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Blogging about gardening in zone 4, marriage, our golden retriever and life in general.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Our Condo

So I'm not really sure how to "sell" our Bozeman, Montana condo on a blog, so I thought I'd throw up some photos instead. If you're interested, leave a note in the comments or email me. Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think might be interested!

The condo's stats are:
2 bedroom
2.5 bathroom
12oo square feet
detached single car garage
Price: inquire within.

MLS link: http://www.gallatinidx.com/listing.php?mls=162839&site_id=225
MLS Number: 162839

There's no such thing as insurance...

I spent this morning taking photos of our house to create a blog section about our for-sale condo. I’ll put that up soon, but something else sparked me today.

Last night I spoke to a very dear childhood friend, whose wedding I was in three years ago, and whose marriage is now ending. It is not my story to tell, so I’ll refrain from divulging the details (much of which I don’t know), but talking to her really got me thinking.

As an American girl in her 20’s, many of the people in my age group are single but looking for a relationship, in a relationship but looking for an engagement, engaged and planning a wedding, or married and thinking about babies. I even have a few friends who have had babies on purpose which really blows my everloving mind.

I’m in the mix there too; DJ and I are talking marriage. Again, there is a whole back-story and no, I don’t know why we aren’t engaged yet but I just keep telling myself that I don’t want to pressure him, it will happen when it happens, and I should just focus on enjoying the here and now. Eventually I’ll write a post about how we got to this point.

In the mean time though, my conversation with the childhood friend last night got me thinking once again about marriage. Although I both parts look forward to, and dread, planning our wedding, I know that the wedding part is easy; the marriage part takes work. Unending amounts of work. And an ability to put someone else’s needs before yours, compromise, disagree without damaging the relationship; and a million other things that I can’t even fathom right now.

My biggest fear about getting married has nothing to do with DJ. He’s a fantastic person and we agree on most subjects (not that that is a requirement of any marriage). We communicate well, and the only discussion (not fight, we don’t raise voices and always end it harmoniously) we continually have is where to get married. Rough, huh? I could go on endlessly about how lucky I am to have found someone who accepts me for who I totally am as a whole, from the stinky farts to the penchant for using three Tupperwares to take assorted lunch items to work.

It’s impossible to insure yourself against divorce. I think all the premarital counseling in the world can’t prepare you for what happens when one of you is diagnosed with a terminal disease, develops an addiction and refuses help, etc. Instead of playing the “what if” game, I’ve spent a lot of time recognizing how DJ and I both respond to stress individually and as a team. We do pretty well, with a lot of communication.

So my fears about getting married, and I think I’d be a fool not to acknowledge them, totally revolve around me. I’m terrified that I’ll let DJ down and cause hurt to someone I hold so dear. I worry that my stubbornness, independent nature and opinionated mouth will somehow lead me astray. DJ and I have talked through both of our career and family ambitions and have agreed to always support each other in what the person wants to try to achieve. I’m not worried about him holding me back. Instead though, I guess maybe I’m afraid of holding myself back in order to not rock the boat.

Somehow I stumbled across an article Kristin Armstrong wrote in Glamour magazine in 2006. It’s a great read for any female, and I strongly recommend it for dudes on the marriage track too. Kristin talks a lot about how small actions by her slowly eroded her sense of self. You can find it here: www.glamour.com/sex-love-life/2006/07/kristin-armstrong

My mom also gave me some really great advice a couple of years ago, which I pass on to friends regularly: the only person in your life who can always make you happy is you. Through your decisions, people you surround yourself with and actions to take. I think her advice is very true, and a good reminder that it takes two to tango. For example, DJ couldn’t know that I’ve got a strong desire to go to Rome soon if I don’t tell him. I couldn’t know that it annoys the hell out of him that I rarely start the dishwasher if he doesn’t tell me. I strive very hard to always tell DJ if something is bothering me rather than let little annoyances boil over into a torrent of incoherent gripes.

