Monday, August 10, 2009

I got schooled today... the state of Montana. Not the State of Montana (as in the government), but the roads, mountains and general landscape.

Until about last night, I was considering a week-long road trip. With no particular destination in mind. Anyone/anywhere west of the Mississippi, north of Las Vegas and south of Edmonton was a possibility. I was going to just point the car, flip a coin, and head out. Honestly, the only thing keeping me from doing it was questioning the ability of my car to stay in one piece. And the responsible Os telling me that there's a better way to spend the money in the future.

But I needed to quench my wanderlust, so I tossed my iPod, my camera and a MT road map into the car and headed out. Now, one of the things I NEVER do is drive around Montana with a map. I've lived about 85% of my 50+ years in this state. I know much of it like the back of my hand. Particularly western MT. A map just isn't needed. But today, I was headed towards central Montana. Lots of flat, lots of nothingness, and lots of little county roads and state highways to nowhere. I tossed in the map, hoping I didn't end up in North Dakota or something. All that flatness is disorienting! And this is where I got schooled...

Much of the drive I planned on are roads that I traveled on at some point while in college (30+ years ago). Holy shit! I just realized I graduated from college 30 years ago!! Anyhoo, I found out today that I really didn't learn anything back then. All the "flat" land I was expecting to run into didn't exist! I drove through/around mountain ranges with names I'd never heard of. I went past little communities that I'd heard of, but never seen. Most of all, I found out that I didn't need to do a week-long road trip to see places I'd never been!

A few pictures that I took are below. I didn't take near as many as I should have, but it's been hazy around the state, and the great mountain shots wouldn't have come through. Then the batteries died. As did the phone. Still, the car ran fine. And I didn't even use the map!

This is the standard view of Bozeman, MT, with the campus of MSU in the foreground, and the Bridger Mountains in the back (not my picture). My plan was to drive around the backside of the Bridgers.

These are from the backside, and farther north. I had no idea it was so beautiful up there! It's almost Glacier-like! And because there's no real reason for most Montanan's to be up this road, most of them don't know it either!

Ten minutes later, it's prairie country! And about the time that the batteries were just about dead. The last two pictures are of Ringling, MT. Not much there anymore. There's a schoolhouse to the left (out of picture) in the left shot, and the church that looks down on all that's left. Jimmy Buffett spent some time there when he was living here for a brief time in the mid-70s. Wrote a song titled, "Ringling, Ringling". Take a listen!

Ringling, Ringling
Slippin' away
Only forty people, livin' there today
Streets are dusty and the bank has been torn down
It's a dyin' little town

Church windows broken
That place ain't been used in years
Jail don't have a sheriff or a cell
And electric trains they run by maybe once or twice a month
Easin' it on down to Musselshell

Ringling, Ringling
Slippin' away
Only forty people livin' there today
`Cause the streets are dusty and the bank had been torn down
It's a dyin' little town

And across from the bar there's a pile of beer cans
Been there twenty-seven years
Imagine all the heart aches and tears
In twenty-seven years of beer

So we hopped back in the rental car
and we hit the cruise control
Pretty soon the town was out of sight
Though we left behind a fat barmaid, a cowboy and a dog
Racin' for a Ringling Friday night

Ringling, Ringling
Your just slippin' away
I wonder how many people will be there a year from today
`Cause the streets are dusty and the bank has been torn down
It's a dyin' little town
It's a dyin' little town

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