The sunny hills of Missoula
So here we are at the doorstep of The University of Montana. Go Grizzlies!! Oops, wait a minute, I can’t say that. We have an Appalachian State University Mountaineer in the car AND a Clemson Tiger. Both of them wear their school colors proudly. Me? Pat? We haven’t brought any school colors on the trip, but we will support Debbie when those Grizzlies go after her!
Today we spent the day in the car. It was a most interesting trip west across Montana. We did some Interstate and then we did some “off road” that was really off road. Leaving the Interstate in Anaconda we got on MT Hwy 1 – the first paved road in Montana. It is called the Pintler Veterans Memorial Scenic Byway. Just off Interstate 90 on HWY 1 is the town of Anaconda, which is the county seat of Deer Lodge County. On the left is the 585 foot smokestack of the greatly expanded smelter for copper. The smelter was built by the founder of Anaconda, Marcus Daly, one of the “Copper Kings”. According to records, Daly wanted to name the town “Copperopolis”, but the name was already in use. The mine is now closed, but huge piles of slag remain.
Coming into Butte – note the Rockies in the background
When we got to Philipsburg on HWY 1 we took HWY 38 through the Anaconda – Pintler Wilderness. Going over the Skalkaho Pass, this road is called a “primitive seasonal road”. They are not “fooling” when they say primitive. HWY 38 starts out as a paved, two – lane road with a yellow line in the middle. After about 8 miles it becomes a gravel road which is quite nice and wide. Climbing to almost 7,500 feet, the Skalkaho pass gives spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Descending from the pass the road narrows and has a steep, unprotected, drop off on the right. There is a beautiful waterfall that pours down the side of the mountain. Eventually as the road nears the bottom of the pass, the pavement begins again and then progresses to a two-lane road. We all agreed that it was more interesting than the Interstate even with its challenges.
Waterfall on Skalkaho Pass
Along the way today as we came through Butte, MT we caught a glimpse of Our Lady of the Rockies. She stands 90 feet tall at an elevation of 8,510 feet on the continental divide. Finished in 1985, it is entirely nondenominational and is dedicated to all women everywhere and especially mothers.
We are spending tomorrow exploring the Missoula area and then on Sunday we will travel to Whitefish, MT to spend a week at Fred’s niece’s house. His niece Sue has been kind enough to let us use this house which is near Glacier National Park. Fred’s other niece Karin will be meeting us there for the week.
Our journey is going well. We work together to do the necessary chores associated with traveling like making reservations, planning, driving, and making sure no one forgets things in the motels we stay at. Debbie is our Sacajawea, using maps to plan the best route and keeping us on the route in the car. Pat gets the laundry award! She makes sure we have clean clothes so we are not stinky in the car! The car, well let’s just say we try to keep our little respective “nests” free from clutter. It’s like living on a very small ship…but it works for now.