I now have two friends, out of about ten who have divorced. One lasted two and a half years, the other three. I also have three friends currently engaged, and a whole host of others anticipating getting engaged every time their boyfriend goes down on one knee to tie his shoe. If half of American marriages end, who of the remaining eight won’t make it? Why? Will it be a succession of little causes or an insurmountable issue?

I can’t say I’m sad about my friends who divorced; sad isn’t the right word. I wish they'd been able to avoid the circumstance all together, mainly by not continuing to date or marry their now ex-husbands. For both of them I try to be there as best I could to help them get through the agonizing pain of ending a marriage (thankfully, neither had kids). Although I want to tell them both that I think they made the right decision, it is not fair for me to transpose my opinion onto their personal heartbreak. I try to tell them that I’m proud of them for taking the necessary steps to make themselves happier. I think it takes guts to totally shake up your life, in hopes the aftermath will be better than the explosion.

In the meantime, I keep talking to DJ about finances, kids, disciplining children, family relations, etc. in order to try to cover my bases. Can you guys think about a subject I might have missed?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Not a Lake Recap


Hi! I’m back! How was your third week of July? Mine was awesome.

I spent about a half an hour today trying to compose a blog post in which I adequately conveyed to you how much I love being in Harrison, Idaho and overlooking Lake Coeur d’Alene. Since I am mysteriously without the cord that connects my camera to my computer, I tried to elegantly… wait, no, adequately… well, um, just kinda express my connection to that place. I failed, miserably.

I mean, I took up blogging in order to try to hone my writing skills. Instead, I feel like most posts are more like a mental stream of consciousness recapping things I’ve done. While such posts are good for informing my friends and family what DJ and I are up to, and will definitely continue to be a regular item on this site, my foiled attempts to clearly communicate how much I love being at the lake highlight the lack of well, thoughtful posts. You know, I was all “I did this” and then “we did that” and then later noted that “it was awesome!” (I do love me some exclamation points). Uhh yeah, clearly that communicates how much I love that town.

I’m finding that writing well takes time for me. I have to read through it, check grammar, check syntax, check that I don’t sound retarded (I hope that I didn’t offend anyone with the retarded comment. It’s just that sometimes, despite all the words in the English language, there is no other way to say it. I like special needs people! See also: cannot seem to write eloquently. Gah!). I mean, if you’re going to take time out of your day to click over here, you at least deserve something interesting to read. Or, if I don’t have photos, well I suck.

But I guess that’s the heart of it. Writing well takes time. I don’t want to put anything out here on the internet that might someday come back to bite me in the ass, yet at the same time this whole blog this is a kind of active journal. So sometimes I might talk about things that make me squirm. Sometimes I need to talk about them to make me STOP squirming.

Whew. I’m glad we got that cleared up. I think I’ll keep that other post for once I have photos to go along with it. In the meantime, wanna know what’s on my mind?

Holy mother of god do I have a lot going on at work. The kind where you have to run to Joe’s parkway for candy. The kind where you have to go to the gym in the morning or else not make it into the gym at all.

Also: Busy! Alli visits this weekend. Gretchen visits this weekend. DJ’s mom visits the weekend after that. The weekend after that is Katie’s wedding, and bachelorette dinner at our house. The weekend after that Sarah from Cheney is visiting. The weekend after that I might not get out of bed, ever.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Since no one showed up to the North Church potential historic district tour last night, I was home at 8pm. You might think this is late, but for me recently, pulling up to the curb with the number 7 preceding other numbers on the clock was pretty darn awesome.

I took the opportunity to sit on our front porch and read for a little bit, but I kept getting distracted by the beauty of the evening. The green grass mowed into neat lines with military precision. The sun setting to the west, creating fingers of golden light streaming towards me. The potted flowers spilling out of their containers in a riot of maroon, yellow and royal blue. The still quiet of the slightest breeze. My legs browning up from outdoor tanning and exercise. That wonderful temperature of evening in the summer.

