Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hardin, MT to Butte, MT

Yesterday was mostly just a "Get Some Miles" sort of day. We started in Hardin, in the collection of chain restaurants and motels that you usually find right off the freeway, and headed for Butte. We weren't sure we were going to make it because it was 270 miles. But we got an early start (10 a.m. ... no laughing) and did make it. The two notable parts of the day were the scenery and Livingston, where we stopped for lunch. Montana is just spectacular, and I remember being struck by its Big Sky Indeed several years ago (7!) when we came to Yellowstone for our honeymoon. Driving into Butte, you can see the huge open copper mine, which has been mined off and on for 100 years. Anywhere else it would look like horrible human devastation of the landscape, but after seeing the Badlands and the like, it didn't particularly stand out for its austerity). It rained all day, so driving was a bit slower and more tense than usual, but not terrible.

We stopped in Livingston, MT for lunch. Having an internet connection while driving has been, on balance, very helpful. It is, of course, sometimes very frustrating because the connection is slow or nonexistent, but we can use it to search out not only lodging reservations (which led us to the awesome Rodeway Inn last night) but perhaps more importantly, good lunch spots to stop at, instead of being reduced to eating at Denny's or something. Yesterday we visited Pinky's Cafe in Livingston for lunch. The food was fine (they serve only breakfast on Saturdays; "They serve breakfast for lunch! Can you believe it?!") and the town was adorable: a quite large walkable downtown chock a block with cute shops of all sorts. Also a bit mystifying in its source of economic power. Perhaps it's close enough to Yellowstone to get a large tourist trade. It was also 47 degrees and raining. In August. Ugh. Time to acquire some warmer clothing at least for the kids...

We arrived in Butte by 4, I think, and headed straight for Walmart (already documented). Beatrice and Alice, of course, had a ball in Walmart, playing hide and seek either by name or not. Did you know your choices of pajamas for babies in Walmart are either fluffy warm plastic or thin inflammable plastic? Greeeeaat.... But it did have everything we needed, including a very reasonable grocery selection. Our motel is located in Historic Downtown Butte, which is either on its way up or down the boom-bust cycle of copper mining. The old buildings are largely ornate brick constructions and are simply fantastic.

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