Travel


Trip to the Past

Garnet, Montana

Garnet, MT Townsite

Finding ourselves with a free afternoon we took the advice of the desk clerk at our Missoula hotel and headed to the hills for a trip into Montana’s past. Prospectors in search of gold first came to the Garnet Range (named for the semi-precious stone found here) in the early 1860s.

 

Garnet, MT StorefrontsThe mining camp named Garnet has gone through several cycles of boom and bust. Many of the original settlers had moved on by 1870. After repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1895 the town once again prospered supporting four stores, four hotels, three livery stables, two barber shops, a union hall, butcher shop, candy shop, doctor’s office, assay office, a school and thirteen saloons. By 1905 only 150 residents remained.

 

Garnet, MT DoorsThe final boom came in the mid 1930s with decline brought on by World War II. The post office closed in 1942. More than two dozen structures remain in Garnet, a few with private ownership but most are owned by the public and managed by the BLM which stabilizes and preserves the buildings.

 

During the summer BLM staff offer guided tours rich with stories of Garnet life through the ages. No staff was on site this September day but informative signs and a free pamphlet filled in with some of the historic tales.

 

We noted the variety of pines, firs and spruce in the forest and heights we don’t see in Colorado. Nearing the end of summer the ground covers and grasses presented a colorful contrast to the deep greens of the trees.

 

Garnet, MT Foliage

Getting There: The best access is from State Highway 200, from I-90 take exit 109, drive east on MT200 for 22 miles to a sign pointing south to Garnet Ghost Town. The 11 mile route passes through an experimental forest and the first three miles are paved with the last eight a wide, level gravel road.

 

 

We were amazed at how smooth this road was, no ruts or ripples, major streets in our town have more potholes. We started to return by the southern route but this road is much rougher, narrower, poorer maintained and marked. After a few miles we decided we were too old and the car too new for such an adventure. After a harrowing turn around we really appreciated the well graded route to highway 200.

Idaho Meets Southern Louisiana

Gator Jack’s Sandwhich Shack

Gator Jack's

We would never have stopped here except it was recommended by out B&B hosts. In fact we had driven right by on our way to the B&B and hadn’t even noticed there was a restaurant in the nondescript building.

 

Idaho meets southern Louisiana with surprisingly good results. I had the shrimp and andouille sausage jambalaya (small portion which was plenty for a very hungry lady). There was just the right kick in the spice. When I requested a slice of bread or a roll I received two pieces of sourdough (my choice) warm from the grill – no extra cost.

 

Catus Jack's PotatoesBob had the southern fried chicken dinner. Two pieces of breaded breast, a bowl of mashed potatoes with choice of white or brown gravy and fried green beans. The potatoes were enough to feed a family of four – this is Idaho after all. After tasting the green beans I wished I had ordered a side of my own (not that I needed them)). This probably wasn’t the most spectacular Cajun meal I’ve ever had but much, much better than I would ever expect to find west of the Rockies.

 

 Big mugs of sun ice tea quenched our thirst. We know is was as advertised truly sun tea as we spotted a big jug brewing on the window sill as we left. An added bonus was the two deliciously soft chocolate chip cookies our waitress dropped off as we finished  our meal. I had intended to order a slice of the made-from-scratch Herman’s German Chocolate Cake but no way could I have eaten another bite.

 

Service was cheerful and prompt, something we appreciated after a long day of travel. Prices are extremely reasonable for the quality and quantity, our total bill was $25 for two dinners and ice teas. Would definitely stop again when near Rigby.

After a Frosty Night

September 13, 2014

 

Autumn is Coming

Along Teton Park Road in Grand Teton National Park

 

We drove by this clump of trees yesterday afternoon about 4:30pm. There was a hint of autumn color change, but only a hint. Early morning temps dropped to around 23 degrees. Viola! The intense change was a shock as we neared this spectacular sight around 2pm today.

 

As I was taking pictures another lady hopped out of her car and said, “They weren’t like this yesterday.” No, but fall is a comin’.

Floral Abundance

in Vernal, Utah

Vernal - Petunias

Many cities decorate their business districts during the summer with hanging plants or planters filled with colorful blossoms but never have I seen a display like the one in Vernal, Utah. Petunias spill to the sidewalk from waist-high planters, drape over walls and cascade from large baskets hanging from every lamppost.

 

Vernal Hanging BasketI learned that the program started by the Chamber of Commerce, and now coordinated by the city, is in its 27th year. Depending on sources, I heard that there were either 900 or 1500 containers involved. I would believe the latter for how many blocks through of Main Street are adorned. Citizens sign up in the fall to be part of the planting brigade each spring. As we were leaving town we saw watering trucks on both sides of the streets working their magic.

 

Thank you Vernal for beautifying your town and sharing the floral abundance each summer.

Travel Log – September 11, 2014

Centennial, Colorado – Vernal, Utah

Ridge at Dinasaur NM

Although the main goal for the day was putting some miles behind us as we head towards the Pacific Northwest we must have a least one activity. Our last visit to Dinosaur National Monument occurred in 1973, wasn’t it time for a revisit? What was intended as an hour off the highway stretched to nearly three as we explored the southwestern section of the park north of Jensen, Utah.

 

Quarry Interior Please Touch

The Quarry Exhibit Hall encloses a wall of an excavation site encasing more than 1,500 dinosaur bones including Allosaurus, Apatosaurus, Camarasaurus, Diplodicus and Stegosaurus of the Jurassic Period. To every 4-year-old’s delight, in one area, you’re actually encouraged to touch. Or, see how you measure up to a femur bone.