Sitting there made me think of summer evenings when I was a kid. I spent a lot of shuffling back and forth between my grandparents houses in Colton, Washington, on the Palouse. It was a great way to grow up, and although my Welch’s freezer pop has been replaced with a Corona and lime, my appreciation for summer evenings has not changed.

I used to sit on my grandma Joyce’s back porch with a book I’d raided from her collection of Nora Roberts and Danielle Steele novels. I swear I learned more about sex from those books than I did from any class or friend!

I’d sit out there with my romance novel and Popsicle and read until I couldn’t see the page. Beyond the book’s pages and as the summer lapsed the wheat fields would turn from green to gold. The chik-chik--chik-chikcachikachikachikachika-chik-chik-chik of the sprinkler played the soundtrack to my summers, along with the 6 o’clock siren that would wail every evening for reasons I now forget.

I’d move inside, say goodnight to grandma and grandpa, and either read in the living room or my bedroom until my eyes couldn’t stay open. Grandma’s snoring replaced the rhythm of the sprinkler, and the open window always smelled like turning wheat.

My grandma Jan also lives just outside of Colton, and I spend similar amounts of time there in the summer. My memories of the Kramer farm are different; eating tootsie pops all day long, drinking diet Pepsi until I felt sick because we weren’t sure the cistern was sealed enough to create safe drinking water; dad remedied this problem in 2007. Playing Barbies with my cousin, who was gracious enough to play Barbies with me into her late teens. Watching innumerable movies since they didn’t have cable TV. Laughing with dad and his brothers Dave and Aaron when they came in from the harvest field. Eating French toast grandma Jan made. It was at the Kramer farm that I found my favorite move, “Blazing Saddles” which is clearly appropriate for a 10 year old girl!

As my grandparents get older, I am grateful that I was able to spend so much time with them as a kid. It was freeing to run around their properties, playing with cousins, eating strawberries out of the garden and staying up as late as I wanted. I also forged a bond with them that I feel lucky to have. I hope I can ship my kids off to grandmas too someday, although my parents, at least, will likely be at the lake instead of on the farm in Colton. DJ’s mom’s house has a great forest behind it that would be fun to explore and built forts in.

Summer always seems to go by so fast. You wait for it, and then get so busy once it’s here that you barely get a chance to enjoy it. Thinking about this last night in the perspective of my aging grandparents made me realize that I guess life is like that; you look forward to something, make plans for something, and then get through it so fast that you don’t look around and enjoy it.

I’m going to make a better effort of enjoying the here and now.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Going to the Lake

Make a list, make a spreadsheet. Pack a bag, pack a cooler. Hit the library and borrow some books, or a book on CD for the long drive. Clean the house; no one wants to come home to a gross house. Wrap up projects at work, set the email to return message people that you’re out. Water the plants, oh I hope the plants don’t get too dry!

Pack the cooler, pack the tote with food. Pack the bag, pack the book bag. Rush around, did you forget anything?

Close and lock the windows, shut the blinds. Lock the doors, did you lock the garage door?

Get in the car, gassed up last night. Hit the road, take Huffine west. Go north at Four Corners, then west at Belgrade. Ahh, Interstate 90, for the next 360 miles.

Discuss work, discuss the upcoming weekend. Eat crackers, drink water. Past Jeff and Suzy’s, through Three Forks. Thunderstorms going over Homestake Pass, lightning and cracks of thunder. Through Butte, too bad we’re missing the Folk Festival again.

Long straight shot through the Deer Lodge Valley, my the Pintler Mountains are beautiful this time of year. Especially in the evening, when the cotton trees are shedding cotton like snow.

Outside of Missoula, call Mackenzie River Pizza Co for a pick-up order. They’re right there on the Grant Creek exit, next to the gas station. Athenian vegetarian pizza, with chicken, please.

Get gas, get pizza. Go pee in Mackenzie River, its nicer. Hit the road, eating pizza from the box. DJ drives and eats, I just pass the napkins. Good pizza, not much left!

