Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Day 7- Part I- The Most EXCITING Day So Far

September 21st 9:30pm

Today we woke up with a familiar routine: packing up our stuff, hitching the trailer to Tyler’s truck and making sure everything was in tip-top travel shape. The water pump was off, the fridge was off, the propane was off and covered, the doors were closed; everything was put in its respective place so nothing ended up on the floor after being jostled around during the drive. You very quickly develop a routine and mental checklist of things to check on before departing because if you forget once it’s so aggravating that you do not forget again! Once we forgot to turn off the propane before we left and as Tyler put it, we were glad to not be towing a fireball behind us! Needless to say we haven’t forgotten since.

This would turn out to be an epic driving day through incredible scenic and historic lands full of thieves and gold and mountains and antiques and ghost towns. We headed down to Dillon from the Pioneers and then headed east on a small state highway.

I have driven on many many scenic roads all over the country but this was by far one of the coolest I have ever experienced. High way 287 is an unrelenting history lesson that is absolutely fascinating. We went through Sheridan, MT a tiny town with less than 700 residents but don't let that fool you because the town has actually paid to have a wireless internet network cover the entire downtown so no matter where in town you are you can go online! Pretty savvy!

We had to slam on the breaks because we almost missed the sign at Robbers Roost. Now, I grew up watching Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and being fascinated by Jesse James and other intriguing outlaws of the old west so I was beyond excited to be in a spot where similar such goings-on had occurred. See the below sign for yourself!!

Robbers Roost
This is the building referred to in the Robbers Roost sign!!!!!!! It happened right here!!
So here Tyler and I are, almost 140 years later, standing on the road where who-knows-how-many people were victimized by this gang. If we had been doing exactly what we were doing now, but in the late 1800's we could even have to fight to defend ourselves. It was such a dangerous time to live!

Soon after leaving the Robbers Roost area, my eyes still wide with excitement, we passed through Alder and the Alder Gulch area which had the richest gold placer (alluvial) deposits ever discovered! In 1863 the gold was discovered and within 3 months there were 10,000 miners filling the town in hopes of striking it rich. This area was referred to as the "fourteen mile city" and it was composed of several different towns. I know I previously said that I want to read about places before we reach them so that I can be knowledgeable but it was such a shocking and exciting surprise to be driving along and hit Nevada City. I am actually glad I didn't know it was going to be there because it made it feel like we had discovered something ourselves! 

We were driving along and we saw some buildings in the distance, as we neared we realized that this highway was taking us smack through the middle of a ghost town! Although the buildings were old and partially run down they were in surprisingly good condition, especially considering what we saw at Coolidge Ghost Town. We later found out that this area is actually now used as a keeping ground for "endangered buildings," which are basically historic buildings all over the country that are no longer safe for use and that cannot be restored but that people do not want to be destroyed because of their historical significance and value. 

Probably the eeriest thing that has happened on this trip so far was stepping out of the car, outside of an old music hall, and hearing the music fill the small town as if the ghosts from the past were still living there. Tyler and Hanz went off on their own to check out an old train across the street so alone, I stepped inside of the Music Hall. Outside there were a couple other tourists poking around in the many buildings but there was nobody else near the music hall. I stepped into the partially lit building and looked around in amazement. The place was absolutely full of old instruments and old-fashioned arcade games. On the right, against the wall, was a player-piano. I have never really liked player pianos because I thought they were creepy but man, if I thought they were creepy in a well-lit environment surrounded by other people it was triple the creepiness in this ghostly city. I stepped closer to it to investigate and to show myself that it was silly to be getting the heeby-jeebies and abruptly the music just stopped playing and it was completely silent. I was probably out of there in 5 seconds flat.

The Music Hall... <>
Tyler and Hanz were close by outside and we walked down the deserted streets for a little while longer. One of the things that made this unexpected stop so strange was the lack of people in any capacity. You would think that at a site like this there would be tour guides of interpretive talks or at least someone to be there to make sure no unruly teenagers had a party there but there was no human presence whatsoever (aside from the 2 other people who also stopped and looked around, bewildered). 

We passed by a tree next to the sidewalk with a sign on it declaring this was the site that George Ives had been tried (a famously unfair trial) and actually hung! To make it creepier there was still something rigged up in the tree where they had hung the poor unfortunate fellow. I am continually amazed by the idea of standing in the very spot where such extraordinary history took place. To think of all the people who stood in the same spot as I did and to imagine that some pretty consequential decisions could have been made there as well, it's just flabbergasting. To think, I very well could have been standing where George Ives stood, moments before being hung, it makes me wonder what was going through his head. Being in places with such important history and where emotions ran so high it makes me feel like there must be some kind of residue, even if it's just a shiver. 

We got back on the road and soon hit the remains of Virgina City, which was actually the capital of Montana for ten years. This was nowhere near as eerie as Nevada City because it had shops that were actually still functional. They sold tourist shirts and the like. We did not stop except to check out if the brewery still brewed any beer, which it unfortunately did not. 

The non-functional brewery in Virgina City, MT
Driving towards Ennis, after leaving the fourteen mile city behind, I looked off to the side of the road and saw movement next to some brush and a stream. As we got closer I realized it was a bull moose! I have seen a female moose a twice in the past couple months but I had never seen a male one... so exciting! It was HUGE and its antlers were amazing. I would love to find some antlers that a moose had shed. Hopefully sometime in my life that will happen. 

We arrived in Ennis and as soon as we started driving through the downtown I realized we were going to have to park because it is a really nice downtown! I wasn't expecting that in such a small town and in such a rural area. They had a couple amazing, amazing antiques stores. Tyler ended up getting a leather vest lined with sheepskin that fit him perfectly for only $5 and I got a really nice pillow that definitely wasn't an antique. I could have spent hours looking around but Tyler has considerably less of a tolerance for antiques stores than I do and we were anxious to make it to Yellowstone. Actually, after last night's frigid weather we decided to alter our course so that we'll be coming up along the coast in November and December. The weather will be considerably nicer then and this way it won't be super snowy in Colorado and Wyoming when we go through that area. 

Outside of Ennis we stopped at a fishing access site on the Madison River for some lunch and to exercise Hanz. We made friends with some fly fisherman who, despite the windy day, were going to go try their luck in the water. I had such a great time fly fishing this past summer. It is definitely something that I want to keep up with. As soon as I have some extra cash (which definitely won't be any time soon!) I'm going to buy a fly rod. Even if you don't catch anything it's just relaxing to be out on the water. <3

Leaving Ennis and heading southeast

On the Madison River- Hanz found a large stick! 

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