There are a couple of things Montana has taught me. The most important one: wear your seatbelt. Seriously. I don't know who puts them up, but some Montana group has erected small white crosses everywhere that there has been a highway fatality. It is really frightening how many there are. But the seatbelt thing didn't really get driven home until Lynn mentioned something about the police blotter in the newspaper, and how it goes over every accident. Every single one ends with "driver/passenger was ejected from car and died." Every single one. So basically, each little white cross that I see is from where someone didn't wear their seatbelt and flew through the windshield.
Anyway, enough sermon. I wanted to put in a tirade against permanent porta-potties in here, but after that... yes, I do still have enough vitriol in me. You know the ones, the little rooms with a seat positioned over a dark, drafty, dark hole in the ground, so dark you can't see what the heck is down there, which, in a porta-potty is usually a good thing, but in these holes of doom there is more than enough room for a person, or a snake, or a squirrel, or a shit-demon thing from the X-Files, that is going to reach up and bite your bum right when you think you are done and safe. You laugh, but it really happened in Fort Collins. Or at least it was in the newspaper there. And there were always those rumors out at Montana De Oro.
Let's see, what else that doesn't make me look wacko. I drove my car way out on a dirt road, got it good and muddy, just so I could sit in the middle of huge plains of wheat, and nothing else. Sounded good, but surprisingly wasn't that exciting. A lot of the ideas I have kind of go off like that. I go through a lot to get there, and then go, woo, and turn around. But it sure is fun getting there. Did the Havre underground tour. Another woo moment. The history there was pretty interesting. After a big fire took out most of main street in 1904, the merchants started doing business from their basements. And there were already a few other businesses under there, like a bordello, and opium den and that sort of fun stuff. So you had the butcher
shop right next to the soiled doves, and the pharmacy a step away from the illegal pharmacetics, all hidden underground. Kept going down there until the 30's. Pretty neat.
Today I found St. Marie, the abandoned military town. That also was impressive, but not totally abandoned. I found myself wandering these spooky, identical houses, street after street almost grown over with weeds, getting in the appropriate mood, and then I stumbled across a couple people walking around. I almost screamed. Then I realized that about a quarter of the town had people in it. They lived in renovated, painted houses, right next to the decrepit falling down ones. Another quarter of the town (or more - I couldn't tell) was closed off as it was being used by something called MARCO, some sort of test aviation company. Intriquing. It seems someone has started to bring this town back. It was still sufficiently creepy for me.
Even more creepy was were I spent the night. Straight out of a horror movie, except I am still alive. It was a campground called Sleeping Buffalo, and it was definitely the best deal I've had yet. Five bucks for a spot to park my truck, and unlimited access to the hot tub and pool. The office was closing right as I came in, but the owner informed me that I could still get into the tubs all night by going through the entry in the empty motel that was being renovated.
The sun had just gone down by the time I was ready for a dip, so I wandered through the rooms, wind blowing the plastic coverings off the windows, and found my way to the empty hot pool. It looked just like a tub I had visited in Rotarua, NZ, except that one was full of other people and I was with my sisters. It was large and dim, with a fading mural of local wildlife on one wall, and windows to god knows what on the other. The pool itself looked like it was covered in rust. At least the lower part did. The upper part you
couldn't even see, as the holes that people had punched in the exposed pipes for "jets" churned up the water so much, you couldn't see a foot down. All of this is perfectly natural, and wouldn't have been a problem, if it hadn't been for the gurgling noise the water made when it ran out. It was like a deep rumbling, grumbling, hungry noise, just barely audible over the sound of the water coming in. Just after dark, in an empty, dimly lit building with no locks. I actually managed to stay in for 10 minutes. And I'm very proud of that.
The next morning I returned, right at 7 when the cafe and main pool opened. I thought I would swim some laps for exercise before hitting the hot pool again, in the light of day. When I walked in the door to the pool office, the two men that had been conversing rather heatedly suddenly straightened and stopped talking. They didn't say a word to me, didn't even look me in the eye. I gave them a cheery good morning, and went into the main pool. This one also was also heated by the natural spring, so it also had the rusty look to it that scattered when you put your foot down somewhere. This time, I could have made it through my laps if it weren't for all the windows leading to the cafe behind me, where people were starting to congregate. I'm sure they weren't all looking at me. I abandoned the big pool for the little loud one, and managed to stay in much longer than the last time. Like maybe 20 minutes.
Oh, I didn't mention that the resort had a bar attached. I didn't go in, but there were about 8 big dirty trucks outside, and one of those banners that they have everywhere up here. Huge and orange with a big buck head on it, that says "BUDWEISER Welcome Hunters!"
That's about it for the strangeness of the last couple days. I'm sure I will have more to report on tomorrow.
Today is my last day in Montana! I'm going to miss it. Hope the Dakotas are as interesting.