The road starts to wind in Alberton, along the Clark Fork River. I’d like to float the Clark Fork someday, from Missoula to Saint Regis. Hey, we’re along Captain Mullan’s Road, from Garrison to Harrison!

Outside of Superior there’s a farm on the Clark Fork, beautiful setting if you don’t count the highway rolling past it. I’d have built my farm there, overlooking the river in a scenic mountain valley.

Through St. Regis, where the St. Regis de Borgia River joins the Clark Fork River. They flow north from St. Regis, into Flathead Lake. From St. Regis it feels all uphill, to the top of Lookout Pass. We drive west, why do we always drive west as the sun is setting? Because we try to sneak an extra day in by leaving work early, in order to arrive at the lake in the evening.

Up the big hill, past the highway sign where deer congregate. Over Lookout Pass, oh the view! Mullan went one mile south of here, naming it Sohon Pass for his artist.

Down towards the town of Mullan, watch for speed traps. Past Wallace, I remember I-90 under construction here. We should stop some time, and see the last brothel in Idaho. Through Kellog, we should ski at Silver Mountain one winter.

Still west, past the Cataldo Mission. Moved to that location in the 1840’s, from another site near Saint Marie’s. Great historic site, on the Coeur d’Alene River. We could get there by jet ski from Harrison, we should do that some day.

Our exit is only a few miles from the Mission, exit 34. Off the interstate, going south through the Coeur d’Alene River Valley. Past Rose Lake, remember the flood last year?

Past Medimont, up the hill. On the flat now, turn onto Highway 3. Past the farmland, oh smell the air! The wheat is blooming, reminds me of Eastern Washington. It is dusk, watch for deer.

Down the hill, I see the lake!!! Slow way down, Harrison: Population 267. Don’t turn here, we’ve got to drive past One Shot’s! It’s for sale, hmm… retirement plan?

Drive down Lakefront, into the house. The neighbors are here, their place looks nice. Get out of the car, streeeeeettttcchhh. Finally, we’re here.

Unpack the car, unload the cooler. Take the food tote in, take the bags in. Ahh, look at that view! The lake, the hills. The light across it, just now at dusk. Let’s have a drink, a nightcap on the deck.

The drive is worth it, don’t you think?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July 14 Ten on Tuesday

I actually had to double check with a calendar that it was Tuesday before rattling this off. Did you make it through the lengthy blog on the Mullan Road trip? I realize now that I should have broken it up into Thursday, Friday and Saturday!

Ok, quick like a bunny.

1. North Church potential historic district tour! 7pm! Meet at the Hawthorne School playground. I think I’ll be the tour leader on this one…

2. Second half of the Main Street Historic District tour, 10am on Tuesday July 21st. Meet at the Downtown Business Partnership on Main Street, near Mackenzie River Pizza. Should last an hour. Hopefully one of the board members stepped up to lead this one because…

3. I’m headed back to the lake on Friday! I volunteered to help my mom paint the house. If they don't paint it this year, they'll need to reside it next year. I’ll be gone the 17th through the 26th. Sorry for the blog silence, but I promise to come back with photos!

4. I have a phone interview with Hasslyn Harris of KECI/ KTVM news at 6:30am on Wednesday. She’s interviewing me about a piece that Jonathan Athens of Bozeman’s KTVM is working on about historic preservation, demolition by neglect and bonding new construction. The segment should run Wednesday night. Good interview genes run the family.

5. DJ is leaving for a fishing trip in Wyoming on Wednesday afternoon. He’ll be gone through Sunday. He’s got lightweight camping gear strung through the house! But I’m excited for him; I made him miss the Ross Lake hiking/ fishing trip last year to go to Shawna Rader’s wedding.

Shawna and I at her wedding in July of 2008.

6. Speaking of weddings, my cousin Blake FINALLY married his girlfriend of nine years last Saturday. It was a large, large wedding, and was a lot of fun to be a guest at (note that I didn’t indicate that it must have been a lot of fun to plan?).

