Friday, September 30, 2011


IMG_3025 Butte is (how do I say this) a dirty, old mining town. There are nice areas in the town but a lot of it is run-down, seedy, and just plain dirty. Even the mall looks worn out.

IMG_3078 When I was growing up in Montana, Butte was always know as the armpit of Montana. But it has an amazing and risqué history.

Lady There are lots of things to see and do in Butte. One of those things is Our Lady of the Rockies. She is a 90-foot statue of Mary who sits atop the Continental Divide. She began as an idea in 1979 and was created by volunteers from all walks of life. The base was poured with 400 tons of concrete in September of 1985 and on December 17, 1985, the National Guard used a Ch-54 Sikorsky Sky Crane and final head section was placed atop the statue. She weighs 80 tons and is 48 feet wide.

lady1 You can take a tour up to the statue but it takes 2 1/2 hours and we just didn’t have the time. So here are a couple of pictures from her website.






We also did an Underground Tour of Butte. This tour includes:

IMG_3092 IMG_3093

the Roarin' 20’s Rookwood Speakeasy. Carrie Nation made a stop in Butte but was put on a train and escorted out of town before she had a chance to even make a speech.

IMG_3069 IMG_3068

the 1950’s Hirbour Barber Shop,

IMG_3082  IMG_3083

the 1890 Old City Jail. The arrow is pointing to Evel Knievel’s signature. He spent quite a bit of time down here for reckless driving. Gee – can you imagine that? This jail was used until 1971.

This was not part of the tour but he was just too cute to pass up.


He is sitting on top of this bar: IMG_3063

IMG_3095 We didn’t stop in Maloney’s but headed out for pasties. For those of you who aren’t familiar with pasties, they are a meat/potato/onion pie that was brought to Butte by the Cornish/Welsh miners. In Butte, the place to get your pasty is at Joe’s. The miners crimped the edges so they could hold onto it with their dirty hands and then they wouldn’t eat the crimped portion. I like mine with gravy. Jim had chili, cheese, and onions on his.





I get to be a tourist again and yes it does feel good. I know a lot of folks who don’t do the tourist thing but I’m rather addicted to it. Which means, of course, that Jim gets to go along to do the driving. I enjoy the beauty of our land but I also like to learn about the history of places we visit and all the quirky things that people have done.

So here we go to explore Butte, MT. Don’t have time for everything but some of the highlights.

IMG_3030 The Berkeley Pit is a former open pit copper mine. It is one mile long by half a mile wide with an approximate depth of 1,780 feet. It is filled to a depth of about 900 feet with water that is heavily acidic (about the acidity of cola or lemon juice). As a result, the pit is laden with heavy metals and dangerous chemicals that leach from the rock, including arsenic, cadmium, zinc, and sulfuric acid.

IMG_3033 The mine was opened in 1955 and operated until its closure in 1982. The pit and its water present a serious environmental problem.  The Berkeley Pit has since become one of the largest Superfund sites.

The Granite Mountain Disaster and Memorial Overlook

IMG_3042 The beginning of World War I brought intense activity in Butte's underground mines to satisfy the warring world's insatiable appetite for copper. Butte became known as "The Richest Hill on Earth". In 1883, 2,000 miners worked in the mines. By 1916, there were 14,500 miners working the mines.
On the night of June 8th, 1917, a group of men descended to the 2400 level of the Granite Mountain mine to inspect an electrical cable that had fallen loose while being strung by a crew on an earlier shift. When the cable fell, the workers from the earlier shift decided to leave it until the next day. The protective sheathing frayed as it fell against rocks and timbers. When Ernest Sullau, the assistant foreman, inspected the cable, he accidentally touched his hand-held carbide lamp to uncovered paraffin paper wrapping, and the cable caught fire.
The tragedy was compounded because the Granite Mountain was a well ventilated mine, allowing the flames and smoke to spread quickly. The fire and deadly smoke killed 168 men.

IMG_3045 The fire was the deadliest disaster in metal mining history and shocked the world. In 1917 Butte was an industrial complex that rivaled the steel mills of Pittsburg. Additional people had to be hired to handle all the telegrams that came in from around the world wanting more information about the disaster.

And no trip to Butte is complete without food. There are two foods that Butte is famous for: The Original Pork Chop John’s sandwich and pasties.
IMG_3057 Today was Pork Chop sandwich day.

John’s Original Pork Chop Sandwich was founded in Butte, Montana in 1924. The original Pork Chop John, John Burklund, sold his pork chop sandwiches from the back of a wagon located on the corner of Mercury and Main Streets.

IMG_3054 As demand for the  sandwich increased, John opened a restaurant on Mercury Street in 1932. Consisting of a counter, 10 stools and a walk-up window, that same store remains and that is where we had our sandwiches.

