Monday, June 23, 2014

Travel Day #2 - Baby Got Butte

Animals: Magpie

Quotes: If there were quotes I forgot to write them down. I’m sorry.

SIARPC:  Flap Wilson

Today’s destination dream was to be Spokane. However, before that we had a more immediate and awesome goal. We had been told we must go to the Bozeman Hot Springs to take the waters by another travelling Cincinnati Band, and we wanted to try it. Western Montana looks like the West. Which it is, I get that, but it’s got rocks jutting out of brownish plains where every property has a horse no matter how small. Not tumbleweed West but cowboy West.* Bozeman, it was remarked, looked like a town where Bruce Willis would drive in from his million-acre ranch to get his coffee. Kind of upscale but it looked like real people lived there too. We found the hot springs on the edge of town and I must say our expectations suffered a blow. It looked like the YMCA and when we got in the resemblance only solidified. It was a big indoor pool and there were summer camp kids running around joyfully oblivious of our desire to enter a meditative state and commune with mother earth’s very own mammary fluid so that we might be healed. Instead we said fuck this and left.

We decided to head towards Butte (Give a Butte – Don’t Pollute) and revisit the Mining Museum we enjoyed so much on the last tour. It seemed to have not quite thrived in the two years since we last parted. The gift shop was bare and they don't even try to get people to pay admission any more, just rather optimistically placed donation bins every 3 or 4 feet. That said, I still think it’s a pretty cool place. I found a building that had a bunch of the big machinery used to raise and lower stuff down the shaft, and various things used to grind, pummel, and pulverize mountains into submission. My grandfather and great-grandfather (who died in a mining accident) both worked in the mines of southern Ohio. Not safe, easy, or clean work by any stretch.

Lisa, exhibiting the kind of gee-whiz mastery of the internet the young just take for granted these days, found a different hot springs just outside Butte. It was still more pool-like than we anticipated but it was super chill and it had two outside pools, one pretty hot and one dreamily warm. John and I first went into the steam room, which was like Viking hot and purified our lungs by fire. Then I went outside, got a beer and slipped into the hot pool. Lisa’s research said that the water was low sulphur, contained lithium, and undisclosed mineral content. It definitely seemed more buoyant than normal, and it was flat out wonderful. The air was cool and a little rainy, the mountains were distant, and we floated for at least an hour. And there is something about it because I felt warm, fuzzy, and decidedly peaceful for hours.  

Peaceful enough to enthusiastically approve of going to the Broken Arrow Steakhouse for dinner, which featured real cowboys with hats and a general air of leathery taciturnity. They certainly showed no interest in discussing the vexing second act of my (fingers crossed!) off-broadway Wink Martindale revue.

And then in the glorious late evening sun a little shower gave us the biggest double rainbow we’d ever seen. The locals said it happens all the time and they don’t even look any more.

We left, drove to Spokane once again in the terrifying pitch-black darkness and rain, proving we can live not learn with the best of ‘em.

Tomorrow is Wenatchee.

*Fuck off – you describe it.

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