7. We put the condo on the market!!! Anyone know someone who would like to buy a nice 2 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom, single car garage in a great neighborhood? We like the ‘hood so much that we want to buy a house in the same ‘hood.

8. If you’re having problems with your neighbor, talk to your neighbor. Please don’t call the city planning department and expect me to fix it. I’m just sayin’…

9. I had 18 voicemails to return on Monday when I got back. OVERWHELMED. So overwhelmed that I can't even begin to figure out where to begin. And people left me multiple messages. And sent me an email. Patience people...

10. We ate strawberries and snap peas from the farm when we got home on Sunday!

Monday, July 13, 2009

4th of July Roadtrip Recap (Part 2)

We left Lewistown about 11am and headed north and west towards Fort Benton. The first 50 miles or so outside of Lewistown generally reflect Montana’s homesteading heritage and the vastness of the Great Plains. I couldn’t justifiably capture the space- I’d need a panoramic camera (or two!). It is an amazing thing to see a thunderstorm 30 miles off as you zip towards the huge buttes and mountains on the western horizon. Out both sides of the windows farmsteads, some abandoned and consolidated into the neighboring property, are relics of Montana’s Homesteading rush of the early 1900’s. It amazed me to consider that in a scant 100 period these homes were built, lived in, improved and then either succeeded or failed and withered.
The landscape changes as you pass through Coffee Creek and then go into the Square Butte and Denton area. Instead of dry land farming, it becomes cattle country, with corrals, broken buttes, dry creek beds, but still with the same vastness of space. Unfortunately, my photos out the car window are so poor that I can’t even bear to try to post them here. They just don’t even come close to capturing the sense of SPACE out there!

We arrived in Fort Benton at about noon, apparently just missing a storm with ¾ inch hail outside of Geraldine. Our first stop was the Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center, run by the Bureau of Land Management.

The BLM Interpretive Center

The plaza in front of the building gives visitors a sense of which direction people headed out of Fort Benton after getting off of a Missouri River steamboat in the 19th century. Virginia City, Last Chance Gulch, the Whoop Up Trail into Canada, Cow Island, and other places only accessible by wagon until the railroad arrived in the 1880’s. Mullan Road from Fort Benton to Walla Walla, Washington.

At the BLM center we bought two, two day passes to all of the museums in Fort Benton. We watched a quick documentary of the area, then drove down to the fort of Fort Benton and toured the reconstructed buildings.

Established in 1846 by the American Fur Trading Company, Fort Benton’s namesake is Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, a major supporter of American western expansion. When the fur trade dwindled, the AFT sold Fort Benton to the American military in 1865. The army used the space between 1859 and 1871, before totally abandoning it in 1881. Despite the high cost of maintenance, the AFT built the fort of adobe, which quickly began to erode after the army assumed ownership in the 1860’s. By the early 1900’s, very little of the original fort remained.

All that remains of the original adobe walled fort. Only the mortar!

The Daughters of the American Revolution stabilized the blockhouse building in 1908, making it one of the oldest buildings in Montana. The rest of the buildings on the site are reconstructions, and a major reconstruction project is planned for the remainder of the site.

The building to the left is reconstructed from photos and archaeological findings. The square building on the right was stabilized by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1908.

After the Fort tour, we went up the street to the Museum of the Northern Great Plains so that I could meet their archivist, Ken Robison (who also has a great blog at: http://fortbenton.blogspot.com/) to discuss Fort Benton’s role in the Mullan Road. Ken is also organizing the 6th Mullan Road conference, slated for Fort Benton in May of 2010. Ken offered up a handful of wonderful leads, references, suggestions of who to talk to, and photographs. I’m excited to have met a new friend who shares my enthusiasm for transportation history!
The Museum closed at 4pm, so we took a quick look at the Hornaday Buffalo in the lobby, and decided to come back in the morning. We headed over to our hotel and checked in for the night.