IMG_3055 Most people like them with mustard and onion. I like them with just onion and they know to pile the onions on. Jim tried the deluxe with mayo (really miracle whip), lettuce and tomato. He wishes he had stuck with the mustard and onions. But they were so good. Not healthy but as a treat = wow.

Tomorrow pasties.

Thursday, September 29, 2011



The main reason we came to Butte was to be able to spend a little bit of time with my great niece. For those of you who haven’t been followers for very long, Tara (who is 23) is in a halfway house trying to get her life back on track after being arrested.

Trying to get to see her is a lot like trying to see the gold at Fort Knox. We didn’t realize that her keepers need seven days to do a background check on us and they said no, we could not come visit her at the “place” she lives. So now what.

Tara talked to her case manager about us and got permission from her to be able to join us for dinner. However, it had to be within walking distance of the “place” because we aren’t approved drivers. There was a restaurant only two blocks away that she really wanted to go to so it worked out great.

I truly don’t understand all their rules. Most of them really don’t make a lot of sense to me but not being in that environment I’m in no position to make any judgment calls. Everybody lost computer and library privileges because someone had gone to a porn site. So even though they know who it was, everyone suffers. Lots of learning experiences.

Tara is doing very well. She’s willing to obey the rules, she treats the “powers” with respect, and does everything she is supposed to do. She wants out of there as soon as possible. Tara is extremely intelligent and is an anomaly in this world. Of the 50 women at the “place”, she is the only one who does not have a child. She is one of the very few that is not an intravenous drug user. She graduated from high school. She cares about her appearance.  I could go on and on, but she stands a much better chance than many of these women of staying out of prison when she gets her freedom.

IMG_3098 She has a job – works at a Town Pump not too far from the “place”. The problem for me is that this part of town is really a sleazy area. This includes the “place”. In fact, I walked her back home after dinner because I was nervous for her. Too far for Jim to walk so he followed us in the truck. She works at Town Pump from 4:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Scary hours. The good news is that they give her a ride to and from work even though it’s only about five blocks away.

IMG_3101 She has bad days and when she goes to her AA meetings she has to walk by a bar and she told me how tough it is. But overall, she’s really positive about the whole experience and made the statement that for the first time in her life, she feels good about herself without having to use anything. Definitely progress.

I sure do love this girl. Tomorrow we’ll go see her at work. Yes, we can do that without getting her in trouble.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011



We are currently sitting in the 2 Bar Lazy H RV Park in Butte, MT. It felt so wonderful to wake up somewhere besides the drive way.

It did takes us awhile to get out of that drive way. The lights on the boat trailer didn’t want to work so Jim had to spend quite a bit of time getting them fixed. Then when we were ready, the guy who blows out the underground sprinklers showed up to do our neighbors yard and parked so we couldn’t get out. We didn’t catch him in time and he had already started so we had to wait another 20 minutes but finally got out of town about 11:30.

IMG_3012 Our dear friends, Judy and Gary, had spent a long week-end in Paradise Valley outside of Livingston so we got to “flash” them as we passed them headed back to Billings.


I took a few pictures of the changing landscape as we covered the 240 miles. The state is really dry and there are warnings everywhere about the fire danger.






Sam – this one’s for you.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Get out of the driveway on Tuesday. Still checking things off our to-do list.

Took the fifth wheel in for an alignment which is badly needed. Then over to get some nitrogen in the tires and to the dump. Back in the drive way and the front landing jacks don’t work – again. Last time Jim put in a breaker, this time he replaced the switch and everything seems to working really good again. Fingers crossed.

IMG_2979 Then he cleaned out the hot water heater. Good thing he did. Look at what was in it.






To add some more excitement to the day we found this guy running around loose in our yard. What a sweetheart. He was the gentlest, most loving dog. Well taken care of – his teeth looked like he had had a whitening treatment. He had a collar but no tags. We called Animal Control and while we waited for them we enticed him into the house with a treat so he couldn’t get away. We had to put him in the kennel to protect him from the other three mutts. They were not happy to have a strange dog in their midst. He was ravenous and thirsty so gave him some dog food and water while we waited. I sure hope he finds his family quickly. He definitely belongs to somebody.

IMG_2992 Watched the Redskins/Cowboys gave with the kids. We’re all Redskins games and were all kind of depressed at the end of the game. So no, we didn’t win. But my sister is happy today.



IMG_2988 Michaela was repairing some of the holes in her jeans. She bought them with the holes in them but when she washed them, they didn’t hold up very well and the holes got too large to be appropriate.



IMG_2989 Scooter was happy in Dad’s lap. Skittlez and Zoey were busy doing their things. Don’t think any of them were paying much attention to the game. But notice how they all came to life when it was treat time.






