks, but by 1876, only a few residents remained at Nevada City.  The gold dredges later came through, leaving piles of tailings as big as barns, and by 1920, the highway had cut the town in half.

Charles Bovey began collecting buildings in the early 1940s.  Acquiring Nevada City from Lester and Mary Stiles, he began to place buildings here in 1959.  Nevada City became a haven for endangered structures; today more than 90 buildings from across Montana line the streets.  The state of Montana now maintains the historic resources at Nevada City.

On the day of our visit, Nevada City was padlocked for the season, but we could still see quite a bit.

Between 1970 and 2017, 35 movies/TV shows were filmed in Virginia City and Nevada City, including "Little Big Man" with Dustin Hoffman, "Return to Lonesome Dove" with Jon Voight and Reese Witherspoon, and "The Ballad of Lefty Brown" with Bill Pullman and Peter Fonda.
Do you see the two-story outhouse on the left of the collage above?  We had quite a laugh trying to discern how that might work!  Several cabins were available for overnight stays - the one on the lower right of the above collage had cacti growing on the roof - an unusual sight in Montana!  

The railroad never made it to Alder Gulch, but that didn't stop Mr. Bovey from establishing a railroad collection at Nevada City.  In fact, the Virginia City Shortline Railroad was built by Mr. Bovey in 1964 to connect Virginia City and Nevada City, a mile and a half away.  Today the 20-minute ride is an opportunity to enjoy the scenery and learn about the surrounding area (May - September only).

My favorite structure in Nevada City had to be the house below.  No plaques explained its origin or history, and it was outside of the apparent boundaries of the formal ghost town.  We stood gazing upon it for some time, both lost in our imaginations of the comings and goings when this beauty was in her prime.

Our next stop, Virginia City, was labeled a ghost town, but many businesses were open and it is apparent people live here year-round.  We read many plaques about the historic buildings that remain, in some cases wedged next to a quite modern edifice.  The preservation of the antique structures was also the work of Charles Bovey, along with his wife, Sue.  In 1952, the couple received honorary degrees from Montana State University of Montana in recognition of their efforts to preserve Montana's pioneer history.  Their work was further acknowledged when Virginia City was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. 

Given the pandemic, Spousal Unit and I set out on this trip knowing that there would be limits on patronizing restaurants and bars.  It saddens us because we enjoy this aspect of traveling; it is often through such experiences that you get the feel of a place and meet interesting people.  We gave ourselves permission to enter an establishment, assess its practices and the number of people, and to walk right back out if necessary.  In the case of the Pioneer Bar in Virginia City, we "joined" one other customer.  He was seated near the door, and we went to a hightop at the far end - about as "distant" as you could get.  A short while later, two other 'locals' came in and connected with the man near the door.  We felt comfortable with the setting, and enjoyed one beverage while soaking in the atmosphere.

Gold dust was the common currency when George Higgins built this sturdy "fire-proof stone" business block circa 1866.  It has housed a mercantile, a shoe store, a department store and a saloon.  The present Pioneer Bar has served as a popular watering hole and gathering place since 1947.  The impressive stone facade of this gold rush era landmark has changed little since the 1860s.
The sun was descending toward the horizon, and with 60 miles between us and a pillow for the night, we reluctantly put pioneer history in the rearview mirror.  Rolling hills, laced with some of the best trout rivers in Montana, kept us company until we crossed into a little corner of Idaho that would be home base for the next three nights.  

We checked into Drift Lodge (with our own private cabin) in Island Park, Idaho.  After the requisite "bag drag", we threw off our shoes, opened a beverage and settled in.  Day 1 of the journey was in the books.

Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Tuesday (U.S. Mountain time). 
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog. 
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back. 
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by. 
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully. 
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


  1. Angie, it was an interesting travel in the past and actually last but not least your vacation.

    It's a dream of us to visit on day the Route 66 with our Goldwing... we will see. Now, we look only on the next day, step by step.

    Stay healthy and well, dear Blogfriend.

    Happy MosaicMonday πŸπŸ‚πŸ

  2. My what a grand tour you had. There is so much history in the West. Not all of it is lost to ghost towns. Have a great week and thank you!

  3. ...all of the kind of things that I like!

  4. Thank you for sharing the start of your journey, the old towns look amazing and that method of storing the hay was really interesting to watch.

  5. lol, most of this post was like watching an old western movie. Love those old buildings. :) :) That beaver makes sense :)
    You had a nice trip :)

  6. That was really quite an amazing trip and you got to see so many wonderful places!

  7. How wonderful to hit the road for 13 days! I'm going to pay close attention as we are hoping to hit the road next year after the shop completely done! That house in Nevada City is a real beauty for sure. You can just imagine... Happy November to you!

  8. Thank you for takin us on this trip. I would love to see "Nevada City". It really looks fascinating, and a peak at the old West. Stay safe, enjoy your week, and thankyou again for the linkup.