I have a thing for grand old historic hotels. It might have started when my family stayed at the Old Faithful Inn on a road trip to Yellowstone when I was in middle school. I even made DJ stay at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane over Christmas! The Grand Union is located right on the Levee in Fort Benton. Fort Benton’s historic district mostly faces the river, with a street running between the levee and the remaining buildings.

Our hotel, the Grand Union, and the Fort Benton levee, where steamboats unloaded trade goods for 50 years until the railroad arrived in Montana.

Built in 1882, just before steamboat traffic waned to railroad traffic, the Grand Union (http://www.grandunionhotel.com/) underwent a major restoration in 1999 and is a fabulous place to stay for a pretty reasonable price. They also have a fantastic dining room downstairs. Our room wasn’t quite ready when we checked in, so we walked along the tree lined levee, sat on the benches, checked out the bridge, and read the interpretive markers before going into our room. I’d made reservations for a room with a king bed, but somehow we walked into a room with two double beds. I promptly informed DJ that I loved him, but I was sleeping by myself tonight! I’m a sprawler, and he’s a cover-stealer, so two double beds were a great way to get a good night’s sleep!

Our hotel room, bathroom, and view out the window. Note the infernal air conditioner built into the ceiling? Note the restauraunt patio below?

After some lounging around and showering, we headed downstairs for dinner at the restaurant. DJ had a delicious steak, and I had a seafood pasta. I have to admit, I should have had the steak; the bites I stole were delicious!

After dinner we walked along the levee (www.fortbenton.com/levee/index.htm) back up to the BLM interpretive center. It was a nice way to help dinner settle before going to bed. Unfortunately, the air-conditioning, or lack thereof, was a total buzz-kill. While our AC unit had worked while we lounged and showered, it no longer worked after dinner. But it did switch on every 20 minutes for 5 minutes to make this god-awful buzzing sound. Like the kind the old fashioned bed-side alarms used to make. We tried sleeping with the window open, which would have been fine save the infernal noise every 20 minutes, but the waitstaff was enjoying an after party on the patio below us. Finally. At 12:30 am I walked down and asked them to relocate. That left the AC unit to jolt us out of sleep every 20 minutes. I was so desperate for sleep that I even offered to go sleep in the back of the truck in the park. DJ, in true MacGuyver style, finally pulled out the screwdriver in a pocket knife, stood on the bed and unscrewed the vent, and hit the kill switch for the AC. Sweet, sweet silence (except for the crickets). After that we had a lovely night of sleep!

We woke slowly the morning of Saturday, the 4th of July, and both showered again before going downstairs for breakfast. After the continental breakfast served at our hotel in Hawaii, well, no other continental breakfast holds a candle. But we had something to eat and coffee, before checking out.

We retraced out steps to the Museum of the Northern Great Plains, and walked through the exhibits of homesteading, tractors, and the building petting zoo with authentic buildings hauled in from now-defunct homesteading towns. They did have a large collection of tractors!
We left Fort Benton around 1pm, and headed towards Great Falls for gas and the remainder of our trip. We left Fort Benton around 1pm, and headed towards Great Falls for gas and the remainder of our trip. I won’t go into our pit stop in Great Falls, but suffice to say, I remember now why we live in Bozeman, where dentists are abundant.

From Great Falls we went north on I-15 to Vaughn, where we turned west towards Sun River and Fort Shaw, which was built in the spring of 1867 to protect miners traveling the Fort Benton- Helena road. It is named after Colonel Robert Gould Shaw who commanded one of the first all African-American regiments, during the American Civil War.

From Fort Shaw I convinced DJ to do some off-roading. Rather than take highway 200 through Lincoln, we took the Birdtail Creek Road up towards Birtail Butte. Mullan’s road-construction journal describes Birdtail Butte frequently, and most of the resources I’ve found so far indicate the Mullan Road went south of Hwy 200.