 

Skull Bob - Measuring Up

The Monument includes much more than just fossils – canyons and fertile valleys the Green and Yampa Rivers,  ancestral history dating back thousands of years and the remnants of twentieth-century ranch life. We followed the Tour of the Tilted Rocks along Cub Creek Road searching out petroglyphs and pictographs – rock art left by inhabitants centuries past.

 

Goats & Guys

Rock NecklaceThe longer we study the panels the more details we note. While some images are easy to decipher (goats and men), others are left to interpretation.  Where they messages, historic records or decorative? Looks like a necklace design to me.

 

The road ends in a secluded, shady vale that was home to Josie Basset for 50 years. Walking through the dirt-floored cabin we can only imagine life as she knew it. We’re enticed by a couple of  trails leading to nearby canyons but it’s time to hit the road towards tonight’s destination – Vernal, Utah.

Josie's Cabin

Remembering 9/11

One regret from today is that we didn’t take the time to capture photographs of two inspirational sights. Two Colorado towns we passed through made special efforts to mark this 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack.

 

In front of the Granby fire station an extra large American flag hung suspended between the outstretched ladders of two gleaming red fire trucks.

 

Along the entire length of Victory Avenue (the route of US40) in Craig, Colorado was lined with literally hundreds of American flags, a project of the local Rotary club.

 

Stirring sights noting respect, honor and resolve – We will NOT forget!

An Evening with Michael Martin Murphy

 

MMM with Guitar

 

Red River, New Mexico has long been a location dear to the heart of entertainer Michael Martin Murphy. He has now established the Rocking 3M Amphitheater at the location of the old Lazy H Guest Ranch. The venue opened in 2013; for the 2014 season MMM performs twice weekly during July and August. With forested mountain sides and a quiet lake for a backdrop and an enthusiastic audience under an starlit sky Murphy says, “This is a dream come true.”

 

On this August Saturday evening we made our way up Bitter Creek Trail for the chuckwagon-style dinner and musical entertainment. Located north of the western resort town of Red River the 2+ miles of gravel road is rocky and steep in places but nothing the family sedan can’t handle with careful driving.

 

MMM - Front RowFestivities start around 6pm with a barbecue buffet prepared by Texas Reds Steakhouse in Red River. We filled plates with beef slices, smoked sausage, BBQ sauce, beans, macaroni and potato salads and wheat rolls. A special treat this evening was a big dish of stewed fresh apricots. Warm peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream completed the meal; along with hot coffee and/or soft drinks.

 

MMM - ShoppingFour tiers of tables and benches are spread out in front of the outdoor stage – good viewing from any location. A large tent is available in the case of evening rain. When the sun sinks behind the mountain the temperature changes quickly. We were thankful for the fleece and windbreakers we brought along. Many guests arrive with blankets. Between dinner and the music there’s time to check out MMM’s CDs including his latest release, “Red River Drifter”, and art work by band member Gary Roller.

 

MMM & Kids

 

MMM & Nancy

The friendly, relaxed atmosphere feels like joining Murphy and crew for a family barbecue. MMM visits with the guests and poses for pictures – from cute pre-schoolers to silly old ladies eager for a souvenir photo. This evening one extended family included three adorable youngsters prepared for the occasion with straw cowboy hats, stick horses and plenty of giddy-up.

 

MMM & Shaun Richardson

The one-and-a-half hour of music included a balance of Murphy’s most popular and requested songs plus new ones from his latest release. Tonight he was accompanied by Gary Roller on bass  and an amazing young musician Shaun Richardson who made everything with strings sing. Whether playing guitar, fiddle or mandolin Richardson could steal the show from a lesser artist; but it was obvious that MMM loved giving the young man a showcase. Carin Mari is a young lady that Murphy has mentored since she was nine years old. She performed a couple of numbers and joined the band for Murphy’s signature, “Wildfire.”

 

We’ve seen MMM perform in theaters, large venues and with a symphony orchestra but never have we had as much fun as the Rocking 3M Amphitheater. It truly appeared as if he was having as much fun as his appreciative audience.

Taos Leisure & Tastes

A leisurely summer Sunday in Taos started with breakfast at Guitz. We first tried this locally popular cafe a couple of times last year and it was high on the list for a return visit. The menu includes creative combinations after one gets past the Basic Breakfast and French Toast (which I so recommend). Bob ordered the Scrambled Egg Tower – scrambled eggs, mushrooms, spinach, diced tomato & Manchego cheese – served with Guitz potatoes & mixed green salad.I selected the Spanish Tortlla – Spanish omelette baked with onion and potatoes, topped with warm cucumber mushrooms & tomatoes, drizzled with basil pesto, served with olive tapenade & crustini. Great way to start the day.

 

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Between time reading and drawing at the casita we explored back roads and drove out to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Spanning the gorge more than 500 feet above the Rio Grande River the is the 7th highest bridge in the U.S. The gorge slices the Northern New Mexico landscape for approximately 50 miles with depths up to 800′. Designated in 2013 as the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, 74 miles of the Wild and Scenic River is a draw for whitewater rafters, anglers, hikers and artists.

 

Kilborn Studio - Sunday Night 2012The evening started with an opening orientation session for Bob’s workshop with artist/potter Stephen Kilborn. Always a good time catching up with the Kilborns and seeing friends made in previous classes plus several new participants.

 

Afterwards we joined friends Dolores and Orrel for dinner at Doc Martin’s in Taos Inn. We noted that the menu selection were fewer than in previous years and missing the ladies favorite watermelon gazpacho. Our waitress provided cheerful, excellent service.

 

Taos Inn - 8:17:14

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