  9. So beautiful post, amazing pics.
    Thanks for sharing.

  10. What a fun road trip! We've visited Yellowstone and The Grad Teton National parks in the past--such gems! I'm glad to see those vintage western buildings being preserved in Nevada City. There is a similar project here in Park City up in Park County, Colorado. I blogged about it a few times. We love to see all the exhibits there as you can go inside the schoolhouse, and dentist and newspaper building and the saloon, etc, and they are all filled with period furniture and accessories.Thanks for hosting and Happy November!

  11. How wonderful to take a road trip. Thank goodness for people like Mr. Bovey who cared enough to preserve all those buildings. We took summer vacations every year until I was 14. I remember going to a ghost town when I was little. Will have to ask my mom where it was.

  12. Hello Angie,
    I love going on a road trip, your first day sounds great. I love that big old house and the cool looking Nevada City. The two story outhouse is weird, I wonder how it would work. The train car is neat. The river scenery is beautiful. Wonderful photos and mosaics! Thanks for hosting. Take care and stay safe! Enjoy your day! Have a great week!

  13. Always a pleasure going on virtual road trips with you, Angie. I am waiting with bated breath for our borders to open so we can go on a trip as well. At the moment we still have the 25km radius limit in force, so we cannot move away further afield. November 8 is our big day of lifting of that restriction if all continues going well COVID-wise...

  14. What a fabulous trip! We've made long road trips and enjoyed them so much! But we've wondered how convenient it would be to find restaurants (and bathrooms). It sounds wonderful to get out of the house though and see so much! I love that big old house outside of Nevada City too! Really gets your imagination going!

  15. A happy Monday to all. Its November already, where did this year go


  16. Neat trip! I love seeing Nevada City! Alex and I watched The Ballad of Lefty Brown, now I know where it was filmed! :) The Pioneer Bar looks so nice the spirit of things I'd likely order a shot of whiskey...leave the bottle bartender lol! True Western movie line. :) I really enjoyed this post Angie!!! :)

  17. I love that house too. The whole scene is something out of a wild west painitng. Epic road trip!

  18. What a great trip! I would love to visit some ghost towns. I loved the video too. Hay stacks aren't as common here as they used to be and I've never seen one that tall. Interesting homemade "tractors" they used to gather the hay.

  19. i love a good road trip in real life. Virtual ones are a close second. Can never decide if it’s more fun to virtually visit new territory or see familiar places through new eyes. This trip was a little of both, because we’ve been to those places, but so long ago that my memory needs the brush up. Loved it all and look forward to the next installment. And interesting to learn how you handled “food and drink” in these changed times.

  20. Oh your post brought back so many great memories. When I moved out here in 74 my parents took me to those towns. I am glad you had fun and were smart with distancing. I'm looking forward to your next post. Take care! Kit

  21. I could not agree with your father more about the byways. Glad I waited to read this post. Beautiful photos too. Thanks so much for sharing and hosting!


  22. Angie, That was a nice trip! Sylvia D.

  23. Sounds like an interesting trip. I haven't done anything but half-day trips this year, basically because eating out has become so difficult. Thanks for hosting.

  24. What beautiful scenes! Looks like a great trip.

  25. What a cool trip. Love the old buildings.
    Dawn aka Spatulas On Parade

  26. What a wonderful trip! Now that's a hay bale.
    I absolutely love the old house, and the other old buildings.
    Thank you for allowing me to tag along on your trip. And thank you for hosting, Angie.

  27. It's so great that you could get away on this trip. Beautiful scenery. That old house has quite the atmosphere!

  28. We went on a small road trip and went up into the mountains---Mt. Baker to be exact but I would love to poke around in some ghost towns. thanks for the tour

  29. Beautiful images along with the trees, houses of a wooden verity. Love it very much.

  30. Wonderful road trip photos ~ did a similar one several years ago ~ Fun !

    Live each moment with love,

    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  31. Super read Angie. Like a journey through the Wild West of my TV youth. I am positive I would not be able to resist those two towns of Opportunity and Wisdom or a visit to old Nevada City.

  32. Lovely photos 😍😍😍

  33. How lovely to get away.
    A wonderful trip and a great collection of photographs you've shared.
    A great post, thank you.

    All the best Jan

  34. Love those old towns. I am in love with that fabulous grand old dame of a house! America truly does have fabulous houses. You really do have to do things right then and now, don't you. In these times one never quite knows what tomorrow may bring.

  35. Amazing trip Angie with lots of great photos. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed it.

  36. Ah cool beans. My grandfather was a powder man in the copper mines in Butte. His family was on a dry farm in Dubois, Idaho south of Butte. He only came home every once in a while but he was busy while there, as he had 13 children. My mother was the youngest. Butte is quite the place, and from what I hear it used to be pretty wild. I never met my grandfather but my uncle told me some hair raising stories.
    Island Park is a wonderful place. My Mom's family is scattered all over that part of Idaho and we have had several family reunions at a resort in Island Park.
    Waiting to see more posts about your trip.

  37. Me again, I love Blue Highways. It is the only book that I read twice in a row. I have it on kindle now. I think I have read it about five times.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...