Me: "Hey Niff, you ready for Rushmore tomorrow? Mom and dad will be ready to leave in the morning. We can drop the dogs off at doggie daycare at 9. We'll take turns driving so dad's ass doesn't fall off."
Jenn: "Hells yeah, I can't wait to go on a road trip! How long is it going to take to get there again?"
Me: "The Googles tell my smart phone it's about 8 and half hours, but we won't have any weather to deal with so that's a bonus."
Jenn: "Dude, seriously? 8 and half hours? Um... You're going to hate me."
Jenn: "I don't think I can do a drive that long, we just drove for like 7 hours this last weekend for the pheasant hunt, I don't got it in me babe."
Me: "Ok... well, we're all booked for the hotel in South Dakota. We can cancel that but might have to pay a loser fee. What do you want to do instead? Mom and dad are really looking forward to this with us."
Jenn: "I'll find some options that aren't that far. Let's talk about it tonight."
Then I had to tell my parents. But, as you can see, they are pretty easy going and had no problems at all, but I couldn't let Jenn know her abrupt vacation e-brake hadn't caused any issues. So I let her stew until we figured out the new plan later that night.
You see, we had planned a road trip with my parents since last year to go to Mount Rushmore and it's surrounding glory while they were out here this summer. We didn't want to go when it was so hot so we just slid it back until the last week they were here. I think it's actually a good thing though, since my dad had fallen of his horse (literally) only a week earlier and had bruises covering about 50% of his low back and butt region. Sitting for 8 and half hours in a car probably wouldn't have been the best prescription for his banged up back side. Jenn came through with a very reasonable second option that only had us driving about 2 and half hours to our first destination. Mucho bueno my love, mucho bueno indeed (we had mexican for dinner the first night).
We drove through Anaconda, MT which has these awesome old smelting pots filled with flowers all over town. It used to be a really big mining town, like most of the southwest Montana towns, but this one managed to thrive and not turn into a ghost town like so many others did.
It being an old mining town, they had allot of bars. They still have these old painted ads all over the place, this is one the better ones we saw. "You work better Refreshed!" Which translates to "Get drunk here before you stagger back to work in the most dangerous conditions imaginable."
Which brings us to our next stop. The cemetery in Anaconda is massive, as you might imagine, and sits atop a hill overlooking the entire town. It's quite a fitting place to rest in peace because it was quite peaceful up there.
We had packed lunches so we could stop where ever the urge hit us. It just happened to hit us when we were in the cemetery. Totally normal. As my dad and Jenn were making sandwiches he said "These sandwiches are to die for". I swear, if they could bottle the corny essence that spews from my family we'd solve the worlds fuel problems. Come on science, stop worrying about growing ears on a mouses back and get on this would ya?
The next stop on the scenic Pintler Loop was the historic town of Phillipsburg, MT or "PBurg" as we are led to believe the locals call it. I kinda doubt that though. We never heard or saw one reference to that ridiculous name anywhere.
PBurg (see how lame that sounds?) was awarded the best painted town in America or Montana or something. I can totally see that too. The entire town helps to keep the place looking old-ish, but clean too. Everyone was really nice and happy to share info about their town, which they referred to as Phillipsburg. Imagine that.
They have the oldest operating jail in America, complete with a hangman's noose on the upper floor.
There is also a massive candy store there. I felt like a dog who's owners had left an entire bag of food out when they left and it was all mine! (Sorry, that's what happened yesterday with Roscoe P Coltrane, so it's fresh in my mind) Or, I also felt like a kid in a candy store... either way, it was awesome!
They're opening up a brewery in the town too, which will mean that have everything a town could possibly need.
This is Elwood the donkey. That's all I got, we stopped. He was there. Then we left. So long Elwood.
There is no question what's on the menu here. We went in for a much needed bathroom break, but not wanting to pee and run, I ordered up a huckleberry shake. It was easily the best tasting shake I've ever had. Maybe it was the bison skull it was served in, but man, it was super tasty! Skullerific!
Next stop, history! We had heard about this place, but never made a point to travel there. This was one of Jenn's options for the trip and we all agreed it would be fun to see. They have a great visitor center with more info on the American Bison than you can shake a stick at. Go ahead, shake your stick and we'll see what's what.
There is an annual event that occurs at the bison range where cowboys round up the entire herd on horseback just like they did back in 1908. We were lucky enough to see this in person. They were pretty far away, but it was awesome to hear the cowboys whooping and the thunder from the hundreds of bison as they ran together. They can only keep a certain number of bison on the range so this roundup serves several purposes. They can check the herd for illness, tag any new members, and then they sell the ones they just can't keep. Sounds like grade school all over again.
They could also call this place the National Antelope Range because damn! They have allot of antelope there. The rut was just starting, which is nature speak for "its horny time, let's make more of us". We watched this antelope buck chase this doe around at about 30 MPH. It must be the equivalent of putting gum in the hair of the girl you like in school. You know, we're just showing you we care girls.
After the National Bison and Antelope Range we drove to the small town of Thompson Falls. We were really excited to see some nice falls. Who isn't? Am I right? My folks went into a convenient store and asked where we could find the falls. They were told that they had been dammed up years ago. Damn. My mom's response when they got back to the car was "We've been Klamathed". Which is funny because they had the same thing happen to them in Klamath Falls.
Oh well, at least we got to see this puppy chase a couple young white tail deer along side the river where these geese were in full goose games.
I love my wife. Even though she bogarted our Rushmore trip plans less than 24 hours before we were going to leave we ended up having an awesome time. We had a great vacation with my parents and got to see new places in the state we proudly call home. Thanks Niff. We wouldn't have seen that stuff unless you were such a wuus. Kisses. (By the way, she's not double fisting beers, at least not here, she always picks up garbage when we find it, she's the best.)