Jim still needs to get the brakes and lights hooked up on the boat so not sure what time we’ll get out of town. We made campground reservations in Butte for Tuesday night. That’s hopeful thinking.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


The Good Luck Duck became my 100th follower. That is just amazing to me. I want to thank each and every one of you for taking the time to read my blog and especially those who make a comment once in awhile.

I am not a writer nor a photographer. I definitely don’t post every day because most of the time I have nothing to say. I started this blog as a way for my Dad to follow along on our journey as full timers. When he died I decided it was something I wanted to continue because my memory has gotten so bad. I want to be able to look back and reread my posts about where we were and what we were doing in the last few years. Especially during those times when we aren’t doing anything besides just sitting somewhere.

So thanks again to all of you. You are very much appreciated.

Jim got the inverter installed today. Got the girls bathed and toenails clipped. Ran a few other errands. Maybe, just maybe we’ll be able to leave town on Tuesday.

Somebody forgot to tell Mother Nature that Fall has arrived in Billings. It was 91* yesterday and 93* today. A cold front is coming through Monday and the highs are only going to be in the low 80’s. Fall, what Fall?

So I will leave you with a picture of one of the trees that we saw last year when we spent the Fall in New England.


Thursday, September 22, 2011


Today Jim got the brakes hooked up on the boat, made appointments to get both the truck and fiver wheel alignments, and changed the breaker on the landing gear. We also had three cabinets that he took to Habitat for Humanity along with an extra hammer. They were really excited to see him. Told him if he found any other tools he wanted to get rid of, to be sure and bring them by.

I’m fixing meat loaf with fried taters and onions for dinner. Finished up the laundry and encouraged Jim. Anything to get us out of this driveway and on the road again.

Jim also took the propane tank over to get it filled. $3.99!!!!! a gallon. I almost croaked. Thank goodness we only needed 7 gallons of this golden product.

Get to go grocery shopping. The highlight of my day.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Had a cold front move through last night with 60 mph gusts. The fiver handled the wind very well. Both Jim and I were impressed by how well it did.Today it is only about 63* but is supposed to be back in the 80’s by this week-end.


Jim is still working on his to-do list. Notice, this is HIS to-do list, not my honey-do list. We use the antenna for whatever TV we can pick up. The antenna in the fifth wheel has given us grief all summer. Today, Jim decided to get on the roof to figure out what was going on with it.

IMG_2977 The rotating gear housing was loose and he was able to tighten it up with the purchase of only one new socket. Hopefully now we won’t keep losing our stations. At least the two we get.

While he was on the roof he also got our Max Air covers installed.

This afternoon is going to be dedicated to getting the boat ready. He needs to hook up the lights and the trailer brakes to the fiver and make sure all of that works. Also needs to go through the boat and clean it out.

I’m doing dishes and laundry. How much fun is that?

stagecoach_bg_wht Customer Service Is Not Dead – Remember when we had that issue with Jim’s debit card while we were in Gillette? We went into the Wells Fargo Bank and April was the banker who helped us take care of everything. Jim got a follow up phone call from her this week wanting to make sure that everything was okay and wanting to know if there was anything further she could do for us. Now that is definitely good customer service.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011



Got a call from Judy and Gary asking if we wanted to tour the old Moss Mansion here in Billings. We immediately jumped at the chance and Sunday was tour day.

main staricase The Moss Mansion Historic House Museum is a red-sand stone mansion built by Preston B. Moss in 1903. It was inhabited solely by Mr. and Mrs. Moss, their six children, and 3 servants until 1984. The house was built for a cost of $105,000, when most homes averaged about $3000. It has 28 rooms, and is 60 feet square. It rises 45 feet into the air.


The mansion was designed by the famous New York Architect Henry Hardenbergh, who also designed the original Waldorf-Astoria, Plaza Hotel, The Dakota, Williard Hotel and Copely Hotel.

Moorish hall Inside, visitors are treated to a wonderland of art starting with the main entrance which features a Saracenic arch inspired by the 14th century royal palace Alhambra in Grenada, Spain. The main entrance carpets are rare Persian and Khorrassan rugs.

IMG_2965 A Moorish theme dominates thoughts the entire house and there are Louis the 16th French Parlors 33 feet long with Corinthian columns. Inside the library, visitors will find a collection of Salish baskets on display on the bookcases and a 1904 Funk and Wagnall's Dictionary. The rooms are kept quite dim in order to preserve the carpets and furniture.

IMG_2968 I was amazed at the innovations that were incorporated in this house. The icebox was huge and had a hose running down from it in the kitchen, through the floor into the basement and then outside so as the ice melted it would drain out of the house. The bathrooms also had a built in curling iron heater on the wall. Just a lot of wonderful and amazing things.

IMG_2970 The furnishings are all original. One of the daughters lived in the house until 1984 and she did make some modern improvements over the years; but otherwise the house remains as it was when the family was living in it.

IMG_2972 Can’t believe we lived here for so many years and never took this tour. It was excellent.