Parker recommended Bozeman, so off we went. We passed through Anaconda, home of the big Smelter Stack – the tallest (585 ft) and possibly largest free-standing masonry structure in the world. An interesting note is that the Washington Monument would easily fit inside. We had been warned of the Anaconda swine flu outbreak, so we stayed in the car, and admired the big phallic structure from the highway. I thought it would be bigger
Butte, Montana was the pit stop portion of our drive. Jason wanted to get the tires balanced and rotated, so he left Bode and I to entertain ourselves at an empty mall. The tire rotation took so long that we didn’t get to see the town’s main attraction, a toxic waste dump that you actually have to pay $2 to see. Jason seemed to have the more interesting day waiting next to a bleached blonde woman in heels, dressed to the nines. An old friend of her’s walked in and during the catching-up she explained she was now a roofer. Her friend asked if she was scared of being up on the roof or swinging a hammer. No way, she loved it! We don’t know a lot of roofers, but Jason guarantees he’s never met one that looked like her in California. “It’s fun! I’m not afraid of being up high. I’m not afraid of anything,” she said.
Many years ago on a particularly blizzardy day in South Lake Tahoe, Jason and I lounged in bed watching the mountain ski report to see if we could make it up the hill to snowboard. The ski-dude weatherman introduced us to the term “Snain” – half snow, half rain. An appropriate term for what we drove through over the Continental Divide on the way to Bozeman. Another often-quoted phrase from that snow report… “Did you see that guy on a bicycle in the blizzard this morning? He doesn’t have a car!” Tahoe weathermen are awesome. You had to be there.
No worries. Once down the pass, the weather cleared a bit. We stayed around Bozeman for 2 days and took care of a few of the things that really bore you on a vacation, like laundry and shopping. It wasn’t really raining, but Bode loves umbrellas. In fact, at one point it cleared up so much we noticed there were still mountains around us.
Bode and I snuck away to the Museum of the Rockies, one of the world’s largest collection of dinosaurs. Very cool. These smaller feathered dinos actually clawed their way up the big dinosaur to kill and eat it. If Bode would give me a little more time at each exhibit, I could read the displays and learn more. I’ve learned that reading at museums is futile and that I just follow along with him running around looking at stuff.
We talked to a guy at a restaurant here and yet again we heard the now familiar story. He came to Montana and loved it so much he stayed. He did mention that they had 80 days without snow this year. It stopped snowing in June and started again in September. 80 days.
We’re currently in The Badlands (I just love saying that). We’ll be heading through SD on 90 to visit friends in Vermillion, so if you have any great pit-stops let us know!