What? Why wouldn't we high-tail it into the Montana backcountry. Where there is no cell service. Only cows. And people, with guns. Who are very insistient about their property rights. you don't think that was a good decision?

So up a dirt road we went! Along the way, I couldn’t help but notice the farmsteads we passed. Maybe they were stage coach stops on the Fort Benton-Helena Road, which was the Mullan Road?

Stagecoach stop?

Birdtail Butte is the result of volcanic, then later glacial activity that formed the landscape of Montana. It’s name is derived from how it looks like the feathers of a bird tail sticking out of the ground. Native Americans in the region used this passage across the mountains frequently, and would often leave offerings at the base of, or on top of, the butte.

Bird Tail Butte

Up up up

Down down down

Coming down Birdtail Pass we saw more farmsteads and ranching operations. More former stage-coach stops, perhaps?

From Birdtail, we ended up on MT HWY 287, and went south to I-15. Mullan’s road journals mention being within one mile of the Missouri River again. It must have been disheartening to come all this way from Fort Walla Walla, get to within one mile of the Missouri, but look east and realize you’ve still got to portage nearly 100 miles over Birdtail Pass.

From I-15, we took a cutoff from the Siben Ranch towards the Chevalier Ranch, crossed 279, and went up to Marysville. Ali Judge introduced me to Marysville a few years ago one interesting night in college. Ever since, I always take people up there when I’m in the area. Beginning in the 1870’s Marysville was a silver mining town (www.marysvillemontana.com/tour/index.html), and silver ore came from a mine called the Drumlummon (great name!) It died out after the USA switched from the silver standard to the gold standard for currency. The greatest surprise (for a girl who has been up there probably three times in the last five years) is that the road was paved!

After doing the drive-around in Marysville, we drove past Great Divide Ski area, and into the Continental Trail Road. I should add that our detour through Marysville to the CDT was not part of the Mullan Road; it skirted the eventual site of Marysville to the east but stayed just west of the eventual site of Helena. Anyway, the CDT was a lot of jostling around through the backcountry, and then we dropped into Mullan Pass.

The excellent driver, in his truck, on the BFE, I mean, CDT, road.

At an elevation of 5,902 feet, Mullan Pass is where the Mullan Road turned west to Garrison, Montana, then pretty much followed the current line of I-90 through Idaho to Coeur d’Alene, where it went south over the Palouse. The Northern Pacific built its line from Logan, MT (just west of Bozeman) through Garrison in 1883, and primarily used Mullan Pass to move freight after the main route when over Homestake Pass between Bozeman and Butte was completed. We were lucky enough to be there when a train went through.


And I say through because the NP blasted a 3,847 foot long tunnel over through the last bit of the pass to avoid the last bit of altitude climb.

Mullan Pass

By rumor, and with some historical support, Mullan Pass was also the location of the formation of the Masonic society in Montana. Masons have played a role in Montana and were possibly the group who formed Vigilantes to hang road agents during the wild and lawless days of the gold rush.

Looking west from Mullan Pass towards Helena.

We had to make a decision once we reached Mullan Pass at about 5pm on Saturday July 4. Bozeman, and our nice bed, with sheets, and a nice Sunday with coffee, was to the east, through Helna where we could have a nice dinner. OR, we could head south and west towards Garrison, continuing to follow the Mullan Road, and then swing through the Pintler Loop and try to find a camping spot on the 4th of July on Georgetown Lake. We’re not dumb. We decided to go home.

Proof that I was there too!

One plus was that as we came down towards Helena, we also got a nice look at the train trestle still in use.

Huh! A train trestle!

I wonder when this one replaced a wood trestle?We grabbed dinner at the restaurant attached to the Holiday Inn on Last Chance Gulch, and then bolted for home. We were in bed by 10pm, and I swear to god, those fireworks were noisy! But we slept through them!

The next big Mullan project weekend is actually this week, when I drive back to the lake for 10 days. Stay tuned!