Monday, July 18, 2016

Small towns, Big sky...Montana!

We've been to Montana a few times, so we try to travel a different way each time, which is not hard to do, seeing as how big and empty the state can be!  Coming in from North Dakota this time, we chose the less busy, more scenic roads, Hwys 2 & 12 mostly.  This lead us to the small town of Havre.  We had heard that it had an "underground city", that sounded worth checking into, so made it our two-day stop over.  

Havre Historical Underground was most interesting indeed!  There were about a half dozen of us on the tour, and our guide Gene, a local gentleman who grew up in Havre, began "above ground" by walking us around the block to the entrance.  In January of 1904 a devastating fire wiped out a large part of the Havre business. A shortage of building materials made it difficult to rebuild immediately, so the businesses moved their stores to the steam tunnels running under the city until their buildings could be replaced above ground. At one time it consisted of 7 blocks, the refurbishing of it now, for tours, is about 3 blocks, but really well done.  The underground tunnels were there long before the fire, as they were originally used for storage, then later used for a variety of things (Prohibition, prostitution, etc).  

We've been to the underground tour in Seattle a number of years ago, and this tour was so much better.  The group that put the work into this have really put a lot of time, effort and money into making it quite a museum and a step back into an interesting time of their unique history.  I'm glad we made the stop. 

Our next big stop was the capitol of Montana, Helena.  We were meeting up with some of our friends there, so we had a few days to spend sightseeing.  First stop tho, was to see the Capitol itself.  Once again, it was practically deserted, just a very few other people and almost no employees (and yes, it was a weekday!)...makes for easy pictures tho!  Only downside was that all the "rooms" were locked, so I had to try and shoot through the glass doors...;-(  No guide, no brochure to tell you much, so we just wandered around, best we could.  Pretty building, with a pretty dome and a really nice floral entrance that spelled out Montana 2016 with the shape of the state that I thought was cool.  

We took the boat ride along the Missouri River through the Gates of the Mountain with our friends.  It's a beautiful tour that leads you past wonderful rock formations, along where Lewis and Clark went.  It's an optical illusion where it looks like you are at a dead end, then as you come around a corner the cliffs (gates) seem to "open up" and you can continue on through, a great sight to see.  Along this route is also where, in 1949 the Mann Gulch Fire took place and 13 firefighters lost their lives.  It changed the way forest fires are fought today.   The boat captain makes it a fun tour, pointing out various things along the way, like some ancient American Indian cliff pictographs, and several rock formations that look like "monsters" or "elephants".  We saw a Bald Eagle flying and it's nest, that day too.  

The areas on both sides of the Missouri River are protected, on one side it's the Hauser Nature Preserve and the other it's the Bureau of Land Management.  Nice, so it will always "be there" for us, for our children and their children to see.  

As you travel through these little byways of Montana, the sights keep you smiling.  Between the wheat fields "someone" puts up statues (so you won't fall asleep?) or cute signs...

We are now on our way into Canada to see some dear friends we've met during our adventures on the road.  Looking forward to seeing all those miles of Canola again too!

...on the road,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

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