Where Is Everyone? Montana Chronicles Part 4

Day 6

Pony, Montana

The Montana scenery on the way to our next destination was beautiful. We were treated to the snow capped mountains of the Tobacco Root Range.
Pony wasn’t all that exciting. It is a partial ghost town, meaning that among the old structures are people still living, as well as new homes belonging to more wealthy folks, sitting on the hills above the buildings that are in disrepair. We didn’t stay for very long. It felt weird to be roaming around people’s homes.

The remains of the mill
On the way to our next stop: Madison Valley with the Tobacco Root mountains in the background

Virginia City, Montana

We took a beautiful drive to Virginia City, a town that was closed for the season, with the exception of three businesses who stayed open to serve the locals. In the Summer I imagine this place is busy with tourists. Many of the store fronts operate as little mini museums. The Barber shop for example…
One of the creepiest displays ever.

We figured out that the train station still runs in the Summertime and it will take you a couple of miles down to Nevada City, another ghost town. After we wandered, we went back to the only food place open in Virginia City – 
Virginia City Cafe is only open from 11 am to 3 pm for lunch during the off season. We both had burgers and fries. They were both deliciously cooked with fresh veggies. I also got a Huckleberry Lemonade because Huckleberries, amiright?
We ate and listened as the regulars came in for their usual meals. 
Then we rode off….
Local mining dredge and mining equipment

Nevada City, Montana

A couple miles down from Virginia City is Nevada City, another ghost town that is closed down off season. 

The reason Nevada City feels more like Knott’s Berry Farm (hi SoCal pals) is because after it’s remains were purchased in the 1950’s, the new owners began to save the remaining structures of Nevada City by moving them behind the buildings left on the historic main road. Dean says a resident of Nevada City was driving around and passed us to make sure we were behaving ourselves, but I was too busy looking at the trains to notice.

Some of these clearly don’t run anymore, but the there were quite a few train cars, most in rough shape, a handful in good shape – I am assuming these are used to transfer tourists from Nevada City and Virginia City in the Summertime. 

On our way back we were looking for a restroom and found a pond that was stocked with fish for kids 14 and younger to learn how to fish!

Attached to this was a trail – I didn’t walk the whole thing, but found a train station in between Virginia City and Nevada City. It’s marked Central City. It was probably one of many settlements that existed along Alder Gulch, along with Virginia City and Nevada City.

Gold was discovered in the area in 1862 which led to the founding of Virginia City and it’s rapid growth. In 1865, 10,000 people lived in the 14 mile stretch of land along Alder Gulch, 5000 of them in Virginia City. With gold also being found in what is now Helena, the population of the area declined and by the 1870’s, only a few hundred people remained. 

Let’s talk about how pretty Montana is.
Are ya kidding?
You must be kidding.

Madison River
They call it “Big Sky Country” for a reason!

Day 7

Bozeman, Montana

I gotta say, after the trash hotel we stayed in before, our Ramada Inn Bozeman experience was like heaven. It was clean, the bed was LUSH, the bathroom was large, the showerhead worked as it was supposed to. It was a dream!

Our first stop of the day…

Museum of the Rockies

Big Mike and Dean
So there is a whole section of the United States, the middle and the south, which used to be covered in seawater. It was called the Western Interior Seaway and most of Montana was part of it. That also means that there are many dinosaur fossils in the middle of the US. 

Of course the first thing you have to do is check out the huge dinosaur exhibit!
Walking into this room made me feel smol.
I see a little Dean!

This dino’s rib was 8 feet long. Can you even?

Dean pretending he’s got bite
There are other neat exhibits too. There is one dedicated to pioneers, the gold rush and homesteaders, another dedicated to local Native American tribes. 
Finally, a fucking Bison. (It’s stuffed)

Montana Grizzly Bear Encounter

Who wants a hug?
So, we weren’t seeing much wildlife in Montana. I was going to be really disappointed if we left without seeing a bear. I know I’m weird.
So we went and found bears!
Bath time?

The Grizzly Bear Encounter is a sanctuary for bears who were in bad captive situations as well as a place that educates the public on bears. Because of the season, they were bringing out the bears one at a time to hang out, snack, and play. The bear we saw was Brutus. He is the original rescue bear. He was a baby when he was rescued and was raised in the house of his rescuers until the current Encounter could be built. He weighs 900 pounds and you may have seen him on TV or in movies. 
While we watched Brutus be adorable, the guide talked about the situations they rescued the bears from, what they like to eat and do, and what to do if you encounter a bear in the wild. They currently have 4 bears. It is definitely worth a stop to see a bear up close.

By this point we were hungry and grumpy. It was lunch time. I promised Dean pizza, because, what is a vacation without pizza?

We ate it all

Now began our journey to Idaho Falls, Idaho. We drove along the backside of Yellowstone National Park, and I suddenly felt very sad. We were going to be leaving Montana. 

But goodness, Montana was delivering on it’s Big Sky slogan…

Friday night in Idaho Falls is apparently hopping. We landed and our hotel was off of a busy intersection and Dean (driving) was already frustrated and tired and ready to rest.
We stayed at Motel West. It’s bigger than I thought it was, and because they were running out of the cheap rooms (which we had booked), they upgraded us to a room with a hot tub for free! 
It was a nice relaxing evening before our last day of adventures.

To be continued in the next chapter!

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