My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Destination Optional

Last week, Cheri and Steve, the other volunteers here, invited me to go with them to Bannock State Park, which is a ghost town. The turn for it is before Dillon, the closest town with a grocery store, so the drive would be short in Montana terms, probably less then 75 miles.

The day was partly cloudy with lots of white to dark clouds scudding across the sky.  The light went from dull to pastel to bright within minutes, then changed again almost immediately,  so the entire area was constantly changing in earth colors and sky patterns.

We drove the 28 miles out to Highway  15 before the beautiful light on the mountains made us all want to stop for pictures. Steve decided to drive to an access road when we reached Lima, so we could stop and all take our pictures.  Then he decided to stay on the access road so we wouldn't have to find a way to stop for the next photogenic place.

That caused Cheri to pull out the Montana Atlas and start looking at what was near us. There was a National Back Country Byway just ahead.  It was only 55 miles long.  When we got to the intersection, we decided to detour through this scenic road before going on to the ghost town.

The road went up and over hills but mostly in between hills

Some places were rocky
Soon we were stopping every mile or less and taking many pictures at each stop. All of us are passionate photographers, so we would take off in different directions, then have to go see what the others had found that we were missing.  And the scenery was magnificent and different in every direction. We had to take long views in every direction, then focus on shorter views.

Steve worked his way down a steep bank to get great views of white water

The passing clouds and storms made beautiful light on the hills

One of my favorite shorter views

Steve climbed up to take a picture of a (probable) golden eagle's nest

Neat rocky outcroppings near the road

A very rocky area - Cheri has a picture in her sights

Sheep's Head Creek quietly flowing through a lush valley

We had lots of long views across valleys to hills

We also found old structures and ruins to photograph.  We worked as hard as we could to document it all, finally stopping for a short lunch about 2:00 PM. We saw several of the structures below.  I thought it was some kind of a hay stacker but had to research it when I got home.  It is a hay stacker. Hay is pushed on to the solid platform at the bottom, then the platform is dragged up to the top by horses pulling a rope attached to it,  and then it dumps on to the top of the hay pile.

Beaver slide hay stacker

This was a very long building - not sure what it was used for

A pretty hard shower made us stop photographing for a while and just drive, so we managed to get finished and into Dillon around 5:00 P.M. There Steve and Cheri had to fill a gas tank and to a little grocery shopping.  I bought some cherries, then a cup of Chia and read my book while waiting on them.

The rain started over us soon after I took this picture

We made a few more stops after the rain quit - this was a elk farm

 Our last adventure was to go to a little schoolhouse turned restaurant for supper. The ambiance was wonderful and the place was crowded.  But neither the service or the food was anything special.  But we enjoyed a long visit while waiting for our food. Steve had to go to his third choice because they were out of his first two choices.

Inside the schoolhouse "Calf-A"

Then we had a wild, sometimes skiddy ride home on the water soaked road and caught the last of the pink sky just as we got to our trailers.

Fire tower behind our trailers

A wonderful day!  And Steve and Chari promise that, one day, we'll actually get to the park.

(The total album of pictures from this day is in my Flickr account.